How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany

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Most of your genealogical research for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 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.

How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania



Contents

Figure Out the Parish for Your Town

Your town might be too small to have its own parish church. Or it might have a Catholic church, but the Lutheran church is in a neighboring town. You might have to do a little reference work to determine where the church (and therefore the church records) was for your ancestors' town. Methods for doing this are described in:

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 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

Herne Stadtarchiv Standesamt Baukau.jpg
Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. 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 [German: Standesbeamte] at the civil registry office (Standesamt). Because they cover about 98% of the population and often provide more information than church records, civil registration records are important sources for German genealogical research.


Civil registration became mandatory in all German states on 1 January 1876. Until recently, stringent rights-to-privacy requirements in Germany limited access to all civil registration records created in 1876 or later to the subject of the document and their parents, siblings, and direct-line descendants.

A law passed in February 2007, the Personenstandsrechtsreformgesetz, makes civil registration records more accessible for family history research. Since 1 January 2009 the records are accessible to any researcher after these time periods have passed:

  • births: 110 years
  • marriages: 80 years
  • deaths: 30 years

A direct relationship to the subject of the record sought will only 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 for Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Regions

Civil registration records were kept at the local civil registration office (Standesamt). To find the records, you need to first determine the town where your ancestor lived, then determine the location of the civil registration office for that town.  The civil registration office may have been located in the same town or, for smaller towns and villages, the civil records may have been kept in a larger nearby town. Use gazetteers to help identify the place where your ancestor lived and the civil registration office that served it (see Germany Gazetteers). Large cities often have many civil registration districts. City directories can sometimes help identify which civil registration district a person lived in.  

1. Locating Records at the FamilySearch Library

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. To find records:

a. Choose one of the following:
Click on the "Places within Germany, Mecklenburg-Schwerin" drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Mecklenburg-Strelitz" drop-down menu.
b. Click on the name of your town.
c. Click on the "Civil registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
d. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths.
e. 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 to Archives for Records

The archives at Schwerin hold the Standesamt records for the former Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz. They might be able to perform very brief searches, such as for one birth certificate. E-mail them to inquire. For more extensive research, you will need to visit the archives or hire a professional researcher.

Mecklenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv
Graf Schack-Allee 2
D-19053 Schwerin
Germany
Post code: PF 111252
19011 Schwerin
Germany

Phone:0385 / 588794-10
Fax:0385 / 588794-12
E-Mail address:poststelle@landeshauptarchiv-schwerin.de

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.

3. Writing to a Local Standesamt

Some civil registration records are also available in the local civil registration office Germany that has the originals. Particularly, records after 1945--1950 would be there rather than the archives.

  • If the records are not online or on microfilm, civil registration records for Germany can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry (Standesamt).

Determine the Modern Standesamt

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. Follow these instructions to find whether the Standesamt moved to during the consolidation.

  • 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.

Find the Address of the Standesamt

Writing the Letter

Use this address format:

An das Standesamt
(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.

Finding Civil Registration Records for the Vorpommern Region

Determine the Modern Standesamt

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. Follow these instructions to find whether the Standesamt moved to during the consolidation.

  • 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.

Find the Address of the Standesamt

1. Online Records

Go to Forschung > Famillienforschung > Standesamt online or Kirchenbuch online > Find your Kreis >Parish
Go to "PomGenBase". > Search "PomGenBase". > Select "Christenings", "Marriages", or "Deaths”" > Use drop-down menu to see list of locations. > Select a locality or search in all localities. > Restrict your search using "Years". > Enter at least a "Surname". > Change "Search Method" to "similar". > Click "Search".

2. Locating Records at the Family History Library

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. To find records:

a. Click on the Places within Germany, Preussen, Pomerania (Pommern) 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. 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 Letter to Local Standesamt or an Archive

Locating Records in Archives

This website will help identify civil registration records located in a variety of archives.

Kirchenbücher und Standesregister: Go to Suche. > Enter locality name. > Click Suche. > Find your Kreis. > Find your Parish > Click on the archive link to get contact information for the archive.

Writing the Letter

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.

Church Records (Parish Registers)

Church records (parish registers) are excellent sources of sufficiently accurate information on names, dates and places of birth / baptism, marriage and death / funeral. They are the most important source of genealogical information for Germany before 1876. Most of the people who lived in Germany, were recorded in a church record. Church records contain records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. In addition, church records can contain financial account books (charges for toll bells, fees for masses for the dead, and so on), lists of confirmation, penance register communion lists, lists of members and the family register.

Accessing Church Records for Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Regions

Church records were kept in the local parish of the church. The term parish refers to the jurisdiction of a church minister. Parishes are local congregations that may have included many neighboring villages in their boundaries. To use church records, you must know both your ancestor's religion and the town where he or she lived. You must also determine in which parish the town was located. Some gazetteers indicate parish jurisdictions.

