Posen, Prussia, German Empire Genealogy

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Guide to Posen, 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
Poland-00553 - Fountain of Proserpina (30365129645).jpg
Getting Started
Major Posen Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Posen
Record Types
Posen Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background

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.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • The Grand Duchy of Posen was annexed by Prussia in the Polish partitions of 1815.
  • It became the ‘’’Province of Posen ‘’ in the Kingdom of Prussia in 1848.
  • It became part of the German Empire in 1871.
  • Posen was part of the Free State of Prussia within Weimar Germany from 1918, but was dissolved the following year when most of its territory was ceded to the Second Polish Republic by the Treaty of Versailles.[1]
  • In1922, the remaining German territory was re-organized into Posen-West Prussia, a province of the Free State of Prussia within Weimar Germany.
    • Posen-West Prussia (Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen) was formed from merging three remaining non-contiguous territories of Posen and West Prussia, which had lost the majority of their territory to the Second Polish Republic. 
    • From 1934, Posen-West Prussia was de facto ruled by Brandenburg until it was dissolved in 1938, and its territory divided between the Prussian provinces of Silesia, Pomerania, and Brandenburg.
    • Today, the province is entirely contained within the modern state of Poland. The region roughly coincides with the present-day Greater Poland Voivodeship (wielkopolskie).[2]

Getting Started[edit | edit source]

Getting Started with Germany Research

Links to articles on getting started with German research:

See More Research Strategies

Germany Research Tools

Links to tools and websites that assist in German research:

See More Research Tools
Ask the

Historical Geography[edit | edit source]

Posen Within the German Empire 1871 German Empire - Prussia - Posen (1871).svg.png
German Counties (Kreise) of Posen

Region (Regierungsbezirk) of Bromberg: Green
Region ((Regierungsbezirk) of Posen: (Pink)

German counties Posen.png

Click on the map to enlarge it.

Polish Counties

Polish districts of Posen.png
Click on the map to enlarge it.

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


1945: Became Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland Map

Preussen, Posen

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Posen[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.

Consult Kartenmeister for parish and Standesamt information.[edit | edit source]

If Kartenmeister is having temporary technical difficulties, check back later.
For the provinces of East Prussia (Ostpreussen), Posen, Pomerania (Pommern), Silesia (Schlesien), parts of Brandenburg, and West Prussia (Westpreussen), areas which no longer belong to Germany, the online gazetteer Kartenmeister most efficiently tells you parish information:


Kartenmeister Search Engine

To use Kartenmeister, simply enter the German name of the town in the search field.

Kartenmeister search.png

A Typical Kartenmeister Record

The most important information points here are the

name of the Lutheran parish, the name of the Catholic parish, and the location of the civil registry office (Standesamt):

Kartenmeister entry.png

3. For birth, marriage, and death records from 1 October 1874, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Posen, German Empire Civil Registration.

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

Follow the instructions in Posen, 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:

Take These Online Classes to Prepare[edit | edit source]

  1. Watch the Specific Geography portion to learn how to use MeyersGaz.org and Kartenmeister.com to get the details of the German and Polish names of your town and its higher jurisdictions.
  2. Watch the General Resources portion to learn how to check for parish registers using
    1. The PRADZIAD Database
    2. Szukaj w Archiwach
    3. The Lost Shoe Box, with links to:
      1. Geneteka
      2. Metryki GenBaza
      3. Szukaj w Archiwach
    4. Archion, Cooperative of protestant archives ($)
    5. Archives Portal Europe
  3. Watch the Posen portion, which begins at 36:19 minutes.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Province of Posen," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Province_of_Posen (accessed June 19, 2019).
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Posen-West Prussia," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posen-West_Prussia (accessed June 19, 2019).