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How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Rhineland (Rheinland), German Empire

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How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
Rhineland (Rheinprovinz)
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Getting Started
Major Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Record Types
Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background
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Genealogy courses: Learn how to research from an expert in [https://www.familysearch.org/ask/landing?search=germany&show=lessons&message=true?&cid=wiki-course Germany courses ].


Guide to Rhineland (Rheinland), German Empire ancestry, family history, and genealogy before 1945: birth records, marriage records, death records, both church and civil registration, compiled family history, and finding aids.

Contents

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Rhineland (Rheinland)[edit | edit source]

Most of the information you need to identify you ancestors and their families will be found in two major record groups: civil registration and church records. To locate these records, follow the instructions in these Wiki articles.

1. Find the name of your ancestor's town in family history records.[edit | edit source]

Records were kept on the local level. You must know the town where your ancestor lived. If your ancestor was a United States Immigrant, use the information in the Wiki article Germany Finding Town of Origin to find evidence of the name of the town where your ancestors lived in Germany.
Also, see:

2. Use gazetteers and/or parish register inventories to learn more important details.[edit | edit source]

Your ancestor's town might have been too small to have its own parish church or civil registration office. Find the location of the Catholic or Lutheran (Evangelical) parish that served your ancestor's locality. Find the name of the civil registration office (Standesamt) that serves your ancestor's locality. Use the Wiki article Finding Aids For German Records for step-by-step instructions.

Germany was first unified as a nation in 1871. An important gazetteer, Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs, "Meyer's Gazetter" for short, details the place names of villages, towns, counties (kreise), and higher jurisdictions used at that time. In the Research Wiki, FamilySearch Catalog, and FamilySearch Historical Records, the records of Germany are organized using those place names.

At the end of both World Wars, the boundaries of the states were changed dramatically, as areas of Germany were distributed among the Allied nations. Eventually, after re-unification in 1990, the states of Germany settled into what they are today. It is also necessary to understand Germany by this system, as it affects the locations of civil registration offices, archives, and mailing addresses used in correspondence searches.

3. For birth, marriage, and death records after 1 January 1876, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Rhineland (Rheinland), they were started in 1792. 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.

Determining the Location of a Civil Registration Office[edit | edit source]

Research your town name in MeyersGaz.org to find the location of the registry office (Standesamt). It is indicated by the abbreviation "StdA". 'This is the Standesamt location you will use when searching for civil registration records anywhere in the FamilySearch catalog and collections. Ancestry.com collections will also use this location name. Records in archives will use this location prior to the consolidation of registration offices in the 1970's.

However, some of the offices were merged in 1970's, so the modern record location might be different than that listed in MeyersGaz. When writing for records, first find the modern registrar for your town.

  • To find the current Standesamt, go to the German Wikipedia, and enter the name of the town in the search box. An article about the town will start with a first line such as: "Besse with about 3200 inhabitants is the largest district of the municipality Edermünde...." It is probable that the Standesamt is now located in the larger municipality (in this example, Edermünde).
  • For larger towns which constitute a municipality:
  • To find the current Standesamt, go to the German Wikipedia, and enter the name of the town in the search box.
  • This type of article will not state that the town belongs to another municipality, because it is itself a municipality.
  • To e-mail the municipality to verify that the civil registry for your town is there.
  1. Consult this address list for the exact contact information, which should include an e-mail address: Standesamt.com. In the horizontal menu bar, hover over "+registry office" or "+Standesämter", then the name of the modern state, for a drop-down list of links to modern cilvil registrars.
  2. Send a message asking whether you have the correct office for your ancestors' home town. You can also use e-mail to request records and arrange payment. Use the German Letter Writing Guide to write your questions in German.


Privacy Laws[edit | edit source]

Since 2009, birth records have been public after 110 years, marriages after 80 years and deaths after 30 years. A direct relationship (direct descendants and direct ancestors) to the subject of the record sought will be required in cases where the required time period has not yet elapsed. Even then, the records may be accessible if it can be shown that all "participating parties" have died at least 30 years ago. Participating parties are both parents and the child in birth records, and both spouses in a marriage.

