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German Genealogy

Civil Registration Records


Because Germany didn't exist as a nation until 1871, civil registration among the German states is not uniform.  Alsace-Lorraine, then a part of France, began keeping civil registration records in 1791. As Napoleon invaded the German states, he often brought civil registration with him.  These early records were often kept in French and used the short-lived French Republican calendar.  After Napoleon's defeat, many of the states no longer kept these records.

Civil registration became mandatory in all of the German states in 1876. These records usually contained more detailed information than the church records.  Civil registration records were kept at the local Standesamt (civil registration office). Indexes were sometimes created with the records, and can be found before or after the records, and are usually arranged alphabetically by year.  Alsace-Lorraine has 10-year indexes.

Some of these records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  For records not microfilmed, written contact with the appropriate Standesamt is required.  Some of these records have also been gathered at German archives.