Sunday, 3 January 2016

Birth, marriage and death certificates from Germany

Commonly, family historians commencing research into their German ancestors, want to obtain the relevant birth, marriage or death certificates. In Germany, such certificates are issued by the civil registry office (the Standesamt) from the area in which the event occurred. Each locality in Germany belongs to a specified Standesamt. In some cases, a number of smaller villages may belong to a Standesamt in a neighbouring town. In larger towns and cities, however, there may be multiple Standesämter each of which is responsible for a district of the town or city. Over the years, with the movement of people and the growth of some population centres and the decline of others, adjustments have been made to the location and jurisdictions of the Standesämter. Using the word Standesamt along with the name of the village or town in a search engine will usually find the address of the current Standesamt.
A search for the words 'Standesamt' and 'Bornstein' provides a link to the relevant Standesamt

The link leads to a page giving the location of the Standesamt in the neighbouring town of Gettorf

Some things to note:
  1. Concern in Germany (and in many other countries) over privacy and identity fraud restricts the issue of 'recent' certificates – for births less than 110 years ago, marriages less than 80 years ago and deaths less than 30 years ago – to the subject of the certificate and his/her children and parents. To obtain such a certificate would require the production of some form of proof of identity.
  2. In some cases, older registers have been transferred from the Standesamt to the local civil or state archive. A query to the Standesamt should reveal how to access such registers.
  3. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths commenced at different time in different parts of Germany. Civil registration was introduced by the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic forces as they conquered the German states. After the defeat of the French, many of the German states did not continue with the system although copies (duplicates) of the church registers were often used instead. Civil registration commenced as early as 1792 in the western states of Baden, Alsace, Lorraine, and Rhineland, but it was not until 1 October 1874 that civil registration commenced in most of Prussia, and 1876 for areas such as Bavaria and Mecklenburg. Church records provide a good substitute in the years before civil registration.
More specific information and examples of German civil certificates of birth, marriage and death can be found in Researching in German Civil and Church Records published by Unlock the Past and available from Gould Genealogy & History.

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