Lower Saxony, Germany Genealogy

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Lower Saxony

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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The name of Saxony derives from that of the Germanic tribe of the Saxons. Before the late medieval period, there was a single Duchy of Saxony. The term "Lower Saxony" was used after the dissolution of the duchy in the late 13th century to disambiguate the parts of the former duchy. That were ruled by the House of Welf from the Electorate of Saxony on one hand, and from the Duchy of Westphalia on the other.

Information: 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

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, Hanover, 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, Hanover, Oldenburg, Osnabrück, Salzgitter, Wilhelmshaven, Wolfsburg

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Online Church Records

Research Tools

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