How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Thuringia, Germany

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Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Thuringia



Most of your genealogical research for Thuringia 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.



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

Civil Registration (Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister)

Civil registers are government-kept records of births, marriages, and deaths. In Brandenburg, civil registry offices were introduced on 1 January 1876.

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. Locating Records at the FamilySearch Collection

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, Thüringen" (Thuringia) drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Reuß ältere Linie" (Reuss Older Line) drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Reuß jüngere Linie" (Reuss Younger Line) drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Sachsen-Altenburg" (Saxony-Altenburg) drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Sachsen-Meiningen" (Saxony-Meiningen) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach" (Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach) drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Rudolstadt" (Sachwarzburg-Rudolstadt) drop-down menu.
Click on the "Places within Germany, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen" (Schwarzburg Sondershausen) 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 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. 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. Records are catalogued according to their locality name in 1871, based on Meyers Gazetteer. First, locate your town at Meyers Online Gazetteer to determine the Thuringian state of that town. Then

a. Choose one of the following:
Click on the "Places within Germany, Thüringen" (Thuringia) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Reuß ältere Linie" (Reuss Older Line) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Reuß jüngere Linie" (Reuss Younger Line) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Sachsen-Altenburg" (Saxony-Altenburg) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Sachsen-Meiningen" (Saxony-Meiningen) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach" (Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Rudolstadt" (Sachwarzburg-Rudolstadt) drop-down menu.
Click on the Places within Germany, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen" (Schwarzburg Sondershausen) 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.

2. Writing to Local Parishes

Most church registers are still maintained by the parish. You might obtain information by writing to the parish. Parish employees will usually answer correspondence written in German. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to a central repository.

Evangelical-Lutheran

Until 2004, most of Thuringia was part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia, except for the district of Erfurt, which was part of Evangelical Church of the Saxon Church. In 2004 the two churches combined to form the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (Protestant Church in Central Germany, EKM).

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.

3. Writing to Archives

For records that are not microfilmed, you can sometimes write to the state or church archives to request brief searches of the duplicates. For more extensive research, it will be necessary to visit the archives or hire a professional researcher.

State Archives

Duplicate records from some parishes are in the state archives. Many of these records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. Staatsarchiv Altenburg
Schloss 7
04600 Altenburg
Germany

Post code:PF 1331
04583 Altenburg
Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 3447/315488
Fax number: +49 (0) 3447/8900397 E-mail: see contact form

Church Archives

  • Evangelisch-lutherische Kirche in Thüringen
    Landeskirchenarchiv Eisenach
    Schloßberg 4a (Kreuzkirche)
    99817 Eisenach
    Germany
    Tel: 03691-881465
    FAX: 03691-7339120
    Email: archiv@elkth.de
  • List of holdings


  • Archive of the Episcopal Office Erfurt-Meiningen (Catholic Church)
    Hermanusplatz 9
    D-99084 Erfurt
    Germany
    Tel.: 0361-24595
    FAX: 0361-29138
    Website


  • Archive of the Diocese of Fulda
    Paulustor 5
    D-36037 Fulda
    Germany

    Phone: 066187 - 375
    E-mail:Archive@bistum-fulda.de
    Website



  • Diocesan Archives of the Diocese of Dresden-Meissen
    At the Petrikirche 6, 02625 Bautzen
    Germany

    Postal address:Bishops' Ordinariat
    Käthe-Kollwitz-Ufer 84, 01309 Dresden
    Germany

    Phone:03591 - 35195 0
    Fax:03591 - 35195 22
    E-mail:Archiv@ordinariat-bautzen.de
    Website

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:

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.