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Proformat News
No: 53
July 2010
July Seminars
10: Finding your way around the English/Welsh censuses 1841–1911 Tea Tree Gully Public Library 10:00 to noon
30: Tracing your English ancestors WEA Centre Adelaide 6:30 to 9:30pm
31: Accessing the primary research stream State Library for the Flinders University 9:00am to 4:00pm

August Seminars
13: Organising, recording and preserving your family history Payneham Library 9:30 to 12:30pm
14: Accessing the secondary research stream State Library for the Flinders University 9:00am to 4:00pm
15: Family History on the Web WEA Centre Adelaide 10:00 to 1:00pm
22: Cops, crooks and victims 1840s style West Torrens Public Library 1:30 to 3:00pm
28: Interpreting the record State Library for the Flinders University 9:00am to 4:00pm

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

More privacy paranoia
State Records of SA have withdrawn access to Series GRG21/1: 1885 Land Tax Returns. This series was particularly valued by family history researchers, not only because in one listing every land owner in the colony was listed, but because of the extensive information contained within the records. The material has been withdrawn because someone has realised that the South Australia Taxation Administration Act 1996 Div 3—Secrecy 77–80 Prohibition has certain disclosures that makes it illegal for the public to access this material compiled over 120 years ago in case someone's privacy is compromised!

Irish Civil Registration Indexes
Civil registration indexes for all Ireland to the end 1921 and for the republic until 1958 are now available on the new LDS pilot site associated with FamilySearch. The site offers free access to the Irish Birth, Death and Marriages Civil Registration Indexes 1864–1958 and the Irish marriage index 1845–1864 (non Catholic marriages). The index is available for online searching but the images have yet to be made available. Click on Browse our record collections, then Europe on the map for access. Note that the actual registers have been filmed by the LDS, but are not online.

1901/1911 Census of Ireland
The 1901 census came online on 3 June 2010 at the National Archives web site. All 32 counties for 1901 and 1911, searchable by all information categories, are now available on this site. Ireland is unusual among English-speaking census-taking countries in that original household manuscript returns survive. These are the forms filled out and signed by the head of each household on census night. Most only have Enumerators' books, where family details were transcribed by the person charged with collecting the census information.

In this issue:
July seminars
August Seminars
More privacy paranoia
Irish Civil Registration Indexes
1901/1911 Census of Ireland

Feature article
Civil registration records across Europe


Graham Jaunay
Adelaide Proformat

Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465

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Drafting charts
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Proformat News acknowledges the support by awe AWE

Civil Registration records across Europe
The following table outlines how to access European Civil Registration certificates for births, marriages and deaths including Iceland. The UK has been included for completeness only. For those jurisdictions that do not have Civil Registration the researcher needs to access church records—usually the records are held by the Established or State Church.
Start Notes
Akrotiri 1960

bef 1960: see Cyprus
from 1960: as for Cyprus

Albania 1929 Institute of Statistics (Instituti i Statistikës) from 1994; previously local municipalities; also check Central State Archives in Tiranë; as an alternative source of births and marriages consider the Population registers and censuses from 1831.
Andorra no civil registration
Austria 1938 regional Vital Statistics Office (Standesamt)
The boundaries of Austria have changed over time. Your ancestor may have said he was from Austria, but actually he may have come from any of the countries that once belonged to the Hapsburg Monarchy or Austro-Hungarian Empire. See map
Belarus 1917 regional registry offices (ZAGS); to locate appropriate office seek information from National Center for Archives and Records Management in Minsk LINK
Belgium 1796 local municipality with decennial indexes available
copies held by Archives Générales du Royaume for Brussels, or, Archives de l'État for the provinces
Note: 1955 Privacy Act:means 100 yr embargo on access
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1946 local registry offices. See also map
Bulgaria 1893 regional Registry Offices (28 across the country); records patchy before 1945
Croatia 1946 local registry offices. See also map
Cyprus 1895 regional registry offices; (marriages from 1923)
Czech republic 1921 Municipal and sub district vital records offices (matricní úrady)
earlier examples include:
1885 mixed marriages and the chn of such marriages
1918 for non-Christians
Denmark no civil registration except 1851 Copenhagen marriages
Dhekelia 1960

bef 1960: see Cyprus
from 1960: as for Cyprus

Estonia varies before 1926: State Registry Office
from 1926: Office of Vital Records
Faroe Islands See Denmark
Finland 1922 for non-Lutherans only at local town hall
France 1792 >100 years: county (départémentales) archives
<100 years: local town hall (mairie)
1871 fire destroyed many Paris records
Germany 1874–6

