West Prussia (Westpreußen) Civil Registration
|West Prussia (Westpreussen), |
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|Major West Prussia |
(Westpreussen) Record Types
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|West Prussia Background|
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|Germany Record Types|
Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In West Prussia (Westpreussen), they were started in October 1874.
German terms for these records include Standesamtsregister, Zivilstandsregister, or Personenstandsregister. They are an excellent source for information on names and dates and places of births, marriages, and deaths. These records are kept by the civil registrar (Standesbeamte) at the civil registry office (Standesamt). Study these links to learn what information can be found in them:
- Births (Geburtsregister)
- Marriages (Heiraten, Ehen, or Trauungen)
- Deaths (Sterberegister or Totenregister)
For a comprehensive understanding of civil registration, study the article Germany Civil Registration.
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.
Finding Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]
Use Westpreussen.de for detailed information.[edit | edit source]
This important online gazetteer gives detailed information on church records, where they can be found, and in some cases, links to online records.
- Enter the town name in the search field.
- A list of towns by that name, with basic info will come up. For your town, click on "Details" in the far right column.
Example entry: This information will be on the details page. Notice that the listed names of the registry office, Protestant church, and Catholic church are links. Clicking on those links will give even further details. Some links lead to online records.
1. Online Records[edit | edit source]
- Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany (Poland), Selected Civil Vitals, 1874-1945, index and images, incomplete.
Deaths of German Citizens Abroad[edit | edit source]
- 1939-1955 Germany, Deaths of German Citizens Abroad, Registers from Berlin Standesamt 1, 1939-1955 at Ancestry - Index and images; ($)
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, Westpreussen drop-down menu and select your town.
- b. Click on the "Civil registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- c. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Geburten" are births. Heiraten are marriages. "Verstorbene" 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.
3. Archives[edit | edit source]
Several different archives have civil registration records. In fact they are "all over the place", literally. There are several "finding aids" that help with locating them.
1. Online Finding Aids and Databases[edit | edit source]
- Family Research in West Prussia, Inventory of Civil Registration Records, organized by county (kreis). Find the kreis in Meyer's 1871 Gazetteer.
- The PRADZIAD Database
- Szukaj w Archiwach; Tutorial - The Polish Archives
- The Lost Shoe Box
- Geneteka Instructions
2. Civil Registration information in Berlin For Poland[edit | edit source]
Standesamt I Berlin officially holds the civil registration information for the former areas of Germany.
Standesamt I Berlin
- This civil registration office has at its disposal an index called "Standesregister und Personenstandsbücher der Ostgebiete im Standesamt I Berlin".
- Two more indexes called "Kirchenbücher und Personenstandregister in polnischen Staatsarchiven" (church books and civil registration indexes in Polish State Archives) and "Deutsche Personenstandsbücher und Personenstandseinträge von Deutschen in Polen" (Civil Registration records of Germans in Poland) give further information about ancestors who lived in West Prussia.
3. Holding Lists Provided by Archives[edit | edit source]
You can also consult holding lists and use search engines to search which records might be held at each archive. Brief inquiries by email about whether a record group for your locality and time period is available at that archive are generally honored..
DZfG Leipzig[edit | edit source]
German Central Office for Genealogy
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
Poland[edit | edit source]
Writing a Letter to Archives[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.
4. 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."
5. Compiled and Published Secondary Sources[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]
- 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]
- 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:
- 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]
These printable handouts can be used for ready reference when reading German Handwriting.
Vocabulary found on Specific Records:
- Birth Records Vocabulary handout
- Marriage Records Vocabulary handout
- Overview of Marriage Laws and Customs (handout)
- Death Records Vocabulary handout
Dates, Numbers, Abbreviations:
- Days and Months handout
- Numbers Vocabulary handout
- Script Dates and Numbers handout
- Common Abbreviations handout
- Common Symbols handout
- Fraktur Font--Many forms and books are printed in this font.
Latin Records[edit | edit source]
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
Polish[edit | edit source]
Because West Prussia is now in Poland, these articles will help:
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.