Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany Genealogy
Guide to Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany ancestry, family history, and genealogy after 1945: birth records, marriage records, death records,
Historical Background[edit | edit source]
Lower Saxony (German: Niedersachsen) is a German state situated in northwestern Germany. It was created by the merger of the State of Hanover (Hannover) with Brunswick (Braunschweig), Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe on 1 November 1946.
- The northwestern area of Lower Saxony, which lies on the coast of the North Sea, is called East Frisia (Ostfriesland). Immigration records might identify East Frisia as your ancestors' home country.
- The greatest problem facing the first state government in the immediate post-war years was the challenge of integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees from Germany's former territories in the east (such as Silesia and East Prussia), which had been annexed by Poland and the Soviet Union. Lower Saxony was at the western end of the direct escape route from East Prussia and had the longest border with the Soviet Zone. On 3 October 1950, Lower Saxony took over the sponsorship of the very large number of refugees from Silesia.
- The former Hanoverian Amt Neuhaus with its parishes of Dellien, Haar, Kaarßen, Neuhaus (Elbe), Stapel, Sückau, Sumte and Tripkau as well as the villages of Neu Bleckede, Neu Wendischthun and Stiepelse in the parish of Teldau and the historic Hanoverian region in the forest district of Bohldamm in the parish of Garlitz transferred with effect from 30 June 1993 from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to Lower Saxony (Lüneburg district). From these parishes the new municipality of Amt Neuhaus was created on 1 October 1993.
- The city of Wesermünde was renamed in 1947 to Bremerhaven and incorporated into the new city state of Bremen, which became one of the federated German states.
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:
Research to Find the Town of Origin[edit | edit source]
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.
- Use Germany Finding Town of Origin as a guide in finding evidence in United States records proving your ancestors' town of origin. Also see Germany Emigration and Immigration, especially for immigration to countries other than the United States.
Maps[edit | edit source]
Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen)
Kreise (Counties) Map
Germany was first unified as a nation in 1871. For German research prior to 1945, the Research Wiki, FamilySearch Catalog, and FamilySearch Historical Records are organized by the place names in use from 1871 to 1945. For research in that time period, use the Wiki links in the chart below:
- To find the 1871 duchy or province for your town, use Meyer's 1871 Gazetteer Online.
History and Background
Instructions for Research Before 1945
1919: Enclaves of Calvörde and Blankenburg became part of the (Sachsen-) Anhalt current state of Saxony- (Sachsen-) Anhalt.
Finding Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]
After 1945, the main source for research will be civil registration. Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In Brunswick (Braunschweig), they were started 1 January 1876. 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)
Privacy Laws[edit | edit source]
Since 2009, birth records have been public after 110 years, marriages after 80 years and deaths after 30 years. A direct relationship (direct descendants and direct ancestors) to the subject of the record sought will be required in cases where the required time period has not yet elapsed. Even then, the records may be accessible if it can be shown that all "participating parties" have died at least 30 years ago. Participating parties are both parents and the child in birth records, and both spouses in a marriage.
Determining the Location of a Civil Registration Office[edit | edit source]
Research your town name in MeyersGaz.org to find the location of the registry office (Standesamt). It is indicated by the abbreviation "StdA".
However, some of the offices were merged in 1970's, so the record location might be different than that listed in MeyersGaz.
- For a small town within a larger municipality:
- To find the current Standesamt, go to the German Wikipedia, and enter the name of the town in the search box. An article about the town will start with a first line such as: "Besse with about 3200 inhabitants is the largest district of the municipality Edermünde in Hessian Schwalm-Eder-Kreis ." It is probable that the Standesamt is now located in the municipality (in this example Edermünde).
- To e-mail the municipality to verify that the civil registry for your town is there.
- From the Wikipedia town article, click on the name of the municipality that links to that article.
- There will usually be an infobox on the right side of page that lists the address and the website of the municipality.
- Click on the website. Look for "Kontakt (Contact)" information, which should provide an e-mail address.
- Send a message asking whether you have the correct office for your ancestors' home town. You can also use e-mail to request records and arrange payment.
- For larger towns which constitute a municipality:
- To find the current Standesamt, go to the German Wikipedia, and enter the name of the town in the search box.
- This type of article will not state that the town belongs to another municipality, because it is itself a municipality.
- The infobox that lists the address and the website of the municipality will appear directly on a this first page that comes up.
- Follow the above instructions #2-4 above.
Writing for Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]
Civil registration records for Germany can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry (Standesamt) or the district archives. Records may have been lost at one location of the other, so you might end up checking both. The first office you contact might choose to forward your request to the other location if necessary.
Local Standesamt Address[edit | edit source]
- Standesamt Addresses in Niedersachsen. Be sure to search this list in the original German, not the English translation. Otherwise, you will see strange translated town names like "Meadow", "Field", instead of the real German name. Use the Command + F (Find) tool on your computer.
How to Write the Letter[edit | edit source]
Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the German Letter Writing Guide.
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.
- Research Tips and Strategies
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.
- The marriage certificate will show the birth date, birth place, and parents of the bride and the groom.
- 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.