How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Brandenburg, Germany

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Germany
Brandenburg
How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records
Brandenburg Wiki Topics

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Beginning Research
Record Types
Brandenburg Background
Ethnicity
Local Research Resources

Most of your genealogical research for Brandenburg will be in three main record types: civil registration, church records, and, when available, a compiled town genealogy ("'Ortssippenbuch" or "Ortsfamilienbuch" in German). This article will teach you how to use these records

  • on digital databases,
  • as microfilms,
  • or by writing for them.

Geographic Area

This article discusses research for modern Brandenburg. At the end of World War II, a large section of 1871 Brandenburg, the Neumark, was ceded to Poland. As the Neumark lay east of the Oder-Neisse line which formed the new border between Allied-controlled Germany and Poland, the region was put under Polish administration. Germans remaining in the region were expelled and their land and possessions confiscated. A small part of the German population, mostly technicians for the water supply companies, were retained and used for compulsory labour; they were allowed to emigrate to Germany in the 1950s. According to the Centre Against Expulsions, 40,000 Neumarkers were killed in action as soldiers, 395,000 fled to West or East Germany by 1950, and 208,000 died, disappeared, or were murdered during the course of flight or expulsion by Polish and Soviet troops.
"Neumark"

Town Compilation of Records (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch)

See class Online Ortsfamilienbücher at Genealogy.net.

  • An Ortssippenbuch (town lineage book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book) generally includes birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families. If one is available, it can act as an index or guide to finding the original records. However, they may contain errors, so it is best to verify their information in original records.
  • Sources may include the local parish registers, civil registration records, court and land records, and sometimes published material. In the printed book, this information is then arranged in a standardized format, usually alphabetically by surname and chronologically by marriage date.

Finding an OFB

  • Click here to see OFBs at GenWiki. These are indexed and searchable. OFB Instructions.
  • A bibliography of OFBs held by the Central Office for Person and Family History, and available in their archive in Frankfurt am Main-Höchst, is listed here. You can arrange for copied pages to be sent to you for a fee or donation. Use the "Find" function on your keyboard to search the bibliographies, as they are not alphabetical.
  • Neumark database and Huguenot pedigrees (Many parish registers in this area have been lost. This data base contains information from many other sources, such as pedigrees, town directories, histories etc.).Searchable.

Civil Registration (Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister)

Civil registers are government-kept records of births, marriages, and deaths. In Brandenburg, civil registry offices were introduced on 1 January 1876.

Civil registers can now be found in the local Standesamt, which is either in the registry office or town hall. Copies of civil registers have to be sent to the district registry offices. Records before 110 years ago for birth registers, 80 years ago for marriage registers, 30 years ago for death registers are preserved with the state archives.

1. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration From FamilySearch

A few, not many, civil registration records will be in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. The number should increase gradually. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on the records of Brandenburg, Germany.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Preussen, Brandenburg and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town. If the town or village is not listed, find the town in Meyer's Gazetteer. See where the Standesamt (StdA.) was. It may have been in different place, because of the size of the town.
d. Click on the "Civil registration" topic, if available. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" are deaths.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm. Clicking on the microfilm reel will lead to information on how to rent the film. Family history center staff will assist you in ordering the film.

2. Writing for Civil Registration Certificates

Civil registration records for Germany can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry (Standesamt) or the district archives. Records may have been lost at one location of the other, so you might end up checking both. The first office you contact might choose to forward your request to the other location if necessary. Write to the district archives if you wish to inquire about more than one town--for example, if you think a couple were married at either the groom's hometown or the bride's, and you want both places searched.

Determine the Standesamt (Civil Registry Office) Location

Research your town name in MeyersGaz.org to find the location of the Standesamt. It is indicated by the abbreviation "StdA". However, some of the offices were merged in 1970's, so the record location might be different than that listed in MeyersGaz.

