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Germany Local Records

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Local Records

Melderegister (Moving Records)[edit | edit source]

Police began keeping records of each German's residence in the 1840s. Citizens were required to tell the police at the local registration office (Meldeamt or Einwohnermeldeamt) when they moved. The records created are called registrations (Melderegister) or residents lists (Einwohnerregister). They are usually found at the city archives. Formats vary from bound volumes to individual one- or two-sided index cards or sheets. Earlier records may only list the head of household. Later records include every member of the family.

To use the records, you must know the approximate years a person lived in a town. The records usually give a person's name, birth date, birthplace, occupation, each residence in the city, and where he or she moved. These records supplement church records and civil registration. The Family History Library has a selection of these records, most notably in Hamburg, Sachsen, and Thüringen. For example, the library has over 4,000 films for Leipzig (1890-1949). Population registers are found in the Place Search of the catalog under:

GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] - POPULATION

GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] OCCUPATIONS


This Melderegister Heading sample is translated below:


Melde heading.jpg


Column 1. Day of Arrival
Column 2. Name, also with females, include name of father
Column 3. Status or Occupation
Column 4. Birthdate - Day Month Year
Column 5. Birthplace and district
Column 6. Religion
Column 7. Nationality
Column 8. Previous residence
Column 9. Day of leaving
Column 10. New residence


Directories[edit | edit source]

Directories are alphabetical lists of names and addresses. Some German directories list all the adult residents or tradesmen who lived in a town or area at the time the directory was published. The German term is "Adressbuch", plural "Adressbücher".

Address books, AKA city directories, can be a big help when researching in larger towns and cities. Some directories cover a larger, more rural area, such as a Kreis. Others exclude large segments of the population. For example, the city directory of Vienna, Austria, does not list servants and laborers for many years. Some address books only include businesses [like today’s “Yellow Pages”]. It pays to check out the book’s introduction pages.

The most helpful directories for genealogical research are town directories of local residents and businesses.

In recent years, directories have usually been published annually and may include names, addresses, occupations, and other helpful facts. Particularly in large cities with several parishes, addresses often help you find your ancestor's parish. Directories sometimes have town maps and may include addresses of churches, cemeteries, civil registration offices, and other locations of value to the genealogist.

The modern counterpart are telephone directories.

History[edit | edit source]

The first directories were published in London (1677) and Paris (1692) and the first German directory, published in 1701, was modelled after them. It was only in the last third of the 19th Century that the directories began to be more reflective of the whole population, listing the heads of households with their residential address, industries and commercial undertakings with their business address, public institutions (especially hospitals, schools and public amusement places), religious organisations, political parties. Many published maps of the growing cities and might be prefaced with a history of the place or an essay proclaiming the achievements of the town.

Finding a Directory[edit | edit source]

Using a German-language-specific search engine (i.e. Google.de) search for " [town name] + Adressbuch" or "town name] + historisches Adressbuch".

FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has some German city directories. Most date from the 1830s to the mid-1900s. They are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:

GERMANY, [STATE - DIRECTORIES]

GERMANY, [STATE, [TOWN] - DIRECTORIES]

Another way to find city directories is to use Keyword Search. Type "[town name] + Adressbuch " in the search field.

GenWiki Portal and Project[edit | edit source]

GenWiki has an "Adressbücher" (directory) portal.

GenWiki is creating a database by volunteers transcribing historical directories. You are able to search on a Surname, Given name(s), Place and Occupation. There is a functionality to list all books in the database which lists the place name, short title and year of publication. A further functionality allows you list all places.

Ancestry[edit | edit source]

Ancestry has an indexed collection of mostly German address books (directories). It can be found by typing "address books" in the Card Catalog title search field.

WikiSource[edit | edit source]

The German instance of WikiSource includes an article titled "Adressbücher" (address books). The article includes sections on regional and town address books with links to each volume. The books available on the ComGen website are not included in this listing, so that needs to be searched separately. The article includes German-language books from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

Digital Libraries[edit | edit source]

A list of digital libraries by towns, regions, states, and countries is found on the German Digi Bib homepage. It is a good idea to check libraries on all levels of jurisdiction. Here are examples of several digital libraries that have a collection of town/ city directories.

  • Bavarica search the holdings of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek relating to Bavaria, published up to the year 1870. Full text searching.
  • CompGen DigiBib includes numerous digitized address books
  • Kujawsko-Pomorskiego Digital Library in English, German and Polish. This library has a number of directories available. Search for "ADressbuch + [town name]". Note: Other Polish digital libraries also have directories in their holdings. Check the list on the German DigiBib homepage for links.
  • Munich Digitization Center (MDZ) - holdings include ober 100 directories

State Calendars[edit | edit source]

Particular Places[edit | edit source]

Aachen[edit | edit source]

Aachener Adressbücher from 1850.

Bayreuth[edit | edit source]
Berlin[edit | edit source]

The Central and Regional Library, Berlin (ZLB) digitized Berlin address books from 1799 to 1943. Now the digital address books are offered free on the Internet for viewing. You will find residents by name, streets as well as directories of industry, government agencies, associations. A keyword search and systematic search are possible, but not a full text search.

