German census records are extremely helpful in identifying family groups and providing a time frame when children move away from home, marry, or pass away. They also are helpful when there are several families in the same town that have a parent or parents with the same name.
A national census in Germany was not taken until the late 1800’s. Local censuses began as early as 1500’s, though most do not appear until the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Some were taken on a kingdom, province or duchy level; however, most were taken on a city or district level.
Three primary types of census forms were kept in Germany:
- Factual – actual count of persons living in the residence at the time of the census.
- Resident Population – included all members of the family, whether they were living at home at the time or not.
- Domestic (Legal) Population – included only those who had domestic rights, responsibility for possessions, and lawful citizenship.
The purpose of the census was to provide information for required military service, income taxes, identifying the local population for the indirect taxes, and custom assessment of the population. Like census records in any country, German census records should not be used as a primary source for birth dates, but they provide clues about when individuals were born.
Other records exist that are not considered to be census records, but contain similar information. These include the following:
- Population Lists (Bevoelkerungsliste)
- Citizen Lists (Buergerlisten)
- Resident Lists (Einwohnerlisten)
- House Owner Lists (Hausbesitzerverzeichnis)
- Population Count (Mannzahlregister)
- Church Membership Lists (Seelenlisten)
- List of Serfs (Untertannenlisten)
Try using census and similar records to find your German ancestors.