East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Church Records
|East Prussia (Ostpreussen)|
German Empire Genealogy
|Major East Prussia (Ostpreussen) Record Types|
|Reading the Records|
|Additional East Prussia (Ostpreussen)|
|East Prussia (Ostpreussen) Background|
|Local Research Resources|
|Germany Record Types|
Church records (parish registers, church books) are an important source for genealogical research in Germany before civil registration began. They recorded details of baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. The vast majority of the population was mentioned. To learn more about the types of information you will find in church records, click on these links:
- Baptisms (Taufen)
- Marriages (Heiraten)
- Burials (Begräbnisse)
- Confirmations (Konfirmationen)
- Family Registers (Familienbücher)
For a comprehensive understanding of church records, study the article Germany Church Records.
Online Class on Locating East Prussia Parish Registers[edit | edit source]
- German Research: Strategies and Sources for Eastern Provinces. Be sure to download the class syllabus.
- Watch the General Resources portion, beginning at 13:47 minutes, to learn how to check for parish registers using:
- Watch the East Prussia portion, which begins at 47:58 minutes.
Finding Church Records[edit | edit source]
In this region, part of Germany which was lost to other countries after World War II, many records, both church/parish registers and civil registration records, were damaged, destroyed, or misplaced.
Church records were kept in the local parish of the church. The term parish refers to the jurisdiction of a church minister. Parishes are local congregations that may have included many neighboring villages in their boundaries. To use church records, you must know both your ancestor's religion and the town where he or she lived. You must also determine in which parish the town was located. Some gazetteers indicate parish jurisdictions.
Consult Kartenmeister for parish information.[edit | edit source]
The gazetteer Kartenmeister most efficiently tells you parish information:
However, it has some gaps, so you might need to as consult these other reference books.
Church Record Inventories and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]
Church record inventories are essential tools for finding German records. They identify what records should be available for a specified parish and where to write for information on these records. They list the church records, their location, and the years they cover. Sometimes inventories explain which parishes served which towns at different periods of time.
Online[edit | edit source]
- Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen: East Prussia
- Genealogy.net: Ostpreußen/Genealogische Quellen Inventory created from various sources. Select county from the list. Select “Kirchbuchbestände” for that county. Find the parish on the list to see the inventory information as well as holdings in FHL, EZA Berlin, DZfG Leipzig, and other repositories outside Germany. For civil registration, select the county and then “Standesamtbestände”.
- Handbuch über die katholischen Kirchenbücher in der Ostdeutschen Kirchenprovinz östlich der Oder und Neiße und dem Bistum Danzig. FamilySearch Digital Library.
- Die Kirchenbücher der evangelischen Kirchen Ost- und West- Preußen : nebst einem Verzeichnis der Militär-Kirchenbücher der Provinz West- Preußen und der katolischen Kirchenbücher der Diözese Ermland
Books[edit | edit source]
If you are at the FamilySearch main library if Salt Lake City, Utah, these books are available. If not at that library, click on the WorldCat link for other options.
- Eduard Grigoleit, "Neues Verzeichnis ostpreußischer Kirchenbücher" : sowie der vor 1874 angelegten Personenstandsregister (Ailringen Kreis Künzelsau : E. Grigoleit, 1958). Inventory of parish registers, and civil registers started before 1874, of the former province of East Prussia, Germany, now part of Poland and Russia. Includes some of West Prussia. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL Ref 943.83 K2g) (FHL Location 2: FHL INTL film 1045344, it. 2) WorldCat
- Eduard Grigoleit, "Verzeichnis der ostpreußischen und danziger Kirchenbücher sowie der Dissidenten- und Judenregister" (Görlitz : C.A. Starke, 1939). Inventory of East Prussian and Danzig parish registers as well as Jewish registers. Areas now in Poland and Russia. (FHL Location: FHL INTL fiche 6053517) WorldCat
- Marianne Stanke, "Katholische Kirchenbücher in Ost- und Westpreußen" (Bonn : M. Stanke, 2000) Inventory of the church records of East and West Prussia, including the dioceses of Danzig, Ermland, and Kulm. Includes an index by Polish locality name. Entries are arranged alphabetically by the German town name. Gives some indication of books that have been microfilmed in Poland. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL Ref) (FHL Location 2: FHL INTL book 943 K23s 2000) WorldCat
1. Online Records[edit | edit source]
Online records for East Prussia are found in Archion in the Evangelical Central Archives in Berlin. Among its collections there are about 6,000 church records of Protestant church communities in the former Eastern Church provinces of Prussia. They come from the provinces of East and West Prussia, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, Brandenburg (east of the Oder and Neisse). Some of the provinces are represented by numerous, others because of the loss of war, with only a few church books.
