Ortsippenbücher (singular Ortssippenbuch), also known as Familienbücher and Ortsfamilienbücher, are sources of genealogical information about families within a specific town, village, or parish. Information can cover many generations of a family going back to the beginning of written records. The main text lists individuals alphabetically by surname. Individuals are usually assigned a number for cross-referencing purposes, allowing researchers to find information about a spouse, parent or other person listed elsewhere in the book. Information is usually extracted from church and civil records. A history of the village and the local parish church, lists of those killed in war, rosters of emigrants to the United States, and other information are sometimes also included.
The History & Genealogy Department has OSBs for Germany, Alsace and Lorraine in France, and former German-speaking areas in eastern Europe, including former East Prussia and Banat and Batschka in Hungary, Romania, and Serbia. OSBs are written in German (French for villages in Alsace and Lorraine in France). Because most follow a common format, knowledge of the language is not essential as long as the researcher understands the pattern in which the information is given and is familiar with the symbols and abbreviations used.
Lists of OSBs available in the History & Genealogy Department can be downloaded as a PDFs from the following links:
Lookups in OSBs
The History & Genealogy Department staff can do lookups in OSBs and copy up to 30 pages. Please submit requests using the online Lookup Request Form.
Aids and guides (PDFs)
- Common symbols and abbreviations used in Ortsippenbücher and other German genealogical sources
- Ortssippenbücher and Other Locale–Specific Sources are Rich in Genealogical Data (PastPorts, Aug. 2010)
- Using Ortssippenbücher to Research Your Family (lecture handout)
- Aids for deciphering German church records
Websites with information about OSBs
Last update: Sept. 15, 2020