Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books, 1701-1875 .
This article describes a collection of records at
Hesse-Nassau,  Germany
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Flag of the German Empire, 1871-1917
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Location of Hesse-Nassau, Germany
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Map of the German Empire, 1871-1917
Current Location
Hesse-Nassau is located in Germany.
Record Description
Record Type Civil Registers and Church Books
Collection years: 1701-1875
Languages: German
Title in the Language: Deutschland, Hessen-Nassau, Personenstandsregister und Kirchenbücher 1701-1875
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Hessisches Staatsarchiv, Marburg

What is in this Collection?

This is a collection of images of civil vital records and church books from the years 1701 to 1875 preserved in, and filmed at the Marburg State Archive. They pertain to places that were incorporated into the historical German state of Hessen-Nassau. Today, Hessen-Nassau is located primarily in Hessen with portions annexed to Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. Most of these records were handwritten in narrative style, others in tables. Some of the later ones were written into forms. The text of the records is in Gothic German. For help reading these records, see Germany Handwriting.

Civil and church records were created to record important events in the lives of the people of the land. This recording of data also helped provide citizenship benefits and statistics for civil authorities. Such records are the most reliable and accurate family history sources.

The bulk of church records for this region are held elsewhere. The Evangelische Kirchenarchiv Kurhessen und Waldeck / the Lutheran Church Archives for Kurhessen and Waldeck at Kassel includes 1,819 church books of vital records for church units in Hessen (Kurhessen, Hessen Kassel, Hessen Darmstadt, Hessen Nassau, & Waldeck) reaching into the 1500s. The Diocesan Archive (Diozäsanarchiv) in Fulda holds many Catholic church records, and there are other archives as well.

A large portion of the registers in this collection constitute two groups, each from a narrow time period.

The first group is universal civil vital records from the 4th quarter of 1874 and the year 1875. (Hessen-Nassau was part of Prussia, which introduced universal civil registration on October 1, 1874. The rest of Germany initiated such record-keeping on January 1, 1876.) The 1874-75 registers for 120 localities in Hessen-Nassau, including the cities of Hanau, Marburg, Fulda and Rotenburg/Fulda, are represented here. They are usually described as “Standesamt,” but a few are listed under “Bürgermeisterei” (e.g., Heringen) or “Evangelisch” (e.g., Zierenberg). The second large group of records was created in 1808-1813, when the northern portion of what later became Hessen-Nassau was part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia. Over 300 localities are represented in this group. These records are often remarkably detailed and can include marriage banns and annexes (i.e., supporting documents).

The records in this group are civil records, but most of them were kept by local clergy who had been appointed as registrars. Most of them are separated by religion, i.e., there are separate books for Lutherans and Jews, and occasionally for members of Reformed or Catholic parishes. The records may be found under any of the following descriptions: Amtsgericht, Bürgermeisterei, Gerichtsamt, Justizamt, Standesamt, Evangelisch, Katholisch, Französisch-Reformiert, Jüdische Gemeinde. In this group, records for several Jewish communities are not listed as such, instead appearing under one of the other rubrics. Jewish records for Abterode, Bischhausen, Gensungen, Grebenstein, Gudensberg, Herleshausen, Netra, Schmalkalden, Spangenberg, Wichmannshausen and Wolfhagen are included under „Evangelisch.“ Those for Bettenhausen and Niederklein are found under „Bürgermeisterei“. Jewish records for Iba are under both „Standesamt“ and „Evangelisch“; the records from there seem to have been filmed twice. Separate Jewish records from 88 communities, primarily from 1825-1874, are present as well. Some of these are not designated as such, appearing instead under “Bürgermeisterei,” “Standesamt” or “Polizeiamt.”

Sample Images

Click on images for a larger view.

Birth records may contain the following information:

  • Names of the child, parents, and witnesses or godparents
  • Date and place of birth and baptism
  • Residence and religion of the parents
  • Occupation of the father
  • Legitimacy

Marriage records may contain the following information:

  • Names of the bride, groom, their parents (usually the fathers), and witnesses
  • Date and place of marriage and marriage proclamations or banns
  • Ages of the bride and groom
  • Sometimes the dates and places of birth
  • Residences of the bride, groom, and their parents
  • Religion of the bride and groom
  • Occupations of the groom and the fathers

Death records may contain the following information:

  • Names of the deceased, the spouse, and the parents
  • Date and place of death and burial
  • Age and residence of deceased
  • Sometimes the date and place of birth
  • Cause of death

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, ultimate rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. German Data Privacy rules prohibit viewing the following records: All birth images must be 110 years or older; all marriage images must be 75 years or older, and all death images must be 30 years or older.

If any record on a digital folder contains birth records from the last 110 years, for example, the entire digital folder is restricted.

The Historical Records collections will be updated each year to show new unrestricted records. FamilySearch respects and strives to adhere to all privacy laws respective to preserving and providing access to genealogical records in its collection.

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books, 1701-1875.

To browse by image:

⇒Select "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select "Place" category
⇒Select "Religion or Civil Registration Office" category
⇒Select "Event Type" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image or record comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images or records and compare the information about the individuals listed to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind there may be more than one person in the records with the same name and you will want to look carefully at dates, places and relations to identify your ancestor from another person. You also may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name if they were known by a nickname or changed their name from the original birth record name. Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life and may be listed in records with any of those variations. You may need to look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination.

I Found Who I was Looking for, Now What?

  • Use the age in the citizen to find an approximate birth year to begin your search in church or civil records.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have moved, been recruited or lived nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify. Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual. This compiled list can help you identify possible relations that can be further verified by researching vital records in the country.
  • When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, Now What?

  • Switch to a different record collection. Depending on the time period, either German Civil Registration records or German Church records may be more useful.
  • While searching, it is helpful to know such information as the ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as an ancestor and that the ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • Keep in mind that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of local genealogical societies.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citations for This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books, 1701-1875." Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Hessisches Staatsarchiv, Marburg (Hessen State Archives, Marburg).

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books, 1701-1875.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.