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German Genealogy

German Libraries and Archives

The feudal system in Germany resulted in each independent area keeping its own records, leading to regional rather than national archives. Records of births, marriages, and deaths, together with many other government and private records, some dating from the Middle Ages, have been preserved in about 2,000 German archives. The most common record keepers in Germany past and present were governments and churches. The present German national archive houses only records from the post-World War II constitutional government. Many regional records were destroyed in the devastations of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), and it is difficult to find records before that period.

Types of archives in Germany:

  • Parish office: Church records for the various localities served by a parish.

  • Regional church office: Church records collected from the parishes of a region, available usually in microform.

  • City/town hall: Civil records for one or several communities, with collections held in different offices. Possible types of records include: city directories, police registrations of residents, lists of citizens and when they obtained citizenship status, property records, notaries records, family registers, apprentice records, funeral sermons, newspapers, tax lists, city chronicles, hospital records, business and merchant transactions, house construction and registration, rental records, various "rights" for water, hunting, fishing, forest, etc., welfare and poor house records, guild records, and school records.

  • County archive: Land records, taxation rolls, emigration records, military records, wills, and the rare census. Other possible records are the same as those listed under City/town hall records.

  • State archives: Regional collections in most German states, duplicate church records, maps, emigration applications, court records, probate files, some rare census records, civil registrations, and some military records.


Baden-Württemberg, southern part of Rheinland-Pfalz, Sachsen:


Berlin, Brandenburg

Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thüringen

Elsaß-Lothringen / Alsace-Lorraine

Hessen, Rheinhessen



  • Naczelna Dyrekcja. Warsaw, Poland. - For Ostpreußsen, Westpreußen, Pommern, Posen, Schlesien, and other areas now under Polish jurisdiction.

Rheinland / Rhineland



  • Landesarchiv Prinzenpalais. Schleswig, Germany. - For Schleswig-Holstein, Oldenburg, Lübeck, and the part of Hamburg that was once part of Denmark.


Czech Republik


United States