1792 Alsace-Lorraine
1850 Anhalt
1792 Baden
1866 Hamburg
1809 Hanover
1792 Hesse
1803 Hessen-Nassau
1811 Lübeck
1811 Oldenburg
1792 Pfalz
1795 Rhineland
1808 Westphalia

local Registry Offices (Standesämt)
Current privacy laws:
births 110 yrs; marriages 80 yrs; deaths 30 yrs
(some states previously had registration 1808–12)

Gibraltar Oct 1848 births
1869 deaths
Apr 1862 marriages
The Registry of Births
registration not compulsory till Jan 1887
Death registration not compulsory till Dec 1912
Marriage registration not compulsory till Jul 1902
Greece 1831 pre-1925: local town hall (Dimarheion) also check county offices for copies(Nomarhia)
from 1925:Government Registry (Lixiarheion)
Hungary Oct 1895 regional Registry Offices (Anyakönyvi hivatal) or town halls(Állami Nyilvántartási Hivatal) with duplicates to 1980 at county or municipal archives or the National Centre of Archives. See map
Iceland no civil registration
Ireland 1864 General Register Office; Apr 1845 Protestant marriages

181014, 1866

1809 Abruzzo
1839 Savoy
1820 Sicily
1809 Tuscany

Registrar of Vital Statistics (Ufficio dello Stato Civile) at local municipality or commune with copy at the State Archives (Archivio di Stato); embargoed for 75 years; Extracts contain more information than a certificate.
(earlier starts were partial registrations)
Jan Mayen See Norway
Kaliningrad Administered by Russia
Kosovo   Municipal Centre for Civil Registration
Latvia 1906

from 1921: local civil registration office
pre-1921: Registry Office Archives

Liechtenstein 1878 Civil Registry Bureau in Vaduz
Lithuania 1940 Lithuanian Central Registry Archive (Vilniaus civilinés metrikacijos dokumentu archyvas) in Vilnius LINK
Luxembourg 1796 records held in the commune; indexes to State Archives after 10 years; 100 year embargo on births and marriages
Macedonia 1946 local registry offices
Malta 1863 Public Registry Office in Valletta
Moldova 1832 local mayor's office and county civil registration offices (ZAGS); to locate appropriate office seek information from Archives of Ancient Acts (civil registrations) in Kishinev LINK
Monaco 1792 mayor's office-embargoed to public
Montenegro 1946 Ask the State Archives of Montenegro (Drzavni arhiv Crne Gore) in Cetinje where the records are located
Netherlands, The 1811 Central Bureau for Genealogy
Norway no civil registration available to the general public
Poland 1809 before 1906: Polish State Archives (AGAD) in Warsaw
from 1906: local town hall (Urzad Stanu Cywilnego) LINK
Portugal 1911

optional in some areas from 1832; avail to non-Catholics from 1878; compulsory 1911
<100 years:
regional Registry Offices (Conservatórias do Registo Civil)
>100 years: district archives (Arquivos Distritais) with copy to National Archives in Lisbon


1895 Banat
1919 Bessarabia
1919 Bukovina
1919 Dobruja
1832 Moldavia
1895 Transylvania
1831 Wallachia

<75 years: town branches of the Office of Vital Statistics (Oficiul Starii Civile)
>75 years: births National Archives (Arhivelor Statului din Republica Socialista România) in Bucharest; marriages/deaths People’s Council (Consiliul Popular Starea Civila) in Bucharest
San Marino 1806 State Archives (Archivio di Stato) in San Marino (see Italy)
Serbia 1895 Vojvodina
local registry offices
Slovakia 1894 Municipal and sub district vital records offices (matricné úrady); copies held by the National Archives (Achní Správa) in Bratislava

1868 Istria
1895 Prekmurje
1924 Julian Region

National Archives (Arhiv Slovenije) in Ljubljana
(former Hungarian districts start from 1895)
Spain 1870 local court (Juzgado de la Paz ) or local registry office (Oficinia del Registro Civil) and remain housed in the local municipal archives; some municipalities may have civil registration records beginning as early as 1837
Svalbard See Norway
Sweden no civil registration until 1990s (Skatteverket)

