Rhineland (Rheinland), Prussia, German Empire Genealogy

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Guide to Rhineland (Rheinland), 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.

Rhineland (Rheinprovinz)
Wiki Topics
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Getting Started
Major Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Record Types
Rhineland (Rheinprovinz) Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background
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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • The Rhineland (Rheinland) or Rhine Province (Rheinprovinz), also known as Rhenish Prussia (Rheinpreußen), was the westernmost province of the Kingdom of Prussia.
  • In 1815, Prussia gained control of the following territories, which were amalgamated into the new Prussian Rhine Province (Rheinprovinz) in 1822:
    • the duchies of Cleves (Kleve), Berg, parts of Gelderland, and Jülich,
    • the ecclesiastical principalities of Trier and Cologne (Köln),
    • the free cities of Aachen and Cologne (Köln), and
    • nearly one hundred small lordships and abbeys which would all be amalgamated into the new Prussian Rhine Province.
  • In 1920, the Saar regionwas separated from Rhineland (Rheinland), and the districts of Eupen and Malmedy were transferred to Belgium.
  • In 1946, the Rhineland (Rheinland) was divided up between the newly founded states of North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) and Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). The town of Wetzlar became part of Hesse (Hessen). 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]

Rhineland (Rheinland) within the German Empire

German Empire - Prussia - Rhine (1871).svg.png

Rhineland (Rheinland) 1871-1946

Rheinland Regierungsbezirke 1905.png For a larger map, click here. Click a second time to enlarge further.

Rhineland (Rheinland) Partitions After World War II

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

Rhineland (Rheinland)

1946: Divided into the newly founded states of Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, and Rhineland-Palatinate. The city of Wetzlar became part of the state of Hesse (Hessen).
1957: All of the Saar except the Saar-Pfalz became part of the current state of Saarland

Preussen, Rheinland

Use this clickable map to find the correct Wiki article: Map

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Rhineland (Reinland)[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 Rhineland (Rheinland) 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 after 1 October 1874, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in Rhineland (Rheinland), German Empire Civil Registration.

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

Follow the instructions in Rhineland (Rheinland), 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: