How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Brunswick (now in Lower Saxony), Germany

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Germany
Lower Saxony
Brunswick
How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
Lower Saxony Wiki Topics
Niedersachsen.jpg
Beginning Research
Record Types
Lower Saxony Background
Ethnicity
Local Research Resources

For German Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town

  • To begin using the records of Germany, knowing that your family came from Brunswick will not be enough to use the records of Germany. Records are kept on the local level, so you will have to know the town they lived in.
  • Details about the town will also help:
    • the county or "Kreis" of that town,
    • where the closest Evangelical Lutheran or Catholic parish church was (depending on their religion),
    • where the civil registration office ("Standesamt") was, and
    • if you have only a village name, you will need the name of the larger town it was part of.

Research to Find the Town

If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.



If You Know the Town, Next Use Meyers Gazetteer

Once you know the town name you need, the other facts you need are contained in Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs, the gazetteer on which the FamilySearch catalog for Germany is based.


Here is part of an entry from MeyersGaz.org. (The whole entry can be studied at Heusenstamm, MeyersGaz.)

The most important facts here are:

  1. Heusenstamm is in Offenbach Kreis (Kr).
  2. It has its own Standesamt (StdA) or civil registration office.
  3. It has its own Catholic parish church.
  4. By clicking on the "Ecclesiastical" option, we learn that the closest protestant church is 2 miles away in Bieber.


MeyersGaz.png
  • If you find several towns of the same name, checking each one for the birth record of your ancestor may be needed to narrow down the field.

Historical Geography

Duchy of Braunschweig (Brunswick) 1814-1918


Duchy of Braunschweig 1814-1918.png

Free State Braunschweig (Brunswick) 1918-1945

Verwaltungsbezirk Braunschweig, an administrative district,
roughly the same area with a few minor changes 1945-1978



Free state Braunschweig 1918-1945.png

Braunschweig Administrative District, part of Lower Saxony, 1978-2004

Administrative District of Lower Saxony.png




Kreise

  • Goslar
  • University of Göttingen
  • Helmstedt
  • Northeim
  • Osterode am Harz
  • Peine
  • Wolfenbüttel

Kreis-Stadt

  • Braunschweig city
  • Salzgitter
  • Wolfsburg

How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Brunswick (now in Lower Saxony), Germany

Most of your genealogical research for Brunswick will be in three main record types: civil registration, church records, and, when available, a compiled town genealogy ("'Ortssippenbuch" or "Ortsfamilienbuch" in German). This article will teach you how to use these records

  • on digital databases,
  • as microfilms,
  • or by writing for them.


Town Compilation of Records (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch )

See class Online Ortsfamilienbücher at Genealogy.net.

  • An Ortssippenbuch (town lineage book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book) generally includes birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families. If one is available, it can act as an index or guide to finding the original records. However, they may contain errors, so it is best to verify their information in original records.
  • Sources may include the local parish registers, civil registration records, court and land records, and sometimes published material. In the printed book, this information is then arranged in a standardized format, usually alphabetically by surname and chronologically by marriage date.

Finding an OFB

  • Click here to see OFBs for Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) 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.

Civil Registration (Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister)

Civil registers are government-kept records of births, marriages, and deaths. In Bavaria, civil registry offices were introduced on 1 January 1876. In the regions to the west of the Rhine, however, they were briefly keeping records in the Napoleonic era (1811-1815). In addition, a collection of marriage proclamations and residency records cover approximately 1785-1927.

Civil registers can now be found in the local Standesamt, which is either in the registry office or town hall. Copies of civil registers have to be sent to the district registry offices. Records before 110 years ago for birth registers, 80 years ago for marriage registers, 30 years ago for death registers are preserved with the state archives.

1. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration From FamilySearch

A few, not many, civil registration records will be in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. The number should increase gradually. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on the records of Braunschweig, Germany.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Braunschweig 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.
b. Click on the "Civil registration" topic, if available. 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. 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.

2. Writing for Civil Registration Certificates

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. Write to the district archives if you wish to inquire about more than one town--for example, if you think a couple were married at either the groom's hometown or the bride's, and you want both places searched.

Determine the Standesamt (Civil Registry Office) Location

Research your town name in MeyersGaz.org to find the location of the Standesamt. It is indicated by the abbreviation "StdA". However, some of the offices were merged in 1970's, so the record location might be different than that listed in MeyersGaz.

  • For a municipality:
  • 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 in Hessian Schwalm-Eder-Kreis ." It is probable that the Standesamt is now located in the municipality (in this example Edermünde).
  • Email the municipality to verify that the civil registry for your town is there. From the town article, click on the name of the municipality that links to that article. There will usually be an infobox on the page that lists the address and the website of the municipality. From the website, look for Kontakt (Contact) information with an email address.
  • For a town:
  • Follow the same instructions as for a municipality. However, in this case, the first line will read, for example: "Borken is a town in the Schwalm-Eder-Kreis with about 13,000 residents.
  • The infobox with the website will appear directly on a town page.

