Lëtz Research: How to Find Luxembourg Civil Birth Records

As a member of the board of my Luxembourgish genealogy society Luxracines, I receive copies of the emails from visitors to our website. Often they are in French or German and answered by other members of the board. When they are in English, I help out with replies.

Recently the following message was received from J.:

Re: birth records
Looking for parents names for Peter (Pierre) John Garnich Born: Bettembourg, Canton d’Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, 29 Oct 1889. Any assistance would be appreciated.

I could have sent a quick one-liner with the names of the parents to the person making the inquiry. It would have been quick and easy but I don’t think it would have benefitted the person asking the question.

Any assistance would be appreciated…

J. wanted assistance in finding the parents of a person born in Luxembourg in 1889. I wanted my answer to also help her with FUTURE queries she may have on her ancestors in Luxembourg. The screenshots were not included in the email as I wanted J. to follow the instructions and have the wowser moment of finding the record on her own.

When a one-line question gets you a tutorial

Hello J.,

You can easily find the civil birth record of your ancestor by accessing FamilySearch’s database Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1796-1941.

You have his date of birth and his place of birth which will aid in your search. As Bettembourg is not one of the communes that have been indexed by FamilySearch, you will have to browse the collection instead of using their search engine. This is the case for most communes as indexing is ongoing and as far as I know, they have only finished Esch and Luxembourg City. Browsing the collection is not as hard as it sounds.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (1)

Click on Browse through 767,518 images to see the list of communes.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (2)

Click on Bettembourg to see the records available for the town your person of interest was born in.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (3)

Choose the record collection that includes births (naissances) for 1889. The collection you want to look into is Tables décennales 1803-1892 Naissances 1796-1890.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (4)

There are 1468 images in this collection. Don’t let this stop you. The collection has two parts. Tables décennales (ten-year index) and Naissances (births) – in most cases the names of the database reflect the order of the records in the microfilm. The births go to 1890, a year after the birth you are looking for. Therefore the register for 1889 will be nearly at the end. Choose image number 1468 and click on the tiles icon at the upper left of the images.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (5)

This will give you a view of the images at the end of the collection. The last two images on the microfilm look like lists. Click on the left one. At the top, it shows this is the index for the year 1890.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (6)

Click on the tile icon again to view the images. Going backward, look for the image with an index for the previous year. (see screenshot 5, green box in the first row of images)

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (7)

The index is in alphabetical order. Your GARNICH person of interest is on the first page, Johann Peter Joseph born on 29 October with record #54. Since this is close to the end of the year, you can use the back button on the image numbers to go back two images to record #54.

If it had been #10, you would click the tile icon again, look for the beginning of the records for 1889, then go to the 4th image for record #10 (as #1 is always on the first page followed by 4 records per image).

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (8)

Now comes the hardest part: reading the record. The records are filled in as opposed to completely written in longhand which makes it easy to pick out the names.

Screenshot of FamilySearch website (9): Father, mother, and child’s names

The informant of the birth (line 5) was his father Johann Peter GARNICH. In the middle of the record (line 12) you will see the child was named Johann Peter Joseph. In the two handwritten lines above his name is the information on the mother. Her name was Elisabeth SCHELTGEN and she was 34 years old, without an occupation, and residing with the informant.

BTW, the ten-year indexes (tables décennales) are very helpful when you know the name and place but not the date of birth, marriage, or death (BMD). For each 10-year period, you will find 3 lists (BMD) that include the name of the person and the date of the event. With the date of the event, you can follow the above directions to find the record.

Although your question was simple and could have been answered with the names: Johann Peter GARNICH and his wife Elisabeth SCHELTGEN, I felt it more helpful to you to know how I found the answer. This will aid you in your future research of your Luxembourg ancestors.

Permission to use the question in this blog post was obtained from J. She had a follow-up question which will be shared in my next post.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

18 thoughts on “Lëtz Research: How to Find Luxembourg Civil Birth Records”

  1. Cathy, When it comes to this type of inquiry, even the simplest ones, giving someone the tools to be able have that “wowser” moment as you called it is significantly satisfying and rewarding. Not only does it allow the person making the inquiry to be a part of the “hunt”, but it can also benefit others that may be able to share in method(s) of discovery, which is part of why we do what we do. To pass the torch of knowledge and understanding of genealogical research and how, even the simplest of searches can uncover the most maddening of mysteries in our family trees. Great post! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you are among the many who are finding this. I see fewer and fewer blog posts in general. For me, it’s therapeutic. Otherwise all I do is worry, and that’s not good for me at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually prefer when the registers are not indexed which forces me to go through the whole book. Yes, it is tedious, but I am always glad I make the effort because most always I find many relatives and collaterals that I would never have found otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s all fine and dandy, but sometimes a person has searched for a long time and a kickstart what and show the information and how they can get it. I just got some help and a listing of places I never knew of to look. I was totally stuck and frustrated and was so thankful for some answers and places to go. So please do give them an answer and links where and how to access it. Also I only know English and even trying to read the handwriting to find the names is almost impossible. Once I was given the document I could understand where the names were, yet hadn’t a clue to what the document said. I was given links to help me decipher what I am looking at. So if I find another document like that of a family, I will be able to know what it’s all about.

    Just a thought, to help a person especially one who doesn’t know the languages the documents are in. And by all means give them directions as to how to search records.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You bring up many of the things that more experienced researchers know but may omit to explain to people who are new to genealogy. No one is born an experienced genealogists. Many of the things you mentioned are in the planning. It is not possible to do it all in one writing. Thank you, Jane, for sharing your thoughts. I recognized your name from the Luxembourg Genealogy group on Facebook.


  4. Excellent lesson – so many people think all of the FamilySearch records are indexed. They have no idea how to browse to find the buried treasure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda, I am always recommending the catalog to see what I’d actually available. Even if the records are not digitally indexed, most records have an index the court clerk (wills, orders, deeds, etc.) or someone needing to use the old records made at the front or the back of the ledger. Microfilm is just a book with a table of content and often an index. Thank you for stopping by.


  5. I’m glad you heard back from J. It would have been mighty disappointing not to get her take on the discovery. You did a great deed!

    While I always cringe when I find that a record set I need to review isn’t indexed because of the time investment I’ll have to make, nothing beats the find of your ancestor’s record after trawling through page after page.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Michael. J. has actually come back several times with quick questions on new records she’s finding. So I didn’t put her off and she is making progress with her search.

      I know from experience how time consuming browsing is but I always make sure to find out more about the collection first. Very often there is some kind of index hidden in the images. I read the catalog information and have a look at the images near the “beginning” and “end” images of the microfilm collection. I once spend hours going through an entire will book that didn’t have an index in the front only to find it was at the end! It was the only one like that for that county.


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