Finding Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

1. Online Records[edit | edit source]

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

Ancestry.com collections can be viewed free-of-charge at a Family History Center near you.

  • These records for Menden cover: Boingsen, Holzen, Lendringsen, and Sümmern.
Menden Births, 1874-1905---Marriages, 1874-1935---Deaths, 1874-1986, index and images.
  • These records for Mönchengladbach cover: Giesenkirchen, Gladbach-Land, Hardt, Schelsen, Mönchengladbach-Mitte, Neuwerk, Obergeburth, Oberniedergeburth, Odenkirchen, Rheindahlen, Rheydt, Unterniedergeburth, Wanlo, and Wickrath.
Mönchengladbach, Germany, birth register, 1798-1903, index and images.
  • These records for Trier cover: Ehrung, Pfalzel, Trier, Trier-Vororte.
Trier Births, 1798-1904---Marriages, 1798-1924---Deaths, 1798-1950, index and images.

Saar Region on Ancestry.com ($)[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com collections can be viewed free-of-charge at a Family History Center near you.

2. Digital Copies of Civil Registration From FamilySearch[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, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on this link to records of Germany, Preussen, Rheinland.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Preussen, Rheinland and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town. If the town or village is not listed, find the town in Meyer's Gazetteer. See where the Standesamt (StdA.) was. It may have been in different place, because of the size of the town. Use the town found in Meyer's Gazetteer, not the current, merged office.
d. Click on the "Civil registration" topic, if available. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths.
f. 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 for Civil Registration Certificates[edit | edit source]

Many civil registration records, especially those created in 1876 or later, are still only available in the local civil registration office or archive in Germany that has the originals.

Local Standesamt Addresses[edit | edit source]


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

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

State Archives[edit | edit source]

  • You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a town. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.

How to write a letter[edit | edit source]

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. For baptism, marriage, and death records, use church records or parish registers.[edit | edit source]

Church records (parish registers, church books) are an important source for genealogical research in Germany before civil registration began. They recorded details of baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. The vast majority of the population was mentioned. To learn more about the types of information you will find in church records, click on these links:


For a comprehensive understanding of church records, study the article Germany Church Records.


Finding Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parish Register Inventories[edit | edit source]

Church record inventories are essential tools for finding German records. They identify what records should be available for a specified parish and where to write for information on these records. They list the church records, their location, and the years they cover. Sometimes inventories explain which parishes served which towns at different periods of time.

Online[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • J. H. M. Putman, "Die Kirchenbücher des Bistums Münster (Bussum (Niederlande)" : J.H.M. Putman, 1974). The parish registers of the diocese of Münster, Westfalen, Germany. Includes some towns in the Netherlands. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL Ref 943.56/M1 K23p) (FHL Location 2: FHL HD book 0000624) (FHL Location 3: FHL HD film 1045373, it. 7 and it. 9) WorldCat

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

Archion ($)[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

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

Ancestry.com collections can be viewed free-of-charge at a Family History Center near you.

  • Rhineland, Germany, Protestant church books, 1533-1950 - at Ancestry.com ($), index. To see a list of available parishes and their links, under "Browse this collection" in the right sidebar, select "Deutschland" in the "Region" field. Then click on the drop-down menu for "City or district".


2. Digital Copies of Church 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 a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on this link to records of Germany, Preussen, Rheinland.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Preussen, Rheinland and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. "Taufen" are christenings/baptisms. "Heiraten" are marriages. "Tote" are deaths.
f. 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. Research in Church and State Archives[edit | edit source]

Church records or duplicates may have been gathered from the local parishes into central archives, either by the churches or the state. Older records are frequently given to these archives for safekeeping. Some gaps in the church records of local parishes could be filled using these records.

  • Pdf Archive Inventory: "Part 1 of 2: Church records in Archives" - is an inventory of localities and the location or archive where their records should be found. The sixth column, "Archives", gives a number. To find the name and contact information, look up that number in the second column of this .pdf: Part 2: Archive Addresses.  It is not clear how up-to-date this inventory is.


