ADVERTISEMENT Features Digitized German Protestant Records

By James M. Beidler Premium

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Protestants rejoice!, a non-profit organization called Kirchenbuchportal features an English interface, and the state churches that contribute records to the online database have been busy digitizing thousands of additional records. Some of the regional churches have loaded information about parish registers (such as the dates for which the various types of records exist) even if those registers have not been digitized yet.

When Trace Your German Roots Online came out in mid-2016, I referred to as the ultimate “moving target” in the German genealogy world, as record coverage can sometimes be spotty. The German-based site, a hub for digitized records of the German Protestant churches, then had about a dozen regional church bodies that posted records, comprising probably a quarter of all records of the Evangelische (as most Protestants are known in Germany) congregations. But now, membership in the consortium has expanded, and church bodies that previously posted few or no images of its records have really gotten cracking:

  • The Rhineland (Rheinland in German), one of the key areas of First Wave (seventeenth- and eighteenth-century) emigration from the German states, is still getting ready to post digital images of its congregations’ church books, which primarily record baptisms, marriages and burials.
  • More than 7,000 Westphalian church books (held by Landeskirchliches Archiv der Evangelischen Kirche von Westfalen), representing almost four hundred cities, have been added to the digital collections.
  • The Landeskirchliches Archiv der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Norddeutschland—which holds jurisdiction over a swath of northeastern German areas, including Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg and Pomerania—have gone from “zero to sixty” recently. (Norddeutschland had no digitized records available previously.)

In fact, the only remaining “holdout” church bodies are those from Oldenburg, Saxony (Sachsen) and Thuringia (called the Evangelische Kirche in Mittel-deutschland).

Digitization is made possible by funds from the regional churches and subscription fees paid by users, ranging from monthly “passports” (which allow subscribers to download a set number of records) to costly “professional” subscriptions. was established in 2013 by the umbrella Protestant church (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland) and eleven of its regional churches. The Evangelische Kirche came about as a union of the Lutheran and Reformed churches in the Kingdom of Prussia in the early 1800s, and therefore includes the historical registers of most mainstream Protestant village congregations.