German Census Records

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German Census Records

National census records were established at different times by different countries. A national census in Germany was not taken until the late 1800’s. Local censuses began as early as 1500’s, though most do not appear until the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Some were taken on a kingdom, province or duchy level; however most were taken on a city or district level. By the middle of the 19th Century the self-registration, household lists began and was in 1867 introduced in the provinces of Prussia.

Three primary types of census forms were found in Germany:

1. Factual – actual count of persons living in the residence at the time of the census. If family members were living away from home, they were not included in the census.
2. Resident Population – included all members of the family, whether they were living at home at the time or not.
3. Domestic (Legal) Population – included only those who had domestic rights, responsibility for possessions, and lawful citizenship.

The purpose of the census was to provide information on required military service, income taxes, the local populace for the indirect taxes, and custom assessment of the populace.

The census should include at least part of the following: given and surname, sex, age, relationship to the head of the house, civil standing/occupation, religious affiliation, language (read and write), place and type of residence on the date of the census (whether permanent or temporary), and whether the person was blind, deaf or retarded.

Other records exist that are not considered to be census records, though contain similar information are:
• Population Lists (Bevoelkerungsliste)
• Citizen Lists (Buergerlisten)
• Resident Lists (Einwohnerlisten)
• House Owner Lists (Hausbesitzerverzeichnis)
• Population Count (Mannzahlregister)
• Church Membership Lists (Seelenlisten)
• List of Serfs (Untertannenlisten)

Additional Reading: German Census Taking Before 1871; Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research Laboratory of Historical Demography

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

German Census and Other Population Records; German Genealogical Digest, Vol VI no. 1, 1st Quarter 1990, Insights to Research, P.O.Box 700, Pleasant Grove UT 84062

„Vokszaehlungen” Meyers Konversations Lexikon, page 398,