Westphalia (Westfalen), Prussia, German Empire Genealogy

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Westphalia (Westfalen)
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Guide to Westphalia (Westfalen), German Empire ancestry, family history, and genealogy before 1945: birth records, marriage records, death records, family history, and military records.

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • The Province of Westphalia (German: Provinz Westfalen) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.
  • Following to the Congress of Vienna, Prussia received several territories in the Westphalian region and created the Province of Westphalia in 1815.
  • The Duchy of Westphalia was a different region, but was annexed to the Province in 1816, along with the principalities of Hohenstein, Berleburg, and Nassau-Siegen in 1817.

  • In 1851, when the condominium of Lippstadt joined the province, Westphalia received its modern territorial shape.

  • After World War II in 1946, the present state of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) was created from the former Prussian Province of Westphalia and the northern half of the former Prussian Rhine Province.

*In 1947, the former Free State of Lippe joined North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen). Wikipedia

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Getting Started with Germany Research

Links to articles on getting started with German research:

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Germany Research Tools

Links to tools and websites that assist in German research:

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Historical Geography[edit | edit source]

Westphalia (Westfalen) within the German Empire

German Empire - Prussia - Westphalia (1871).svg.png

Lippe Region of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen)


Westphalia (Westfalen) Within Modern Nordrhein-Westfalen

Modern Nordrhein-Westfalen.png

History of Westphalia (Westfalen) in the German Empire
Geo-Political Differences Today
FamilySearch Catalog
(organized by 1871 Meyer's Gazetteer)
Wiki Pages

Westphalia (Westfalen)

1945: Became part of the current state of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) (Map)

Preussen, Westfalen

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Westphalia (Westfalen)[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.< br> Also, see:

2. Use gazetteers and/or parish 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 Studying Your German Locality 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.

At the end of both World Wars, the boundaries of the states were changed dramatically, as areas of Germany were distributed among the Allied nations. Eventually, after re-unification in 1990, the states of Germany settled into what they are today. It is also necessary to understand Germany by this system, as it affects the locations of civil registration offices, archives, and mailing addresses used in correspondence searches.

3. For birth, marriage, and death records after 1 January 1876, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Westphalia (Westfalen), German Empire Civil Registration.

4. For baptism, marriage, and death records, use church records or parish registers.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Westphalia (Westfalen), German Empire Church Records.

More Research Strategies and Tools[edit | edit source]