Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau), Prussia, German Empire Genealogy

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Guide to Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau), German Empire ancestry, family history, and genealogy before 1945: birth records, marriage records, death records, both church and civil registration, compiled family history, and finding aids.

German Empire
Wiki Topics
Altstadt Buedingen.JPG
Getting Started
Major Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau)
Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau)
Record Types
(Hessen-Nassau) Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Province of Hesse-Nassau (Provinz Hessen-Nassau) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1868 to 1918, then a province of the Free State of Prussia until 1944. Hesse-Nassau was created as a consequence of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, by combining:

  • the previously independent Hesse-Kassel,
  • the Duchy of Nassau, 

  • the Free City of Frankfurt, 

  • areas gained from the Kingdom of Bavaria, and 

  • areas gained from the Grand Duchy of Hesse (including part of the former Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg). 

In 1935, the government abolished all states, so the provinces held little meaning. 
In 1944, Hesse-Nassau was split into the provinces of Kurhessen (formerly Hessen-Kassel) and Nassau. In 1945, after the end of World War II, the new state of Hesse (Hessen) was formed by combining:

  • the province of Kurhessen,

  • the province of Nassau, and

  • Hesse-Darmstadt. 

Part of Nassau (the former Westerwaldkreis) was also moved into the Rhineland-Palatinate. 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]

Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau) within the German Empire

German Empire - Prussia - Hesse Nassau (1871).svg.png

Hesse (Hessen), Hessen-Nassau, Hessen-Kassel 1866

Understanding the Different Meanings
of Hesse (Hessen)

This article deals with Hessen-Nassau. During the German Empire, it included the Duchy of Nassau, Frankfurt, Hessen-Kassel, Waldeck, Wetzlar, the small exclaves of Hessen-Darmstadt in the north-west, and some other exclaves which show up better in the map on the right..

Hessen areas 2.png

For a larger map, click here.

This map shows the area included in the modern state of Hesse (Hessen), as it was in 1900. The Duchy of Hesse (Hessen) included the areas of Oberhessen, Rheinhessen, and Starkenburg. The rest of the areas belonged to Hessen-Nassau.
1024px-Hessen 1900.svg.png
For a larger map, click here. Then click with the magnifying glass.

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


1945: Merged with Hessen to become current state of Hessen (Map)

Preussen, Hessen-Nassau

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau)[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. Also, see:

2. Use gazetteers and/or parish register 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 Finding Aids For German Records 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.

You can also consult Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau) Parish Record Inventories to learn the Lutheran or Catholic parish that would have kept records for your town.

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 from 1803, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau), German Empire Civil Registration.

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

Follow the instructions in Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau), German Empire Church Records.

More Research Strategies and Tools[edit | edit source]

  • These printable handouts can be used for ready reference when reading German Handwriting.
Vocabulary found on Specific Records:
Dates, Numbers, Abbreviations:
Miscellaneous Vocabulary:
  • Fraktur Font -- Many forms and books are printed in this font.
German Given Names: