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One of the main rules in genealogical research states that you should always "check the records with your own eyes". But what happens if you cannot always do this? Usually, you are forced to appeal to some published works [like Familienbuch, Ortssippenbuch, Ortsfamilienbücher or Heimatbuch existing mainly in the German genealogy and historiography] in order to achieve your research's purposes. In this comment we will try to analyze this situation for the Banat region.

In our comment The "Gap"; Notes on Records & Archives for Banat we clarified the situation of the records [manly church books / records] in the Romanian Banat. After 1989 these records became more available then ever in Romania. Entire parishes records were copied by people [usually, Germans originally from Banat] and an "industry" of Familienbuch was set up trough the efforts of villages HOG or AKdFF. In this moment [December 2005] are published already more then 50 Familienbuchs for the Banat region [where existed more then 800 villages!]. We have them all in our library and working with them we were able, during the time, to derive some CONCLUSIONS:

1. The way in which the Familienbuchs are still conceived and published do not allow to present all the information which exist normally in the church records /i.e. KB's. In Familienbuchs only the date for a certain genealogical event [like B / C, M, D] is given and usually the following information's are omitted:

a] at the B / C :
-the date of the christening;
-the spelling variation of the family name;
-if the child was legitimate or illegitimate;
-the house number in which the family was living;
-the details regarding the social status of the father or his profession;
-the parents religion;
-the name of the godparents;
-the social status or profession of the godparents;
-the name of the priest;
-the name of the midwife;
-other info [like the date & place of his marriage or death, etc].

Example from Josef Kühn's "Uivar Familienbuch" [page 183; this Familienbuch is given here only as example because we had also the original equivalent copied from the KB's. All the Familienbuchs are in the same situation]:

The same genealogical event recorded in the original Roman Catholic Uivar Parish KB's [entrance on two lines / pages]:

B 9.07.1887, C 10.07., Angela, törv.[ényes] / legitimate daughter of RITTER János & FRIDMANN Anna, közr.[rendu] / both parents common [not noble] people, both parents are of Roman Catholic belief, living in House no. 183 in Újvár, God-Parents: HOPPENTHAL Gáspár, borbely / barber, JAKSITO Angela; plebános / vicar GILINGER Antal; she will M on 16.05.1909 in Ag with ZINK Mátyás [this very important information -the M- is not given in the Familienbuch !]

b] at the M :
-the social status or profession of the bridegroom and the bride;
-the house number in which the bridegroom and the bride was living;
-the social status or profession for the fathers of the bridegroom and the bride;
-their age;
-their religion;
-the name of the witnesses;
-the social status or profession of the witnesses;
-the name of the priest;
-the dates when the marriage was announced publicly in the church for 3 times.

Example from Josef Kühn's "Uivar Familienbuch" [page 62]:

The same genealogical event recorded in the original Roman Catholic Uivar Parish KB's [entrance on two lines / pages]:

M 3.02.1873
-GÁÁL Jacobus, filius / son of GÁÁL Joannis, faber ferr.[arius] / blacksmith & MEHLER Catharina, B 1852 in Ujvár, living in House no. 101 in Ujvár, of Roman Catholic belief, coelebs / young boy unmarried
-VILD Barbara, filia / daughter of dftor. [defunctor] / deceased VILD Josephi, agr.[icola] / farmer & MÜNINGER A[nna]Maria, B 1857 in Ujvár, living in House no. - [not given] in Ujvár, of Roman Catholic belief, coelebs / young girl unmarried
TNCC: SCHNEIDER Jacobus, pleb[ea] / common people, BALBIERER Christofus, faber ferr.[arius] / blacksmith, ambo RC / both of Roman Catholic belief and from Ujvár
[the ceremony was performed by] GILINGER Antonius, parochus / vicar
promulgati / the marriage was announced publicly for 3 times in the church [usually after the holly service]

In Uivar Familienbuch is not recorded the fact that Barbara VILD's father, Josef VILD/ WILD, was already dead when her daughter married in 1873 [see Uivar Familienbuch page 258]:

c] at the D :
-the age of the deceased;
-his social status or profession;
-the name of the wife / husband;
-the house number in which the deceased was living;
-the cause of death;
-if the deceased received the last Eucharist or not;
-the date of the burial and the place;
-the name of the priest performing the burial;
-other information's [like how long was his marriage or how many children survived him / her].

