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Making sense of old handwriting

Other Records


Other German Records

In German-speaking lands before the 1871 unification, parish records including birth, marriage, death and family books (where available), will be the most helpful to you. After unification, civil records became important as well. When researching in German-speaking Russian territories, the Russian records will be commonly written in German, but labeled under their Russian territories and Russian record types in archives. And up until the beginning of the 20th century, it is not unusual for German-American church records to be written in German as well. In fact, some of the most useful German-American sources are the German newspapers.

Confirmation Records

When searching through larger collections of German church records you will see plenty of confirmation records: Firmungen for Catholic records and Konfirmationen for Protestant records. Confirmation records may not present you much information- often as limited as the name of the confirmed within their confirmation group. In some rarer cases you may find further information, such as a birthdate and place for the confirmed, or names of parents.

Village Lineage Books

Village Lineage books (Ortssippenbücher or Ortsfamilienbücher) are compiled sources that fill out vital information for families of a certain village. As an individual is associated with a village (in a birth record or marriage record, for example) they receive an entry within the given village lineage book. Though useful for establishing connections and compiling families these sources are not primary sources, but point you where to look for the primary sources.

Migration Records

German Passenger lists were typically generated for outbound ships. Of the two primary ports for German Emigrants, Bremen and Hamburg, the ship lists of Bremen were often destroyed and while Hamburg's lists were preserved and are available. Additionally, there were many other records generated as someone emigrated, such as permissions to emigrate, emigration lists and police records.

Civil Registration Records

German states have the earliest Civil records dating to around the Napoleonic wars as the French custom was implemented in territories under French occupation. After the French were repelled, civil records were kept irregularly until they were mandated across unified Germany in 1876.

Census Records

Census records were never implemented in the way that an American or British researcher is accustomed to. Census records are also dependent on area and are typically not the wealth of information found on English-language census records. For more information on German Census records, see Roger P. Minert's book, German census records, 1816-1916 : the when, where, and how of a valuable genealogical resource.

Court Records

German Court records are inconsistent though they may be found earlier than church records. They also do not include many genealogical specifics and only names and origins.

Military Records

Military records can provide great genealogical information, though they are not generally compiled and often are unavailable or lost.