Luxembourg family history searches easier thanks to online archive

(JB) More than one million Luxembourg birth certificates from 1600 to 1923 have been made available online thanks to a voluntary project.

Since launched in 2004, its 50 volunteers have analysed and uploaded 1 million birth certificates to its database, 800,000 of which were from communes currently in Luxembourg.

The online service was started by Georges Eicher after he encountered problems researching his own family in the commune of Clervaux.

He said: “35 years ago I started researching my family history. At the time, you needed a lot of time to do it. You had to find isolated records which were written by hand so were difficult to read."

Mr Eicher intended to digitally archive official documents from Clervaux, taking photos of the certificates and uploading them to the website. But the project rapidly grew.

“There were people who got involved as collaborators. Finally we decided to do the entire country. Because we have colleagues in Belgium and Germany, who worked on the project, we work a lot in the Greater Region as well,” he said. 

Image of an official Luxembourg birth certificate, one of thousands available on the Luxroots website

The collaboration means that people whose families lived in a part of Luxembourg which was later annexed to either Germany or Belgium, should be able to find relevant online data through the tool.

Individuals can access the digital archive for a fee of 20 euros per year. Subscription gives access to more than a million documents as well as a feature enabling users to compile a family tree online.

Currently, around 700 people have subscribed and their fees provide much-needed funding for the not-for-profit group behind the project.

Mr Eicher, who is now retired, programmed the website himself and and said he spends around 10 hours per day on his “hobby”.

“Obtaining and analysing details from a birth certificate takes between three and six minutes. And for marriage certificates it's between 15 and 30 minutes...You can imagine the work the volunteers have invested in this project,” he said.

And, with more than three million birth, death and marriage certificates from 1600 to 1923 in the national archives, the project is far from over.

Mr Eicher hopes that the full online archive will be complete by 2025. To find out more, visit the Genealogy Days event from October 3 to 4 at the Centre Nicolas Braun in Hesperange.

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