  • For a municipality:
  • To find the current Standesamt, go to the German Wikipedia, and enter the name of the town in the search box. An article about the town will start with a first line such as: "Besse with about 3200 inhabitants is the largest district of the municipality Edermünde in Hessian Schwalm-Eder-Kreis ." It is probable that the Standesamt is now located in the municipality (in this example Edermünde).
  • Email the municipality to verify that the civil registry for your town is there. From the town article, click on the name of the municipality that links to that article. There will usually be an infobox on the page that lists the address and the website of the municipality. From the website, look for Kontakt (Contact) information with an email address.
  • For a town:
  • Follow the same instructions as for a municipality. However, in this case, the first line will read, for example: "Borken is a town in the Schwalm-Eder-Kreis with about 13,000 residents.
  • The infobox with the website will appear directly on a town page.

Local Standesamt Address

Using this address as guide, replace the information in parentheses:

An das Standesamt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)
GERMANY

Archive Address

Here are the addresses for the national and state archives, should you decide to write there instead of or in addition to the local Standesamt.


Brandenburg National Archives Potsdam
An der Orangerie 3
14469 Potsdam
Germany
(Postal address: Postfach 600499, 14404 Potsdam)
Tel. 0331/292971, Fax: 0331/292971

Brandenburgisches Landeshauptarchiv Service
Am Mühlenberg 3
14476 Potsdam, OT Golm
Germany
Postal address:
Postfach 600449
14404 Potsdam
Germany
Phone: 0331 5674-0
Fax: 0331 5674-212
E-mail: poststelle@blha.brandenburg.de

How to Write the Letter

Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the Germany Letter Writing Guide.

Church Records (Kirchenbuch or Kirchenbuchduplikate)

See Germany Church Records to learn more.

  • Entries for baptisms/christenings, marriages, and burials in the local church records are the main source to use prior to 1876, when civil registration began. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family. Also after 1876, these records might be intact when the civil registers were destroyed, or vice versa. In addition, either the church records and civil records might contain information not it the other record.
  • You should try to determine whether your ancestors were Catholic or Lutheran (Evangelical).
  • You should try to determine where the parish church was that held jurisdiction over your town. Find the town in Meyer's Gazetteer. Click on the "Ecclesiastical" link for information in the menu bar. This will tell you whether the town had its own parish church and give you the names of several nearby parish churches and their distance.

1. Online Church Records

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records Searched at a Family History Center

First, try to find church records in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on the records of Brandenburg, Germany.
b. Click on Places within Germany, Preußen, Brandenburg and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. Taufen are christenings/baptisms. Heiraten are marriages. "Toten" are deaths.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm. Clicking on the microfilm reel will lead to information on how to rent the film. Family history center staff will assist you in ordering the film.

3. Writing to an Priest for Church Records

  • Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting the local Catholic or Lutheran church or the Catholic diocese archives.

Lutheran Parish Addresses

  • Click here for a searchable address list of Lutheran parishes.

Catholic Parish Addresses for Diocese of Berlin

Brandenburg is in the Diocese of Berlin.

Writing to a Local Parish

Write a brief request in German to the proper church using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

For a Protestant Parish:

An das evangelische Pfarramt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)
GERMANY

For a Catholic Parish:

An das katholische Pfarramt
(Insert street address, if known.)
(Postal Code) (Name of Locality)
GERMANY


How to write a letter: Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the Germany Letter Writing Guide.

4. Research at a Catholic Diocese Archive

  • You can visit these archives yourself to research the records. Privacy rules apply to birth records more recent than 120 years, marriage records 80 years, and death records 30 years. A day fee of about EU 7.00 is charged to use the records. Call in advance to make reservations.

Diocesan Archives Berlin
Bethaniendamm 29
10997 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 30 22504580
Fax: +49 (0) 30 22504583
E-Mail: info@dioezesanarchiv-berlin.de

The archive does not provide search services. See Cyndi's List of German professional genealogists.

Reading the Records

  • It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
German Genealogical Word List
German Handwriting
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:
  • Also online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:

This converter will show you how any phrase or name might look in German script:

  • Kurrentschrift Converter (enter German genealogical word, click on "convert", view your word in Kurrentschrift (Gothic handwriting)

Latin Records

Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:

Search Strategy

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.



Other Resources