Archives in Schleswig-Holstein

A few notes about facilities and conditions of research in our country:

The "Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesbibliothek"
Wall 47/51
D - 24103 Kiel


holds a stock of books and other printed or handwritten material (maps, documents) that are in whichever way related with Schleswig-Holstein, be they printed in the country, about it, or by authors that call it their home. It is probably the best stocked library in Schleswig-Holstein.
The use of their facilities is free of charge. Open daily.

The "Schleswig-Holsteinisches Landesarchiv"

Gottorfstr. 6
D - 24837 Schleswig

is THE central archive for Schleswig-Holstein, with a collection of records, maps, books, deeds, of all parts of Schleswig-Holstein of all times. Especially interesting for genealogical research: census lists, applications for permits for emigration, probate records, land records, lists of taxpayers, local history (chronicles).
Finding a specific record can be a matter of days, as the catalogues (indexes) they give you are not very detailed. There is certainly no way of ordering "probate record of Hans Freese who lived in Selent around 1827". Procedure: get the catalogue for the district. Look out for records that seem to have to do with the place Selent. Of those, choose the ones that look like they might hold probate and/or land records. Order five of them to see what time frame they cover, and if their registry is chronological. Once you have the correct time frame, start reading the volume, page 1 to 1000 + X, handwritten records, of course, probably not indexed in the old hidebound volume itself. If indexed at all, it may prove to be very incomplete, and it can be worthwhile going through all those records, one by one. As the archive certainly does not have all records that have ever been written in Schleswig-Holstein, your research may turn out to be a completely futile, but time-consuming endeavor.
Records are handed out at four certain hours only, not continuously, on request.
The use of the facilities of the "Landesarchiv" is free of charge. Open daily.

The "Staatsarchiv Hamburg"

Kattunbleiche 19
D - 22041 Hamburg

has the original passenger lists of the port of Hamburg, outgoing vessels, starting about 1850.
Most emigrants who had their last residence in Schleswig-Holstein embarked in Hamburg.
The lists are on microfilms, and they are badly indexed.
Films and microfilm readers need booking well in advance.
The use of their facilities costs a nominal fee. Open daily.

The "Nordelbisches Kirchenarchiv"

Winterbeker Weg 51
D - 24114 Kiel

has a lot of material regarding church matters of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. It is also from there that the continuous micro-filming of parish records for conservational reasons is organized, for all parishes in the area mentioned above. The master-copies are stored in their facilities, but they are not available for genealogical research there. Copies will be handed over to the regional parish archives and/or the parishes themselves. They can not be purchased. There will not be, as far as I understand their policies, any reproductions of films or fiches for sale, except singular prints on paper for documentary reasons. They do not deal with genealogical queries.

The archives of the "Kirchenkreise" (regional archives for the parishes of a district)

The districts in the area of the "Nordelbische Kirche" (Church north of the Elbe-River) are:

Kirchenkreis Alt-Hamburg
Kirchenkreis Altona
Kirchenkreis Angeln
Kirchenkreis Blankenese
Kirchenkreis Eckernförde
Kirchenkreis Eiderstedt
Kirchenkreis Eutin
Kirchenkreis Flensburg
Kirchenkreis Harburg
Kirchenkreis Herzogtum Lauenburg
Kirchenkreis Husum-Bredstedt
Kirchenkreis Kiel
Kirchenkreis Lübeck
Kirchenkreis Münsterdorf
Kirchenkreis Neumünster
Kirchenkreis Niendorf
Kirchenkreis Norderdithmarschen
Kirchenkreis Nordschleswig (Nordschleswigsche Gemeinde)
Kirchenkreis Oldenburg
Kirchenkreis Pinneberg
Kirchenkreis Plön
Kirchenkreis Rantzau
Kirchenkreis Rendsburg
Kirchenkreis Schleswig
Kirchenkreis Segeberg
Kirchenkreis Stormarn
Kirchenkreis Süderdithmarschen
Kirchenkreis Südtondern

Some of these have been merged in the past few years, like Norder- and Süderdithmarschen,
Angeln and Schleswig, Rantzau and Münsterdorf.

It is in the archives of these institutions that genealogical research can be conducted, under certain conditions: due to limited staff and facilities, a booking well in advance is required in almost all of these archives. The times the archives are open for visitors range from three hours per week and one person at a time, to daily openings for an unlimited number of researchers. Researchers who have not made a prior arrangement for their visit may not expect to be granted a warm welcome. The supervising staff in the parish archives may be people who have nothing at all to do with genealogical research, but it is their physical presence that is required. Fortunately, in many cases experienced volunteers have been persuaded to attend the archives when open, giving helpful assistance when it comes to reading and
identifying the name of a place that is given in a record, and that only locals may have heard of.

Common features of all these archives:


- where microfilms of records exist, these must be used - the books will be out of
traffic, untouchable.

- no making of (xerox- ) photocopies of records is permitted. Where a microfiche-
reader-printer is available, printouts of pages can be ordered. Where not, only
handwritten copies may be made. Digital cameras make digital reproductions and
are therefore not permitted in the archives.

- protection of privacy of living people and of those recently deceased is a priority that
overrides all interests of the common researcher.

- these rules must be seen as to be strictly enforced. Exceptions are breaches of them.

- the use of their facilities is not free of charge.



Parish offices

Many parishes have not given their old records into regional archives. They must be contacted individually to make arrangements for a few hours of research. Disadvantage: once the family has some of their data recorded in a neighboring parish, you are stuck. A regional district archive may have the records for just that parish in question, along with many others of the area.

Civil Registry

Beginning with the year 1876, the exclusive responsibility for the documentation of personal data was given into the hands of Civil Registrar's Offices. Information and documents are issued to direct descendants only. And certainly not free of charge. A reform that took effect in 2009 makes it easier now to access records that are not in one's own direct ancestral line.

Local and regional archives

Good for local history, culture and people. Also hiding-place for genealogically useful data and informations that may enhance the knowledge about a family found in parish records.