Church records are a key source of genealogical information for our Ostfriesen ancestors. Churches recorded the births, marriages and deaths in their communities for generations, even if the person was not a member of the Church’s denomination. Small communities generally had only a single church while larger communities had multiple denominations. The population was dense so some communities and churches were only about two miles apart so it is helpful to check maps and look for records in surrounding communities if you do not locate the records you are searching.
Information recorded in the records varied prior to the implementation of standards in the early 1800s. You often see baptism dates rather than birth dates, burial dates instead of death dates, and the parents of couples being married may not have been recorded.
Many volunteers have compiled family books from church records for the Upstalsboom-Gesellschaft, the Ostfriesland genealogical society in Aurich, Germany. These books follow the standards of the Upstalsboom-Gesellschaft and are called an Ortssippenbuch or an OSB. Some researchers will independently compile a family book from a community’s church records and publish them privately. These books are called an Ortsfamilienbuch or an OFB.
Both OSBs and OFBs require extensive efforts to complete and the books are often in process for years. OSBs and OFBs were traditionally printed once and were difficult to obtain after they sold out, however some are now reprinted after an adequate number of orders have been received. The OGSA attempts to maintain copies of each book in its research collection located in the Minnesota Genealogical Society library and the collection is available at our conferences that are held every two years. Information about future conferences is provided in the Events section of our website at OGSA.us. Copies of the books are available through the OGSA and they may also be located in the LDS collection in Salt Lake City and selected libraries with large genealogical collections across the US.
In addition to family information, some of these books include a rich history of the area and church in their preface section. OGSA volunteers have translated several of these prefaces into English. Some were very short while others were more comprehensive. If you would like more historical information, you may want to obtain copies of the longer prefaces from near-by communities since these may include information applicable to the region and the times, rather than only the specific community.
The following list shows the records available from the Churches by communities.