Hamburg, German Empire Civil Registration

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Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Hamburg, they were kept continuously since October 1874. Civil registration records were also kept between 1799 and 1815 due to being occupied by Napoleonic France. If your family had a birth, marriage or death recorded during that brief time period, it will contain great information, due to the high level of detail in French records.

German terms for these records include Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister. They are an excellent source for information on names and dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths. These records are kept by the civil registrar (Standesbeamte) at the civil registry office (Standesamt). Study these links to learn what information can be found in them:

For a comprehensive understanding of civil registration, study the article Germany Civil Registration.

1. Online Digital Records for Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Digital copies of some civil registration can be searched online. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths.

2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Try to find church records in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

First, consult the maps and list at Hamburg Boundary Change Maps to determine whether your locality was originally in Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, or Hannover.

a. For civil registration of localities that were in the original Hamburg, click here. Open the link Places within Germany, Hamburg.
b. Click on your town or parish.
c. Click on the "Civil registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
d. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. State Archives[edit | edit source]

Civil Status Books[edit | edit source]

The Staatsarchiv keeps the Hamburg civil status books from the following periods:

  • Births: 1874 (formerly Prussian registry offices) / 1876 - 1908
  • Marriages: 1874 (formerly Prussian registry offices) / 1876 - 1938
  • (Deaths: 1874 (formerly Prussian registry offices) / 1876 - 1988

In addition, the Hamburg State Archives keep civil status records from the following periods:

  • 1811-1815 civil register of the Mairie
  • 1866-1875 civil status register of the civil registry office

Resident Registration Cards[edit | edit source]

A really valuable source for any genealogical research is the resident registration card. Hamburg has no census lists. Instead, Germany in general has a resident registration law. Every single person in Germany has to be registered with the authorities within a week of moving from one address to another. In Hamburg, the available archival collection includes cards for people who moved, died, or married (in the case of women) for the period 1892-1925. Due to World War II, the cards for the period 1926-1942 were destroyed, so there is a gap for those years. From 1943-1945 the registration cards are preserved, as well as tax cards from July 1943. Registration cards more recent than 1945 are under a retention period but can be searched with special permission.

The following information about a family can be given in one document:

  • Head of household: Name, date and place of birth, profession, date of moving to Hamburg, military service
  • Wife: Name, date and place of birth, date of marriage [a woman will also have her own card with more data]
  • Children: Name, date and place of birth, if they are registered on their own card
  • For all: Addresses, date of moving from Hamburg, date of death

Obtaining Records[edit | edit source]

For small searches:

For larger research projects:

4. Writing for Civil Registration Certificates[edit | edit source]

For time periods more recent than the online or microfilm records, you will want to write for certificates.

Writing to a Local Registrar[edit | edit source]

Write a brief request in German to the proper office using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

An das Standesamt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)

Registrar General[edit | edit source]

In Hamburg there is the Registrar General through which one can search all Hamburg offices. You will be charged for search time in addition to document fees.

Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Standesamtliches General Register
Eiffestrasse 74
D- 20537 Hamburg

Phone: 040 / 42839-2688 Fax: 040/42839 - 4461

How to write a letter: Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the German Letter Writing Guide.

5. Compiled and Published Secondary Sources[edit | edit source]

Caution sign.png

Compiled genealogies and published genealogies are secondary sources, not original or primary sources.

As such, they are subject to human error through translation or transcription errors, mistaken interpretations, and opinion decisions of another researcher.

You should make every effort to base your research on the actual, original records or their digitized images.

Town Genealogies (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch)[edit | edit source]

See the class Online Ortsfamilienbücher at and the Wiki article, Germany Town Genealogies and Parish Register Inventories on the Internet. Published town genealogies, Ortssippenbuch (town lineage book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book), generally include birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families based on the opinion of the author. If one is available, it should only be used as an index or guide to finding the original records. They usually contain errors. Always verify their information in original records.

Finding an OFB[edit | edit source]

  • Click here to see the hundreds of OFBs at GenWiki. These are indexed and searchable. Links to a town with a searchable OFB are added in the town list above, if available. OFB Instructions.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

German Records[edit | edit source]

  • It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
German Genealogical Word List
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find their birth record, search for the births of their brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of their parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • The marriage certificate will show the birth date, birth place, and parents of the bride and the groom.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.