Herzlich Willkommen bei Taufepedia!
The goal of Taufepedia is to leverage the power of crowdsourcing to catalog and transcribe every old german-language Parish Register (aka Kirchenbuch) ever. Thus making the full text of every german-language baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial record ever browsable and searchable online for free.
Taufepedia is a project started by Todd Ditchendorf, a genealogy enthusiast and software engineer mit Vorfahren aus Elsaß, Hesse-Darmstadt und Westpreußen.
The project's name is a portmanteau – a combination of the german word for baptism, Taufe, and of course, encyclopedia.
Warum / Why?
If you have any experience researching your german ancestors, you'll likely be aware that old german church and civil records can be particularly difficult to decipher.
That's due in large part to the handwriting. Before the twentieth century, german handwriting was usually written using an archaic form of cursive handwriting often referred to as Kurrent, Sütterlin, or simply Old German Cursive.
Translating the old german church records of your ancestors is hard enough, but often the hardest part may be deciphering the Old German Cursive handwriting at all.
Old German Cursive isn't just difficult for humans to read – computers aren't good at it either. So software can't easily scan, recognize and index old german records to make them searchable using search engines like Google.
Solving this problem calls for an approach that's already familiar to us all. A tactic made famous by Wikipedia. Namely, Crowdsourcing.
Was / What?
A few private companies currently exist which offer digital catalogs of old german church and civil records which are browsable on the web: Ancestry, FamilySearch, and Archion, to name a few.
We here at Taufepedia are big fans of many of these products, and we're grateful for their existence.
But in the 21st century, information wants to be free.
Inspired in part by WikiTree – a wonderful free site for crowdsourcing a single definitive family tree for the entire world – we here at Taufepedia believe it's time to begin a similar and complementary crowdsourcing project:
To decipher and catalog every old german-language birth, baptism, confirmation, marriage, death and burial record ever. And to make the text of those old german church records browsable and searchable online for free.
That's the mission of Taufepedia.
Text, not images
While online genealogy companies like Ancestry and Archion usually focus primarily on offering images of old german church records, Taufepedia will focus only on the text of those records.
Images of old official records will always be an essential aspect of genealogy research. For those of us researching from our home computers, these images are our primary sources.
But we here at Taufepedia don't have physical access to any old german church books or civil records, so we are not in a position to photograph them ourselves.
Also, we fully respect the copyrights of those companies and organizations (like Ancestry, Archion and FamilySearch) who have gone to great lengths to photograph those old records and make them available online. We have gladly subscribed to many of these online services ourselves. And again, we are grateful for the services they offer.
So uploading copyrighted images of those old records will not be allowed here on Taufepedia.
But the text content of those records is not copyrighted. We all have the right to collaborate on deciphering, sharing and cataloging the text of the old church records of our german ancestors.
And that's exactly what Taufepedia is made for.
This website is run on custom wiki software developed specifically for the task at hand – cataloging old church records.
There are thousands of former and current Church Parishes (aka Kirchspiele) across Germany and the former german territories like East Prussia, Silesia, Alsace and others.
A major goal of Taufepedia will be to add a webpage to this wiki for every single one of those current or former Church Parishes.
Then a sub-webpage should be added to each Parish webpage which corresponds to each official physical Church Book or Parish Regsiter (aka Kirchenbuch) ever "published" by that Parish.
And then, a further sub-sub-webpage should be added to each Church Book webpage to represent every record in each of those Church Books.
Those individual "Record" webpages will be collectively edited by all of us to represent the exact Vital Info and Full Text found in the corresponding physical Church Book record.
For more detailed information about such technical conventions here on Taufepedia, see the Taufepedia User's Guide.
Note that the goal here at Taufepedia will not be to collaborate on building a common family tree. Again, there's already a wonderful, free website for doing that called WikiTree. Check it out if you haven't.
The goal here at Taufepedia will be to collaborate on building a free, common wiki containing an exact and accurate reproduction of all text ever recorded in old german Parish Registers / Church Books / Kirchenbücher.
But wait, there's more!
Simply reproducing the text in old records is a great goal. But we here at Taufepedia also want to take this project one step further.
All of the Vital Info contained in those Church Book records (like name, date, etc.) are recorded in a structured database that can be quickly and easily searched.