Ancestry.com ($)[edit | edit source]
Ancestry.com collections can be viewed free-of-charge at a Family History Center near you.
- Germany, selected Protestant church books 1518-1921 - at Ancestry.com ($), index and images. This collection has the following records.
- When you find the desired town in this list, if it is followed by the Polish name in parentheses, look for it in the drop down menu under the Polish name. Places may also appear in the list both under their German spelling and their Polish spelling.
- The drop-down list is in the right sidebar under "Browse this collection". Select East Prussia or Ostpreussen in the "Schuldistrikt" field. A second list is found under "Not stated" from the Schuldistrikt field.
- Under East Prussia
- Adlig, Albrechtsdorf (Bartoszyce u Wojciechy), Allenau, Allenburg, Altstadt kreis Mohrungen, Angerburg, Arys, Assaunen, Balga, Barten (Barciany), Bartenstein, Bladiau, Benkheim, Birchersdorf, Borschimmen (Borszymmen), Böttchersdorf, Buchholz (Bartoszyce u Bukowiec), Buddern, Budwethen, Darkehmen, Deutsch Eylau, Deutsch Krottingen, Deutsch Thierau, Deutsch Wilten, Dietrichsdorf, Döhlau, Dönhofstädt, Dollstädt, Domnau, Drygallen, Eichholz, Eichhorn (under Bartoszyce), Eick, Eisenberg, Engelstein, Falkenau, Friedland, Friedensberg, Frögenau (Da, Frygnowo), Gallingen, Gawaiten, Gehsen, Georgenau, Georgenburg (Maevka), Gerauen, Gerdauen, Gerwischkehmen, Gilge, Gilgenburg, Goldap, Göritten, Grabnick, Grabowen, Gross Berschkallen, Gross Engelau, Gross Friedrichsdorf, Gross Legitten, Gross Ottenhagen, Gross Pötzdorf, Gross Rosen (Pisz), Gross Schmückwalde, Gross Schönau, Gross Schwansfeld, Gross Skaisgirren, Gross Stürlack, Gross Wolfsdorf, Grunau, Grünheide, Gudnick, Gumbinnen, Gurnen (labeled G u Rne,; G, Kussen u Rne), Gusev, Guttenfeld, Haberberg, Haffstrom, Hanshagen (also under Bartoszyce u Piasty Wielkie), Heiligenbeil, Heiligenkreutz, Hermsdorf, Hohenfürst, Ischdaggen, Insterburg (Cheryakhovsk), Jäskendorf, Jedwabno, Jesau, Jodlauken, Johannesburg, Juditten, Judtschen, Kallningken, Kandien, Kanditten (Bartoszyce u Kandyty), Karkelm (Mysovka), Klein Dexen (Dolgorukowo), Klein Koslau, Klein Schönau, Kneiphof, Koadjuthen, Klingenberg, Königsberg (Kaliningrad), Krauleidzen kreis Nemmersdorf (labeled Gerwischkehmen, Mayakovskoe u Olkhovatka), Kraupischken, Kreuzburg, Kunzen, Kussen, Labiau (Polessk), Landsberg (also Bartoszyce, G u Rowo Ilaweckie), Lappienen (Bolshie Berezhki), Lasdehnen (Krasnoznamensk), Laugallen (see Königsberg), Laukischken, Lichtenhagen (Königsberg), Liebschütz, Lengwethen (Kraupischken), Lindenau, Lochstadt, Losendorf, Löwenstein (Ketrzyn u Lwowiec), Ludwigswalde, Lyck, Mahnsfeld, Manchengut, Marienburg, Marienfelde, Medenau (also see Kussen), Mehlauken, Mehlkehmen, Mellin (see Bialystok), Mierunsken, Milken, Momehnen, Mohrungen (Morag), Molthainen (Asaunas), Mühle, Mühlhausen, Neidenburg, Neman, Nernen, Neuendorf, Neukirch, Neunischken (also see Mezhdureche u Neunischken), Niebudszen, Norkitten (labeled Gross Berschkallen u Mezhdureche; also see Mezhdureche), Obehlischken, Ortelsburg, Osterode (Olsztynek, also see Ketrzyn), Osterwein, Palmnicken, Paterswalde (Bolshaya Polyana), Pelleninken, Petersdorf, Petershagen (Bartoszyce u Pieszkowo), Pillau, Pillkallen (also see Königsberg), Pillupönen (also see Koadjuthen), Plock (Morag), Popelken, Pörschken, Postnicken, Powunden (Königsberg), Puschdorf, Puschendorf, Quednau (also see Koadjuthen), Reddenau (Bartoszyce u Rodnowo), Rastenburg (also see Ketrzyn), Reichau (Morag), Reichenau, Richtenberg, Rieth, Rosengarten-Doben (Engelstein, Radzieje u Wegorzewo), Rudau, Russ (Rusne), Saalau, Saberau, Sackheim (also see Königsberg), Sankt Lorenz, Schaaken, Schakuhnen, Scharnau, Schillen or Szillen (Zhilino), Schillehnen, Schmoditten, Schönwalde (Yaroslavskoe), Seelesen, Seligenfeld, Sensburg, Skottau, Stallupönen (see also Koadjuthen), Starkenberg, Steinbeck, Stockheim, Stradauen, Szirgupönen, Szittkehmen, Tannenberg (Da, Frygnowo), Tapiau, Thierburg, Thierenberg, Tilsit, Tollmingkehmen, Treuburg (Marggrabowa), Turoschen, Veitsberg, Waltersdorf, Wargen, Wehlau (Znamensk), Wenden, Wielitzken, Willuhnen (also see Pillkallen), Wischwill, Wittigwalde, Ziegenrück, and Zinten.
- Under "Not stated"
- Allenburg (Druzhba), Almenhausen (Eylau), Alt Jucha now Fliessdorf (Stare Juchy), Aulowönen (Kalinovka), Aweyden (Nawiady), Bilderweitschen (Lugovoe u Nesterov, also Zavety), Bischoffswerden (Biskupiec), Borchersdorf (Zelenopole), Böttchersdorf, Brandenburg (Ushakovo), Braunsberg (Braniewo), Didlacken, Dubeningen (Dubeninki), Eichmedien (Nakomiady), Enskehmen (Yasnaya Polyana), Fischhausen (Primorsk), Fliessdorf (Stare Juchy), Friedland (Pravdinsk), Friedrichshof (Rozogi), Fürstenwalde (Ksiezy Lasek), Gardienen (Grdyny), Gehlenburg (Biala Piska), Geyerswalde (Gierzwald), Goldap, Goldbach (Slavinsk), Gross Engelau, Grünhayn, Heilgenwalde, Hesenlich (Leszcz), Judtschen, Kaukehmen (Yasnoe), Kaymen (Zareche), Klein Jerutten (Jerutki), Kraplau-Döhringen (Durag), Kremitten, Kruglanken (Kruklanki), Kumilsko (Kumielsk), Kurken (Kurki), Kutten kreis Angerburg (mislabeled Stregielek), Labiau (Polessk), Laggarben (Grabno), Leip (Lipowo), Lichtenhagen, Liebemühl (Milomlyn), Lindenau (Lipowina), Locken (Lukta), Lyck (Elk), Mallwischken (Maiskoe), Mohrungen (Morag), Muldszen (Perevalovo), Narzym bei Soldau (Narzym), Nemmersdorf (Mayakovskoe), Passenheim (Pasym), Paterswalde (Bolshaya Polyana), Pissanitzen (Pisanica), Plibischken, Pobethen (Romanovo), Rosengarten (Radzieje), Rossitten (Rybachii), Rudau, Russ (Rusne), Scharfenrade (Ostryk), Schillen or Szillen (Zhilino), Schippenbeil (Sepopol), Schönbruch (Shirokoe), Schönwalde (Yaroslavskoe), Seehesten (Szestno), Soldau (Dzialdowo), Starkenberg, Stolp (Slupsk), Tharau (Vladimirov), Tiefensee (Glebock), Tilsit (Sovetsk), Triaken (Znamensk), Uderwangen (Chekovo), Walterkehmen (Olkhovatka), Wargen, Wehlau (Znamensk), Werden (Verdaine), and Willenberg (Opaleniec).
- Prussian provinces, selected Protestant church records 1661-1944 - at Ancestry.com ($), index.
- Szukaj w Archiwach
2. Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]
Try to find records in the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Many microfilms have been digitized for online viewing. Gradually, everything will be digitized, so check back occasionally. Some have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:
- a. Click on the Places within Germany, Preussen, Ostpreussen (East Prussia) drop-down menu and select your town.
- b. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- c. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Tote" are deaths.
