Church Records · German · Uncategorized

Württemberg Church Records on Ancestry

In a prior post, I talked about accessing German church records on Ancestry. In this post, I want to talk specifically about the Lutheran records for the historic region of Württemberg. The collection that I will be talking about does not include records for historic Baden. These two regions joined in 1952, along with some other areas to create the modern German state of Baden-Württemberg.[1]

These records are indexed, but I encourage you to read them page by page to get the most from them. Sometimes indexing does not capture the records you expect. Alternatively, you may not think of a historical spelling that was used for a surname. Reading page by page you will see that different spelling and likely recognize it. Also, you always want to search for siblings of your ancestor. Browsing the records is an excellent way to find them. At the very least, you will learn so much more about the people that your ancestor lived near and more about the community.

Okay, I’m off my soap box. To access these Württemberg records that represent over one thousand villages, navigate to the collection called “Württemberg, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1500–1985.” From there, you use the drop-down box on the right, select the town and you’re off and running. Easy, right!

Not so fast.

Often that works, but there are cases where the town does not appear in the list or maybe not in the right alphabetical position. It’s those cases that are the focus of this post.

Let’s take Remmingsheim as an example. Sure, you find Remmingsheim listed twice in the list box, once as only “Remmingsheim” and the other as “Remmingsheim u Rottenburg.” The “u” is “und” abbreviated, German for “and.” Most, if not all, records in this set are digitized versions of Family History Library (FHL) microfilm. Once you understand that, it all makes sense.

Select “Remmingsheim” from the list. See a set of records spanning 1746–1965. Select “Remmingsheim u Rottenburg,” see records spanning 1724–1967. When I look at the records for Remmingsheim in the FHL catalog, I see that there are Remmingsheim records that go back to 1558. Where are they on Ancestry? To best answer the question, use FHL’s catalog.

Remmingsheim spans three microfilms:

  • 1,457,490, items 5–6
  • 1,457,491
  • 1,457,492, items 1–4

That first microfilm contains the earlier records that I can’t find on Ancestry. The clue is that FHL 1,457,490 holds records for another town (or towns) on items 1–4. Only items 5–6 are for Remmingsheim. Logically, Ancestry has categorized the contents of that particular film under the name of the town that occupies items 1–4.

Do a film/fiche search in the FHL catalog for FHL 1,457,490. Aha! The first town on that film is Pliezhausen. When I search for Pliezhausen in the town list on Ancestry, I still don’t find it.

Go back to the FHL catalog and find out more about that first item for FHL 1,457,490. Click on that first item for Pliezhausen:

Pliezhausen 1

Look for FHL 1,457,490 in the resulting list and read its description. The catalog tells us that all of the information on that particular film is for the town Dörnach. Sure enough, that is where you will find the “missing” Remmingsheim records. Under “Dörnach u Remmingsheim.”

Pliezhausen 2

The FHL cataloging identifies the order of the records on a microfilm. For this reason, that catalog is also a great reference to have at your fingertips with looking at the corresponding records, whether digitized or on microfilm.

Be aware that other digitized collections (on Ancestry or elsewhere) that originate from microfilm may have similar idiosyncrasies. It’s essential to understand where digitized data originates from.

I hope you found this helpful. Happy hunting!

[1] “History of Baden-Württemberg,” article, Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg : accessed 30 March 2018).

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