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How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Hamburg, German Empire

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How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

A genealogy guide to Hamburg, Germany civil registration and church records to trace ancestry and compile family history.


Civil Registration (Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister)[edit | edit source]

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 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 records in the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Many microfilms have been digitized for online viewing. Gradually, everything will be digitized, so check back occasionally. Some have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at the Family History Centers near you. To find records:

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)
GERMANY

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
Germany

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.

Church Records (Kirchenbuch or Kirchenbuchduplikate)[edit | edit source]

See Germany Church Records to learn more.

  • Entries for baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials in the local church records are the main source prior to 1876, when civil registration began. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family.
  • You should try to determine whether your ancestors were Catholic or Lutheran (Evangelical).

Parish Register Inventories[edit | edit source]

  • Wilhelm Jensen “Die Kirchenbücher Schleswig-Holsteins, der Landeskirche Eutin und der Hansestädte” (Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1958); included in Quellen und Forschungen zur Familiengeschichte Schleswig-Holsteins, 2. Bd. Description of the parish registers of Schleswig-Holstein, the principality of Lübeck in Oldenburg, and the cities of Lübeck, Bremen and Hamburg. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL Ref) (FHL Location 2: FHL INTL book 943.512 D2q v. 2)(FHL Location 3: FHL INTL film 1183522, it. 5, 1936 version) WorldCat

1. Online Records[edit | edit source]

Archion: Northern Germany: Landeskirchliches Archiv der Evang.-Luth. church: Church circle Hamburg-West Südholstein

Ancestry.com ($)[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com can be searched free of charge at your local Family History Center.

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

Try to find records in the microfilm collection of the FamilySearch collection. These microfilms are gradually being digitized for online viewing, so check back occasionally. Some are restricted to viewing at the Family History Centers near you To find records:

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 church records of parishes 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 "Church records" 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. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Toten" 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. Writing to a Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]

  • Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting the local Catholic or Lutheran church.


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


For a Protestant Parish:

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


For a Catholic Parish:

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


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.

4. Church and State Archives[edit | edit source]

Copies and even originals of some church records are deposited in various archives. Although some general descriptions of which records are in which archives are given here, you can and should e-mail the archive to make certain they have the records you want. The Family Search page of the State Archives gives this explanation of which church records it holds and where to find those it does not. Notice that there are two different groups within the protestant/Evangelical/Lutheran church.

A. The Staatsarchiv Hamburg houses the church books of the Protestant-Lutheran church communities in Hamburg before 1866 and the Reformed communities before 1884, the church books of the Mennonite community, and the Jewish communities.

Staatsarchiv Hamburg
Kattunbleiche 19
22041 Hamburg
Germany
Phone: 040 115
Fax: 040 4279-16001
E-mail: Poststelle@staatsarchiv.hamburg.de
Website: http://www.hamburg.de/staatsarchiv
Online database search
Family search information and holdings

B. The church books of the Evangelical-Lutheran parishes in Alt Hamburg (now at Hamburg-Ost), dating back to 1865 are in this archive: The Lutheran archives over Hamburg supposedly participate in Archion, but only a few military parishes are online there.
Church District Archives Hamburg-Ost
Höltingwiete 5
21073 Hamburg
Germany

Tel: 040 519000-975 (Family Research)
Fax: 040 519000-970
E-Mail: archiv@kirche-hamburg-ost.de

C. The church books of the Catholic church communities are not located in the State Archives of Hamburg, but in the responsible church offices.

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.

Other Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

To learn how to determine the location of other religious records, namely Jewish, French Reformed, German Reformed, etc., watch Hansen’s Map Guides: Finding Records with Parish Maps beginning at 48:00 minutes, to learn how to locate these congregations. Then go back and watch from the beginning to understand how to use the reference book. Also, you can read Map Guide to German Parish Registers. This video and handout teach you how to use a set of reference books found at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are not in Salt Lake City, use the Contact Us feature to request information from the books.

Also,

Town Genealogies (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch)[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.

See the class Online Ortsfamilienbücher at Genealogy.net 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
German Handwriting
  • Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:
  • Also online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:

This converter will show you how any phrase or name might look in German script:

  • Kurrentschrift Converter (enter German genealogical word, click on "convert", view your word in Kurrentschrift (Gothic handwriting)


Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]

Feast Dates[edit | edit source]

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. If you only have a church marriage record, calculate the birth date of the parents, using age at death and/or marriage to search for their birth records.
  • 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.