Berlin, Brandenburg, Prussia, German Empire Genealogy

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Guide to Berlin ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, city directories, and reference aids. During the German Empire, 1871-1945, Berlin belonged to the province of Brandenburg.

Berlin, Brandenburg
German Empire
Wiki Topics
Beginning Research
Berlin, Brandenburg
German Empire
Record Types
Reading the Records
Berlin Background
Local Research Resources

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

First documented in the 13th century and situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of

  • the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417–1701),
  • the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918),
  • the German Empire (1871–1918),
  • the Weimar Republic (1919–1933),
  • the Third Reich (1933–1945),
  • East Germany (1945-1990),
  • and modern unified Germany.

Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided. West Berlin became a West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East German territory. East Berlin was declared the capital of East Germany, while Bonn became the West Germany capital. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany. Wikipedia

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Getting Started with Germany Research

Links to articles on getting started with German research:

See More Research Strategies

Germany Research Tools

Links to tools and websites that assist in German research:

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Ask the

Maps[edit | edit source]

Modern Berlin's 12 boroughs and their 96 neighborhoods
To enlarge the map, click three times on the image. 1436px-BerlinDistricts new.svg.png

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Brandenburg[edit | edit source]

Most of the information you need to identify you ancestors and their families will be found in two major record groups: civil registration and church records. To locate these records, follow the instructions in these Wiki articles.

1. Find the name of your ancestor's street in family history records.[edit | edit source]

Records were kept on the local level. You must know the parishes and civil registration districts within Berlin where your ancestors lived. If your ancestor was a United States Immigrant, use the information in the Wiki article Germany Finding Town of Origin to find evidence of the name of the parish, suburb, or even street where your ancestors lived in Berlin.

About 50% of immigrants stating that they were from Berlin meant it as kind of a catch-all phrase for the region--not as their exact residence. It may be necessary to keep looking for more specific clues to their town of origin. ($)[edit | edit source] can be searched free of charge at your local Family History Center.

Emigration records:
Indexed comprehensive vital records:

2. Use gazetteers, parish register inventories, and city directories to learn more important details.[edit | edit source]

Find the location of the Catholic or Lutheran (Evangelical) parish that served your ancestor's locality. Find the name of the civil registration office (Standesamt) that served your ancestor's locality.

Using Berlin City Directories to Narrow Down Your Parish or Registry

See Berlin Evangelical Parish Jurisdictions and Berlin Civil Registration, to learn how you can use city directories to find the parish and civil registration district in Berlin where your ancestors lived.

Using the Communion Card Index to Narrow Down Your Parish or Registry

The communion card index stored in the ELAB is a general help tool for Old Berlin . Alt-Berlin means here the six inner city districts Mitte, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Tiergarten and Wedding. These index cards contain, in alphabetical order, all Protestant baptisms in Alt-Berlin from 1750 to 1874. The garrison community and the French-reformed community are not taken into consideration. For information about requesting research, Click here. A request for a search of this index can help narrow down which parish the family lived in.

3. For birth, marriage, and death records from 1 October 1874 on use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Berlin, Brandenburg, German Empire Civil Registration.

4. For baptism, marriage, and death records, use church records or parish registers.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Berlin, Brandenburg, German Empire Church Records.

More Research Strategies and Tools[edit | edit source]

  • These printable handouts can be used for ready reference when reading German Handwriting.
Vocabulary found on Specific Records:
Dates, Numbers, Abbreviations:
Miscellaneous Vocabulary:
  • Fraktur Font -- Many forms and books are printed in this font.
German Given Names: