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Hamburg, German Empire Church Records

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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

Parish Register Inventories

  • 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

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

Ancestry.com ($)

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

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog

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 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. "Tote" 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

  • 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

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
Holdings list at GenWiki
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:
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.

Diocesan Archives Archbishopric Hamburg (Visiting Address)
Schmilinskystraße 80
20099 Hamburg
Germany
Diocesan Archives Archbishopric Hamburg (MailAddress)
Am Mariendom 4
20099 Hamburg
Germany

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

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

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.

5. Compiled and Published Secondary Sources

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)

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

  • 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

German Records

  • 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

Latin Records

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

Feast Dates

Search Strategy

  • 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.