Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany Genealogy
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Guide to Rhineland-Palatinate ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
- 1 History
- 2 Information about Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
- 3 For German Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- 4 Research to Find the Town
- 5 If You Know the Town, Next Use Meyers Gazetteer
- 6 Figure Out the Parish for Your Town
- 7 Historical Geography
- 8 Modern Rhineland-Palatinate
- 9 Online Records
- 10 Research Tools
The state of Rhineland-Palatinate dates from 30 August 1946. It formed from the northern part of the French Occupation Zone.
It included the part of Bavaria that was the Rhenis Palatinate, also southern parts of the Prussian Rhine Province, parts of Hessen Nassau, and parts of Hessen-Darmstadt
A referendum confirmed the state constitution on 18 May 1947.
Information about Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
For German Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- To begin using the records of Germany, knowing that your family came from Rhineland-Palatinate 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 "Kreis" 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.
- Use Gathering Information to Locate Place of Origin as a guide in exhausting every possible record to find what you need.
- Or watch this webinar: Online Class: Finding German Places of Origin
If You Know the Town, Next Use 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 Kreis (county) it belonged to, found after "Kr".
- MeyersGaz Help Guide
- Abbreviation Table
Here is part of an entry from MeyersGaz.org. (The whole entry can be studied at Heusenstamm, MeyersGaz.)
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:
Rhineland-Palatinate was cobbled together in 1947 from many regions that came from other states in the German Empire. For records prior to 1945, and for using the Family History Library catalog, you must search for church records defining the location by its state during the German Empire. The 1871 Meyers Gazetteer (available here online) will tell you the historical location of your town, its county, administrative district, and province or state. Use the following chart or map to link to research articles that apply to each former locations. The place names are clickable to location-specific articles dealing with each region.
CLICK ON THE LINKS IN THIS CHART TO FIND INSTRUCTIONS FOR
CLICK ON THE LINKS IN THIS MAP TO FIND INSTRUCTIONS FOR
are in Rhineland-Palatinate today,
Rural Districts (Kreise)
Urban Districts (Kreisfreie Städte)
- 1500-1971 - Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1500-1971 at FamilySearch — index
- 1701-1875 - Germany, Hesse-Nassau, Civil Registers and Church Books, 1701-1875 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1704-1957 - Germany, Rhineland, Diocese of Trier, Catholic Church Records, 1704-1957 at FamilySearch — index