Kinsearching October 23, 2011




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Generally, European genealogical research is closely connected to ecclesiastical jurisdictions where the birth, christening, marriage, death, and burial records are found in local parish registers. In Germany, the church records are especially important since few censuses exist. To achieve good results in family search, genealogists must check the parish registers of the religious denomination to which their ancestors belonged. In the German states during the nineteenth-century, most people were Catholic or Lutheran.

     During the middle to late 1800s, the historic boundaries of German parishes were usually designated solely in general terms. Although the components of the old parishes are known, they are defined only by the towns assigned to each parish. To help genealogists locate the appropriate church records in various regions, Kevan M. Hansen is continuing his work on a projected 55-volume series, MAP GUIDE TO GERMAN PARISH REGISTERS. Recently, he completed Volume 39: KINGDOM OF PRUSSIA – PROVINCE OF WESTPHALIA I: REGIERUNGSBEZIRKE MINDEN AND MÜNSTER AND THE PRINCIPALITIES OF LIPPE & SCHAUMBURG-LIPPE.

     Working with digitized underlying maps of Germany, Hansen draws the old boundaries to encompass the towns included in each individual parish. The maps show how the various parishes fit together and specify the borders of each district, the adjoining towns, and the surrounding parishes. In many cases, Hansen’s maps are the first to show the boundaries of the nineteenth-century German parishes. Using the data, genealogists can identify the parish where their ancestors most likely worshipped, based on where their forebears lived. Knowledge of the adjoining parishes also allows family researchers to locate the church their forefathers attended if it was situated in a neighboring parish.

     Like the earlier volumes in Hansen's series, WESTPHALIA I furnishes separate parish boundary maps for Catholic and Lutheran churches, an inventory of congregations of minority religions (German Reformed and Jewish), and a complete index to towns. In addition, the volume provides the Family History Library microfilm number for individual parish records. By entering the number in the Microfilm Number Search in the Family History Library Catalog at, genealogists can get a printout of all available films for a given parish and the years included on each reel.

     Hansen's publication is not a “how-to” manual for conducting German genealogy. Instead, his publication is a guide to help researchers locate church records and unique resources in a given area of the country. Individuals who are tracing progenitors from the region will find valuable information in MAP GUIDE TO GERMAN PARISH REGISTERS: KINGDOM OF PRUSSIA – PROVINCE OF WESTPHALIA I: REGIERUNGSBEZIRKE MINDEN AND MÜNSTER AND THE PRINCIPALITIES OF LIPPE & SCHAUMBURG-LIPPE.

     Sporting a bright and interesting cover, the 309-page soft-bound book contains a foreword, an introduction by Leland K. Meitzler, a concise discussion of the area's historical background, a list of the region's main rulers since 1816, a section about the area's genealogical resources (church archives, civil registration, repositories, lineage books, periodicals, and genealogical collections, for instance), and an explanation of how to use the volume. To the paperback price of $34.95 ($65.00 for hardback), buyers should add handling charges of $4.90 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy. Checks or money orders may be mailed to Family Roots Publishing Company, P. O. Box 830, Bountiful, Utah 84011-0830 (phone 801-992-3705; fax 815-642-0103). Credit card purchases may be made on the website

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