9 Fun Facts to Decipher German Vital Records

  1. The bolded letters in the top corners of the certificates tell you what type of certificate it is:
      1. A = Birth
      2. B = Marriage 
      3. C = Death

2. Birth and death certificates are usually one page. Marriage certificates are always two pages. Be sure to “turn the page” so you don’t only download the first page of your marriage certificate. The first page lists information about the bride, groom, and their parents, while the second page lists the witnesses and includes the signatures of all parties. 

3. The first handwritten word on each certificate is the town where the document was issued, followed by the date the document was issued. This date could be the same day as the event (birth, marriage, death) or one or several days after. For marriages, it should be the same.

4. For birth and death certificates, the first person listed on the certificate is the person reporting the event. 

5. For marriage certificates, the person listed in spot #1 is the groom. The person listed in #2 is the bride. The people listed in #3 and #4 are the witnesses. 

6. The typed words “der Persönlichkeit nach ____ bekannt”, with nothing written on the line before “bekannt”, means that the person’s identity is known to the registrar. The typed words “der Persönlichkeit nach [type of identification] anerkannt” means that the person’s identity was verified by a certain document shown to the registrar.

7. The occupation will be listed before the names on these vital records. Example: “der Schneider Johann Schmidt” (the tailor Johann Schmidt) 

8. The place of residence can be found after the typed words “wohnhaft zu”.  

9. The typed word “am” (“on the” for our purposes here) signifies that a date will follow. The dates are written day-month-year on these certificates.

I hope these fun facts help you work with your vital records! Luckily, half of these forms are in the typed Fraktur font, so they are a bit easier than forms that are completely in the old German handwriting! For more help, with marriage, and death record forms, vital record cheat sheets are available in the shop. Good luck!

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