East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Genealogy
Guide to East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire ancestry, family history, and genealogy before 1945: birth records, marriage records, death records, both church and civil registration, compiled family history, and finding aids.
|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|
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.
Historical Background[edit | edit source]
- East Prussia (Ostpreußen) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 to 1945.
- From 1824–1878, East Prussia was combined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, after which they were re-established as separate provinces.
- Along with the rest of the Kingdom of Prussia, East Prussia became part of the German Empire during the unification of Germany in 1871.
- Following World War I, it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945.
- East Prussia was only slightly affected by the war until January 1945, when it was devastated during the East Prussian Offensive. *Most of its inhabitants became refugees during the Evacuation of East Prussia. Most of the German inhabitants, which then consisted primarily of women, children and old men, did manage to escape in the largest exodus of people in human history. A population which had stood at 2.2 million in 1940 was reduced to 193,000 at the end of May 1945.
- Following World War II in 1945, East Prussia was partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union. The borders of the present-day Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland correspond closely to those of southern East Prussia. Most of the remaining German population died during the years 1944–46 and the remainder were subsequently expelled. Wikipedia
Getting Started[edit | edit source]
Getting Started with Germany Research
Links to articles on getting started with German research:
Germany Research Tools
Links to tools and websites that assist in German research:
Historical Geography[edit | edit source]
Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for East Prussia (Ostpreussen)[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 town in family history records.[edit | edit source]
Records were kept on the local level. You must know the town where your ancestor 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 town where your ancestors lived in Germany.
- Hamburg Passenger Lists
- Einwohner Tabellen, 1736: Tabulary index of inhabitants of Gumbinnen district, East Prussia, Germany; now Gusev, Kaliningrad, Russia. Includes the Salzburg, Austria immigrants.
- Nassauische Bauern und andere deutsche Siedler in Ostpreußen : Namenlisten aus dem 18. Jahrhundert: List of 18th century farmers from Nassau and other areas who emigrated to East Prussia, Germany. Includes index.
- Germany Displaced Persons Research: If your ancestors were evacuated from their homes at the end of World War II, see this article.
2. Use gazetteers and/or parish register inventories to learn more important details.[edit | edit source]
Your ancestor's town might have been too small to have its own parish church or civil registration office. 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 serves your ancestor's locality. Use the Wiki article Finding Aids For German Records for step-by-step instructions.
Germany was first unified as a nation in 1871. An important gazetteer, Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs, "Meyer's Gazetter" for short, details the place names of villages, towns, counties (kreise), and higher jurisdictions used at that time. In the Research Wiki, FamilySearch Catalog, and FamilySearch Historical Records, the records of Germany are organized using those place names.
Consult Kartenmeister for parish and Standesamt information.[edit | edit source]
If Kartenmeister is having temporary technical difficulties, check back later.
For the provinces of East Prussia (Ostpreussen), Posen, Pomerania (Pommern), Silesia (Schlesien), parts of Brandenburg, and West Prussia (Westpreussen), areas which no longer belong to Germany, the online gazetteer Kartenmeister most efficiently tells you parish information:
Kartenmeister Search Engine
A Typical Kartenmeister Record
The most important information points here are the
name of the Lutheran parish, the name of the Catholic parish, and the location of the civil registry office (Standesamt):
3. For birth, marriage, and death records after 1 October 1874, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]
Follow the instructions in East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Civil Registration.
4. For baptism, marriage, and death records, use church records or parish registers.[edit | edit source]
Follow the instructions in East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Church Records.
More Research Strategies and Tools[edit | edit source]
- Germany Online Classes and Tutorials
- Reading German Handwritten Records Practice exercises to build your skills and confidence.
- 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.
- Finding Aids for German Records
- Research Tips and Strategies
- Print these handouts for ready reference when reading German Handwriting:
- Kurrent Letters Handout
- Numbers Handout
- Birth Records Handout
- Marriage Records Handout
- Death Records Handout
- Days and Months Handout
- Common Symbols Handout
- Common Abbreviations Handout
- List of Names in Old German Script A comprehensive list of German given names, written in old script, with possible variations.
- Fraktur Font--Many forms and books are printed in this font.
- German Research, BYU Independent Study, no cost.
Take These Online Classes to Prepare[edit | edit source]
- German Research: Strategies and Sources for Eastern Provinces. Be sure to download the class syllabus.
- Watch the Specific Geography portion to learn how to use MeyersGaz.org and Kartenmeister.com to get the details of the German and Polish names of your town and its higher jurisdictions.
- Watch the General Resources portion to learn how to check for parish registers using
- Watch the East Prussia or Ostpreussen portion, which begins at 47:58 minutes.