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:

  1. Factual – actual count of persons living in the residence at the time of the census.
  2. Resident Population – included all members of the family, whether they were living at home at the time or not.
  3. 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.

Comments (10)

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  1. I am searching for information regarding my grandfather Adam born 1858 and my great-grandfather Peter Schneider (who was a Bavarian farmer). Perhaps from Horsbaach?

    Margaret Kett 22 January 2012
    6:01 am
  2. looking for relatives of frank tawney ww1 veteran

    brenda tawney 21 July 2011
    3:20 am
  3. I have found my grandmothers parents and her first 7 siblings . from Anna to my grandmother are not listed. What happen to the rest of the film ? Is there another film from 1877 to 1886 ? ( Germany ) the two flims I did order are 1054228 and 1054229.

    Louise Plaskey 10 June 2011
    2:15 pm
  4. Looking for my grandfathers beginnings, Ewald Buhrow who came to America in 1897 with his stepfather, August Schultz, and his mother Emma Schultz. Would like to know where he was born in Germany? Also, what happened to his biological father. In 1897 he left Hamburg with his family and came to Ellis Island. Residence listed on the ship manifest is Kalisz, Pommern.

    Katherine Buhrow Priester 27 February 2011
    5:49 pm
  5. have not had much use of this area yet so i have no definite opinion yet. im looking for grand parents but only know grmom was born in ittersbach,and had a sister katherina and their last name was hammer. grospop was fridilon mehl,farmer. they came over abt 1892 or3. she was on the waesland and he was on the dresden. i have no set idea where he was from but some papers say kirschhasel. i have no idea what his parents names were or if he had siblings he was born 1873 and she was born 1874. i need a lot of help.

    emily mehl-bedell 10 February 2011
    6:57 pm
  6. I have to agree with REG MOHR I am disappointed that records that use to be available are now not, and the search engine used at this site leaves a lot to be desired These recent changes are suppose to make searching for records easier, but that is not the reality. By removing records that were previously available, researchers who were using those records are left wondering where they went In this day and age, I am sure there are far better search engines available so that the average search does not bring up 500 answers most of which have nothing what so ever to do with the actual search request. Wake up Family Search and realize that your site is still very far behind other sites

    Meinstammbaum 10 February 2011
    10:33 am
  7. This new site is a total disappointment. Searching is terrible and speed is dismal. Records that I could find in the past few years are no longer found. Looking through the blogs, it appears that more than 90% of the comments are negative toward the changes. Are you guys listening?

    Reg Mohr 09 February 2011
    4:45 pm
  8. Are the German censuss online? can I look through them?

    Richard Smith 06 February 2011
    9:30 am
  9. If my great-grandparents were born in what was known as Prussia how do I find out what city or town they were born in? My g_grandparents were Ludwig Hochholzer ( 01 Oct 1841) and Frances R Planke (09 April, 1848) came to the United States in July 1868 on the Ship Rhein. They left Bremen, Germany. I could use some help in trying to find out where they were born? Thank you

    Ellen Pollock 05 February 2011
    2:20 pm
  10. Looking go Jacob Wilf who came over from Germany abt. 1830. Can find nothing. Aso lookin for Lori Mitchell who lived with my Mitchell great grandparents in 1910. Again , nothing. Getting irritated. Ben looking for quite awhile.

    Sharon Mitchell 05 February 2011
    11:53 am

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