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Archives collect and preserve original documents from organizations such as churches or governments. Libraries collect mostly published sources, such as books, maps, and microfilm. This section describes Germany's major repositories of genealogical and historical records and sources.
If you plan to visit one of these repositories, contact the archive or library and ask for information about its collection, hours, services, and fees. Also ask who may use their facility.
Although the original records you need may be in an archive or library in Germany, the Family History Library may have a microfilm copy of them. Check the Family History Library Catalog before writing to or visiting archives in Germany.
German archives and parishes often refer family history letters to historical or genealogical societies. Members of these societies can usually search the local archives. Sometimes the archive will recommend other archives to which you can write. You will usually find what you need more quickly by contacting local parish or civil archives before larger state archives or libraries.
When writing to a German-speaking archive or library, it is best to write in German. For help in writing a letter in German, see the German Letter-Writing Guide.
There are seven major types of genealogical repositories for German records:
- State archives
- German Center for Genealogy
- Archives outside of Germany
- Civil registration offices and town archives
- Church parish offices
- Historical and genealogical societies
- “Deutsche Archive im Internet” (German Archives on the Internet) provides links to various archive web sites. Archives are sorted by type (state archives, communal archives, church archives, etc.).
The German federal archives have very few records helpful to family historians. However, each modern state archive preserves useful records, including:
German state archives are generally open to the public.
If the Family History Library does not have the records you need, you can contact the state archive for the area in which your ancestor lived. The archive will briefly describe its collections and provide a list of researchers you can hire to search the archive.
Addresses and websites for state archives in areas of heavy emigration are listed below.
Nördliche Hildapromenade 2
E-mail: Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg
Internet: Rheinland-Pfalz Landesarchivverwaltung
Internet: Rheinland-Pfalz Landesarchivverwaltung
Thüringen Archive in Schmalkalden
- Bavaria (Bayern)
- Berlin (excluding Brandenburg)
- Brandenburg (excluding Berlin)
Kassel and Waldeck are listed here.
Braunschweig, Hanover and Oldenburg are listed here.
German Center for Genealogy
The German Center for Genealogy [Deutsche Zentralstelle für Genealogie] was founded as an archive for genealogical materials. It has an extensive collection of German church records from Posen, Ostpreußen, Westpreußen, Pommern, and Schlesien (now in Poland, Russia, and Lithuania), and it has many records of German settlements in eastern Europe. The Family History Library has microfilms of these records, but if you need more information, you can contact the center. For a fee, employees of the center will try to find genealogical sources. But as a general rule, research must be done in Leipzig by the researcher.
Archives Outside of Germany
The Family History Library has on microfilm many German records from areas now in Poland, France, Denmark, Belgium, Russia, and Lithuania. If you cannot find the records you need in the Family History Library Catalog, you can write the parish where your ancestor lived, the German Center for Genealogy, or the archives of the country. The main archives outside of Germany are described below.
The Polish State Archives may be able to help you with records from Brandenburg, Ostpreußen, Westpreußen, Pommern, Posen, Schlesien and other areas now under Polish jurisdiction. You may write in English, but it is better to write in Polish. There is a fee for any work done.
The respective State Archives holds civil registration records more than 100 years old.
The mailing address is:
Ul. Długa 6, skr. poczt. 1005
Internet: Polish government archives in English (also translates into Polish)
Addresses for State Archives in Poland can be found at Rootsweb.
Archives are arranged alphabetically by name of archive. E-mail addresses are included.
A detailed inventory for the Stettin [ Szczecin] State Archive, searchable in German systematcally, alphabetically, and by key word, is found at Archivfuhrer Stettin.
