Schleswig-Holstein Research Strategies

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Research Strategies

Research steps in Schleswig-Holstein to be done online, at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or the nearest Family History Center*[edit | edit source]

Your ancestor came from Schleswig-Holstein. What do you know about him or her?[edit | edit source]

Find a box and collect all data, papers and records for this person. Interview people who knew or knew of him. Then establish a genealogical record and a research log in which to enter all research steps and findings.

Do you know the year of immigration?[edit | edit source]

If not, you can find out this information usually in the US Federal Census (from 1850 on) Do this research online through or US Census films in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT (FHL)

Do you know the port of arrival in the United States?[edit | edit source]

If not, use (online) all immigration databases of, Castle Garden (before 1892) Ellis Island (after 1892)

Do you know the date of arrival in the United States and which ship your ancestor came on?[edit | edit source]

Search the Hamburg Passenger List (online) or through the FHL. Search the direct or indirect indexes, then the direct or indirect lists. Search by ship names (through the FHL)

Note: Your ancestor may have used another port of departure. According to one source, the safest way to travel to America was via Hull in England, then across land to Liverpool and from there on to the United States. There are no German passenger lists for departures from Liverpool.Should your ancestor have come through the port of Hamburg, the passenger lists will provide a last place of residence which could also be the birth place of your ancestor.

You do not have any answers to the above questions?[edit | edit source]

Read the article Schleswig-Holstein Emigration and Immigration  and consider the following questions: Did your ancestor come alone? Did your ancestor naturalize? Did he marry in the US? Did he have children in the US?

Usually people settled where relatives, friends or acquaintances lived. Often ancestors did not come alone, but with people they knew. Census records should be searched for others with the same family name or same origin. Chances are these people were from the same town your ancestor came from. The intention of naturalization could give a clue of an ancestor’s place of origin. A marriage record could give clues of an ancestor’s place of origin. Children born to a couple often list witnesses and they may be relatives or friends. Tracing them could result in clues of an ancestor’s place of origin.

You have a birth place/residence of your ancestor[edit | edit source]

A birth place/place of residence can be verified by a search through Schleswig-Holstein census records. Censuses were taken throughout Schleswig-Holstein since 1803 then jumped to 1835. Starting with the census year 1845 birth place information was provided. There are efforts underway to provide all census years for Schleswig-Holstein online at Census records are available through the FamilySearch Catalog and the Family History Centers.

You have a birth place for your ancestor but no church records are listed in the Family History Catalog?[edit | edit source]

You may be dealing with a jurisdiction problem. Not every town in Schleswig/Holstein has a record keeping church. Several towns may have been assigned to the town where the minister resided, who recorded all births, marriages and deaths for his parishioners from 1600s to 1874. To determine to what parish the birth place of your ancestor belonged, consult Meyers Orts- und Verkehrslexikon online at Germany Gazetteers If Meyers Orts- und Verkehrslexikon does not list a Catholic or Evangelical church, but refers to a see reference, check out this locality for parishes. Another source for checking parishes is a local gazetteer, such as the Gemeindelexikon for Schleswig-Holstein (FHL only), which lists both denominations and where their records might be located. In the Family History Library collection are two volumes of topographical gazetteers for the duchies of Lauenburg and Schleswig (call numbers 943.512 E5sjh and 943.512 E5sj). They are excellent tools, giving detailed descriptions of each village, plus they explain parish and administrative jurisdictions.

See also: FamilySearch Wiki portal Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, topic Place names.

You need to contact a church office in Schleswig-Holstein[edit | edit source]

Today Schleswig-Holstein is divided into Kirchenkreise (church districts) see This website provides the name of the church office which will provide copies of church records. To see what villages belong to a Kirchenkreis, conduct a Google search, enter the name of the Kirchenkreis, i.e., Eutin, ( then hit “Gemeinden” and a map with all parishes within the Kirchenkreis will be provided as well as an address to write for information.

