LDS Family History Library

There are a variety of ways that the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and their website contents can be very useful to Bavarian genealogy researchers:

Bavaria and Germany Research Helps

The Family History Library Catalog

Research Collections

Family History Center Locations

Bavaria and Germany Research Helps

Bayern Research Helps Scroll down the list and look for "Bayern Germany".

Germany Research Helps Scroll down the list and look for the word "Germany". Some things of note included are: Genealogical Handbook of German Research, German Letter - Writing Guide, Germany Research Outline, How to Use the Meyers Gazetteer, Handwriting Guide: German Gothic.

The Family History Library Catalog

People who live IN Germany today are not allowed to access the LDS filmed vital records while in Germany. This is due to contractual agreement with the LDS. Such people need then to personally conduct research for the same documents at a Staatsarchiv or religious archive in Bavaria (or Germany as a whole), as applicable. However, this caveat does not apply to people who live outside of Germany and / or who order the LDS films in question while outside Germany. For example, people who order the films in the USA or other countries outside Germany ARE allowed access to German records filmed by the LDS, as well as being allowed to visit in person and research on their own or enlist the services of someone else to conduct research on their behalf at any of the Bavarian Staatsarchive or religious archives. Whenever possible, personally accessing and searching filmed records by the LDS can be a great deal less expensive financially to the individual genealogist, and thus a very desirable alternative to conducting genealogy research via the various Bavarian archives themselves. In a nutshell: If you are in Germany, you can't view the German LDS films; if you are outside of Germany, you can view the German LDS films.

A source of confusion for many novice researchers is that they are unaware that the best way to find actual, filmed birth, marriage, death and other records held by the LDS for their Bavarian ancestor is to complete a PLACE Search of the FHL Catalog. The PLACE (parish or town of birth) the ancestor was from must be searched for, NOT the ancestor's name. Once positive results are received in the Catalog locality search, one must then look through the films offered for that place to see if there is an index of surnames available or simply look for alphabetized films.

The LDS have been able to film some, but not all, Bavarian records. They have filmed at each of the civil Bavarian Staatsarchive, but availability of religious record films (the most important for genealogical research in Bavaria) is dependent upon the religious affiliation and / or location of origin of the ancestor in question. Many Protestant records for Bavaria have been filmed but only some Catholic records (the Augsburg Diocese). Copies of marriage supplements that mention the religion of the betrothed were deposited with the civil Staatsarchives and subsequently filmed by the LDS. One researcher may find their entire Bavarian lineage to have been filmed by the LDS, another may find civil records but no religious records, yet another may find nothing at all and thus have to conduct their research either in person, by mail, or by agent via religious and civil archives in Bavaria itself.

Knowing what place to search for in the FHL Catalog can be a tricky proposition. Search for both the town of birth and the name of the town of the parish where the ancestor's family attended church. If in doubt, search the FHL Catalog with the following locations in mind:

The name of the town your ancestor was born;
The name of the town where your ancestor's family attended church;
The names of other larger, nearby towns or cities

Searching for Marriage Supplements

When looking for marriage supplements, you may be able to locate them if you know the correct location of the Bezirksamt (district office) and / or the Landgerichte �ltere Ordnung (Landgerichte �.O. - court of the old order) location which would have applied to your ancestor at the time he / she married. For example, the Landgerichte �ltere Ordnung for those who resided in the town of Postm�nster in 1860 was located in Pfarrkirchen. By looking in the FHL Catalog for "Pfarrkirchen", a marriage supplement can be found for a groom who resided in Postm�nster.

Most of the marriage supplement records at the FHL and the Staatsarchiv have been cataloged under the Bezirksamt. In a handful of cases the records have been cataloged under the Landgericht. Prior to 1862 there were 214 "Landgerichte", each of which maintained a file of marriage licenses and supporting documents. After 1862 the responsibility for the licenses was given to the newly created 142 "Bezirks�mter". Except in the name of the office of the governing authority, many villages and towns did not experience a location change for the filing of their records.

