How to Access Hessian Death Records Online (1876-1929)
Do you have any ancestors from the Hesse / Hessia / Hessen-Kassel region of Germany? Here is a little known secret: you can access most of the death records from this region, for the years 1876 through 1929, for free, online.
To access the death records, first go to the HADIS website.
Step 1: Go to the HADIS website
HADIS stands for “Hessisches Archiv-Dokumentations- und Informations-System” (any English speaker can correctly guess what this means: ‘Hessian Archive Documentation and Information System’). The HADIS website is located at http://www.hadis.hessen.de
The website will look like this:
Step 2: Click “Staatsarchive”
The next step is to click on the word “Staatsarchive” at the top of the menu on the left hand side of the page.
In the screen shot below, the link you should click is circled in green:
The next page you see will look like this:
Step 3: Click “Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg”
Next, you should click the red link that says “Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg,” which is in the middle of the page, sandwiched between the “Hessisches Staatsarchiv Darmstadt” link and the “Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv” link.
Below is a screen shot of the page, with the link you need to click circled in green:
You should now see a page that looks like this:
Step 4: Click “H. Personenstandsarchiv Hessen (Standort: Neustadt/Hessen)”
Now, you need to click the link the link that is letter “H” on the menu on the left. The link reads, “Personenstandsarchiv Hessen (Standort: Neustadt/Hessen)”.
In the screen shot below, the link that you need to click is circled in green:
After you click the link, you will be taken to a page that looks like this:
Step 6: Pick a district of Hesse
Now you should see listed over two dozen regions of Hesse, Germany — everything between Bergstraße to Wiesbaden. The first page only shows districts starting with “B” through districts starting with “R”. If the district you are seeking is later in the alphabet, you can click the small “21-28” link near the upper middle of the page, as highlighted by the green oval in the image below:
Once you find the district you are looking for, click on it. For the purposes of our example, I will use “Hersfeld-Rotenburg, Landkreis”:
After clicking the link of the district you want, you should see a page that looks something like this:
Step 7: Pick a city
You will now see a list of cities, listed in the menu on the left. You can scroll the left menu portion of the website up and down to see all the cities listed. If you do not see the town you are looking for listed, do not fret. Germans who lived in small villages typically did not have a death registrar located in their own hamlet. They would have to journey to the nearest large city that did have a death registrar. If you are not sure which city provided death registrar services for your ancestor’s village, you might need to explore around Google Maps at http://maps.google.com to see what larger cities are within a mile or two of your ancestor’s village.
For the purposes of this demonstration, I picked “18. Standesamt Iba”. This is the registrar for the larger town of Iba. My Schmidt ancestors were from the nearby village of Machtlos, and residents of Machtlos would need to travel to Iba to register the deaths of their loved ones.
Below is a screen shot showing the option I picked:
After clicking the link of the city you want, you will see a page that looks something like this:
Step 8: Click “Sterbenebenregister”
You will now see a page with three links in the side menu off to the left. The first is “Geburtsnebenregister” (which means “birth register”), the second is “Heiratsnebenregister” (which means “marriage register”), and the third is “Sterbenebenregister” (which means “death register”). With only a tiny handful of exceptions, there are almost no birth records or marriage records that have been uploaded to the HADIS website yet. However, most of the death records have now been uploaded, and are accessible. Click “3. Sterbenebenregister”.