Some additional Polish Archives
Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu oddzial w Kamiencu
Plac Koscielny 4
57-230 Kamieniec Zabkowicki
Ph.: 48 74 817 35 40
Fax: 48 74 817 35 40
Website:Archiwum Panstwowe we Wroclawiu oddzial w Kamiencu
Archiwum Archidiecezjalne we Wroclawiu (Breslau)
ul. Kanonia 12
Archiwum Panstwowe w Opolu
ul. Zamkowa 2
Archiwum Diecesjalne Peplinska (Peplin)
ul. Biskupa Dominika 11
Ph.: 48-58 5361222
Fax: 48-58 5361699
Website: Archiwum Diecesjalne Peplinska (Peplin)
50-215 Wroclaw (Breslau)
Ph.: 48 71 328 8101
Fax: 48 71 328 80 45
Website: Archiwum Panstwowe
Parafia Wroclaw I (Lutheran Archives Breslau)
ul. Kazimierza Wlk. 29
Ph.: 48 71 3434730
Fax: 48 71 3723748
Website: Parafia Wroclaw I (Lutheran Archives Breslau)
Parafia Wroclaw II (Lutheran Archives Breslau)
ul. Paryzantow 60
Ph.: 48 71 3484598
Fax: 48 71 3484407
Website: Parafia Wroclaw II (Lutheran Archives Breslau)
Archiwum Diecezjalne Opole (Kath. Bistumsarchiv Oppeln)
ul. Kard. Kominka 1a
Ph.: 48 77 4412820
Website: Archiwum Diecezjalne Opole (Kath. Bistumsarchiv Oppeln)
Archiwum Panstwowe w Katowicach (Kattowitz)
ul. Jozefowska 104 skr.poczt.1
PL 40-145 Katowice 33
Ph.: 48 32 583831
Archiwum Panstwowe w Zielonej Gorze
z siedziba w Srarym Kisielinie
ul. Pionerow Lubukirch 53
66-002 Stary Kisielin
Pl. Kościelny 4
58-300 Wałbrzych (Waldenburg)
Archiwum Archidiecezjalne w Poznańiu (Posen)
ul. Lubranskiego 1
e-mail: sekretariat @aao.poznan.pl
Website: Archiwum Archidiecezjalne w Poznańiu (Posen)
Archiwum Państwowe w Koszalinie
ul. gen. Andersa 38
For information from Elsaß-Lothringen(Alsace-Lorraine), contact one of the following archives:
Archives départementales du Bas-Rhin
5, rue Fischart
Internet: ARCHIVES DEPARTEMENTALES EN FRANCE
Archives départementales du Haut-Rhin
3, rue Fleischhauer
68026 Colmar Cedex 3
Internet: Archives Départementales du Haut-Rhin
Archives départementales du Moselle
1, allée du château
57070 St. Julien-les-Metz
Internet: Archives de la Mozelle
The French archivists will not do research, but they will help you determine what records are available. For help writing in French, see the French Letter-Writing Guide.
Archive information, including internet and E-mail addresses, for France are found at:
If your research is in Schleswig-Holstein, Oldenburg, Lübeck, or the part of Hamburg that was once part of Denmark, you may be able to hire a researcher through the Danish archive. You may write in English.
The address is:
Landsarkivet i Aabenraa
Internet: Danish National Archives
Civil Registration Offices and Town Archives
In most areas, local governments began recording births, marriages, and deaths between 1792 and 1876. Although most records are kept in local offices, a few have been turned over to the state archives.
People who lived in small communities or villages usually registered in the nearest town, city, or municipality. Large cities and metropolitan areas are divided into civil registration districts. Civil registration records are not open for public inspection, but abstracts or photocopies are issued to direct descendants. If a particular archive does not have the records you seek, it will usually refer you to the correct archive. For more information about civil records, see Germany Civil Registration.
Church Parish Offices
Most church records are kept at local parish offices. Some are sent to the area's central archive. If the Family History Library does not have the records that you need, you should first write (in German) to the local parish in the town where your ancestor lived. If the records have been moved, the local parish can usually tell you which archive currently has the records, and you can then write to that archive. See Germany Church Records for more information.
Historical and Genealogical Societies
Dozens of German historical and genealogical societies exist in Germany and elsewhere. These groups have libraries or archives that collect valuable records. For more information, including addresses of the more prominent societies, see Germany Societies.
The following are good directories of German archive addresses:
International Directory of Archives = Annuaire international des archives. München, Germany: K. G. Saur, 1992. (FHL book 020.5 Ar25 v. 38.) You will need to update the postal codes in this directory by using the postal code book cited in Germany Gazetteers.
1993 Updated Addresses to German Repositories. Burbank, California, USA: Immigrant Genealogical Society, 1993. (FHL book 943 D27gr 1993.) Alphabetical by city.
Websites that give archive addresses:
State Archives of Baden and Wuerttemberg:
A list of archives in Baden-Wuerttemberg, maintained by Andreas Hanacek.
- Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe
- Nördliche Hildapromenade 2, D-76133 Karlsruhe
- Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart
- Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 4, D-70173 Stuttgart
- Staatsarchiv Freiburg
- Colombiastr. 4, D-79098 Freiburg
- Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg
- Schloß Ludwigsburg, Schloßstr. 30, D-71634 Ludwigsburg
- Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen
- Strohdorfer Str. 11, D-72488 Sigmaringen
- Staatsarchiv Wertheim
- Bronnbach 19, D-97877 Wertheim
- Hohenlohe Zentralarchiv
- Neuenstein - Schloß, Neuenstein/Württemberg
- Evangelisches Landeskirchliches Archiv
- Blumenstr. 1, D-76133 Karlsruhe
- Landeskirchliches Archiv der Evangelischen Landeskirche in Württemberg
- Balingerstr. 33/1, 70567 Stuttgart-Möhringen, Tel. (0711) 2140-254
Landeskirchliche Archiv Stuttgart
- Erzbischöfliches Archiv Freiburg
- Herrenstr. 35, D-79098 Freiburg
- Bischöfliches Ordinariat, Diözesanarchiv,
- Bischöfliches Palais, Eugen-Bolz-Platz 1, D-72108 Rottenburg (cf. Information zu Kirchenbüchern im Diözesanarchiv Rottenburg)
HOK Zentrum Passau
Email: email@example.com (Help with finding displaced persons WWII)
Landeskirchliches Archiv in Berlin (ELAB)
011 49 30 / 22 50 45 - 0
Fax: 011 49 30 / 22 50 45 10
Archives of religious communities
- Archiv der Herrenhuter Brüdergemeinschaft
- Zinzendorfplatz 3, D-78126 Königsfeld, Phone (07725) 93820
- Library of the Vereins für Familien- und Wappenkunde
- in Württemberg and Baden
- Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart
- Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 8, D-70173 Stuttgart
- Badische Landesbibliothek Karlsruhe
- Erbprinzenstraße 15, D-76133 Karlsruhe
- Library in the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen
- Charlottenplatz 17, D-70173 Stuttgart
LDS Family History Centers
(Family History Centers of the Church of Latter Days Saints (Mormons))
In Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart and in Karlsruhe. For the addresses, see this page.
Inventories, Registers, Catalogs
Some archives have catalogs, inventories, guides, or periodicals that describe their records and how to use them. If possible, study these guides before you visit or use the records of an archive so that you can use your time effectively.
The following source is an overall guide to the collections of archives and libraries in Germany:
Minerva-Handbücher. Archive: Archive im deutschsprachigen Raum (Minerva handbooks, archives in German-speaking areas). Two Volumes. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 1974. (FHL book 943 A5m 1974 Vol.1-2.) See also
http://books.google.com/books? (Add title: Archive im deutschsprachigen Raum)
For a much shorter but more current list:
Pies, Eike. Aktuelle Adressen und Informationen für Familienforscher (Addresses and information for genealogists). Solingen, Germany: Verlag E. & U. Brockhaus, 1993. (FHL book 943 D24pe.) Mainly includes German state archives, state-wide church archives, and genealogical society archives.
These guides are available at the Family History Library. They may also be available at your public or university library or through interlibrary loan.
The Family History Library has copies of some published inventories as well as guides, catalogs, and directories for other libraries. The following are examples of such sources:
- Wermes, Martina, et al. Bestandsverzeichnis der Deutschen Zentralstelle für Genealogie Leipzig (Inventory of the German Center for Genealogy in Leipzig). Two Volumes. Neustadt/Aisch, Germany: Degener, 1991-1992. (FHL book 943 D25givol. 24-25m.)
- Hope, Anne, and Jörg Nagler. Guide to German Historical Sources in North American Libraries. Washington, D.C., USA: German Historical Institute, 1991. (FHL book 970 A3ho.)
These types of records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under one of the following headings:
GERMANY - ARCHIVES AND LIBRA[[|]]RIES ¬INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
GERMANY, [STATE] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
GERMANY, [STATE], [TOWN] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS
Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:
- Germany, Bavarian Archive Miscellaneous Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
- Germany, Bavaria, Mindelheim Miscellaneous Church Records (FamilySearch Histroical Records)