Germany - Birth - 1500-1874 Search Strategy

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Parish Register, Christening, 1500-1874: Church records

Beginning about 1500, churches required their clergy to keep christening (or baptism) records. The records give the names of the parents and the child and include birth dates. Information found in a christening depends on how detailed the minister made his record.

  • What you are looking for: Before civil registers began, church christening records were the best source for determining when a person was born.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all of the German christening records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Parish Transcripts, Christening: Church records

Beginning about 1500, churches required their clergy to keep christening (or baptism) records. Before civil registration began, the government required churches to submit a copy of the christening records. The records give the names of the parents and the child and include birth dates. These records may not begin the same year for every parish.

  • What you are looking for: The government required the church to submit a copies of their christening records. If the original parish records have been destroyed, these copies are the best source for determining when a person was born.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all christening transcripts have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Parish Register, Family Register: Church records

The church ministers kept family registers. Family registers give the names of children, parents, and grandparents. These records usually give the dates and places of birth, marriage, and death of the parents and children.

  • What you are looking for: In some areas of Germany, church ministers kept a separate record of each family in their parish. If christening transcript records do not exist, family register records are the best source for determining when a person was born.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all family register records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Confirmation Record: Church records

A church's confirmation records give the name of the child and one or both parents. Usually the place of birth and age or date of birth of the child is also given. These records may not begin the same year for every parish.

  • What you are looking for: Couples were married when they were in their twenties and thirties. Second and third marriages may occur anytime after that. If confirmation records do not exist, parish marriage records are the best source for determining when a person was born. Marriage records may not give a birth or christening date, but they give the age of the bride and groom, making it possible to determine their approximate birth years.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all parish marriage records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Parish Register, Marriage: Church records

After civil registry began in 1875, churches still required their clergy to keep marriage records. The marriage record may include the dates of the marriage banns or proclamations. Information found in a marriage record depends on how detailed the minister made his record.

  • What you are looking for: Couples were married when they were in their twenties and thirties. Marriage records may not give a birth or christening date, but they give the age of the bride and groom, making it possible to determine their approximate birth years.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all parish marriage records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Parish Transcripts, Marriage: Church records

Beginning about 1500, churches required their clergy to keep marriage records. Before civil registration began, the government required churches to submit a copy of these records. They give the age or date of birth of the bride and groom, which you can use when birth and christening records are not available. These records may not begin the same year for every parish.

  • What you are looking for: Couples were married when they were in their twenties and thirties. Second and third marriages may occur anytime after that. If parish marriage records do not exist, parish marriage transcripts are the best source for determining when a person was born. Marriage transcripts may not give a birth or christening date, but they give the age of the bride and groom, making it possible to determine his or her approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all marriage transcript records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Parish Register, Burial: Church records

Beginning about 1500, churches required their clergy to keep burial records. These records may give the age or birth date of the deceased, which you can use when birth and christening records are not available.

  • What you are looking for: When marriage transcripts do not exist, parish burial records are the best source for determining when a person was born. Burial records may not give a birth or christening date, but they give a person's age, making it possible to determine his or her approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all burial records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Parish Transcripts, Burial: Church records

Beginning about 1500, churches required their clergy to keep burial records. Before civil registration began, the government required churches to submit a copy of these records. They give the age or date of birth of the deceased, which you can use when birth and christening records are not available. These records may not begin the same year for every parish.

  • What you are looking for: When church burial records do not exist, burial transcripts are the best source for determining when a person was born. Burial transcripts record may not give a birth or christening date, but they give a person's age, making it possible to determine his or her approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all burial transcript records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Census: Census

Census or resident records were not kept with any consistency or regularity. If an age is given, the records can be used to estimate a person's birth date. They can also help identify all the members of a family and help determine where a family originated.

  • What you are looking for: When burial transcripts do not exist, census records are the best source for determining when a person was born. Census records may not give a birth or christening date, but they give a person's age, making it possible to determine his or her approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all probate records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Probate File: Probate records

Probate records provide information about the birth, marriage, and death of an individual. They can also help identify all the members of a family.

  • What you are looking for: When census records do not exist, probate records are the best source for determining when a person was born. Probate records may not give a birth or christening date, but they give a person's age, making it possible to determine his or her approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all probate records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Citizenship Record: Naturalization and citizenship

Citizenship records were kept by the town in which an ancestor lived. These records provide an ancestor's occupation, age or date of birth, and sometimes names of the parents or spouse.

  • What you are looking for: When probate records do not exist, citizenship records are the best source for determining when a person was born. Citizenship records may not give a birth or christening date, but they give a person's age, making it possible to determine his or her approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all citizenship records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.

Muster Rolls: Military records

Military records provide the date and place of birth of every male drafted in the army. The name of the father and his occupation may also be given.

  • What you are looking for: When citizenship records do not exist, military records are the best source for determining when a male person was born. Military records may not give a birth date, but they give a person's age, making it possible to determine his approximate birth year.
  • Why go to the next record: Not all military records have been microfilmed, and the beginning date of these records varies from place to place.