Catholic church records of Westphalia & Prussia (going online in April 2017)

+26 votes

The diocese of Münster, located in Northrhine-Westphalia (Germany) is going to get their church records online for free at

Starting at Apr 18, 2017 the following digitized images of the original catholic church records, beginning in alphabetic order by the name of the parishes, will be published:

  • baptism records (with a 120 year retention period),
  • marriage records (with a 100 year retention period),
  • death records (with a 100 year retention period),
  • confirmation records (with a 110 year retention period)

These records cover parishes from Westphalia (and the former western part of the Kingdom of Prussia), see below.

This is an important step, since until now, one had to be physically present at the archive to get the information---and pay for copies of these records. The above retention periods originate from german law restrictions.

Archive of the Diocese Münster:

Münster @ Northrhine-Westphalia, Germany:

Source of this news: (in german)

asked in The Tree House by Jochen Oberreiter G2G6 (6.6k points)
She died from (of?) Variola (= english smallpox, german Pocken).

Hi Jochen! 

I am very anxyous about the archives of

  • Südlohn, St. Vitus
Could you tell me when it will be released?

Hi Carlos,

the archives will be released by alphabet, currently the diocese of Münster is online from "A" to "R", so it should go online with the next batch. I can not provide an exact date, as I don't know it, but my rough guess would be one to three months.

You may check for yourself from time to time by searching at or checking the Map.

Note: Südlohn is very close to Winterswijk (Netherlands), so it may be a good idea to cross check the nederland archives as well for any family members.

 I will keep looking time to time at Data Matricula.

Thanks for the tip of look Winterswijk archives but I don’t see Netherlands at

Thank you again!


@Carlos: Südlohn-St.Vitus is now online: Südlohn (St. Vitus) @ Matricula

Many thanks!!! I was eager to see this archives!

About the Dutch registers, I did not found the books of Winterswijk. They belong to what “province/state”? Searching in the history, I learned that parts of west Germany were annexed to dutch Spain (for some dacades). I think Südlohn among them. Do you know who hold the books of this period?

Vielen Danke noch mal!!!!
It's been a long wait for Suedlohn parish records but worth it. In only a few hours many ancestors have been located.

Can these records be downloaded or only linked?

Now deciphering occupations in the various scripts.

Look forward to records for Vreden and Weseke

Are there any plans to extend the project to other areas in North Rhine-Westphalia?

Winterswijk records also had several BDM documents for ancestors born in these three Westphalian towns.


Can these records be downloaded or only linked?

It can be downloaded, but you have to use an addon for your browser. There may be a bunch of capable addons, personnaly I'm using uBlock Origin (which is an adblocker). There is a function/tab to see all network requests, which reveals also the URL of the record image itself. It has a form of "<LongIndividualHashTag>/?csrf=<HashTag>&ctrl=<HashTag>" and is quite long.

Are there any plans to extend the project to other areas in North Rhine-Westphalia?

Maybe, since Matricula is continues growing and new parishes decide to cooperate with them.
But I can't answer this seriously, as this decision depends on each diocese / parish. For NorthRhine-Westphalia, there is another resource, which covers the non-church part (maps, estates / assets, public government records, etc.):

The extent of online content is very limited, and it really hard to find the correct records. Most of the records can only be read if you show up personally (you have to be in the archive itself), and as far as i know, you have to pay for copies.

Hi Jochen

UBlock Origin worked perfectly. Thank you. One very happy researcher!

3 Answers

+2 votes
How big an area is this? Will similar records be released in the future for other parts of Germany?

answered by Sharon Centanne G2G6 Pilot (140k points)

I think it will cover Münster and its surrounding parishes, detailed information is not available at this time, we have to wait until after mid-April. See for a map of the diocese.

Parts of Bavaria (= the diocese of Passau) is already online at Matricula.

I have no idea if other regions will follow. I think every german diocese could handle this differently, so I would not put my money on it!

I have ancestors whose records sometimes list as Prussia. But no familiar town or village name is on my list. Nonetheless, this is very good news for many of us here. Thanks a million, Jochen! You are a champ for being so alert to the possibilities of sharing this information and what it can mean to someone!

Roberta, thanks, you're welcome!

"Prussia" covered, at it's peak, half of northern central europe (see Münster lies north of Essen on above map, and was only a very small part of the whole.

But you may have a look at GEDBAS ( and enter either the family name (field "Nachname:") or the town name ("Ortsname:"). Start the search be clicking on "Suche starten".

It searches a dozen of databases (adress books, headstones, passenger lists, WWI and WWII casuality lists, obituaries, etc.), maybe you are lucky.

How do you determine the diocese location for Haldenwang which is in the Oberallgaeu district (Bavaria)?

There is a wiki called "GenWiki" which covers most of the german cities/towns in terms of genealogical infos.

The entry of Haldenwang:

Under point 3.2 it reads that the catholic church of Haldenwang, "St. Theodor" belongs to the church district "Kempten" of the diocese/bishopric "Augsburg". There is also an index of the available church registers (they are not online available).

I have read that the Family History Libraries (FHL) of the Church of the Latter Days' Saints (LDS, Mormons) may have records of the bishopric Augsburg, but I haven't checked that.

You may also look at

got it, thanks!
Thank you! Those links sound great!

Thank you so much for all the great links, Jochen.  My Laske family is all from OberSchliesien, Prussia, which as you know is now Poland.  I found some great info on the
+1 vote
this is great for my research as I have Catholic ancestors from Northrhine-Westphalia,and prussia that I have never been able to find a record for.
answered by Veni Joyner G2G6 Mach 1 (11k points)
+2 votes
Thank you for posting this Jochen. I look forward to researching this.  My German side is the most difficult to take back further in Westphalia, in the Paderborn region.
answered by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 6 (64.2k points)
Some Catholic church records are available through FamilySearch. There are several rolls for my ancestor's small town in Hesse-Darmstadt, covering baptisms, deaths, and marriages (Taufen, Tote, Heiraten) from about 1780-1880. They're digitized, but can only be viewed at an LDS Family History Center.
Thank  you for that information. I had no idea that some of their digitized records for Germany/Prussia could only be viewed at their Family History Center. I thought that only applied to microfilm records.
Yes, some digitized records can't be viewed from home. I searched the catalog on the FamilySearch site by location (I searched for Munster bei Dieburg, Hessen) and two types of records came up - one being "Church records."  Clicking on that pulled up "Katolische Kirchebuch," and when I scrolled down, there were several kinds of records listed, all with the symbol for digitized microfilm, but with a little key above it (accessible only at an FHC or affiliated library). But that's OK - I actually enjoy going there, and the volunteers are always very kind and helpful.
That's interesting.  after using familysearch for about a dozen years I finally went looking for my nearest FHC which I discovered was only a short distance (5 mins by car) from where I live. I went there only to discover that the centre had closed the previous week and was in the process of moving to a new facility about half an hour away. :-( wasted opportunity

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