About this collection
This collection contains birth registers from numerous communities that are today part of the German state of Hesse. Years and localities covered may vary. Records for Frankfurt start in 1851. For some communities only a few years are available. Additional records are planned to be added in future updates. To see which locations and year ranges are currently available, refer to the box "Browse this collection.”
Hesse, beginning in the 13th century, was a Landgraviate or principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Upon the death of Philip I the Magnanimous in 1567, it was divided among four of his sons (Hesse becoming Hesse-Kassel, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Marburg, and Hesse-Rheinfels). When the descendent rulers of Hesse-Marburg and Hesse-Rheinfels died childless, those territories were incorporated into the other two. The Hessian territories, each with an eventful history, were not fully re-united until the formation of "Greater Hesse" in 1945 and the establishment of the German federal state of Hesse in 1946.
Beginning on October 1, 1874, local registry offices were made responsible for creating birth, marriage and death records in the former Prussian provinces, which included many of the Hessian communities in this collection. The collected records are arranged chronologically and usually in bound yearbook form which are collectively referred to as "civil registers." Civil Registry records from Hessian communities that were not part of Prussia begin as early as January 1st, 1876. Complementary alphabetical directories of names may also have been created. While churches continued to keep traditional records, the State also mandated that the personal or marital status of the entire population be recorded.
What you can find in the records
Birth records were created using preprinted forms that were filled in by hand by the registrar. In each record the date of a birth usually differs from the date it was registered. Depending on the individual form or on the formulations used by the registrar, you may find:
- Sequential or Certificate Number
- Registration Date
- Informant: Occupation, Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Residence/Address, Denomination
- Mother: Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Spouse, Denomination, Residence/Address
- Child: Birth Date, Time of Birth, Sex, Given Names
More about using this collection
Generally, each record comprises one page. Additional events from the life of the child were sometimes recorded later on in the margins. These notes, sometimes referred to as "narration," can contain very useful information but they have not been indexed. As a result, information from the notes will not found via the search form. In cases where the child had not yet received a name at birth, the name was later added in the margin notes. The “Informant” was often a midwife or the child's father. Under "Browse this collection,” select the Civil Registration Office and then the Year Range for the register desired.