- d. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.
Quick Reference Lists and Links[edit | edit source]
- See the listing of Catholic parishes in East Prussia with records available from the Family History Library.
- See the listing of Evangelical Church parishes in East Prussia with records available from the Family History Library.
- See the listing of Lutheran Church parishes in East Prussia with records available from the Family History Library.
- See the listing of Reformed Church parishes in East Prussia with records available from the Family History Library.
- See the listing of Military Unit and Parish Records in East Prussia with records available from the Family History Library.
- See the listing of Mennonite Church Records in East Prussia with records available from the Family History Library.
3. Research in Church and State Archives[edit | edit source]
Church records or duplicates may have been gathered from the local parishes into central archives, either by the churches or the state. Older records are frequently given to these archives for safekeeping. Some gaps in the church records of local parishes could be filled using these records.
- Pdf Archive Inventory: "Part 1 of 2: Church records in Archives" - is an inventory of localities and the location or archive where their records should be found. The sixth column, "Archives", gives a number. To find the name and contact information, look up that number in the second column of this .pdf: Part 2: Archive Addresses. It is not clear how up-to-date this inventory is.
Some archives offer searches for a fee. Archives might be unable to handle genealogical requests, but they can determine whether they have specific records you need, sometimes perform very brief research, such as just one record, or they may recommend a researcher who can search the records for you. Archivists are required to speak English.
E-mail[edit | edit source]
- You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a parish. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.
Finding Aid: East Prussia Genealogy Sources[edit | edit source]
This finding aid will tell you the existing parish registers and the archives where the records are stored. It will describe other records such as military parishes and Jewish records. Notes at the bottom with tell the former parish that served that area before this parish was created.
- Select a Kreis from alphabetical list left of map. Click on the Kreis name.
- For that Kreis, click on “Kirchenbuchbestände” (Parish register inventory).
- Select parish from alphabetical list left of map.
- Click on parish name.
Archive Addresses[edit | edit source]
Germany[edit | edit source]
EZA Berlin (Lutheran)[edit | edit source]
Evangelical Central Archives Berlin ( EZA )
Family Research: 030 / 22504-536
Space reservation: Fax. 030 / 22504-540 or Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
BZ Regensburg (Catholic)[edit | edit source]
Even though Regensburg is in Bavaria, these archives have some East Prussia Catholic church records.
Bishops' Central Archives Regensburg
St. Petersweg 11-13
Telephone: 0941 / 597-2520
Fax. 0941 / 597-2521
State Archives[edit | edit source]
DZfG Leipzig[edit | edit source]
Even though Leipzig is in Saxony, these archives have some East Prussia Catholic church records.
German Central Office for Genealogy Saxon State
State Archives Leipzig
Telephone: 0341 / 255-5500
GStA Berlin[edit | edit source]
Secret State Archives Prussian
Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Cultural Heritage Archivstraße 12-14
Phone: 030/266 44 75 00
Fax. 030/266 44 31 26
Lithuania[edit | edit source]
Lithuanian Historical State Archives in Vilnius[edit | edit source]
Lietuvos valstybės istorijos archyvas
Gerosios Vilties g. 10
Phone: +370 /85/213 7482
Fax: 00370/5 278 43 69
Poland[edit | edit source]
The Diocesan Archives of the City of Olsztyn, Poland (Catholic)
Archiwum Diecezji Warminskiy w Olsztynie
State Archives of Olsztyn (formerly Allenstein
Archiwum Panstwowe w Olsztynie
In the state archive Olsztyn (Olsztyn), the records are available digitized over the Internet.
- Search engine for digitized records
- The third field, "Nazwa oryginalna" or "Original Name", has a drop-down list of all the localities for which there are records.
State Archives Lyck
Archiwum Państwowe w Suwalkach
Oddzial w Elku
Birth, marriages and death certificates of the Milken militia from 1874 to 1902.
4. Writing a Letter to a Local Church or Archives[edit | edit source]
Catholic[edit | edit source]
Protestant[edit | edit source]
In Poland approximately 134 protestant parishes exist. Some records formerly found in such parishes may now be archived in local Catholic parishes. For a list of the Protestant parishes in Poland, and their addresses, you can visit the Lutheran Church in Poland for a listing of Lutheran parishes which are in existence today.
Addressing the Letter[edit | edit source]
Using these addresses as guides, replacing the information in parentheses. If you do not know the street address of a church, you can omit it.
