Ortssippenbücher

The Publication Committee of GCRA has recently been discussing Ortssippenbücher (also originally known as Dorfsippenbücher – similar books are Einwohnerbücher, Bürgerbücher and Familienbücher). These books and their history are discussed on the website: http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/~history2/karten/einl/imhof.htm where it states that the concept was standardized in Germany in 1937. The goal was to extract information from local parish records throughout Germany and compile them into a standard genealogical format for each community. By 1940 the records of a total of 30 communities had been completed, and the project was continued after WW II. New “Ortssippenbücher” are being published every year.

The term "Dorfsippenbücher" seems to have fallen out of favor because it carries some baggage from the Nazi years, when the compilation of such books was a goal of the Reichsnährstand organization. Familienbücher are viewed more narrowly than Ortssippenbücher in the German language. Such a book would usually be a comprehensive history of a single family. The current alternative to the term "Ortssippenbücher" would more likely be "Ortsfamilienbücher." However, older publications will include “Dorfsippenbuch” or “Ortssippenbuch” in the title, so those terms should also be used in searches. See also the site: http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Ortsfamilienbuch

As of 1807, congregations in Württemberg were legally required to maintain a "Familienregister." This practice apparently carried over to South Russia, where they are often called Personalregister, Personalbuch,. Familienregister or Familienbuch.

The Family History Library (FHL) of Salt Lake City has a Research Guide for Germany, which is a bit dated, but worth reading. http://www.familysearch.org/eng/search/RG/images/34061_Germany05.pdf On p. 37 this site translates Ortssippenbücher as “Village Lineage Books.” However, a better translation is “Locality Lineage Books” since some parish records (the sources of information for these books) cover more than a single village.

Information ( birth, marriage, death, citizenship, occupation, etc. – extracted from all available parish records) for individuals in the community is organized alphabetically by surname & chronologically by marriage date. The FHL has a large collection of Ortssippenbücher and similar publications. You can conduct a search to see if the FHL has a publication about the community of interest to you on the Family History Library Catalog website: http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHLC/frameset_fhlc.asp by doing a “Place Search” (select that option from the menu on the right).

Another website of the FHL is: Family Search / Research Wiki: https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Germany_Genealogy
Dealing with German genealogy, it discusses the various materials available at the FHL, and cites important bibliographies of family histories, etc.
The Library of Congress also has a significant collection of Ortssippenbücher. A search today resulted in 174 hits, while searches for Ortsfamilienbuch resulted in 54 hits, and for “Familienbuch” resulted in 272 hits.: http://catalog.loc.gov

It is possible to search for copies in libraries throughout the U.S. and some foreign libraries, by doing a “WorldCat” search on: http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/ A search today for “Ortssippenbuch” resulted in 640 hits, for “Ortsfamilienbuch” in 245 hits, and for “Familienbuch” in 1956 hits. Because copies of a single publication have been catalogued somewhat differently at different libraries, you will often find the same publication listed more than one time in these searches. If you need help with this search engine, you should be able to get it at your local library. Some of the volumes are available on inter-library loan, which is something your local library can arrange.

Several websites are devoted to the listing of publications for specific areas of Germany:

Württemberg: “Württembergische Ortssippenbücher” http://wiki-de.genealogy.net/Württembergische_Ortssippenbücher

Baden: “Die Badischen Ortsfamilienbücher” htp://user.baden-online.de/~ksiefert/

Central Europe: “Ortssippenbücher, Familienrekonstitution, Familienregister, locale Geschichte” http://www.volkmar-weiss.de/publ5.html – it is easily translated into English

Ostfriesland: “TCGHS Ortssippenbücher (OSB) Collection” http://www.tcghs.org.OSB.htm

A general site is: “Ortssippenbücher” http://www.ahnenforschung-hessen.de/zentralstelle/ortssippenbuecher.htm

It is sometimes possible to purchase copies of these books from used book dealers, however, they can be expensive, particularly if they come from Germany. Two sites are:

“BookFinder4U”: http://www.bookfinder4u.com/used_book_stores.html

http://www.abebooks.com

Other useful websites are:
ProGenealogists: Family research group: http://www.progenealogist.com/germany/Articles/gpublish.htm

Geneal Forum:

http://www.geneal-forum.com/forum_d/showthread.php?id=7564 Link Tables:
http://members.cox.net/hessen/links.htm

German Information Center USA - Discover German Originality - Genealogy Links http://germanoriginality.com/heritage/genealogy_links.php

If you are fortunate enough to have an “Ortssippenbuch” for the point of origin of some of your ancestors, it is possible to compile a genealogical chart in a short period of time. However, like all extracted information, one must allow for human error, and confirm the information that is provided whenever possible.

It is possible to do an internet search to determine if a community you are interested in has an Ortssippenbuch or similar publication. You should include your search request in quotation marks such as “Ortssippenbuch Stuttgart” – this will limit the results of your search.

You can also do a search for “Ortssippenbücher”, which today resulted in ca. 5800 hits. For those of you with Windows operating systems, creating umlauts for internet searches, or in any document is easy. By using the “Alt” key in combination with your “number pad” you can create them by holding down the “Alt” key and typing the following sequences of numbers:

142 = Ä
153 = Ö
154 = Ü
132 = ä
148 = ö
129 = ü

Homer Rudolf, Allyn Brosz, James D. Klein & Thomas A. Stangl

Copyright: GCRA, May, 2009