Schleswig-Holstein, Prussia, German Empire Genealogy

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Guide to Schleswig-Holstein, German Empire ancestry, family history, and genealogy before 1945: birth records, marriage records, death records, family history, and military records.

German Empire Topics
Getting Started
Major Schleswig-Holstein Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional Schleswig-Holstein
Record Types
Schleswig-Holstein Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • The Province of Schleswig-Holstein was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1868 to 1946.
  • From the 1400’s to 1866, the dukedoms of Schleswig and Holstein were ruled by the Danish Oldenburg royal family.
  • In 1865, the German Confederation, led by Prussia and Austria, defeated the Danes in the Second War of Schleswig. Prussia and Austria then assumed administration of Schleswig and Holstein respectively.
  • However, tensions between the two powers culminated in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. The victorious Prussians annexed both Schleswig and Holstein, creating the province of Schleswig-Holstein in 1867.
  • It also included the Duchy of Lauenburg in the extreme southeast region of what is now Schleswig-Holstein from 1876 onward.
  • During the decades of Prussian rule within the German Empire, authorities attempted a Germanization policy in the northern part of Schleswig, which remained predominantly Danish.
  • On 15 June 1920, Northern Schleswig officially returned to Danish rule after a vote by its citizens.
  • In 1937, the Free City of Lübeck became part of the current state of Schleswig-Holstein.
  • After World War II, the Prussian province Schleswig-Holstein came under British occupation. On 23 August 1946, the military government abolished the province and reconstituted it as the separate state of Schleswig-Holstein. Wikipedia

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:

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Historical Geography[edit | edit source]

Schleswig-Holstein within the German Empire

German Empire - Prussia - Schleswig Holstein (1871).svg.png

Schleswig-Holstein 1871-1946

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 4.20.11 PM.png For a larger map, click here.

Modern Schleswig-Holstein

Kreise Schleswig-Holstein.svg.png

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


Preussen, Schleswig-Holstein

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Schleswig-Holstein[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 Schleswig-Holstein 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 Schleswig-Holstein, German Empire Civil Registration.

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

Follow the instructions in Schleswig-Holstein, German Empire Church Records.

5. Use census records as clues to finding family members in church and civil registration records.[edit | edit source]

You can find probable families in census records, then use church and civil registration records to determine if the family is a match, find additional information on the family, and document your family accurately. Church and civil registration records are primary sources and everything you find in a census record should be proven in primary sources.
Follow the instructions Schleswig-Holstein Censuses - Instruction

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: