Austria Beginners Corner Finding Your Ancestor in the Records
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Austria has no central register where you can find persons by name.
Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Civil registration of birth, marriages and deaths was introduced in Austria in 1938 when Austria was annexed to Germany. For marriages before 1 August 1938 and births and deaths before 1 January 1939, church records should be searched.
From 1870, people with no religion and those who belonged to some of the smaller confessions, registered their names in local magistrates' courts, where the lists are archived.
See also: Austria Civil Registration
The various religious communities kept registers of births and/or baptisms, marriages and deaths and/or burials. The historical records are kept in the private archives of each religious community.
Until 1849 Catholic priests were required to include in their parish registers the records of other denominations. So even though your ancestors may have been Lutheran or Jewish, you must search Catholic registers up to 1849.
Generally you have to know your ancestors' religious affiliation. The records of the Catholic Church are organised at the local level: you need to identify the relevant parish.
The Family History Library has microfilms of vital records from only a few communities. Use the FamilySearch Catalog to determine what records are available for the locality.
A number of churches including the Roman Catholic and Evangelical churches have begun digitising their parish registers and publishing them online at:
- Matricula Online for Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), Upper Austria (Oberösterreich) and Vienna (Wien);
- http://www.vla.findbuch.net for Vorarlberg.
Research by mail
If the records you want are not available through the Family History Library or online they may be still available in the parish or the diocese of that province. Please refer to the Letter Writing Guide for detailed information. Remember to enclose photocopies of any old documents or mementos that you may have.