Your ancestor was born after 1874[edit | edit source]

You can consult Civil Registration (Standesamt) records. Most of these records fall under German privacy laws. Read more about privacy laws at If you want to contact a Civil Registration office in Schleswig-Holstein see addresses listed here: If you want to know which Standesamt is responsible for the ancestor’s town consult Meyers Orts- und Verkehrslexikon.

The place name you have is not actually a village name but a cultural area or topographical feature[edit | edit source]

like Probstei, Dänischer Wohld, Geest etc. You need to conduct a GNS Search by using the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency database at For further information read Schleswig-Holstein: Cultural Areas

There may be a village lineage book available for your ancestor’s place of birth[edit | edit source]

A list of such books for Schleswig-Holstein (Ortsfamilienbuch, Ortssippenbuch, Dorfsippenbuch) are online or purchasable. See Schleswig-Holstein: Genealogies

You have an ancestor’s name, but cannot locate his parents or brothers and sisters[edit | edit source]

You may be dealing with patronymics, see Naming customs in Schleswig-Holstein To solve complicated patronymic patterns, use the following verification steps:

1. Verify The Direct Line Ancestor - The process of identifying the correct birth entry by eliminating the wrong possibilities. (You must know the name, date, & place of birth of direct line ancestor). A. Because birth/christening dates may be off by several years, search 5 years on each side of the birth year and identify every child with the same given and surname as the ancestor. B. Check death records to eliminate those who died before your ancestor. C. Check marriage and other records to further eliminate any other possibilities. D. If the possibilities are narrowed down to two and neither can be eliminated, trace both lines to see if they descend from a common ancestor. E. If entry is not found or all possibilities are eliminated, do an area search and use the same search method in the surrounding parishes.

2. Identify Direct Line Ancestor’s Siblings After verifying the direct line ancestor, identify the brothers and sisters that were born after and before the direct ancestor.

3. Locate The Marriage Record Of The Parents After determining when the first child was born, search the marriage records for the parent’s marriage entry. Knowing the first child’s birth entry, shortens the period of time of search for the marriage record.

4. Identify Direct Line Ancestors Siblings Born Out Of Wedlock A search for these siblings, if there are any, can not be made prior to this because: A. To find these children, the parent’s marriage date is needed in order to know when to begin searching the birth records. B. Children born out of wedlock usually received the mother’s maiden name as a surname. The mother’s maiden name must sometimes be determined from the marriage entry.

5. Verify The Next Direct Line Ancestor Repeat the verification and basic research processes by searching for the birth record of the parents.

In cases where there is more than one father with the same given and surname having children and the mother’s name is not given, it is usually necessary to use other records to identify the complete family. These records may include census, residence or probate records etc. Such records will identify the parents and children in each family. These records may be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under the name of the town, district, and county or other locality jurisdiction. Source: Larry O. Jensen

Finding ancestors through court records[edit | edit source]

An Amtsgericht is typically responsible for civil and criminal law cases. Since we do not know if an ancestor was involved in prosecution, the researcher should pay attention particularly to the so called Schuld- und Pfandprotokolle, the precusor to the modern land record office (Grundbuchamt which now is a part of the Amtsgericht). Every city, every cultural area, every Amt and each manor kept such a record, with one page for each owner. A copy of this record was kept as well, the Neben- und Kontraktbücher. They contain the complete text of each contract. We find sales, inheritances, retirement and now and then a marriage contract. Next to church book entries, this is where the genealogist will find pertinent information to trace his ancestors back to early times, since property usually was transferred to children. These records are found today in the Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein, stored in Abteilungen (departments) and searchable through Findbücher (archival indexes). The archive catalog is online at other Schleswig-Holstein archives and their catalogs are found under

See also: Schleswig-Holstein Archives and Libraries "Genealogical Research in the Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein"

*You have found information in the FamilySearch Catalog and like to have a look at it[edit | edit source]

If you found information which is on a film, you can order such into your nearest Family History Center by going online to “find a family history center near you” and contacting the center. If you would like information from a book, contact