Look up what would have been the correct Bezirksamt location for your ancestor's town at the beginning of the 20th century and use that place name in a "Place Search" of the FHL Catalog. You can find out what the applicable Bezirksamt would have been by looking in:

"Meyers Orts- und Verkehrslexikon des Deutschen Reiches"

by E. Uetrecht. Available on fiche #6,000,000 at all US LDS Family History Centers. This volume, prepared in 1910 and published in 1912, tells about all existing villages, towns, and cities that time); what parish they belonged to, or if they had their own churches; to which various district designations (church, state, military, etc.) they belonged; whether they had train, telegraph, postal services, or how far away they were; presence of market facilities for crops, cattle, etc., population, and a variety of other information. Newer printed volumes are available as reference material at larger public libraries. Also see: How to Use the Meyers Gazetteer.

One way to locate the correct Landgerichte �ltere Ordnung is to look it up here:

"Historischer Atlas des K�nigreiches Bayern"

You might also ask the appropriate civil Staatsarchiv. After all, this is where the actual documents are kept.

Points to remember:

1. Sometimes the marriage supplements were filed in the FHL Catalog under the headings of "public records", "civil registration", and even "Church records". The LDS have been going through and examining this problem of inconsistency in the filing and will soon be altering (if they haven't already) all of those records to be found under "public records" in the FHL Catalog.

2. The records are sometimes arranged in a confusing order--this occurs when a Bezirksamt inherited records from several Landgerichte and did not ever get them all interfiled with one another. In most cases they did get them interfiled.

Research Collections

Another useful aspect of the LDS website for Bavarian genealogy research is the ability to conduct online searches of their Research Collections. Options for searching include the following:

Ancestral File
International Genealogical Index ( IGI )
Pedigree Resource File
US Social Security Death Index
Vital Records Index
Family History Websites

The International Genealogical Index ( IGI ) resource in particular is useful when looking for Bavarian ancestral information.

Members of the LDS who have researched their own ancestors and subsequently submitted their personal research data to the LDS organization have this data included in the searchable IGI. For Bavarian genealogy researchers in general this is significant because:

1. Finding evidence of a relatively uncommon surname in the IGI can provide location clues for researchers who have not yet learned the name of the town their Bavarian ancestor was born at. Some surnames have high incidence in small geographic areas of Bavaria.

2. Even if you don't find information specific to your own particular ancestor, IGI surname, location and date matches can give clues about possible close relatives to your ancestor.

3. The IGI may also provide some lucky individuals with the surprising realization that their ancestral line has already been researched by a LDS member.

Important Note: The data provided via the IGI may contain errors and is only as reliable as the individual researcher who submitted it. It should not be confused with obtaining information from the actual records themselves. All data should be cross-checked with actual records before being deemed accurate. Often, record source notes are not included with IGI data, nor often is contact information included for the submitting researcher.

Directions to search the Research Collections page:

(Generally, unless you are only looking for something very specific, it is best to leave the option on the left of the page for "All Resources" highlighted, and to search the collections with the minimum of information required.)

1. Enter the surname (don't enter a first name unless the surname in question is fairly common)

2. In the box for "Country" click the down arrow and choose "Germany"

3. Do not change the box next to the "Country" box that now says "All States". Leave it at "All States" (If you entered a surname without a first name, you must not fill in any other field except a country.)

4. Click the "Search" button

5. View the results

Family History Center Locations

Once you have located films in the Family History Library Catalog that you personally wish to search, you must then locate a Family History Center ( FHC ) that is conveniently located to you so that you can order copies of the films and have a place to view them. One way is to look in your local telephone book under "Latter Day Saints". Another way is to look for a Family History Center near you via the LDS website. Enter the appropriate information in the boxes given on the Find a Family History Center near you webpage to find the location of the FHC nearest you.

Additionally, if you need help learning how to read the German script that old Bavarian records are written in, visit the following websites:'s "Alte deutsche Handschriften /Old German handwritten scripts"

LDS Handwriting Guide: German Gothic 

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