Difference between revisions of "How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire"

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(→‎Reading the Records: fixed broken links "German Script Tutorial" and "List of Names in Old German Script")
(→‎French Records: fixed broken links "1 Old French Records" and "2 Parish Christening and Civil Birth Entries" ; "3 Marriage Entries" ; "4 Other Entries" ; "5 French Handwriting and Spelling")
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**{{LearningCenter2|86|3: Reading French Records}}
 
**{{LearningCenter2|86|3: Reading French Records}}
 
*[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/Default.htm '''French Records Extraction Manual, Full Manual''']
 
*[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/Default.htm '''French Records Extraction Manual, Full Manual''']
**[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_1.pdf 1: OLD FRENCH RECORDS] <br>
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**[https://script.byu.edu/Plugins/FileManager/Files/French/ExtractionGuide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_1.pdf 1: OLD FRENCH RECORDS] <br>
**[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_2.pdf 2: PARISH CHRISTENING AND CIVIL BIRTH ENTRIES] <br>
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**[https://script.byu.edu/Plugins/FileManager/Files/French/ExtractionGuide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_2.pdf 2: PARISH CHRISTENING AND CIVIL BIRTH ENTRIES] <br>
**[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_3.pdf 3: MARRIAGE ENTRIES]<br>
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**[https://script.byu.edu/Plugins/FileManager/Files/French/ExtractionGuide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_3.pdf 3: MARRIAGE ENTRIES]<br>
**[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_4.pdf 4: OTHER ENTRIES] <br>
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**[https://script.byu.edu/Plugins/FileManager/Files/French/ExtractionGuide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_4.pdf 4: OTHER ENTRIES] <br>
**[https://cfhg.byu.edu/Downloads/French_Extraction_Guide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_5.pdf 5: FRENCH HANDWRITING AND SPELLING] <br>
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**[https://script.byu.edu/Plugins/FileManager/Files/French/ExtractionGuide/French_Extraction_Guide-Chapter_5.pdf 5: FRENCH HANDWRITING AND SPELLING] <br>
 
*[[French Republican Calendar]]
 
*[[French Republican Calendar]]
  

Revision as of 19:57, 20 May 2020

How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire Genealogy
Alsace-Lorraine Germany Flag 1871–1918.png
Getting Started
Major Elsass-Lothringen Record Types
Reading the Records in German
Reading the Records in French
Additional Elsass-Lothringen
Record Types
Elsass-Lothringen Background
Local Research Resources

In 1920, Elsass-Lothringen became Alsace-Lorraine in France. See those articles for further information.

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Elsass-Lothringen[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.

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.

Translating the German Town Name to French[edit | edit source]

When you look for church and civil registration records in the Department Archives of France, it will help to know the name of your ancestors' town in both languages. Use this gazettee4r:

3. For birth, marriage, and death records after 1792, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Elsass-Lothringen, they were started in 1793. German terms for these records include Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister. In French, they are état civil. They are an excellent source for information on names and dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths.


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

Finding Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

1. Online Records[edit | edit source]

Civil registration records are digitized and made available in the archive records of the Departments of France:

See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step written instructions on finding and reading these records. For a demonstration of navigating archives websites, watch the video, Using France Department Archives Online.

  • Use this gazetteer to find the current French name of your ancestors' town:
German place names in Elsass-Lothringen and French equivalents

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, Elsass-Lothringen.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Elsass-Lothringen 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]

France has no single, nationwide repository of civil registration records. Birth, marriage, divorce, and death records may be found by contacting or visiting local registrars' offices or departmental archives in France. To protect the privacy of living persons, records of the most recent 100 years are confidential and have restrictions on their use and access.

Local registrars' offices [bureau de l'état civil] will usually mail one or two birth, marriage, or death certificates at no charge. However, they are busy and they may not respond to requests for more than two certificates at a time. If the records are less than 100 years old, they are confidential and will be sent only to direct descendants. Records more than 100 years old are more accessible at the departmental archives.

French Search Strategies and French Letter-Writing Guide give details about how to write to town registrars and departmental archives in France for genealogical information.

If the reply does not have the information you request, try to get help from the local genealogical society.

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

Guide to Elsass-Lothringen, German Empire ancestry, family history, and genealogy before 19120: birth records, marriage records, death records, family history, and military records. In 1920, Elsass-Lothringen became Alsace-Lorraine in France. See those articles for further information.


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.

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

The church records are digitized and made available in the archive records of the Departments of France, except for Haut-Rhin:

See Using France Online Department Archives for step by step written instructions on finding and reading these records. For a demonstration of navigating archives websites, watch the video, Using France Department Archives Online.

  • Use this gazetteer to find the current French name of your ancestors' town:
German place names in Elsass-Lothringen and French equivalents

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, Elsass-Lothringen.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Elsass-Lothringen 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. Writing to the Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Church records after 1792 in France are available by writing to the parish. Parishes will usually answer correspondence in French. However, most researchers have more success by contacting civil registration offices first. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to another archive. To obtain the address of a given parish, write to the mayor of the town. The mayor will know if the parish office is in his town or in a nearby town. For help writing a letter in French, see French Letter Writing Guide.

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]

French Records[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.