Vorarlberg, Austria Genealogy
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Guide to Vorarlberg State ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
- 1 History
- 2 For Austria Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- 3 Research to Find the Town
- 4 If You Know the Town, Next Use the GenTeam Gazetteer
- 5 Research Help
- 6 Online Records
- 7 Microfilm Copies of Records at a Family History Center
- 8 Writing for Records
- 9 Archives
- 10 Reading the Records
- 11 Search Strategy
The area of Vorarlberg was conquered by the Romans in 15 BC and it became part of the Roman province of Raetia. It was later conquered by Allemanic tribes in c. 450 AD.
It then fell under the rule of the Bavarians and was subsequently settled by the Bavarians and the Lombards.
The historically-Germanic province, which was a gathering-together of former bishoprics, was still ruled by a few semi-autonomous counts and surviving prince-bishops until the start of World War I.
Following World War I there was a desire by many in Vorarlberg to join Switzerland. In a referendum held in Vorarlberg on 11 May 1919, over 80% of those voting supported a proposal for the state to join the Swiss Confederation. However this was prevented by the opposition of the Austrian government. Following the Second World War Vorarlberg found itself occupied by French troops from 1945 to 1955, along with most of the federal state of Tyrol.
For Austria Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- To begin using the records Austria, just knowing that your family came from the country will not be enough. 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 of that town,
- where the closest Evangelical Lutheran, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, etc. parish church was (depending on their religion),
- where the civil registration office 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.
- Use Gathering Information to Locate Place of Origin as a guide in exhausting every possible record to find what you need. It was written for Germany, but the same methods apply.
If You Know the Town, Next Use the GenTeam Gazetteer
GenTeam is an online gazetteer that covers the current countries of Austria, Czech Republic, and Slovenia (most of the area belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire). It gives former (German) and current names of locations, the name of the parish, the beginning year of the records, and the archive that holds the records. It will also give details on earlier parishes the locality belonged to. It then links to the website of that archive.
For help with genealogy in this region, see Austria Genealogy.
Microfilm Copies of Records at a Family History Center
If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to check for them 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 "Places within Austria, Vorarlberg"
- b. Select your record type: Church records and civil registration are the most important.
- b. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- c. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor.
- d. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . 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.
Writing for Records
See German Letter Writing Guide for help and translations.
Civil registration, the government records of births, marriages, and deaths, began in Austria on 1 January 1939. The office that keeps these records is the Standesamt.
Archive of the Diocese of Feldkirch (Catholic)
A-6800 Feldkirch, Austria
Tel .: 0043/5522 / 3485-431
Fax: 0043/5522 / 3485-5
Archive of the Evangelical Church in Austria (Lutheran)
Evangelical Church in Austria Church
Severin Schreiber-Gasse 3
Dept. of Matriculation, Archives, Library
A-1180 Vienna, Austria
Tel .: +43/1/4791523/519
E-Mail: archiv @ Evang.at
Vorarlberger Landesarchiv (State)
6900 Bregenz, Germany
Tel .: +43 (0) 5574 / 511-45005
Fax: +43 (0) 5574 / 511-45095
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.
- 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:
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 1: Kurrent Letters
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Making Words in Kurrent
- Reading German Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Kurrent Documents. In this lesson, you will explore several types of German genealogical records, including birth, baptismal, marriage, and death records.
- German Script Tutorial
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)
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
- 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.