How do I find the parish records I need?: Those Places Thursday

I know where the ancestor I’m researching was born, thanks to his marriage record… but I can’t find the baptismal record, because the town isn’t listed on FamilySearch’s church record database. How do I find the right town?

The FamilySearch database only lists parishes by communes, so to find the right town, I need to find the commune it belongs to. Thankfully, there’s a resource that makes it easy to help. The Institut Grand-ducal has a gazetteer that lists not only the town name in French and German but also the commune to which it belongs.

With that commune name, I can go back to the church record and use the information I already have on the ancestor to look for more information on the ancestor and his parents. Happy hunting!

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How do I access the Luxembourg Catholic records not on microfilm?: Church Record Sunday

Early Catholic records are easily accessible on FamilySearch. But what if you need a record dating after the 1810s?

Beginning in 2018, they will be available upon request from the Archdiocese of Luxembourg archives. Access restrictions may apply. An onsite request will be free; a distance request will be twenty-five euros per half-hour of research.

Add to your to-do list for your next research trip!


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Enumerator’s Instructions from 1851 Luxembourg Census: Those Places Thursday

Memorial Legislatif et Administratif du Grande-Duché de Luxembourg, Année 1851 no. 1-96

(Luxembourg City : J. Lamort, n.d.), 829-833; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 22 May 2015). Translation by Bryna O’Sullivan.



General Administration of the Interior

Decree concerning the population census of 31 December 1851

No 4211 – 511 of 1851

Luxembourg, 11 November 1851

The General Administrator of the Interior:

Noting article 56 of the electoral law concerning the Chamber of Deputies of 23 July 1848, thus conceived:

The number of deputies will always be maintained in relationship to the population and at the proportion of 1 deputy to 3500 people.

A fraction greater than 2000 people will count as the entire 3500.

Every six years there will be a numbering of the population, to serve as the base for distribution between the cantons of the individual rights of representation.

The first census will take place during the second half of 1851; the second during the same period of 1857; and thus successively.

Considering that, in order to ensure that the census be regularly taken in conformity with the legislative deposition above cited, it is necessary to fix the day on which the population will be enumerated and to indicate the rules to be observed to do so accurately.


Article 1

A general census of the population of the Grand-Duchy will be taken the 31st of December next, by the means of bulletins, which should be distributed

by the 27th of the month by the aid of one or more members of the communal administration, to be named for that purpose by the communal administration before the 20th of the same month.

An indemnity may be allocated to these agents by the communal treasury.

The bulletins will be retrieved between 2 and 6 January 1852 in the same manner in which they allocated.

Article 2

Every head of household, every individual living alone, living in the Grand-Duchy, Luxembourger or not, the police, the custom officials, will receive a bulletin to record the information concerning them.

Article 3

The following rules will be observed in the completion of the bulletins:

1st) The first and last names of all the people composing the family on the 31st of December will be listed on the bulletin in the following order:

The head of household, his wife, his male children, his female children, in the order of their age, the other members of the family, the wards, the domestics of both sexes if they are of the age of majority, that is to say, if they have reached the age of 21.

2nd)The minor individuals, that is to say those who have not yet reached the age of 21, who are absent from the family, in whatever locality in the Grand-Duchy or abroad, will be carried on the bulletin of the family to which they belong;

3rd) The individuals of majority, absent from the family,


who do not find themselves in a state of domesticity in the Great-Duchy, will also be carried on the bulletin of their family in whatever place in the country or abroad they find themselves. unless they have carried out an act that made them lose the quality of Luxembourger or they are established abroad without plan to return;

4th) The absent individuals will be designated as such in the observation columns, which will also bear their place of actual residence, as well as the reason for their absence, for example: absent, working at his trade in France; absent, student at Diekirch; absent, military in garrison at Echternach (unless he be an officer); absent, held in the prisons at the beggars’ home; absent, domestic at Namur; absent, servant at Luxembourg City (if she is a minor).

Article 4

The officers of the federal contingent without exception, the non-commissioned officers and the soldiers who do not belong to a family of which the head is still in the country, or who are themselves head of the family, will count towards the place of their respective garrisons, and they will be named with their families, where necessary, on the special forms that the commanding officers will furnish.