Some archives offer searches for a fee. Archives might be unable to handle genealogical requests, but they can determine whether they have specific records you need, sometimes perform very brief research, such as just one record, or they may recommend a researcher who can search the records for you. Archivists are required to speak English.

E-mail[edit | edit source]

  • You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a parish. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.

Catholic Archives:[edit | edit source]

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To find the correct diocese archives, look up your parish in The Catholic Directory for Germany. Click on "View Full Listing" to find the diocese for that parish.


Episcopal Diocesan Archive Aachen
Jakobstr. 42
D-52064 Aachen
Germany

Mailing address: PO Box 10 03 11
D-52003 Aachen
Germany

Phone: 0241 452 - 268
Fax: 0241 452 - 828
E-mail: archiv@bistum-aachen.de


Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Cologne (Köln)
Gereonstr. 2-4
50670 Cologne
Germany

Phone: 0221 - 1642 5800
Fax:0221 - 1642 5803
E-mail: archiv@erzbistum-koeln.de


Bistum Archive Essen
Green Aue 2
45307 Essen
Germany

Phone: 0201 - 2204 316
Fax: 0201 - 2204 570
E-mail: archiv@bistum-essen.de


Diocesan Archives Limburg
Weilburger Straße 16
65549 Limburg
Germany

PO Box 1355, 65533 Limburg
Phone: 06431 - 295-846
06431 - 295-849 (genealogy)
Fax: 06431 - 295 892
E-mail: archiv@bistumlimburg.de


Bistumsarchiv Trier
Jesuitenstraße 13c, 54290
Trier
Germany
Phone: 0651 - 96627 0
E-mail: Bistumsarchiv@bgv-trier.de


Bistumsarchiv Speyer
Small Pfaffengasse 16
67346 Speyer
Germany
Phone:06232 - 102 256
Fax: 06232 - 102 477
E-mail:Bistumsarchiv@bistum-speyer.de

Lutheran Archives[edit | edit source]

Evangelical Church in the Rhineland
Landeskirchliches Archive
Hans-Böckler-Strasse 7
40476 Düsseldorf
Germany
Tel .: 0211-4562-225
E-Mail: archiv@ekir-lka.de



Central Archives of Ev. Church of the Palatinate (Speyer)
Domplatz 6
67346 Speyer
Germany
Postal address:
Postfach 1720
67343 Speyer
Germany
Phone: 06232-667180
E-Mail: centralarchiv@evkirchepfalz.de


Archive of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, St. Martin / Boppard
Mainzerstrasse 8
D-56154 Boppard
Germany
Tel. (06742) 8 61 94


State Archives[edit | edit source]

  • You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a parish. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.

4. Writing to a Local Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Most church registers are still maintained by the parish. You might obtain information by writing to the parish. Parish employees will usually answer correspondence written in German. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to a central repository.

Evangelical Lutheran (Protestant)[edit | edit source]

Catholic Addresses[edit | edit source]

E-mail[edit | edit source]

  • Because many churches now have known e-mail addresses, you can quickly check whether the parish records are stored at the parish church or have been moved to archives. If possible, do this before sending a more detailed inquiry or any money. Links for church addresses are found on the wiki pages for the individual states and counties of Germany.

I. Are the parish records for _________to ___________ (time period range) at your church still?  

1. Sind die Kirchenbücher für den Zeitraum von _____ bis _____ noch in Ihrer Kirchengemeinde?

2. If they have been moved to an archive, can you tell me where they are now?

2. Falls sie nun in einem Archiv sind, können Sie mir bitte sagen, wo sie sich jetzt befinden?

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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 Genealogy.net, and 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 OFBs at GenWiki. These are indexed and searchable. OFB Instructions.
  • A bibliography of OFBs held by the Central Office for Person and Family History, and available in their archive in Frankfurt am Main-Höchst, is listed here. You can arrange for copied pages to be sent to you for a fee or donation. Use the "Find" function on your keyboard to search the bibliographies, as they are not alphabetical.

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,

Reading the 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
French Genealogical Word List
Latin Genealogical Word List
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:

Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]

Latin Records[edit | edit source]

Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:

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.
  • 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.