1849 Fribourg
1798 Genève
1825 Neuchatel
1853 Valais
1800 Vaud

Jan 1876 rest

Civil Registrar (Zivilstandsamt); prior to 1926 each registrar maintained 2 sets of records–A: births, marriages, deaths within the community; B: births, marriages, deaths of its citizens away from the community LINK
Turkey Mostly in Asia
Ukraine 1917 >100 years: Civil Registration Office in Warsaw (Polish regime) or State Archives in Kiev
<100 years: regional registry offices (RAGS) LINK
United Kingdom Jul 1837 England/Wales
1842 Guernsey
1842 Jersey
1878 Isle of Man
1864 Northern Ireland
1855 Scotland

England/Wales: General Register Office
Northern Ireland: General Register Office; Apr 1845 Protestant marriages
Scotland: New Register House

Isle of Man: 1849 marriages;1878 births & deaths
Guernsey: 1842 births/deaths; 1919 marriages

Vatican City (Holy See) no civil registration

Use Google search to get the current address and other details: type "civil registration" +country/town (thus: "civil registration" +belarus) or if organisation is cited above in italics; organisation’s name +country (hence: zivilstandsamt +switzerland). In a number of countries, the term civil registration is not used or is used for differing records. Where this occurs use the term, birth marriage death instead of "civil registration" (thus: birth marriage death ukraine).

You may need to use an online translator like those offered by Google and Babelfish to roughly translate what the site contains. There may be cases where no translation is available.

Use the LDS Family History Online Library Catalogue to locate material to assist in your research by a keyword search using the words: "civil registration" + country. Also check LDS ongoing filming of European Country Vital Records. Keep an eye on the new LDS site. The LDS Wiki site also holds information on accessing vital records.

The World GenWeb Project site may also lead you to appropriate resources.

The USA government through its embassies offers useful information about securing records from some countries. Use the following web address replacing the word country with the country name or capital city accordingly:

Useful information may also be found at the CIA's World Factbook site.

It should be noted that many documents in Eastern European archives (countries as illustrated) have been microfilmed or copied in some manner and can be found in archives worldwide, including the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP) in Jerusalem at Hebrew University, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives (USHMM) in Washington and the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City.

Be aware of boundary changes especially in eastern Europe. For example your ancestor may have emigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire that now consists of Poland, Ukraine, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.

When writing seeking a certificate you can enhance your chance of a response by observing the following:
        1. Write in the language of the recipient.
        2. Enclose an IRC for return postage.
        3. Do not require the recipient to undertake any research to provide the result.
        4. Expect that the process may be a two-step one with the initial letter from you seeking the procedure to follow to secure the certificate and the second letter from you containing the specific request and the fee.
        5. Do not expect an answer. Many facilities will not answer correspondence and you may have to engage a local accredited record agent.

Remember that the country’s embassy/consulate nearest to you may be able to assist you.

There are significant barriers to progressing this work in many cases. Notwithstanding the language barrier, many countries maintain the records at a local level only and so to secure the record the researcher needs to know the place in which the event occurred. Often this is the very reason for seeking the record! Also many countries do not require their public servants to undertake any form of searching and an almost precise date has to be provided to get a result. Some officials in some countries seem to consider responding to written requests not necessary and just pocket the stamps, IRC and/or postal orders! While the writer advocates attempting to secure this information oneself, sometimes the only recourse is to engage a local agent to attend the office in person.

What does all this mean in a practical way? John Claudius Paisley, the South Australian Governor's Private Secretary, was reported in a brief notice in the Advertiser in September 1862, as dying on the Island of Elba earlier that year. On the surface it would seem a relatively simple exercise to obtain his death certificate especially when, as indicated in the above table, Elba is in Tuscany where civil registration started in 1809. Unfortunately these records are held by the Registrar of Vital Statistics in the place where the event occurred. There is no central, regional, or provincial office established that keeps such records. Elba has about fifteen such registries. So you say, contacting each office in turn until a result is achieved is not all that insurmountable, but this strategy does not recognise that Italian registrars are not required by law to assist in genealogical research work. Unless complete and correct information is provided, no search can be undertaken.

A similar situation occurs in France where the records are retained at the local level for 100 years before being passed on to the regional archives. The difference is that while they are in local hands people tend to be more helpful and will undertake basic searches. Once the record gets to the archive, the researcher is subject to the whim of the recipient of the request and that means a range of responses from considerable help through to totally ignoring the request.

If you have experienced securing a BMD certificate from any of the above continental European countries, please share this with us. Tell of the problems and successes so others can be aware of the issues.
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