Church Death Records

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Death and Burial Records

German death and burial records tend to be as formulaic as birth and marriage records. However, a deceased person can be recorded in almost any document. Parish priests tended to to mark the death of people in their parishes, even if that person had moved away. It was very common for a priest to add death comments into previous birth and marriage records of children. It was also standard for the priests to comment on the death status of a parent in birth or christening, confirmation and marriage records of their children. If or when you come across this, you will need to find the death record to confirm the information you see. The good news is that you have a ending date for your death records research

Death and burial records will almost always be written into the same document, whether civil or church. 

The information usually found on a death/burial records includes:

  • Name of the deceased 
    • Men will have their first and last name listed.
    • Women may have their name and marital status listed.
    • Women can be listed as only "the wife of" and then the husbands name.
    • If married, the deceased can be listed as "widow" or "widower."
    • Women can be listed as only the "widow of" their husbands with no names
    • Women who have never married will be listed as "spinsters" and might have their fathers listed 
  • The names of  parents
    • Always for minor children and occasionally for adults
  • Occupations of deceased and/or parents
  • Marital and death status of deceased and/or parents.
  • Date of death
  • Cause of death
  • Place of death
  • Age at death, commonly with birth date or how many years, months and days old the person was when deceased. 
    • 20y 3m 2d (20j 3m 2t) 
  • Burial place of deceased, especially if different than the place of death or parish church
  • Sometimes hometown or birthplace of deceased

Death Record Examples

German death and burial records come in two different formats: tabular/column and sentence or paragraph form. The amount of information in each record is dependent on the scribe. Paragraph and sentence formats tend to be found pre-1800 and tabular forms are usually found post-1800, although this is not a rule. 

For a transliteration and translation of each form, click on the images or links. 

Example of tabular/column format:  

Transcription and Translation

Example of sentence format:

Transcription and Translation

Example of paragraph format: 

Transcription and Translation

Document Citations

  1. Grunau, Dresden-Meißen, rk Bistum, Deutschland,, Archival Identifier: 18, Register Type: Tote, Date Range: Jan. 1, 1890-Dec. 31, 1909, Duplikat, Storage Location: DADM,
  2. Orlofferfelde Mennonite church record book, Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, KB OR 1.1 at Weierhof. Geburten, Taufen, Trauungen, Todesfälle 1800-1899, Scanned from the microfilm at the MLA, image 106. 
  3. Boberröhrsdorf | Breslau/Wroclaw, Staatsarchiv | Polen, Archival identifier: 83_119_0_0_20, Begräbnisse, Jan. 1, 1776-Dec. 31, 1788 Storage: Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu Oddzial w Jeleniej Górze ( page 20_0019 and 20_0020, 21. 

Image Attributions:

  1. Death of a Peasant, By Franz Streitt - National Museum in Kraków, Public Domain,
  2. Kinderbegräbnis: By Albert Anker - "Von Anker bis Zünd, Die Kunst im jungen Bundesstaat 1848 - 1900", Kunsthaus Zürich, upload Dezember 2008, Public Domain,

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