Definition of "Reliable Sources" for pre-1700 Germany?

+5 votes

I am relatively new to Wikitree and now preparing for pre-1700 certification in order to add profiles for my 17th-century German ancestors. tells me to refer to the project-generated list of Reliable Sources. But when I go to it lists as the only Reliable Source "Published articles and books with sources cited". What I want to use are original parish records as viewed at (with proper referencing to those sources). Can these be considered a Reliable Source as well? And, if so, can someone from the German Roots Project add them to the list of Reliable Sources?

Edited title of my question to reflect more clearly what I'm after - I'm not looking for primary sources (I know where to find them), but I'm asking about why such primary sources are not included in the definition of "Reliable Sources" for pre-1700 Germany.

in Policy and Style by Living Geschwind G2G6 Mach 8 (83.9k points)
edited by Living Geschwind
Hi C-H,

Your link to the German Reliable Sources page includes a trailing comment, so results in "page not found".
Oops, fixed. Thanks!

4 Answers

+3 votes
by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (642k points)

Yes, I am aware of that discussion. But neither of the lists cited there ( and is referenced in which, according to, is the only authoritative list of Reliable Sources for pre-1700 profiles. In addition, neither of those lists actually lists (which gives access to images of the actual parish books and thus in my opinion should be a first stop for those with Protestant German ancestors who can read German and deal with the old script)

Send a message to one of the leaders on the Germany page for their insight.
+3 votes

Primary or original sources are almost always not only acceptable but preferred.  The source lists tend to be secondary sources where you are relying on someone else's research to make conclusions about relationships.  Citing a specific church document hosted by is absolutely a reliable source and is encouraged even if it is behind a paywall.

As you know, hosts the most protestant/Lutheran records.  Matricula Online is hosting more and more Catholic records. hosts some of both.  Most German records on FamilySearch are now restricted to LDS members.  A secondary source that should be included on any reliable source list are the Ortssippenbuch's  (family book).  Those are almost always compiled by highly skilled genealogists who are very familiar with the location.

by Kerry Larson G2G6 Pilot (192k points)
Thank you, Kerry, for reaffirming what I think the policy ought to be. I just wish it actually said this in the "Reliable Sources" page for the German Roots project.

I agree that the German page should list primary and original sources as should most other project resource pages.  If it helps, it's mentioned on the Pre-1700 Resource Page at the top:  "Sources added should be "primary" whenever they are available and be of universal use to all members (as opposed to a source that relates specifically to one profile)."

I agree with Kerry that each of the projects (or the pre-1700 help as an umbrella) should have something about primary sources, see

+4 votes

I've always assumed that by default, primary or original records are always allowed / preferred, and that the many "Reliable Sources" pages for the various projects here are only meant to address other sources than these.

Looking through the many Reliable Sources pages, there is little to no mention of this though. Seems like that should be in the introduction to all of them, as it is in the Pre-1700 England page:

"The most reliable sources are contemporary records that were created at the time the person lived."

by Joe Murray G2G6 Mach 4 (41.1k points)
+3 votes

I've found that access to church records in areas now within the borders of Germany varies widely according to location and time period.  

I've had luck with regard to my Catholic German ancestors in the diocese of Speyer in the Rheinland Palintate. Coverage is by no means complete, but a lot of records are available.  But if I move over a few towns or villages, it may not be as good.

I've been less successful with my protestant German ancestors from areas in the north of what was East Germany and in areas that are now Poland.  A few records seems to be online, but most are not.  More of these seemed to have been destroyed in wars.

My best results at finding what is available has come by doing Google searches on regional geographic names and terms like church records.  

Some are on Family Search.  A few are on Ancestry. More, especially Lutheran ones in German, are on, which requires a fee.

There is an article at with links to several sites to try and some advice on how to make the best effort at finding what you need.

Personally, I'm concentrating on my Catholic German ancestors and church records found on Family Search for three reasons: 1) I read Latin a whole lot better than German, so its going a lot faster and I'm finding more information I can pull out and 2) Family search has a better search engine from my point of view for those records which are indexed and a surprising number of the Catholic ones filmed by LDS are indexed and 3) In general, for my eyes, both the images and the tools for tweaking the images on the Family Search viewer for digital images of microfilm seem easier to bring into better contrast and focus for me than some of the viewers I've worked with on other sites.

Expect lots of holes and celebrate when you find a relevant record.  

by Mary Jensen G2G6 Pilot (110k points)
Hi Mary:

Thank you for your comment. Yes, the availability of church records can definitely be spotty (for one ancestral line in former Anhalt-Dessau I've had to use a local genealogist to go look at the church books that are still available only in hardcopy in the local Pfarramt).

However, my question was not about finding primary sources (for my ancestors from Hesse, East Prussia, and Oldenburg I've had no problems). Rather, my concern is that these primary sources are not included in the definition of "Reliable Sources" in the page on reliable sources for pre-1700 profiles in the Germany Project. This is why I placed this question in the "Policy and Style" section - it seems to me that the policy on what are "Reliable Sources" for this project needs to be updated, or at least made more explicit. I'm sorry if the original phrasing of my question did not make this clear.

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