Article 5

At the time the bulletins will be gathered, the census agents will inscribe there the numbers of order; and in the cities or communes where there are houses inhabited by several families, they will take evidence, given by the principal inhabitant of each home, on the number of families or individuals living alone, who live there, in order to ensure that they do not omit any individual or family who should receive a bulletin.

Article 6

The day following the gathering of the bulletins by

the communal authority, the college of bourgermesters and deputy bougermesters of each commune, assisted by the communal secretary, will gather in order to examine and to verify all the bulletins, and will have rectified the errors and irregularities that they discover, and will complete those who present omissions or inexactitudes; they will make out the bulletins of the families or the individuals living alone, who were not present at the gathering of the bulletins, all conforming to the rules of article 3 above.

Article 7

These operations terminated, the college of bourgermesters and deputy bougermesters will proceed to divide the bulletins by section, according to the categories on the record which will be addressed to it in three exemplars by the district commissioner; on the last page of the report should be recorded the movement of the population during the year 1851. (This last step is demanded in order to avoid similar work later, as the count is required annually.)

Article 8

The college of bourgermesters and deputy bougermesters will address, by the 20th of January next, to the district commissioner, the bulletins and the record aforementioned in two exemplars. This official will verify the bulletins in order to confirm that they conform to the above requirements; he will have them rectified or will eventually rectify them, and he will address them to the general administration of the interior, by the 15th of February next at the latest, with an exemplar of the summary record for each commune and list for his district.
Article 9

The urban administration of Luxembourg will have

gathered for the same day (13 February 1852), at the general administration of the interior, the pieces concerning the census of the city.


Article 10

The communal administrations are invited to take to heart the process of the census, the slightest inexactitude can influence the political rights of the inhabitants and the cantons of the Grand-Duchy.

Article 11

The contraventions against the dispositions of the present decree are repressed according to the law of 6 March 1818. In order to observe them, each census agent will be accompanied in his operations by a member of the commune administration or a member of the local police, who will take the official report.

Article 12

The present decree will be inserted in the administrative and legislative Memorial of the Grand-Duchy; an extract will be printed at the head of census bulletins.

General administrator of the interior, Ulrich



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What can I learn from the 1851 census of Luxembourg?: Tuesday’s Tip



Why employ the census to research Luxembourger ancestors? Some of the commonly cited reasons might be the accessibility of the source, the variety of information contained within, and the ability to trace the family over time. Yet, there might also be concerns raised: can one guarantee that the ancestor was listed on the census, enumerated in the correct place and recorded with accurate information? Looking at the 1851 census enumerator’s instructions validates the choice of the census as a source and addresses some of the concerns.


The 1851 Luxembourg census lacks some of the accessibility of the U.S., Canadian and British Iles census documents. There is no index available. However, if you know the ancestor’s residence, their record should be easy to locate. Microfilm of the census has been digitized by FamilySearch and is available on their website as “Luxembourg, Census Records, 1843-1900.” The collection can be browsed by commune and year.


The enumeration itself offers information concerning a variety of genealogical questions.  An ancestor’s enumeration will be written in either French or German: the enumeration sheet was written in both languages, and the enumerator had a choice. An enumeration should contain first and last name; age; place of birth, including the country if not Luxembourg; sex; if they are married, widowed or single; profession; religion; how long they have lived in the commune; and any additional comments.


The wide variety of information contained on an enumeration can both serve as evidence and guide further research. Women are listed by their maiden name, which given the additional information of their commune of birth and age, can help guide a search for their civil birth registration. Knowing a man’s profession can deepen an understanding of his background. His trade may have determined where he remained in Luxembourg or moved abroad – and where he moved. Each piece of information can function as a useful guide.