Freiburg[edit | edit source]
Heidelberg[edit | edit source]

The Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg in co-operation with the Heidelberg City Archives has digitised and placed online the Adressbücher der Neckarstadt for the years 1839 to 1945.

Telephone Directories[edit | edit source]

A current telephone directory for Germany is available online. It is useful for determining if a particular surname is found in or around a certain locality. That can be especially useful if the ancestral home town has a common name. Websites like "Geogen" that show surname distribution, use this directory as the source.

Gesindeverzeichnis[edit | edit source]

  • Gesindeverzeichnisse were kept by the local police. They are part of the security measures incumbent on the police. For instance,  people working as servants (Gesinde) were closely monitored. They had to be registered with the local police. Read more about Gesinde here: Wikipedia, "Gesinde (People)".
  • In contrast to them, Gesindel (riffraff) were also closely observed.
  • In a Gesinde-Verzeichnis one can find a person's name, his date and place of birth, when he/she started the service, who the employer was, from when to when the service lasted and who issued a certificate of completion.

Some Gesindeverzeichnisse are available through Familysearch, catalog, locality, population or occupation and can be ordered through the Family History Center network. 

House Books [Hausbücher][edit | edit source]

A few cities and towns have house books [Hausbücher] that list the owners of each house, their occupations and years of residence, and sometimes other residents of the house. Biographical sketches and genealogies are sometimes included. The following is an example of this kind of record:

  • Bauern und Hausbesitzer mit ihren Vorfahren in den 55 Dörfern des Kreises Peine (Farmers and house owners with their ancestors in the 55 villages of the Peine District [Hannover]).Goslar, Germany: Blut und Boden, 1938. (FHL book 943B4q v. 25; film 924,909 item 3.)

The Family History Library has only a few of these records, and only people wealthy enough to own property are likely to be listed in them. The following bibliography is arranged by both author and place:

  • Spruth, Herbert. Die Hausmarke: Wesen und Bibliographie (The nature of house marks with their bibliography). Neustadt/Aisch, Germany: Degener,1965. (FHL book 943 B4a number 4.)

These records are most often found in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

GERMANY, [STATE] - DWELLINGS

GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] - DWELLINGS

GERMANY, [STATE] - GENEALOGY

GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] - GENEALOGY

Stadtbücher(City Administrative Records)[edit | edit source]

"City administrative records are codices that have been used in municipal law firms for administrative purposes since the 13th century. Since then, the term "Stadtbuch" or "liber civitatis" has been documented. Unless a number of different book series were run in a municipal office, the "Stadtbuch" was used to refer to the Code, which lists all matters relevant to the administration or the administration. Thus actions of the court, new citizens, council lists, privilege records, oaths, invoices, tax lists, etc., were introduced into these books. They thus became a central medium which established and preserved social relations, secured procedures, established credibility, arranged knowledge, organized and reorganized and reconstructed traditions.

City administrative records are one of the richest insights into the life of medieval and early modern cities. However, they are among the least researched and therefore hardly used sources. The transmission is extremely wide-spread and therefore difficult to survey. Especially the material from smaller municipalities, which represented the mass of pre-modern cities, is hardly known until now."-- Index Librorum Civitatum

To the collection: Click here."

Impflisten (vaccinations)[edit | edit source]

The illness "variola" (small pocks) also known as "Blattern" could have terrible effects on people throughout the centuries. This illness was able to disfigure or blind people. All levels of society were affected. There was no cure so that the illness appeared every four to seven years. Children especially were targeted by the epidemic and Blattern could be one of the top causes for children's deaths. Naturally, parents and scientists were eager to find a cure.

It is well known that the British doctor Jenner started vaccinating children with cow pox to achieve immunity, however, long before 1796 sporadic tests were made to immunize people. However, these experiments did not prove to be 100% successful and were known to have caused more harm in some instances than the Blattern themselves. The birthdate for vaccination against small pocks was the 14th May 1796. Jenner's "experiment" with cow pox proved to be so successful that his methods quickly spread to the continent and was improved upon in the next decade. What pastors and doctors started, was picked up by the state and thus vaccination books sprang up everywhere. The entire population was listed, and carefully kept tabulations established of children who were not yet vaccinated and which were. There are remarks in such lists that those children who moved from a location to another were brought to the attention of the authorities if they had not been vaccinated.

Before mandatory laws re. administration of vaccinations were established, a multifaceted array of people acted as inoculators, pastors, teachers, academic doctors and in Wuerttemberg even (archaic) surgeons (Wundärzte). Introduced was mandatory vaccination as early as 1818 (Württemberg) and for all of Germany it became the law in 1874 (Reichsimpfgesetz).

Source: Pocken - Seuchengeschichte Link


The catalog at FamilySearch has some Impflisten. To access them enter Impflisten as keyword search. The records contain the name of child, how old, name of father and when vaccinated.

Notes and References[edit | edit source]

Juengling, Fritz. "Address Books in Genealogical Research." German American Genealogy 2013: 2-6.


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