Local Standesamt Address

Using this address as guide, replace the information in parentheses:

An das Standesamt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)
GERMANY

How to Write the 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.

Church Records (Kirchenbuch or Kirchenbuchduplikate)

See Germany Church Records to learn more.

  • Entries for baptisms/christenings, marriages, and burials in the local church records are the main source to use prior to 1876, when civil registration began. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family. Also after 1876, these records might be intact when the civil registers were destroyed, or vice versa. In addition, either the church records and civil records might contain information not it the other record.
  • You should try to determine whether your ancestors were Catholic or Lutheran (Evangelical).
  • You should try to determine where the parish church was that held jurisdiction over your town. Find the town in Meyer's Gazetteer. Click on the "Ecclesiastical" link for information in the menu bar. This will tell you whether the town had its own parish church and give you the names of several nearby parish churches and their distance.

1. Online Church Records

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records Searched at a Family History Center

First, try to find church records 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 records of Braunschweig, Germany.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Braunschweig 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.
b. Click on the "Church records" 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. Taufen are christenings/baptisms. Heiraten are marriages. "Toten" are deaths.
d. 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 Local Priest for Church Records

  • Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting the local Catholic or Lutheran church or the Catholic diocese archives.

Protestant

Catholic

Other Religions

Writing to a Local Parish

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. Research Church and State Archives

Church records or duplicates may have been gathered from the local parishes into central archives, either by the churches or the state. Older records are frequently given to these archives for safekeeping. Some gaps in the church records of local parishes could be filled using these records. Archives might be unable to handle genealogical requests, but they can determine whether they have specific records you need, sometimes perform very brief research, such as just one record, or they may recommend a researcher who can search the records for you.

State Archives of Niedersachsen at Wolfenbüttel

Niedersachsen Landesarchiv Wolfenbüttel
Forstweg 2
38302 Wolfenbüttel
Germany

Telephone 05331 935-0
Fax 05331 935-211
E-mail (post office) wolfenbuettel@nla.niedersachsen.de


Bistumarchiv Hildesheim (Catholic)

Pfaffenstieg 2
31134 Hildesheim
Germany

Postal Address: Postfach 100263
31134 Hildesheim
Germany

Phone: 05121 - 3079 30
05121 - 3079 32
Fax: 05121 - 3079 50
E-mail: Bistumsarchiv@bistum-hildesheim.de
Website
Holdings:

Braunschweig, St. Joseph, 1898 - 1953
Braunschweig, St. Nicolai 1713 - 1969
Braunschweig, St. Hedwig 1949 - 1962
Braunschweig, St. Heinrich 1946 - 1960
Braunschweig, St. Christophorus 1953 - 1963
Braunschweig, St. Laurentius, 1904-1964
Braunschweig, St. Marien 1940 - 1982

Matricula, Catholic Records of the Diocese of Hildesheim Online



Bistumarchiv Hildesheim (Catholic)

Pfaffenstieg 2
31134 Hildesheim
Germany

Postal Address: Postfach 100263
31134 Hildesheim
Germany

Phone: 05121 - 3079 30
05121 - 3079 32
Fax: 05121 - 3079 50
E-mail: Bistumsarchiv@bistum-hildesheim.de
Website
Holdings:

Braunschweig, St. Joseph, 1898 - 1953
Braunschweig, St. Nicolai 1713 - 1969
Braunschweig, St. Hedwig 1949 - 1962
Braunschweig, St. Heinrich 1946 - 1960
Braunschweig, St. Christophorus 1953 - 1963
Braunschweig, St. Laurentius, 1904-1964
Braunschweig, St. Marien 1940 - 1982

Matricula, Catholic Records of the Diocese of Hildesheim Online



Land Archive of the Evangelical Lutheran Landeskirche in Braunschweig (Brunswick)

Landeskirchliches Archive Braunschweig
Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Strasse 1
38300 Wolfenbüttel
Germany

Tel .: 05331-802-198
Fax: 05331-802-710
E-Mail: info@lk-bs.de

Postal address:
Landeskirchliches Archive
Postfach 1664
38286 Wolfenbüttel
Gemany

Reading the 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
German Handwriting
  • 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:

This converter will show you how any phrase or name might look in German script:

  • Kurrentschrift Converter (enter German genealogical word, click on "convert", view your word in Kurrentschrift (Gothic handwriting)

Latin Records

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

Search Strategy

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • 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.



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