Example from Josef Kühn's "Uivar Familienbuch" [page 95]:

The same genealogical event recorded in the original Roman Catholic Uivar Parish KB's [entrance on two lines / pages]:

D 13.11.1898, ISTÓK Bernát, takács / weaver, WILHELM Anna férje / husband of, originally from Újvár, living in Újvár House no. 83, of Roman Catholic belief, 69 éves / years old, cause of death Tüdögyulladás / pneumonia [inflammation of the lungs, pneumonitis, pulmonitis], he received the last Eucharist, buried in the Újvár cemetery on November 11 by VÁNNAY Lajos, plébános / priest

And even if these genealogical events, selected quite randomly and given here as examples, belong to the post 1835 period of time, when the KB's contains much more information's due their shape and the increased number of the columns, even prior to 1800 we can find very important information's regarding a certain family if we extract all the genealogical events in which that family is involved.

All these omissions existing in the Familienbuchs make the entire flavor of the details, which define and enrich the life of a person, to disappear from these books. The content of the Familienbuchs are only a list of names and dates and do not contain more info then a normal index.
More, due the fact that very important information's are not presented in the Familienbuchs, in the majority of cases the "godparent / witness argument" [which states that "the godparent of a child - or a member of his family if he died in the mean time - will be the witness at his marriage" and which is valid only in the case of the Schwabs from Banat] cannot be used to establish a possible parentage and the line is coming to a dead-end much too soon.

2. The biggest problem of these Familienbuchs is the fact that in them is not given any possibility to check yourself the correctness of deductions and links made by the author for the different members of the same family. So, you are forced to trust blindly the author!

3. In some cases the authors of these Familienbuchs are honorable retired people but which:
-do not have any experience in genealogical research at all;
-do not have any paleography knowledge at all;
-do not have talent or expertise for deciphering the specific handwriting existing in the XVI-XVII Century;
-do not know the Latin and/or Hungarian language and because of this lack of knowledge they do not understand all the information's existing in the church registers and this is why they came to wrong conclusions much to often.

4. The Familienbuchs are pompously named "Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrgemeinde ..." / "Family book for the Roman Catholic Parish ..." and from the title you can think that all the members of that Roman Catholic parish are take into consideration by the author(s). But this is not the case because almost all the authors take into consideration only the persons having a family name that sounds as German name to them. The rest of the Roman Catholics living in the parish - mainly, the Hungarians, Bulgarians, Slovaks, etc. - are omitted in the majority of the Familienbuchs. So, the Familienbuch authors select arbitrarily their subjects and show, in this way, a sort of "jingoism" linked with old times.

5. Familienbuchs authors take the liberty to standardize the family name after their own goodwill. We even did find cases when the family name is changed inside the same family - for example, the father is PULJER, the son is PULGER and the grandson is BULGER - and new spellings are imposed by the authors. In this way they introduce an aleatory element [their own will] in the genealogical research which is still a science with clear rules. So, they run counter even to the period time's laws which stated that the names must be respected and used as they were written in the records.

6. The way in which the Familienbuchs are build / done / written is not standardized. Some contain much more info then the others. See, for example:

-Anton Krämer's "Ulmbach Familienbuch" [volume I, page 346]:

-Hans Wikete's "Ortssippenbuch Großjetscha 1767-2000" [volume I, page 450]:

It's clear that Hans Wikete try to give more information - regarding the name of the god-parents, the name of the witness at the marriage, the spelling variations of the first name - then usually. The tendency, observed during the time, is to incorporate much more information in the newer Familienbuchs then in those published 15 years a go. The exceptions [mainly the works of Josef KÜHN: Sartscha, Lazarfeld, Saint Hubert, Heufeld and Ujvar Familienbuchs] were finished long time a go but only printed in the last couple of years.

In some Familienbuchs the families are arranged alphabetically [after the first name] inside the same family and this makes very difficult the finding of the needed information especially if the family name is common.

7. The abbreviations used in the Familienbuchs are not standardized [almost each author use different signs] and in some cases are used abbreviations that are not even explained.

- serious genealogical research can be conducted only by taking into account the original KB's

- the existing Familienbuch can not be more then a simple index in this enterprise.

