Re: Illegitimate births circa 1840 #germany

Roger Lustig

Regarding births in 1840s Germany that were entered as illegitimate,
Rich Meyersburg asks:

1.  Was this common?

2.  Was this due to a difficulty in obtaining services for either a
religious or civil marriage? (in the first instance)

3. How was this usually treated by the community?

1: Yes. In my experience, between 5 and 8 percent of births were to
unwed mothers.

2: I don't think civil marriage existed in 1840s Hessen-Kassel, which is
where Hebenshausen was located. Among Jews, obtaining services was not a
problem, as any Jewish male could officiate, and in towns without a
rabbi, the schoolteacher or shochet or cantor (often all the same
person) was called upon for such tasks. In other towns, the head of the
congregation would officiate.

3: Unwed Jewish mothers weren't shunned, generally. Some later married,
some did not. Children of unwed mothers were treated like other children.

Roger Lustig

Princeton, NJ

Research coordinator, GerSIG

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