1. Online Records

2. Records at the Family History Library

The Mecklenburg church books were filmed in 1951 by the Genealogical Society of Utah (in other words, they are in the FamilySearch Library now). 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. To find records:Records are catalogued according to their locality name in 1871, based on Meyers Gazetteer. First, locate your town at Meyers Online Gazetteer to determine whether it was in Mecklenburg-Schwerin or -Strelitz. Then

a. Choose one of the following:
Click on the "Places within Germany, Mecklenburg-Schwerin" drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Mecklenburg-Strelitz" drop-down menu.
b. Click on the name of your town.
c. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
d. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Toten" are deaths.
e. 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 or Visiting Archives

The church register at the Landeskirchliche Archiv Schwerin preserves the church books and older church book-inscriptions of all church communities of Ev.-Luth. (1841 - 1874) and the Wehrmachtgemeinde Hagenow, Neustadt-Glewe, Schwerin and Wustrow / Rerik (1935 - 1945), provided that these were handed over by the municipalities.

The scope of the stock is about 300 running shelf meters (lfm) or more than 4600 volumes. In individual cases shortly before the beginning or during the Thirty Years' War, the church books were not used until the middle of the 17th century due to the devastation of the country.

Second editions are available for the period from the middle of the 18th century. Century until the introduction of the incumbents in 1875/76. The church archives from 1875/76 to 1943/44 keep (1.) the city ​​archives Rostock (E-Mail: stadtarchiv @ rostock.de ) for the Rostock church communities, (2.) the Domarchiv Ratzeburg (Domhof 35, 23909 Ratzeburg) for the parishes of the former Landessuperintendentur Schoenberg to Ratzeburg (Dom Ratzeburg, Carlow, Demern, Mr. Castle, Schlagsdorf, Schoenberg, Selmsdorf, Ziethen) and (3) the Landeshauptarchiv Schwerin (e-mail: poststelle @ landeshauptarchiv-schwerin.de ) for all other parishes .

For conservative reasons, the church books are presented only in film form. A list of the available films can be found here. Should you not be able to make a personal visit, the church office will provide you with written information. Please note that for a successful research the naming of concrete names, places and annual numbers is indispensable. Please also provide your complete contact details.

The handling of written inquiries will be based on the rates indicated on the pages of the archive (20 € for each half an hour, maximum 2 hours).

Due to high demand, a processing time of at least 2 to 4 weeks can be expected. We can not carry out more complex and complicated searches due to the time required. We would like to ask you to contact private providers of family research. Addresses can be arranged upon request.

Landeskirchliches Archiv Schwerin / Church District Archives Mecklenburg
Postfach 110407
19004 Schwerin
Germany


Reading room and office building:
Am Dom 2
19055 Schwerin
Germany
Tel .: 0385 20223-292
Fax: 0385 20223-299
Mail: schwerin @ archiv.nordkirche.de
Website

Accessing Church Records for the Vorpommern Region

1. Church Records on the Internet

Go to Forschung > Famillienforschung > Standesamt online or Kirchenbuch online > Find your Kreis >Parish
Go to "PomGenBase". > Search "PomGenBase". > Select "Christenings", "Marriages", or "Deaths”" > Use drop-down menu to see list of locations. > Select a locality or search in all localities. > Restrict your search using "Years". > Enter at least a "Surname". > Change "Search Method" to "similar". > Click "Search".

2. Records at the FamilySearchLibrary

The Mecklenburg church books were filmed in 1951 by the Genealogical Society of Utah (in other words, they are in the FamilySearch Library now). 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. To find records:

a. Click on the Places within Germany, Preussen, Pommern (Pomerania) drop-down menu] and select your town.
b. If your town does not appear in the list, go back to the FamilySearch Catalog page and search for your town using the "Keyword" search. There are many errors in the Pomerania catalog. listing towns under other towns, causing them to fail to show up in the "Place" search.
c. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
d. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Toten" are deaths.
e. 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. Records in Archives

To determine which archives hold your records, use this program.

Kirchenbücher und Standesregister: Go to Suche. > Enter locality name. > Click Suche. > Find your Kreis. > Find your Parish > Click on the archive link to get contact information for the archive.

How to write a letter: Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently needed, use the the German Letter Writing Guide.

Writing to Local Parishes Throughout Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

The church records in archives are frequently duplicates and the original record remained with the local parish. Occasionally, a duplicate did not get forwarded for a particular year, or was damaged, but the record can still be found in the local parish. Also, the more recent church registers are still maintained by the parish. Sometimes parish employees will be willing to conduct research that the archive employees don't have time for. They will usually answer correspondence written in German. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to a central repository.

Evangelical-Lutheran Addresses

Catholic

Writing the Letter

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.

Other Religious Groups

  • To learn how to determine the location of other religious records, namely Jewish, French Reformed, German Reformed, etc., watch Hansen’s Map Guides: Finding Records with Parish Maps beginning at 48:00 minutes, to learn how to locate these congregations. Then go back and watch from the beginning to understand how to use the reference book. This course teaches you how to use a set of reference books found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are not in Salt Lake City, use the Contact Us feature to request information from the books.

Jewish Records

Huguenots (French Protestants)


*German Huguenot Society eV , index.

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:


Research Strategies

Effective use of church records includes the following strategies:

  • Search for the relative or ancestor. When you find his or her birth record, search for the births of brothers and sisters.
  • Next search for the parents' marriage date and place. The marriage record will often lead to the parents' birth records.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records. If more than one possible candidate is found, search confirmation, marriage, and burial records to determine the correct individual. If available, census-type records or family books can be used as well.
  • Try to find the parents death/burial entries, since these records may give their age at death.
  • Use the above strategies for both the father and the mother.
  • If earlier generations are not in the record you are using, search neighboring parishes and other denominations.
  • Search the burial registers for all family members.