Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany Genealogy

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Guide to Lower Saxony ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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On 8 November 1946, the State of Lower Saxony with its capital Hannover were founded. The state was formed by a merger of the Free States of Brunswick, of Oldenburg and of Schaumburg-Lippe with the previously formed State of Hannover. But there were exceptions:

  • In the Free State of Brunswick, the eastern part of the district of Blankenburg and the exclave of Calvörde, which belonged to the district of Helmstedt fell into the Soviet Zone of Occupation and were later integrated into the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
  • In the State of Hannover, Amt Neuhaus and the villages of Neu Bleckede and Neu Wendischthun were allotted to the Soviet Zone and thus the subsequent East Germany. They were not returned to Lower Saxony until 1993.
  • The city of Wesermünde that then lay in the Regierungsbezirk Stade was renamed in 1947 to Bremerhaven and incorporated into the new city state of Bremen, which became one of the federated German states.


Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen): Hannover, Brunswick (Braunschweig), Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe

Today's state of Lower Saxony was created after the Second World War by uniting the country Hannover with the free states Brunswick (Braunschweig), Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe, and the city and district of Pyrmont (formerly part of Waldeck).

For German Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town

  • To begin using the records of Germany, knowing that your family came from Lower Saxony will not be enough to use the records of Germany. Records are kept on the local level, so you will have to know the town they lived in.
  • Details about the town will also help:
    • the county or "Bezirkamt" of that town,
    • where the closest Evangelical Lutheran or Catholic parish church was (depending on their religion),
    • where the civil registration office ("Standesamt") was, and
    • if you have only a village name, you will need the name of the larger town it was part of.

Research to Find the Town of Origin

If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.

Figure Out the Parish for Your Town

Your town might be too small to have its own parish church. Or it might have a Catholic church, but the Lutheran church is in a neighboring town. You might have to do a little reference work to determine where the church (and therefore the church records) was for your ancestors' town. Methods for doing this are described in:

Details: Meyers Gazetteer

Once you know the town name you need, the other facts you need are contained in Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs, the gazetteer on which the FamilySearch catalog for Germany is based.

  • Use MeyersGaz, the digital gazetteer, to find the details you need, particularly the Bezirksamt it belonged to, found after (BA) and the Regierungsbezirk (Administrative District) Niederbayern (RB).
  • MeyersGaz Help Guide
  • Abbreviation Table
  • Here is part of an entry from MeyersGaz.org.

The most important facts here are:

  1. Wellheim is in Eichstätt Bezirksamt (BA).
  2. It is in Regierungsbezirk (Administrative District) Middle Franconia (MFranken) (RB)
  3. It has its own Standesamt (StdA) or civil registration office.
  4. It has one Catholic parish church (kath. K.).
  5. By clicking on the "Ecclesiastical" option, we learn that the Protest church for Wellheim is in Eichstätt. We also find other nearby churches.
Main Entry Page


Ecclesiastical Page


From these historic areas now in Lower
Saxony (Niedersachsen), click below on the related
article for the region.

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Former States Now in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen)

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Modern Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen)

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Administrative Districts

Lower Saxony is divided into 38 rural districts (Kreise), and 10 urban districts (Kreisfreie Städte).

Rural Districts (Kreise):

Ammerland, Aurich, County of Bentheim, Celle, Cloppenburg, Cuxhaven, Diepholz, Emsland, Friesland, Gifhorn, Goslar, Göttingen, Hamelin-Pyrmont, Hannover, Harburg, Heidekreis, Helmstedt, Hildesheim, Holzminden, Leer, Lüchow-Dannenberg, Lüneburg, Nienburg, Northeim, Oldenburg, Osnabrück, Osterholz, Osterode, Peine, Rotenburg, Schaumburg, Stade, Uelzen, Vechta , Verden, Wesermarsch, Wittmund, Wolfenbüttel

Urban Districts (Kreisfreie Städte):

Braunschweig, Delmenhorst, Emden, Göttingen, Hannover, Oldenburg, Osnabrück, Salzgitter, Wilhelmshaven, Wolfsburg

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