East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Civil Registration
|East Prussia (Ostpreussen)|
German Empire Genealogy
|Major East Prussia (Ostpreussen) Record Types|
|Reading the Records|
|Additional East Prussia (Ostpreussen)|
|East Prussia (Ostpreussen) Background|
|Local Research Resources|
|Germany Record Types|
Civil registration records are records of births, marriages, and deaths kept by the government. In East Prussia (Ostpreussen), they were started 1 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.
Determining the Location of the Standesamt[edit | edit source]
The gazetteer Kartenmeister most efficiently tells you Standesamt (civil registrar) information as of 1905:
See the Prussian Standesamts-lexikon for civil registration offices as of 1884.
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.
1. Online Records[edit | edit source]
Inventory[edit | edit source]
- Genealogy.net; Ostpreußen/Genealogische Quellen Inventory created from various sources. For civil registration, select the county and then “Standesamtbestände”. Find the parish on the list to see the inventory information as well as holdings in FHL, EZA Berlin, DZfG Leipzig, and other repositories outside Germany.
Ancestry.com ($)[edit | edit source]
Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local Family History Center.
- Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany (Poland), Selected Civil Vitals, 1874-1945, index and images, incomplete. In the right sidebar under "Browse this collection", open the drop-down "Civil Rigistration Oiffice" list to see if your office is covered. Use the office from the time of the German Empire, as listed in the 1871 Meyer's Gazetteer.
- Memel, Lithuania, civilian births, marriages, deaths, 1874-1920, index and images ($). Covers Bommelsvitte, Memel (Klaipeda in Lithuanian), and Schmelz (which translates as "enamel".)
2. Digital Copies of Civil Registration From FamilySearch[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 the Family History Centers near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:
Locating Records at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]
If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to check for them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be ordered for viewing at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:
- a. Click on the Places within Germany, Preussen, Ostpreussen 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]
- The PRADZIAD Database
- Szukaj w Archiwach
- The Lost Shoe Box
- Geneteka Instructions
- Olsztyn State Archive, images of church and civil registration records covering parts of East Prussia.
2. Civil Registration information in Berlin and 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 East Prussia.
3. East Prussia/Genealogical Sources[edit | edit source]
These links will take you directly to a particular district (Kreis):
4. 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
Archives 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]
State Archives of Olsztyn (formerly Allenstein
Archiwum Panstwowe w Olsztynie
In the state archive Olsztyn (Olsztyn), the records are available digitized over the Internet.
- Search engine for digitized records
- The third field, "Nazwa oryginalna" or "Original Name", has a drop-down list of all the localities for which there are records.
State Archives Lyck
Archiwum Państwowe w Suwalkach
Oddzial w Elku
Birth, marriages and death certificates of the Milken militia from 1874 to 1902.
Lithuanian Area Archives[edit | edit source]
A few of the civil registration records for the area of East Prussia now in Lithuania are found in the following archives:
Lithuanian Historical State Archives in Vilnius[edit | edit source]
Lietuvos valstybės istorijos archyvas
Gerosios Vilties g. 10
Phone: +370 /85/213 7482
Fax: 00370/5 278 43 69
- See Kirchenbücher und andere Personenstandsunterlagen aus Ost- und Westpreussen in Ausserdeutschen Archiven : Ostpreussische Grundbücher und Personenstandsunterlagen im Staatlichen Historischen Archiv Litauens in Wilna (Church records and civil registration records from East and West Prussia located in Vilnius, Lithuania, Historical Archives. (Bommelvitte, Memel, Schmelz and Uszloeknen))
- See Kirchenbücher und andere Personenstandsunterlagen aus Ost- und Westpreussen in Ausserdeutschen Archiven : neue Angaben zu Beständen des Staatlichen Kreisarchivs in Lyck (Church books and civil registrations for East and West Prussia (various time periods) located outside German archives.)
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.
Because part of East Prussia is now in Russia, this article may help: Russian Letter Writing Guide
5. 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."
6. 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 the 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]
- Local Family History Books, Familienforschung in Ostpreussen
- OFB for Memelland
- 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]
German 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.
Latin Records[edit | edit source]
Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:
Polish[edit | edit source]
Because part of East Prussia is now in Poland, these articles will help:
Russian[edit | edit source]
Because part of East Prussia is now in Russia, 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.
- 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.