GERMAN GENEALOGICAL INFORMATION
BADEN STATE ARCHIVES
GENEALOGICAL INQUIRIES AT THE STATE ARCHIVES
The research of a family history is a common request of many who turn to the State Archive either in writing or in person. However, unrealistic wishes and expectations often exist regarding the sources available, the means of help, and the archive personnel. Therefore, this introductory overview should show you the possibilities and limits of genealogical inquiries at the State Archive. It should first be noted that the State Archive has no extensive and complete name indexes, the archival records are rarely arranged according to names, and the archivists cannot within the framework of their service devote themselves to genealogical tasks or genealogical inquiries.
The State Archive stores written and printed material of the state authorities or its predecessors from the territories within the boundaries of the state of Baden as it existed before 1945. A general survey is presented in the "Gesamtübersicht der Bestände des Generallandesarchives Karlsruhe" [An Overview of the Holdings of the State Archive in Karlsruhe], edited by Manfred Krebs (Stuttgart 1954/57). A revision of this publication of 10 volumes is in the progress; 3 volumes (1988-1992) are now available. Therefore, we have, with a few exceptions (areas west of the Rhine in Pfalz, the Speyer Seminary and the Margrave of Baden), neither documents of areas outside of Baden nor documents which resulted from cities, municipalities (e.g. citizen books, civil protocols) or churches (e.g. church books before 1810). The publication "Minerva Handbuch. Archive im deutschprachigen Raum" [Minerva Handbook. Archives in German-speaking Territories] (2nd Ed., Berlin/New York 1974) gives an overview of the other archives which are responsible for other domains.
Before you undertake genealogical research in the archival records, you should always consult the available literature. This is not only good advice for methodic research, but in some cases you may benefit from information which has already been researched. Genealogical publications and genealogical journals, local family history books and emigrant lists are a few worth mentioning. Furthermore, there are source publications which are also suitable for genealogical evaluations such as document books, indexes, periodicals and guides. Finally, there are name lists for official purposes such as directories or state manuals. Full descriptions of literature and source publications are found in the "Handbuch der Genealogie" [Handbook of Genealogy], edited by Eckart Henning and Wolfgang Ribbe (Neustadt a.d.A., 1972). The publications of this kind, which deal specifically with Baden, are listed in the "Bibliographie der Badischen Geschichte" [Bibliography of the History of Baden], edited by Friedrich Lautenschlager and Werner Schulz (Karlsruhe/Stuttgart 1929-1984), and additionally in the "Landesbibliographie von Baden-Württemberg" [State Bibliography of Baden-Wuerttemberg], edited by Werner Schulz and Guenter Stegmaier (Stuttgart 1978 ff.). These can be found in the reading rooms of the state libraries in Karlsruhe and Stuttgart.
Probably the most important sources for genealogical research are the church books. They contain the data for births and/or christenings, marriages and deaths. They mention parents of a child to be baptized or the origin of the people to be married or of the deceased. Between 1810 and 1870, the clergy of Baden had to maintain the church books as civil documents of the citizenry and every year deliver duplicates to the district officials. These duplicates for all municipalities of the contemporary government district (only 1810 - 1870!) of Baden are today stored with us here in Karlsruhe. The duplicates for the government district of Freiberg are in the State Archive of Freiberg, Colombistr. 4, 79098 Freiberg. The originals of these church books and the earlier (before 1810) and more recent church books (after 1870) are normally at the individual clergyman's offices of the respective denomination or the Archiepiscopal Archive, Herrenstr. 35, 79098 Freiberg and/or the Evangelic Church Archive, Blumenstr. 1, 76133 Karlsruhe. You can find a list of the surviving church books in the book by Hermann Franz, "Die Kirchenbücher in Baden" [The Church Books in Baden] (3rd Ed., Karlsruhe 1957). Before you resort to other sources, you should make the most of the church books since they are the only source which contains the complete information which makes it possible to trace a family from generation to generation.
The written information in the archives resulted from the "administrative course of events". Regarding family research, that means that information about individual persons is only available as far as the person came in contact in some way with the "authorities". Only in the rarest cases will you find all of the desired data mentioned in the source. The references are mostly limited to the mention of a name.
Within this constraint, archival sources for genealogical research offer the possibility to go back into the 14 or 15th century, when the use of surnames emerged in the civil proceedings. Early written records are only sparse. Moreover, their evaluation presupposes a considerable scientific knowledge, including Latin or Middle-High-German. However, from the 18th century on, written records become more numerous, and you should limit your research to the sources which you can expect to contain relevant familial information. As a priority, consider the tax lists, which can be found in department 66 (Beraine), and also in the topographical file department among the topics "Renovationen, Schätzungen, Zehntwesen" [Renovations, Assessments, Tax Dispositions]. In addition, you should refer to the homage lists in which are listed the subjects who had to make an oath of allegiance in the event of a new ruler. These lists are located under the topic "Landesherrlichkeit". Finally, we should mention the inheritance files, personnel files (servant acts), serf lists, military enlistment lists, purchase records, emigration and naturalization files, although this list is not exhaustive. Other topics are also worth considering on an individual basis. If you know that the person you are researching is named Müller [miller] you should also check under the subject of "Mühlen" [mills] and so forth. A full list of the relevant sources can be found in the manual of genealogy previously mentioned.
All of these sources are arranged according to governmental and territorial aspects in the State Archive. Therefore, no inquiries can be pursued in a purposeful way into the official written or printed material if you do not know in which place the person in question lived or ended up. If however you have traced back a line of ancestors by means of the church books, you normally know the place for which other information may exist, and you can search in a well directed way among the other possible references for the specific place.
If the place is not known, research is more difficult. A generally valid search strategy cannot be given for this case. You can consult the available card index for the occurrence of surnames in Baden, which despite its volume, only contains information from a part of the files of the 18th and 19th century and therefore certainly does not offer a complete picture. However, you may be able to determine a place in which the name in question occurred.
The State Archive personnel offer aid in determining what reference material should be checked for specific genealogical questions, and they deliver the archival records to the reading room for use. The review and evaluation of the archival records are up to the user. Archive employees do not do genealogical investigations within the framework of their service. Also, help reading records can only be offered on a very limited basis. The response to written inquiries is limited to indications of which archival records may be worth checking. In this case, the previously mentioned card index of surnames remains out of consideration since its information can usually only be verified by further extensive research. Without an exact location and a definite scope, research and proper processing of written inquiries are not possible. This also applies to the providing of information from the duplicate church books of 1810 to 1870, which are stored here. The determination of the archival records and the answer to written inquiries is subject to a fee (at present 16 DM per quarter hour or portion of). Use of the reading room is - with the exception of commercial purposes - free of charge.
Successful genealogical study requires training in the proper methods and in deciphering old documents, a lot of patience and therefore a lot of time. Associations which offer aid for such research exist, and there are commercial contractors who undertake genealogical investigations for a fee. The State Archive, upon request, will provide a list of addresses.
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