Hesse (Hessen), German Empire Civil Registration

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Hesse (Hessen),
German Empire
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Germany Background

Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Hesse (Hessen), they were started on 1 January 1876. In addition, Hessen kept civil registration between 1803 and 1815, during the Napoleonic occupation. If your family had a birth, marriage or death recorded during that brief time period, it will contain great information, due to the high level of detail in French records.

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]

Digital copies of civil registration can be searched online. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths. All of the civil registration records for the modern state of Hesse (Hessen), for time periods that are public and not private, are available online.

A. Indexes to the Records[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch[edit | edit source]
Ancestry.com[edit | edit source]

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

MyHeritage[edit | edit source]

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

B. Browsable Images: LAGIS[edit | edit source]

These records are digital images not indexes. There are many times when you will want to search the records this way. Indexes may contain errors and omissions. Search engines can be touchy and miss entries. It is wise to follow up in the original images to guard against those errors, check for entries that the indexer interpreted different than you would, and to fill in suspicious gaps in the records.

Enter Standesamt (civil registration office) name in the search box. This system will use the office used during the German Empire, not one of today's modern, consolidated ofices. The Standesamt is listed in Meyersgaz.org after the abbreviation "StdA".

C. Alzey-Worms and Mainz-Bingen[edit | edit source]

Mainz and Worms2.png

In 1945, the counties (Kreise) of Alzey, Bingen, Mainz, and Worms were removed from Hessen and annexed to the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). Because the LAGIS system only covers the modern state of Hesse (Hessen), records for civil registration offices in today's Alzey-Worms, Mainz-Bingen counties cannot be found in LAGIS.

Below, you will find Ancestry.com records for the two cities of Mainz and Worms and their immediate suburbs.

For the other civil registry offices in this area, the best method will be to write to the local civil registration offices. You can find their addresses here:

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

D. Using FamilySearch Records for Recent Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

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The records which have been microfilmed and digitized by FamilySearch, as listed in step #2 below, will have links to more recent records than LAGIS, sometimes into the 1980's. Use the following instructions to find additional recent records.

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 the records of Germany, Hessen.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Hessen 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]

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.

Local Standesamt Addresses[edit | edit source]

Archives[edit | edit source]

Hessian State Archives Darmstadt
Karolinenplatz 3
64289 Darmstadt

Tel .: +49 (0) 6151/16 262 57
E-mail: darmstadt@hla.hessen.de

Hessian State Archives Marburg
Friedrichsplatz 15
35037 Marburg


Hessisches Main Archives and the Digital Archive
Mosbacher Str. 55
65187 Wiesbaden

Tel.: 0611 / 881-0 / Fax: 0611 / 881-145
E-mail Digital Archives: DigitalesArchiv@hla.hessen.de
E-mail Main Archive: wiesbaden@hla.hessen.de

How to Write the 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.

Melderegister[edit | edit source]

Since 1874, there is an official registration of residential addresses in Germany. These data were collected by the police stations. They are kept in the civil registration office. Some offices keep them historically from their start. Other offices destroyed records for people once they died.

These registration cards were available for each respective householder. Noted on the card were his wife and any children, dates of marriage or death, and a history of resident addresses. The value of these cards is their use to determine which civil registration office might hold birth, marriage, and death certificates for the family members.

Follow the German Letter Writing Guide, and use questions 16 and 17 to request these records.

4. Compiled and Published Secondary Sources[edit | edit source]

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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 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 OFB[edit | edit source]

  • A map containing information on the status of family history research in the individual Hessian communities is available at Hessian Family History Association. From the Bearbeitungsstand (German) or Processing Level (English) page, click on the LINK in the section with this logo: Hessen-Karte.png. A pdf map will download. Enlarge the view. Towns with published books will display a Book symbol.png symbol. Hover over the symbol, and the book title will appear. A color key indicates where the book is available.
  • This link will take you to a listing of the online books of the Hessian Family History Association.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

German 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
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:

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.
  • 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.