As helpful as the enumeration is, a researcher reviewing only the document will miss information concerning the family’s structure. The U.S. census was recorded by listing who was present in the household on the night it was enumerated. A North American researcher would likely assume that the Luxembourg census was taken the same way. However, the enumerator’s instructions reveal a different process. Luxembourg’s census was recorded by family.[i] If someone was out of the area or lived elsewhere but had not set up their own household, he or she was to be recorded with their family and the reason for the absence listed.[ii] The census enumeration does not explicitly list family relationships. Yet, as the enumerator’s instructions reveal, the order in which the family was recorded implicitly states their relationships. The head of household was listed first, followed by: “his male children, his female children, in the order of their age, the other members of the family, the wards, the domestics of both sexes if they are of the age of majority, that is to say, if they have reached the age of 21.”[iii] Domestics younger than 21 would have been listed on the enumeration of their family.[iv]


The enumerator’s instructions confirm the value of using the census as a source, but do they address its accuracy?  In many countries, the census was taken by an enumerator going door to door. It was possible for someone to be missed by an enumerator or to be counted in a household in which they did not normally reside. Although Luxembourg used the same process, the government made every effort to prevent someone being missed or counted in the wrong household. Census enumerators were given strict instructions to question the head of a multiple family household to guarantee that everyone within the house was counted.[v] The enumerators were also to see that no family was missed: the day after the enumeration was taken, commune officials met to complete the information for any families who had not counted and to correct any inaccurate information.[vi] A second major concern is the accuracy of the information provided. Was information provided by someone likely to have experienced the event first-hand? Unfortunately, for Luxembourg, there is no way to tell. Enumerations were verified twice before being submitted to the General Administration of the Interior (the final governing body). Each of those verifications – and corrections – could have introduced errors into the census document.


The 1851 census of Luxembourg, seen alone, is a rich source of information on the residents of the Grand-Duchy. A glimpse at the enumerator’s instructions reveals the source’s true depth: it was designed to illuminate the structure of each household throughout the year, not just when the enumerator knocked on the door. While the enumeration process did not succeed in eliminating the issues seen from using the census as a source, the instructions further reveal a conscious effort made to eliminate those issues. Seeing the 1851 census through the light of the enumeration instructions gives the source new depth.


[i] Memorial Legislatif et Administratif du Grande-Duché de Luxembourg, Année 1851 no. 1-96

(Luxembourg City : J. Lamort, n.d.), 830-831; digital images, Google Books ( : accessed 22 May 2015).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Memorial Legislatif et Administratif, 830.

[iv] Memorial Legislatif et Administratif, 830-831.

[v] Memorial Legislatif et Administratif, 831.

[vi] Memorial Legislatif et Administratif 832.

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Luxembourg’s Hospital History: Tuesday’s Tip

Michel Simong is teaching me far more than I ever wanted to know about Luxembourg’s hospital system. Michel died in Luxembourg City in 1808, just after the advent of civil registration. But apparently, he wasn’t living there. And I need to find out where he was living if I want to find out anything else about his past.

So, I’m delving into hospital records. France’s hospital system started about that point, so I assumed Luxembourg’s did as well. Turns out I was wrong. But if your ancestor entered the hospital system around 1900, there’s a detailed history that might help you better understand their experience. It opens with a guide to the major hospitals founded in the late 19th and early 20th century. Happy hunting!


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Tombstone Tuesday: Luxembourger Genealogy and Gravestone Research

Irish tombstones are invaluable for research, since they often list the individual’s original hometown. Are they equally valuable for Luxembourger research?

No, for two reasons.

  1. In the US, Luxembourgers generally wanted to assimilate. At least within my own family, I have yet to see a tombstone that doesn’t follow the American model: name, date of birth, date of death. If you don’t have that information, it’s helpful, but it offers little else.
  2. In Europe, Luxembourgers have limited land. Cemeteries take up space, and graves are generally recycled after a certain point. It’s rare to still have a tombstone extent from the time our ancestors left.

So, yes, tombstones are helpful to your research, but don’t expect to see any more information than you’d get from other American sources.

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Matrilineal Monday: What surname do I use to research my Luxembourger female ancestor?

Researching an American female ancestor is relatively simple: she uses the name given at birth until marriage and until recently, took her husband’s name after. If she married more than once, she simply adopted the name of the latest husband.

It’s not that simple with a Luxembourg ancestor. Different rules apply in the U.S. and in Luxembourg. In Luxembourg, a woman uses her maiden name, although her children will use her husband’s name. Once she comes to the U.S., she follows the American model.

So in U.S. records, use married names – and in Luxembourg, use maiden.

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