How do I know my ancestor is Luxembourger?
Like other European immigrant groups, Luxembourgers may have Luxembourg listed as their point of origin on the U.S. census, naturalization paperwork, military drafts, vital records and more.
There are some methods of identifying Luxembourg ancestry that are unique to Luxembourgers:
- Naming patterns: A French first name and a German last name is a common naming pattern for a Luxembourger family. It is also possible to see multiple children with the same first name, as children were named for a baptismal sponsor.
- A birthplace of “Holland”: Luxembourger families are commonly misidentified as “Dutch” on the U.S. census, likely as a misinterpretation of “Deutch.” Luxembourgish is a Germanic dialect, which may have been misheard as German by a neighbor. It may also to refer to the political control the Netherlands held for Luxembourg for a period.
- Settlement: Certain communities in the U.S. were known to be heavily Luxembourger. The 1987 reissue of Luxembourgers in the New World highlights known communities c. 1880.
How do I know from what location in Luxembourg my ancestor originated?
- Many of the techniques used identify European points of origin for other ethnic groups work for Luxembourgers. For example, if the ancestor arrived after 1900, be sure to check their passenger lists and naturalization paperwork.
- The Luxembourg American Cultural Society; LuxRoots; and LuxRacines do have Luxembourg points of origin for some American families already on file.
How do I locate civil registration (vital records)?
As it was part of France at the time, Luxembourg was impacted by the decree of 20 September 1792 requiring registration of birth, death, and marriage at the commune level. (Please note, there was a period for which ancestors may have had to travel to be legally married.) Depending on the commune, compliance began somewhere between 1795 and 1800. If you just have your ancestor’s village name, visit https://www.thomafamill.lu/TNG10/mod_places-ec.php to locate the commune. Records up to about 1815 will be in French. French is used alongside German into the mid-1800s. Post-1850, most records are in German.
How do I find the record if I have the exact date and location?
- Access Luxembourg civil registration records up to 1941 on FamilySearch at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1709358.
- You can attempt a search but be aware it will likely not return your ancestor’s records, as indexing is incomplete.
- Click on “Browse.” On the next screen, click on the commune name.
- Click on the microfilm with the correct record type and year. (Naissance = birth; Décès = death; Mariage = marriage)
- Search the microfilm for the appropriate record. A table listing all the events in the previous year appears at the end of each year.
How do I find the record if I have the location but not the date?
- Use the tables décennales. Compiled every ten years, they list all births, deaths, and marriages within that period alphabetically by last and first name and then by date.
- They can be accessed by browsing the collection, choosing the town name, and then “tables décennales” with the appropriate years.
- Be aware that name repetitions are common. You may need to review the records of multiple people with the same name.
- Pay attention to the headers. Sometimes births, deaths and marriages are all on one table; sometimes each record type is on a separate table.
What’s in a civil registration? (Individual records may vary.)
|Birth Record||Marriage Records||Death Records|
|Date and time.Official making the record.Informant, usually the father, including age and occupation.Sex of child, name and marital status of mother, and time, date, and location of birth.Child’s name.Witnesses with name, age and occupation.Who signed the record.||Date and time.Official making the record.Name, age, birth location, and parents of groom and bride.Date, time, and location of publication of banns.Witnesses with name, age and residence.||Date and time.Official making the record.Witnesses with age, occupation, and residence.Name, age, birth location, and marital status of the deceased.Date and location of death.Who signed the act.|
Census enumerations were taken sporadically across the late 18th and early 19th century and regularly after 1843. The 1766 enumeration is (partially) available online as are those taken every three years or so from 1843 to 1900. They are helpful for determining who was in a location at a specific time, their family structure, a woman’s maiden name, place of birth, and more.
How do I find the records?
- For the 1766 enumeration, go to https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1184675?availability=Family%20History%20Library. Choose the film with the appropriate village name. If there are two, check the surrounding names, as they should be the names of nearby communities. Review it page by page to find the appropriate enumeration.
- For the enumerations taken in 1843 or after, go to https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2037957.
- Click on “Browse.”
- On the next screen, click on the commune name and then the year.
- Browse through the pages to find the appropriate enumeration. Enumerations are generally taken by house, with the village in the upper right-hand corner.
What’s on the records?
- On the 1766, there are two types of pages:
- Summary pages: Placed after a village’s enumeration, the summary pages list the occupations held in each village and the total number of people holding each occupation.
- Enumeration pages: Include the name of the village, the name of parish, the house number, the names of males over sixteen, their occupations, the names of females over fourteen, the names of males under sixteen, the names of females under fourteen, and the total number of marriages in the house.
- On the 1843 census or after,
- Summary pages: Placed between the enumeration sheets in some census years, they can include the name of the home owner, the order in which they were enumerated and more.
- Enumeration pages: Taken by house. Content varies by enumeration year but can include: name, woman’s maiden name, date of birth, place of birth, sex, marital status, occupation, the number of families on the page, religion, and more.
The best way to locate information about births, marriages, and deaths occurring before 1800 is through church records. Most are recorded in Latin. Information contained within the records varies by record. To find a parish name using the village or commune name, visit https://www.thomafamill.lu/TNG10/mod_places-rp.php for a list of parishes of 1803. Records will be in Latin, although index files may be in French or German.
How do I find the records?
- Access Luxembourg church records up to 1818 on FamilySearch at https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/2037955?collectionNameFilter=false. This collection goes up to 1948, but the coverage after 1818 is poor.
- Click on “Browse,” and choose the parish name.
- On the next screen, click on the roll with the approximate dates and type of record you need. (Confirmations: confirmation records; Mariages: marriage records; Sépultures: burial records; Baptêmes: baptism records.
- Search through the books, page by page, looking for the appropriate record. You’ll need to know the location and the approximate date, as there’s no search function. You can save time when searching for a marriage record by using the “Tables des Mariages.” A card index, organized by either bride (épouse) or groom (époux), it abstracts the basic information in the record and provides an exact date for the event. Beware: errors have been noted in this collection.
- Post-1818 records can be accessed through Matricula (https://data.matricula-online.eu/en/LU/luxemburg/). Click on the parish name, and the camera image next to the book with the appropriate record type and year (taufen: baptism; heiraten: marriage; sterbefälle: burial). Browse the images.
Cathy Meder-Dempsey, Opening Doors in Brick Walls (https://openingdoorsinbrickwalls.wordpress.com): Meder-Dempsey’s blog, which covers her own roots in the US South and in Luxembourg, provides an excellent overview of English language resources for researching Luxembourg.
“French Genealogical Word List,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/French_Genealogical_Word_List: accessed 31 May 2021): This list can serve as a glossary for translating French language records.
“German Genealogical Word List,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/German_Word_List: accessed 31 May 2021): This list can serve as a glossary for translating German language records.
Jean Ensch, Jean-Claude Muller, and Robert Owen, editors, Luxembourgers in the New World, Volumes I + II, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg: Éditions-Reliures Schortgen, 1987.
Luxembourg American Cultural Society and Center (https://www.lacs.lu/): Based in Belgium, Wisconsin, the Luxembourg American Cultural Society includes a research center and is able to conduct distance research. LACS holds “family files” for many Luxembourger families who settled in the United States and can offer unique resources on these families. Their 2021 conference will cover the use of DNA in Luxembourger genealogy. See https://www.lacs.lu/cultural-conference/ for details.
Luxracines (https://www.luxracines.lu/site/en/association) and Luxroots (http://www.luxroots.com/Display.php?pagename=Page113) are Luxembourg based genealogy societies. Both offer benefits for members, including searchable databases of record transcriptions. Be aware, not every family name will be covered.