In the image below, the “Sterbenebenregister” link is highlighted in a green oval:
After you click the “Sterbenebenregister” link, you will be taken to a page that looks something like this:
Step 9: Click on the year you want
You will now be presented with a list of years, spanning from 1876 to 1929. The first page will only go to the year 1895. If you want to see the next batch of years, click on one of the number range links near the upper middle of the web page, as highlighted in green in the image below:
For the purposes of this demonstration, I will pick the year 1876. To see the records for this year, you cannot click on the text “1876”. Rather, you must click on the red arrow off to the right side of the year. In the image below, I have used a green circle to highlight the red arrow you need to click, if you want to see death records from this region for 1876:
After clicking the red arrow next to the year of your choice, you will be presented with a page that looks something like this:
Step 10: Click “Media”
Next, you will need to click the “Media” link in the upper right part of the web page. If the “Media” link does not appear, this means that no media has been uploaded for that year in that particular town yet. Do not worry. Not all of the death register data has been uploaded yet for all of Hesse. Keep checking back every month or so, and eventually the data you want should become available. Scanning and uploading all the death records is a tedious process and will take many months and years of diligent hard work.
In the image below, I have highlighted with a green oval the “Media” link you must click, in order to view the death records for that year in that region:
After clicking the “Media” link, you will see a web page that looks something like this:
Step 11: Toggle through the pages to view death records
Now that you are looking at actual scans of the death register book for the year and region you selected, here is how you use the controls.
In order to flip through the death register book, press the dark grey arrows above the scanned page image. The single arrow pointing rightward will flip you to the next page. The double arrow pointing rightward will flip you five pages ahead. The rightward pointing arrow next to the vertical line will take you all the way to the end of the book. The leftward pointing arrows will allow you to peruse through the death register book in the opposite direction.
To go forward in the book one page, click the dark grey single arrow pointing rightward, as circled in green in the image below:
You will see a death record that looks something like this:
If you want to zoom in, to get a better view, click on the magnifying glass with a plus (+) sign inside of it, as circled in green in the image below:
The complete record will look like the image below:
You can even right click the image and “Save As”, in order to save it to your computer’s hard drive.
Step 12: Translate the record
Most of these records are written in old German handwriting, or Suetterlin Script. It can be difficult to read, even if you know the German language. Furthermore, every German record clerk’s handwriting is different.
Here is a useful primer on deciphering old Suetterlin German handwriting: http://www.suetterlinschrift.de/Englisch/Sutterlin.htm
If you still have difficulty translating the records, you may need to hire the help of an experienced translator. I provide these services for a reasonable fee.
To help get you on your way, I have transcribed and translated the death record shown above:
Iba am 8. Januar 1876
Vor dem unterzeichneten Standesbeamten erschien heute, der Persönlichkeit nach bekannt,
der Schullehrer Georg Müller
wohnhaft zu Machtlos hausnummer 15.
und zeigte an, daß die Cunigunde Müller geb. August, seine Ehefrau.
41 Jahr alt evangelischer Religion,
wohnhaft zu Machtlos hausnummer 15
geboren zu Bebra
Tochter des Auszugers Heinrich August und dessen verstorbenen Ehefrau Elisabeth Sophie geb. Wiegand in Bebra
zu Machtlos in der Wohnung des Anzeigenden (Schule)
am achten Januar
des Jahres tausend acht hundert siebenzig und sechs
Nachts um ein Uhr
Vorgelesen, genehmigt und unterschrieben
Die Uebereinstimmung mit dem Hauptregister beglaubigt
Iba am 8ten Januar 1876
Iba on 8th of January 1876
Before the undersigned registrar appeared today the personality of the known,
schoolteacher Georg Müller
residing in Machtlos house number 15,
and informed that the Cunigunde Müller née August, his wife,
41 years old Evangelical religion,
residing in Machtlos house number 15
born in Bebra
daughter of the retired farmer Heinrich August and his deceased wife Elisabeth Sophie née Wiegand in Bebra
at Machtlos in the home of the informant (school)
on the eighth of January
in the year one thousand eight hundred seventy and six
at night at one o’clock
Read aloud, approved, and signed,
The agreement with the main register certified in
Iba on the 8th of January 1876
Hopefully this tutorial will help you discover new branches of your family tree in Hesse, from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Keep an eye out on the HADIS website for new data additions to come in the future, especially scanned images of birth and marriage records. If anything about the tutorial is unclear, or if you have further questions, please leave a comment on this post below.