JOHANNES SCHWALM HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, INC.
How to Request Church Records from Germany
There are printed sources containing guidelines for requesting church and other records in Germany. One is: Writing to Germany: A Guide to Genealogical Correspondence with German Sources by Kenneth L. Smith. Another is: "When you write to Germany ..." by Friedrich R. Wollmershaeuser in Genealogical Research Directory for 1985.
Information for searching in Germany is available on the World Wide Web as well. One very complete site is:
When writing for church records, the letter should be addressed to the Evangelisches Pffaramt or to the Katholisches Pffaramt depending on whether the family was Protestant or Catholic. That address refers to the church if a small town or to the main church if a large city.
The second line of the address should contain the German postal code for the city or town and the city or town name. The postal code can be found on the Internet from:
You may also find codes in some libraries in German postal code books or Michelin red guides.
An example of an address for a Hessian from Melsungen:
D 34212 Melsungen
If at all possible, you should write in German and include the equivalent of DM 10 in a personal check to cover expenses. It is recommended that two International Reply Coupons be enclosed for the return correspondence and information. The Coupons are available at any US Post Office.
You should show how you are related to the person or family being sought. A sketch of a family tree is sufficient.
Sample letters are given in the printed references and are available on the Internet. One Internet source from the German genealogy server at:
The response you receive will most likely be in German. A volunteer German translation service is available from the genealogy server. If you are a JSHA member, one of our volunteers will help you with the translation.
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