We made publicly this comment on 26.12.2005. When we wrote this comment we did not had yet in our library the last two published Familienbuchs:
-Triebswetter Familienbuch [a standard Familienbuch but which is accompanied, for the first time, with a CD containing images - available for consulting and research - with all the pages existing in all the parish KB’s. Unfortunately, this Familienbuch contain also much to many mistakes and omissions
[ see our comment on Triebswetter Familienbuch ].
-Zichydorf Familienbuch [the same situation even if the CD’s with the images - excellent quality! - of the original KB’s must be purchased from another source then the Familienbuch]

The publishing of these two works at the end of 2005 put things in their logic order and implicit recognized our conclusion: if the concept laying behind the producing of a Familienbuch will not be changed in the future [up to the point that is found a new shape for the Familienbuch which will allow the presentation of all the information existing in the original KB’s], a Familienbuch cannot be more then a simple index.

After almost 3 months, Richard Jäger, Regionalleiter Banat im AKdFF, considered that is the time to make publicly a position regarding this comment. Our response is available here.

Please check also our comment The Best / Worst Banat's Familienbuchs.

Abbreviations & Notes:
abbreviation for "identical with"
[??] = when & where
i.e. abbreviation for the Latin id est, meaning "that is" or "in other words"
KB abbreviation for the German Kirchenbuch / church book or church register
B abbreviation for Born
M abbreviation for Marriage
D abbreviation for Death
HOG abbreviation for HeimatOrtsGemeinschaft / Associations of former residents
AKdFF abbreviation for Arbeitskreis donauschwäbischer Familienforscher / Working group of Danube-Swabian family history researchers
For other abbreviations check Abbreviations used by GenealogyRO Group

Familienbuch = a book which lists all the people, organized as families, which lived in a specified parish with their main genealogical events [B, M, D]
Ortssippenbuch = local kinship book, genealogical data of a village
Ortsfamilienbücher = heritage book
There is no difference between a Familienbuch, a Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbücher. As a matter of fact, Hans Wikete entitled his book on Großjetscha as "Ortssippenbuch ..." on the cover of the book and as "Familienbuch ..." inside the book.
Heimatbuch = Heimat / home, native place, homeland + buch / book = "hometown book" / the monograph of a place
Uivar Familienbuch = "Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrgemeinde Neuburg an der Bega (= Ujvar, Uiwar) im Banat 1812-1898 und deutschen Familien in Aurelheim (= Aurelhaza, Rauti) 1847-1898" by Josef KÜHN, AKdFF, Sindelfingen 2003, 301 + 78 pages. This Familienbuch is given here as example only because we had also the original equivalent copied from the KB's. All the Familienbuchs are in the same situation.
Ulmbach Familienbuch = "Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrgemeinde Ulmbach-Neupetsch im Banat und ihrer Filialen 1724-1991" by Anton KRÄMER, AKdFF, Sindelfingen, 1991, Teil 1 1724-1852, 548 pages, Teil 2 1853-1991, 620 pages
Ortssippenbuch Großjetscha 1767-2000 = "Ortssippenbuch Großjetscha 1767-2000 / Familienbuch der Katholischen Pfarrgemeinde Grossjetscha im Banat 1767-2000" by Hans WIKETE, vol. I, A-M, 818 pages, vol. II, N-Z, 573 pages, HOG Grossjetscha, Schriftenreihe zur donauschwäbischen Herkunftsorschung Band I 101, Deutsche Ortssippenbücher Band B123 1995, AKdFF, 2003, Boscolo & Koenigshofer, Karlsruhe / Renningen.
Hatzfeld Familienbuch = "Familienbuch Hatzfeld. Die ersten 100 Jahre im Spiegel der Matrikeln der röm. kath. Pfarrkirche (Hatzfeld, Klari, Tschene, Ketscha, Dt. Zerne und herrschaftliche Domänen) 1766-1866", by Dr. Emmerich Henz, Rheda-Wiedenbrück, 1998, CD variant.
Triebswetter Familienbuch = "Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrgemeinde TRIEBSWETTER / Banat mit Auswertung der Kirchenbücher von Triebswetter * 1773-1832, oo 1773-1868, † 1773-1850 und den Filianen Wiseschdia (1800-1803) und Dugoszello (1807-1818)" by Lothar Renard, AKdFF, 2005, Band I, II, 1074 pages.
Zichydorf Familienbuch = "Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrgemeinde Zichydorf im Banat 1789-1945" by Helmut Kaiser, CD format.