Tuesday’s Tip: the marriage of Susanne Schmit of Niederanven – or why to look at the pieces d’appui collection

It was 1829- and Susanne Schmit wanted to get married. But she was too poor to afford the fee to register her marriage with the civil authorities, a required step if she wanted it to be legal.

So she applied for another certificate instead. This one gave her family history, showing that she was a native of Luxembourg. It listed her parents. It also showed how much she made and where it came from. Called a “certificate of indigence,” the document was likely humiliating to apply for. But it gave her what she wanted.

With it, she could register her marriage and begin a new life.

Can you imagine learning this story about your ancestor? These and other stories of poverty, disputes over births, and militia enlistments can be read in the “piece d’appui” (supporting documents) section of the Luxembourg Civil Registrations.  Click on the name of the commune and then appropriate years for the collection.


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