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Lutheran Marriage Record in German

For Kurzeme and Vidzeme family researchers, German language skills are a must. In this post, I will help decipher what is written in the full Lutheran marriage record. Yes, these full records are rare, but if found, they are a treasure trove of information.

Wedding in a church
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As an example, I will use the marriage record from the Riga St. Gertrude's Lutheran congregation. For most rural congregations, the long or full records (German: Hauptregister) have not survived.


However, for some congregations they have survived, and then there are immediately new threads to follow in further research.


First, let's look at what is written in the church book's printed form.

Church book formular

On the left side of the page, the following information:

  •  No.

  •  Day and month when the engagement took place with the pastor

  •  Baptismal name and surname, occupation or class status of the engaged or married, as well as their fathers' names, information on whether the parents are alive, place of birth and religion

Church book formular

On the right side there is the following information:


  • Whether the bride and groom are single, widowed or divorced and their age

  • When the banns took place for the first, second and third time.

  •  When and by whom they were married

  •  General notes.

By the way, to translate printed text, you can play around with the Google Lens app on your phone. It is usually already installed, you just need to find it in the app list and turn it on. Then point it at the text and select "translate". The translation may not be literally correct, but the meaning will be understandable. However, the app cannot handle handwriting, although it recognizes individual words correctly.

Next, we will see to the record itself. Here is a transcription of the German text separately for the left and right side:


marriage record

marriage record

And here is the English translation:

marriage record translation

marriage record translation

The records use the Latin terms Sponsus and sponsa - groom and bride, as well as pastor loci - local pastor. You will see the abbreviation "p.l." very often in baptismal records as well. The word "copulirt" also comes from Latin.


Regarding information about the parents, only the bride's mother is indicated as deceased (a cross next to the name), the groom's parents were apparently alive.


The place of birth usually indicates the manor (parish) and the homestead. This time, looking at maps from the interwar period, I found a homestead that could correspond to the German name "Elkchen", namely "Alksnieni" in Latvian. On a 1917 map of Kurzeme, the name "Alksheen" can be found, which is similar to "Elkchen". To find out the names of homesteads, there is usually a lot of searching and comparison in various historical maps. Reading the letters is often not enough if you want to identify the homesteads on modern maps as well.


I hope this record will help you understand church books and decipher some Lutheran marriage records. You can also read about the baptismal record in an earlier post.



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