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East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Genealogy

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East Prussia (Ostpreussen)
German Empire Genealogy
Wiki Topics
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Getting Started
Major East Prussia (Ostpreussen) Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional East Prussia (Ostpreussen)
Record Types
East Prussia (Ostpreussen) Background
Ethnicity
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background
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Guide to East Prussia (Ostpreussen), 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.

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • East Prussia (Ostpreußen) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 to 1945.
  • From 1824–1878, East Prussia was combined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, after which they were re-established as separate provinces.
  • Along with the rest of the Kingdom of Prussia, East Prussia became part of the German Empire during the unification of Germany in 1871.
  • Following World War I, it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945.
  • East Prussia was only slightly affected by the war until January 1945, when it was devastated during the East Prussian Offensive.
*Most of its inhabitants became refugees during the Evacuation of East Prussia. Most of the German inhabitants, which then consisted primarily of women, children and old men, did manage to escape in the largest exodus of people in human history. A population which had stood at 2.2 million in 1940 was reduced to 193,000 at the end of May 1945.
  • Following World War II in 1945, East Prussia was partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union. The borders of the present-day Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland correspond closely to those of southern East Prussia. Most of the remaining German population died during the years 1944–46 and the remainder were subsequently expelled. 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:

See More Research Tools

Historical Geography[edit | edit source]

East Prussia (Ostpreussen) within the German Empire

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Administrative Districts 1871-1945

East Prussia 1905.png

For a larger map, click here.

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

East Prussia (Ostpreussen)

1945 partition: (Map)
Southern East Prussia, (Warmia, (Masuria), and Soldau:to Poland
Northern East Prussia was divided between:

Preussen, Ostpreussen

Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for East Prussia (Ostpreussen)[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.< br> 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.

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

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:

Example:

Kartenmeister Search Engine



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

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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 after 1 January 1876, use civil registration.[edit | edit source]

Follow the instructions in East Prussia (Ostpreussen), German Empire Civil Registration.

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

Follow the instructions in East Prussia (Ostpreussen). German Empire Church Records.

More Research Strategies and Tools[edit | edit source]

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 Tutorial
    3. Archion, Cooperative of protestant archives ($)
    4. Archives Portal Europe
  3. Watch the East Prussia or Ostpreussen portion, which begins at 47:58 minutes.