For State Archive
Urząd Stanu Cywilnego
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
For a Roman Catholic Parish
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
For a Protestant Parish
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
For an Orthodox Parish
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)
Letter Writing Guides[edit | edit source]
How to write a letter: Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus Polish translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the Poland Letter Writing Guide.
In some cases, the records are held in archives in Germany. For letters in German, including addressing the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently needed, use the the German Letter Writing Guide.
Because part of East Prussia is now in Russia, this article may help: Russian Letter Writing Guide
Other Religious Groups[edit | edit source]
- To learn how to determine the location of other religious records, namely Jewish, French Reformed, German Reformed, etc., watch Hansen’s Map Guides: Finding Records with Parish Maps beginning at 48:00 minutes, to learn how to locate these congregations. Then go back and watch from the beginning to understand how to use the reference book. This course teaches you how to use a set of reference books found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are not in Salt Lake City, use the Contact Us feature to request information from the books.
5. Societies[edit | edit source]
Societies are also active in collecting, transcribing, and indexing records.
Association for Family Research in East and West Prussia e. V. (VFFOW)[edit | edit source]
"VFFOW is an independent, non-partisan and independent association. The intention and the goal of the association and in its interest is, in a trusting and friendly relationship with institutions and persons who today have their homeland in the research area of the association, to jointly pursue family research and regional historical research."
- Grossartige Datenbank des VFFOW für Ahnenforschung in Ost- und Westpreußen (2017) Database of the VFFOW for Genealogy in East and West Prussia.
Ahnenforschung im Kreis Sensburg und Masuren[edit | edit source]
"The research group Sensburg, within the AGoFF eV - Research Center East and West Prussia , is dedicated to genealogical research and the demographic history in the former city and district of Sensburg in the borders of 1945."
6. Compiled Genealogies[edit | edit source]
Compiled genealogies and published genealogies are secondary sources, not original or primary sources.
As such, they are subject to human error through translation or transcription errors, mistaken interpretations, and opinion decisions of another researcher.
You should make every effort to base your research on the actual, original records or their digitized images.
Town Genealogies (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch)[edit | edit source]
See the class, Online Ortsfamilienbücher at Genealogy.net, and Wiki article, Germany Town Genealogies and Parish Register Inventories on the Internet. Published town genealogies, Ortssippenbuch (town lineage book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book), generally include birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families based on the opinion of the author. If one is available, it should only be used as an index or guide to finding the original records. They usually contain errors. Always verify their information in original records.
Finding an OFB[edit | edit source]
- Local Family History Books, Familienforschung in Ostpreussen
- OFB for Memelland
- Click here to see OFBs at GenWiki. These are indexed and searchable. OFB Instructions.
- A bibliography of OFBs held by the Central Office for Person and Family History, and available in their archive in Frankfurt am Main-Höchst, is listed here. You can arrange for copied pages to be sent to you for a fee or donation. Use the "Find" function on your keyboard to search the bibliographies, as they are not alphabetical.
Reading the Records[edit | edit source]
- Archives Online: Archion - Instruction
German Records[edit | edit source]
- It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
- These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:
- Old German Script Part 1
- Old German Script Part 2
- Old German Script (German Church and Civil Records) Part 3
- Reading German Handwritten Records (Three parts) Practice exercises to build your skills and confidence.
- German Script Tutorial
- List of Names in Old German Script A comprehensive list of German given names, written in old script, with possible variations.
- Old German Script Transcriber (alte deutsche Handschriften): See your family names in the script of the era. Type your name or other word into the font generator tool. Click on the 8 different fonts. Save the image to your computer and use it as you work with old Germanic records.
Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]
- Print these handouts for ready reference when reading German Handwriting:
Latin Records[edit | edit source]
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
Polish[edit | edit source]
Because part of East Prussia is now in Poland, these articles will help:
Russian[edit | edit source]
Because part of East Prussia is now in Russia, these articles will help:
Feast Dates[edit | edit source]
- Calendar Changes in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries--class
- Each day of the year had several patron saints and was a feast day to honor those saints. Some vital events are recorded in church records only by the holy day (feast day) on the church calendar. For example, the feast day called “All Saints Day” (Allerheiligentag) is “1 November.” An online feast date calculator may be found at the Albion College website. Simply enter the year and click "Calculate."
Search Strategy[edit | edit source]
- Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find their birth record, search for the births of their brothers and sisters.
- Next, search for the marriage of their parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
- Search the death registers for all known family members.
- Calculate the birth date of the parents, using age at death and/or marriage to search for their birth records.
- Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
- If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.