Prussian Poland Civil Registration
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- Since 1794 the church records were given the status of the legal public documents.
- The priests from the Catholic and Lutheran parishes were obligated to keep the birth, marriage, and death records, and to make copies of them. At the end of each year the copies written in separate books were compared with the original entries in the church records, and then they were transferred and stored at the appropriate court house. Every person was obligated by law to register the birth, marriage, and death at the their parish. The marriage registration had to take place at the parish of the bride.
- In the years 1794-1812 the registration of Jews was done only for the evidence purposes by the civil authorities.
- In 1812 the Jews were divided into two groups: the naturalized (with a certain financial status, permanent job and residence, and they had to accept an ancestral name), and not-naturalized. The first group was required to register the births, marriages, divorces, and deaths at the police station or by the civil authorities (if the event was taking place outside of the town). Since 1847 also the second group was required to register births, marriages, and deaths, and from 1849 it was the duty of the district courts to make these entries.
- Since 1874 began an uniform civil registration done by the civil authorities for all of the people, regardless of their religion. That form of civil registration was not associated with any of the religious registrations. At that point all of the people, regardless of their religion, were obligated to register the births, marriages, and deaths with the civil registrar. The records of the civil marriages had to be entered first at the civil office, then at the church. The vital records were kept in Latin or German, when the civil records were maintained in German.
- In 1937 in the area of Germany (with the part included in today’s Poland) was introduced the Familienbuch, or the Family Book, where all of the entries for a particular family were maintained.
- After 1918 in most places previously under the Prussian administration the entries were made in Polish, but the system of making them remained the same.
- Where can we find the records today: At the places where the records were originally kept; at the appropriate Civil Registrar’s Offices (usually not older records than 100 years in Poland) then at the State Archives in Poland or Germany; at the Church Archives, check both Catholic and Lutheran.