How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Schleswig-Holstein, German Empire

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Schleswig-Holstein,
German Empire Topics
Kuhhaus.jpg
Getting Started
Major Schleswig-Holstein Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Schleswig-Holstein
Record Types
Schleswig-Holstein Background
Ethnicity
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background


How to Find Records

Contents

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Schleswig-Holstein[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.

You can also consult Schleswig-Holstein Parish Record Inventories to learn the Lutheran or Catholic parish that would have kept records for your town.


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 October 1874, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Schleswig-Holstein, German Empire Civil Registration. Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Schleswig-Holstein, they were started 1 January 1876. 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 can be searched free of charge at your local Family History Center.

Denmark[edit | edit source]

Somewhat, Denmark church records were used by the nation as civil registration. These counties (Kreise) of Schleswig-Holstein, now in Denmark have online church records, which would be used as substitute civil registration records:

2. Microfilm 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 the records of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.
b. Click on Places within 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.
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]

Civil registration records for Germany can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry (Standesamt) or the district archives. Records may have been lost at one location of the other, so you might end up checking both. The first office you contact might choose to forward your request to the other location if necessary. Write to the district archives if you wish to inquire about more than one town--for example, if you think a couple were married at either the groom's hometown or the bride's, and you want both places searched.

Standesamt Addresses[edit | edit source]

State Archives[edit | edit source]

Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein
Prinzenpalais
24837 Schleswig
Germany

E-mail: landesarchiv@la.landsh.de
Phone: 04621 8618-00
Fax: 04621 8618-01



For Schleswig-Holstein areas annexed to Hamburg:
State Archives Hamburg
Kattunbleiche 19
22041 Hamburg
Germany

  • Some of the civil status books are already available in digital form. For deaths up to 1950, certified copies are made directly by the State Archives. Please use the form "copy order only for digitized deaths up to 1950 (only certified)" and send it to us. The copy order for digitized deaths must be printed out and completed by hand.
  • For deaths from 1951 as well as all births and marriages, please complete the application of Elbe-Werkstätten GmbH and send it together with the order forms to the State Archives.
  • The fees for the certification of reproductions can be found in the fee schedule.
  • In some cases, you must first download and save the forms before they can be completed.

Writing the Letter[edit | edit source]

Using this address as guide, replace the information in parentheses:

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


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 (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.

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

Follow the instructions in Schleswig-Holstein, German Empire 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.

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

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 the Places within Germany, Preussen, Schleswig-Holstein drop-down menu and select your town.
For localities in Lübeck, click here to select your town.
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. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. 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. Writing to or Visiting Archives[edit | edit source]

Church Archives[edit | edit source]

Older church records or duplicates have been gathered from the local parishes into central archives. Some gaps in the church records of local parishes could be filled using these records. Church archives are often unable to handle genealogical requests, but they can determine whether they have specific records you need, or they may recommend a researcher who can search the records for you.

Lutheran Church Archive Addresses[edit | edit source]

There are no church records or family genealogical registers at the Landeskirchliches Archiv der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche Norddeutschlands. Original and copied parish registers are kept in the respective 'Kirchenkreis-Archive" (church district archives). This list gives a link to each archive with its contact information. Short e-mail requests to verify that the church records you are seeking are in the collection are generally honored. Following are the links for districts in Schleswig-Holstein.

Addresses of the church district archives.

Holdings in the church archives Altholstein
Holdings in the church archives Dithmarschen
Holdings in the church district archive Hamburg-Ost
Holdings in the church district archive Hamburg-West / Südholstein
Holdings in the church district archive Lübeck-Lauenburg
Holdings in the church district archives Nordfriesland
Holdings in the church district archive Ostholstein
Holdings in the church district archive Plön-Segeberg
Holdings in the church district archive Rantzau-Münsterdorf
Holdings in the church district archive Rendsburg-Eckernförde
Holdings in the church district archive Schleswig-Flensburg
Visitation Information[edit | edit source]

If you want to visit one of the Kirchenbuchämter, be beware of time restrictions (1 session = 3 hours). The research facilities are small and have only one reader on which to read microfiches. The equipment might be worn out which limits research time even more. It is expected to work independently for the staff cannot/will not assist with research. You must be knowledgeable about their archival records, jurisdictions and of course, have the ability to read old German script. Some archives provide indexes of names, which of course, facilitates a search for ancestors immensely. You will be charged a fee of 5 Euros (2010) for using the facility.

Hiring a Researcher[edit | edit source]

For help with hiring another researcher to visit the archives for you, contact:

Schleswig-Holstein Genealogical Society
Schleswig-Holsteinische Familienforschung e.V.
c/ o Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein Prinzenpalais
D-24837 Schleswig Germany
Germany

Catholic Archives[edit | edit source]

Diocesan Archives Archbishopric Hamburg (Visiting Address)
Schmilinskystraße 80
20099 Hamburg
Germany

Diocesan Archives Archbishopric Hamburg (Mail Address)
Am Mariendom 4
20099 Hamburg
Germany

Phone: 040 24877 294
Fax: 040 24877 288
E-mail: colberg@egv-erzbistum-hh.de

State Archives[edit | edit source]

Duplicate records from some parishes are in the state archives. Many of these records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. However, for records that are not microfilmed, you can sometimes write to the state archives to request brief searches of the duplicates.

Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein
Prinzenpalais
24837 Schleswig
Germany

E-mail: landesarchiv@la.landsh.de
Phone: 04621 8618-00
Fax: 04621 8618-01
Website: http://www.schleswig-holstein.de/DE/Landesregierung/LASH/lash_node.html



For Schleswig-Holstein areas annexed to Hamburg:
State Archives Hamburg
Kattunbleiche 19
22041 Hamburg
Germany

4. Writing to Local Parishes[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[edit | edit source]

Catholic[edit | edit source]

Writing the Letter[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: 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. This course teaches you how to use a set of reference books found at the Family History 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.

5. Use census records as clues to finding family members in church and civil registration records.[edit | edit source]

You can find probable families in census records, then use church and civil registration records to determine if the family is a match, find additional information on the family, and document your family accurately. Church and civil registration records are primary sources and everything you find in a census record should be proven in primary sources.
Follow the instructions in Schleswig-Holstein Census.


6. 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.

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.
  • 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.