Modern Germany relates to Germany in the 20th century after World War 1 when the Federal republic known as the Weimar Republic was established in 1919 as the outcome of the 1918 revolution. The country under went a number of regimes until the country we see today came into being in 1990.
• Weimar Republic 1919–1933
• German Empire (Third Reich) 1933–1943
• Greater German Empire 1943–1945
• German Democratic Republic (East Germany) 1949—1990 • Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) 1949–1990
• Federal Republic of Germany (Germany) 1990–
Civil registration in the German Empire began between 1792 and 1876 depending on the locality. The earlier start dates are with those areas that came under the influence of France 1792 to 1812. Not all these areas continued civil registration after the French left and only resumed in 1876. In a number of places the local authority required duplicate copies during this period. Prussia adopted civil registration in 1874. The remaining states adopted the system in 1876.
Civil registration records are embargoed as follows:
• births 110 years • marriages 80 years • deaths 30 years if persons mentioned in the record are dead.
When seeking out parish registers, the earliest church records are in western Germany. The farther east you go, the later the church records begin.
The earliest surviving German Protestant records are from 1524 at St Sebald in Nuremburg. The Lutheran church in began requiring records be kept from 1540; Catholic records began later in 1563. By 1650 most denominations had begun keeping registers.
In some regions the records of people were kept by the predominant church regardless of their faith. The content of registers varies from region to region. Some parishes, especially in the south, kept family registers that give information about each family group in the parish.
To use church records, you need to know your ancestors' religion and the parish.
The Kirchenbuchportal may assist in advising records available at a given archive and coverage. FamilySearch has many church records available. Material not available online will be found in a range of possible locations:
most church registers are still maintained by the parish and you will need to correspond in German; duplicate records from some parishes may be in the state archives and some of these records have been filmed and are available at FamilySearch; church records or duplicates have been gathered into central church archives in some places and ironically these are the least accessible without a personal visit!
The website, Online German Genealogy Records & Databases may assist.
• German Confederation 1815–1866
• German Democratic Republic [Map only]
• German Empire 1871-1918