Germans from Russia Civil Registration

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Germans from Russia
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Germans from Helenendorf, present-day Goygol, Azerbaijan.

Birth, marriage, and death records made by the government are called “civil registration” in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog for Germany, Russia, and most other nations. The same kind of records are called “vital records” in the Canada and United States sections of the same catalog. Records of births, marriages, and deaths are commonly referred to as “vital records” because they refer to critical events in a person's life. Civil registration records are an excellent source for accurate information on names, dates, and places of births, marriages, deaths, and divorces.

See the Germany Civil Registration Wiki article for details about civil registration in Germany. See the Canada Vital Records Wiki article, provincial Wiki articles, United States Vital Records, and state Wiki articles for details about vital records in those places.

Beginning in the 1820s, civil registration in Russia was accomplished by requiring the Catholic and Protestant clergy to make civil copies of their christening, marriage, and burial records. These are known as civil transcripts of church records. Many churches kept records even before this. The fact that the church was involved in civil registration makes it difficult to clearly distinguish between civil registration and church records. In most cases these transcripts and some of the original church records have ended up in the state archives. For details about civil transcripts and state archive copies of church christening, marriage, and burial records, see the “Church Records” page of the Germans from Russia article.

Later, after the Russian Revolution in 1917, the responsibility for civil registration was placed in the hands of government employees independent of the church. After this date, most individuals who lived in Russia are recorded. Because true civil registration began so recently in Russia, civil registration records are only important for researching German families that stayed in Russia.

Most Russian civil registration records are only available at the central state archives. The only access is often through hired researchers. The Family History Library has only civil transcripts of church records from Russia. The library has no microfilmed Russian civil registration records after 1917.