CIVIL REGISTRATION
 
Civil registration records include birth, marriage and death events.  The system officially began for the entire German Empire on January 01, 1876.  In the Prussian procinces, it began on 1 October 1874.  In some areas, records began even earlier than this.
 
The recording of births/baptisms, marriages and deaths/burials was firat done by the churches during the late 15th century. During the occupation of German lands by France along the Rhine in the 1790s, officials introduced the same system they were using in France.  Their justification for recording such data was that only the government (civil authority) could guarantee that churches would not forbid marriages between persons of different faiths.  The system also required that church officials stop recording vital events.  Some clerics continued to do so in secret. Many of these registers were closed down when the French forces were driven out of the German lands.  Thus, the importance of the records kept in secret.
 
In the new German Empire (1871-1918), Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck successfully re-introduced the adoption of civil registries.  It began in the Prussian provinces October 1, 1874 anad the entire empire January 1, 1876.  The system is still in use.
 
Germany's residential registration laws required residents be registered when they entered or left a city.  It was also required if they moved within the city.  Thus, we have some very valuable information about urban populations in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • First and last name
  • Occupation
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Religious faith
  • Single, married or widowed
  • Military status Self-supporting or requires public welfare
  • Where the newcomer came from
Use these records becase they are a valuable source of information. and. cover more than 989% of the population.  As of January 1, 2009, all records are available to anyone based on the following criteria:  Birth - 110 years old; marriage, 90 years old; deaths, 30 years old.
 
Availability:
  1. Family History Library - in town where ancestor lived (use gazetteers to identify lication of civil registraton office.  Search: www.familysearch,org > Catalog (Search under place, Germany (state), Civil registratoin.
  2. Local town of Civil Registration office or archives
  3. Check www.google.de for town information and contact the civil registraiton office
  4. City archives - can determine if records are there.  Then need an agent to search for you. (They may recommend someone if you ask.)
  5. State archives - unmicrofilmed records - write to Archivist at the stsate archives of Germany and request records search.  May need to hire a professional genealogist.