Register books that document ecclesiastical acts of baptisms, weddings and funerals are the most valuable sources for family research. This type of record keeping was established extensively at the beginning of the 17th century.
The entries vary in form since, especially at the beginning, no bounding regulations were in place. Therefore, short and frugal chronicles dominated at first. Ideally, parish registers contain information on the date of birth and/or baptism of the respective person as well as the corresponding parents and godparents (name, place of residence, profession). Parish registers report on spouses (place of residence, profession, age), their parents and marriage witnesses and the marriage itself. Death registers report on the deceased (cause of death, age, place of residence, burial place).
Since the beginning of the 20th century, parish registers include comments on marriages effected elsewhere or the death of a person; this kind of information cannot be found in earlier documentations.
Tools and requirements (Index, Indices)
These were only created consistently at the beginning of the 19th century. Such registers were created only partly for older fonds. Usually, they are structured by family name – for weddings according to the family name of the groom – and refer to the respective page (pagina) or the respective sheet (folio) of the register book in which a corresponding entry can be expected.
Kurrent. In this context, varying spellings of names must be considered, be it first names, family names or place names. In many cases these were written by ear; this is also to be considered when using the indices.
Retention period Austria
Birth and baptism registers: 100 years
Marriage registers: 75 years
Death registers: 30 years
Entries since the year 1939 are subject to the registry offices of the respective communities.
Retention period Germany
Birth and baptism registers: 120 years
Marriage registers: 100 years
Death registers: 40 years
Entries since the year 1876 are subject to the registry offices of the respective communities