Silesia (Schlesien), German Empire Civil Registration
|Silesia (Schlesien), |
German Empire Wiki Topics
|Major Record Types|
|Reading the Records|
|Additional Silesia (Schlesien)|
|Silesia (Schlesien) Background|
|Silesia (Schlesien) Ethnicity|
|Local Research Resources|
|Germany Record Types|
- 1 Determining the Location of a Civil Registration Office
- 2 Finding Civil Registration Records
- 2.1 1. Online Records
- 2.2 2. Locating Records at the Family History Library
- 2.3 3. Finding Records in Archives
- 2.4 4. Civil Registration Information in Berlin
- 2.5 5. Compiled Genealogies
- 2.6 Reading the Records
- 2.7 Search Strategy
Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Silesia (Schlesien), they were started in 1874. 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:
- Births (Geburtsregister)
- Marriages (Heiraten, Ehen, or Trauungen)
- Deaths (Sterberegister or Totenregister)
For a comprehensive understanding of civil registration, study the article Germany Civil Registration.
Determining the Location of a Civil Registration OfficeEdit
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.
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 RecordsEdit
In this region, part of Germany which was lost to other countries after World War II, many records, both church/parish registers and civil registration records, were damaged, destroyed, or misplaced.
1. Online RecordsEdit
- Findbuch: Schelsische Kirchenbücher wo finden? provides some links to online records.
Ancestry.com can be searched free of charge at your local Family History Center.
- Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany (Poland), Selected Civil Vitals, 1874-1945, index and images, incomplete. In the right sidebar under "Browse this collection", open the drop-down "Civil Rigistration Oiffice" list to see if your office is covered. Use the office from the time of the German Empire, as listed in the 1871 Meyer's Gazetteer.
2. Locating Records at the Family History LibraryEdit
If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to check for them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:
- a. Click on the Places within Germany, Preussen, Schlesien (Silesia) drop-down menu and select your town.
- b. Click on the "Civil registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- c. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths.
- d. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . 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. Finding Records in ArchivesEdit
Several different archives have civil registration records. In fact they are "all over the place", literally. There are several "finding aids" that help with locating them.
Online Finding Aids With Links to DatabasesEdit
- The PRADZIAD Database
- Szukaj w Archiwach; Tutorial - The Polish Archives
- The Lost Shoe Box
- Geneteka Instructions
Breslau Civil RegistrationEdit
- Anhenforschung in Schlesien (Family History in Schlesien) provides digitized civil registration for Breslau I, II, III and IV Standesamt offices.
- The GenWiki page for Wroclaw has digitized civil registration for Breslau I and II Standesamt offices and plans to add III and IV (as of April, 2017).
- The State Archive in Wroclaw has digitized civil registration for Breslau III Standesamt office.
- The Polish State Archives has digitized civil registration for Breslau III Standesamt office.
Holding Lists Provided by ArchivesEdit
You can also consult holding lists and use search engines to search which records might be held at each archive. Brief inquiries by email about whether a record group for your locality and time period is available at that archive are generally honored..
German Central Office for Genealogy
State Archives Leipzig
Telephone: 0341 / 255-5500
Secret State Archives Prussian
Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Cultural Heritage Archivstraße 12-14
Phone: 030/266 44 75 00
Fax. 030/266 44 31 26
Writing a Letter to ArchivesEdit
How to write a letter: Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus Polish translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the Poland Letter Writing Guide.
In some cases, the records are held in archives in Germany. For letters in German, including addressing the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently needed, use the the German Letter Writing Guide.
4. Civil Registration Information in BerlinEdit
Standesamt I Berlin officially holds the civil registration information for the former areas of Germany.
Standesamt I Berlin
- This civil registration office has at its disposal an index called "Standesregister und Personenstandsbücher der Ostgebiete im Standesamt I Berlin".
- Two more indexes called "Kirchenbücher und Personenstandregister in polnischen Staatsarchiven" (church books and civil registration indexes in Polish State Archives) and "Deutsche Personenstandsbücher und Personenstandseinträge von Deutschen in Polen" (Civil Registration records of Germans in Poland) give further information about ancestors who lived in West Prussia.
5. Compiled GenealogiesEdit
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
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 OFBEdit
- Findbuch: Schelsische Kirchenbücher wo finden? provides some links to Ortsfamilienbücher.
- 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 RecordsEdit
- 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.
- 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:
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 1: Kurrent Letters
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Making Words in Kurrent
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Kurrent Documents. In this lesson, you will explore several types of German genealogical records, including birth, baptismal, marriage, and death records.
- German Script Tutorial
- List of Names in Old German Script A comprehensive list of German given names, written in old script, with possible variations.
- Old German Script Transcriber (alte deutsche Handschriften): See your family names in the script of the era. Type your name or other word into the font generator tool. Click on the 8 different fonts. Save the image to your computer and use it as you work with old Germanic records.
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
Because West Prussia is now in Poland, these articles will help:
- 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.
- 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.