West Prussia (Westpreussen), German Empire Church Records

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West Prussia (Westpreussen),
German Empire Wiki Topics
Getting Started
Major West Prussia
(Westpreussen) Record Types
Reading the Records
Additional West Prussia (Westpreussen)
Record Types
West Prussia Background
Local Research Resources
Germany Record Types
Germany Background
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Church records (parish registers, church books) are an important source for genealogical research in Germany before civil registration began. They recorded details of baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. The vast majority of the population was mentioned. To learn more about the types of information you will find in church records, click on these links:

For a comprehensive understanding of church records, study the article Germany Church Records.

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.

Finding Church Records[edit | edit source]

Parish Register Inventories[edit | edit source]

Church record inventories are essential tools for finding German records. They identify what records should be available for a specified parish and where to write for information on these records. They list the church records, their location, and the years they cover. Sometimes inventories explain which parishes served which towns at different periods of time.

Online[edit | edit source]

Use Westpreussen.de for detailed information.[edit | edit source]

This important online gazetteer gives detailed information on church records, where they can be found, and in some cases, links to online records. 1. Enter the town name in the search field.
2. A list of towns by that name, with basic info will come up. For your town, click on "Details" in the far right column.

Westpreussen.de gazetteers.png

Example entry: This information will be on the details page. Notice that the listed names of the registry office, Protestant church, and Catholic church are links. Clicking on those links will give even further details. Some links lead to online records. Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 3.41.48 PM.png

Books[edit | edit source]

  • Marianne Stanke, "Katholische Kirchenbücher in Ost- und Westpreußen" (Bonn : M. Stanke, 2000) Inventory of the church records of East and West Prussia, including the dioceses of Danzig, Ermland, and Kulm. Includes an index by Polish locality name. Entries are arranged alphabetically by the German town name. Gives some indication of books that have been microfilmed in Poland. (FHL Location 1: FHL INTL Ref) (FHL Location 2: FHL INTL book 943 K23s 2000) WorldCat

Online Class on Locating West Prussia Parish Registers[edit | edit source]

  1. Watch the General Resources portion, beginning at 13:47 minutes, to learn how to check for parish registers using:
    1. The PRADZIAD Database
    2. Szukaj w Archiwach; Tutorial - The Polish Archives
    3. Archion, Cooperative of protestant archives ($)
    4. Archives Portal Europe
  2. Watch the West Prussia portion, which begins at 45:35 minutes.

1. Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online records for West Prussia are found in Archion in the Evangelical Central Archives in Berlin. Among its collections there are about 6,000 church records of Protestant church communities in the former Eastern Church provinces of Prussia. They come from the provinces of East and West Prussia, Pomerania, Posen, Silesia, Brandenburg (east of the Oder and Neisse). Some of the provinces are represented by numerous, others because of the loss of war, with only a few church books.

Ancestry.com ($) and MyHeritage.com ($)[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com and MyHeritage collections can be viewed free-of-charge at a Family History Center near you.

  • Germany, selected Protestant church books 1518-1921 - at Ancestry.com ($), index and images. There are two categories found under "Browse this collection" (in the right sidebar). Under the (mistakenly labelled) "Schuldistrikt" drop-down menu, search through West Prussia (Westpreussen) and Not stated.
Under West Prussia (Westpreussen) this collection covers: Baldenburg, Dakau, Deutsch Eylau (Ilawa), Deutsch Krone, Finckenstein, Freystadt, Gross Bellschwitz, Gross Krebs (Rakowiec), Gross Plauth, Gross Rohdau (Rodovo), Gross Tromnau (Trumieje), Hertzogswalde (Laseczno), Hohenstein, Klein Niederzehren (Czarne Dolne), Klein Tromnau (Trumiejki), Langenau (Legowo), Löblau, Marienwerder (Kwidzyn), Groß Nebrau (Nebrowo Wielkie), Neudörfchen, Pröbbernau, Raudnitz (Rudzienice), Rehhof, Riesenburg, Riesenkirch (Ilawa), Riesenwalde (Stankowo), Rosenberg (Susz), Stuhm, and Thorn.
Under Not stated this collection covers: Altmark (Nowe u Swiecie), Hela (Hel u puck), Laatzig (Klosovo), Neu Paleschken (Koscierzyna u Nowe Polaszki), Neumark (Nowe u Swiecie), Puck (Hel u Puck), Sierakowitz (Koscierzyna u Nowe Polaszki), Stuhm Mennonite (Sztum), Thorn (Torun), and Wotzlaff (Pruszcz Gdanski).
Mistakenly under Pommern you will also find: Gross Peterkau (Miasko)
  1. At the left sidebar, click on ”Ortsverzeichnis” under ”Forschungshilfen”.
  2. Select a result; click on ”[Details]”.
  3. Click on link for jurisdiction of interest (Evangelische Kirche, Katholische Kirche, or Standesamt)
  4. It will show you which years of records are available and in which repositories.
  5. Study all “Remarks”, especially watching for “digitized. Click on "digitized" to be taken to record scans.

2. Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Try to find records in the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Many microfilms have been digitized for online viewing. Gradually, everything will be digitized, so check back occasionally. Some have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the Places within Germany, Preussen, Westpreussen (West Prussia) drop-down menu and select your town.
b. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
c. Choose the correct record type and time period for your ancestor. "Taufen" are baptisms/christenings. Heiraten are marriages. "Tote" are deaths.
d. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Records in Archives[edit | edit source]

Church records or duplicates may have been gathered from the local parishes into central archives, either by the churches or the state. Older records are frequently given to these archives for safekeeping. Some gaps in the church records of local parishes could be filled using these records.

  • Pdf Archive Inventory: "Part 1 of 2: Church records in Archives" - is an inventory of localities and the location or archive where their records should be found. The sixth column, "Archives", gives a number. To find the name and contact information, look up that number in the second column of this .pdf: Part 2: Archive Addresses.  It is not clear how up-to-date this inventory is.

Some archives offer searches for a fee. Archives might be unable to handle genealogical requests, but they can determine whether they have specific records you need, sometimes perform very brief research, such as just one record, or they may recommend a researcher who can search the records for you. Archivists are required to speak English.

E-mail[edit | edit source]

  • You can e-mail archives and ask whether they have records for a parish. Also, you should inquire whether they provide research services and what their fees are. You can communicate with the archives in English.

Archive Addresses[edit | edit source]

Germany[edit | edit source]

EZA Berlin (Lutheran)[edit | edit source]

Evangelical Central Archives Berlin ( EZA )
Bethaniendamm 29
10997 Berlin

Family Research: 030 / 22504-536
Space reservation: Fax. 030 / 22504-540 or Email to reservierung@ezab.de

BZ Regensburg (Catholic)[edit | edit source]

Bishops' Central Archives Regensburg
St. Petersweg 11-13
93047 Regensburg

Telephone: 0941 / 597-2520
Fax. 0941 / 597-2521
E-Mail: archiv@bistum-regensburg.de

Mennonite Research Center[edit | edit source]

Mennonite Research Center
Am Hollerbrunnen 2a
67295 Bolanden-Weierhof

Tel .: 06352/700 519
E-Mail: mennoforsch@t-online.de

DZfG Leipzig[edit | edit source]

German Central Office for Genealogy
Saxon State
Archives State Archives Leipzig
Schongauerstraße 1
04328 Leipzig

Email: poststelle-l@sta.smi.sachsen.de
Telephone: 0341 / 255-5500

Poland[edit | edit source]

4. Writing a Letter to a Local Church[edit | edit source]

Catholic[edit | edit source]

Protestant[edit | edit source]

In Poland approximately 134 protestant parishes exist. Some records formerly found in such parishes may now be archived in local Catholic parishes. For a list of the Protestant parishes in Poland, and their addresses, you can visit the Lutheran Church in Poland for a listing of Lutheran parishes which are in existence today.

Addressing the Letter[edit | edit source]

Using these addresses as guides, replacing the information in parentheses. If you do not know the street address of a church, you can omit it.
For State Archive
Urząd Stanu Cywilnego
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)

For a Roman Catholic Parish
Parafia Rzymsko-Katolicka
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)

For a Protestant Parish
Parafia Ewangelicka
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)

For an Orthodox Parish
Parafia Prawoslawna
(street name and number)
(postal code) (name of locality)

Letter Writing Guides[edit | edit source]

How to write a letter: Detailed instruction for what to include in the letter, plus Polish translations of the questions and sentences most frequently used are in the Poland Letter Writing Guide.
In some cases, the records are held in archives in Germany. For letters in German, including addressing the letter, plus German translations of the questions and sentences most frequently needed, use the the German Letter Writing Guide.

Other Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

  • To learn how to determine the location of other religious records, namely Jewish, French Reformed, German Reformed, etc., watch Hansen’s Map Guides: Finding Records with Parish Maps beginning at 48:00 minutes, to learn how to locate these congregations. Then go back and watch from the beginning to understand how to use the reference book. This course teaches you how to use a set of reference books found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you are not in Salt Lake City, use the Contact Us feature to request information from the books.

5. Compiled and Published Secondary Sources[edit | edit source]

Caution sign.png

Compiled genealogies and published genealogies are secondary sources, not original or primary sources.

As such, they are subject to human error through translation or transcription errors, mistaken interpretations, and opinion decisions of another researcher.

You should make every effort to base your research on the actual, original records or their digitized images.

Town Genealogies (Ortssippenbuch or Ortsfamilienbuch)[edit | edit source]

See the class, Online Ortsfamilienbücher at Genealogy.net, and Wiki article, Germany Town Genealogies and Parish Register Inventories on the Internet. Published town genealogies, Ortssippenbuch (town lineage book) or Ortsfamilienbuch (town family book), generally include birth, marriage, and death data for all persons found in the local records during a specified time period, compiled into families based on the opinion of the author. If one is available, it should only be used as an index or guide to finding the original records. They usually contain errors. Always verify their information in original records.

Finding an OFB[edit | edit source]

  • Click here to see OFBs at GenWiki. These are indexed and searchable. OFB Instructions.
  • A bibliography of OFBs held by the Central Office for Person and Family History, and available in their archive in Frankfurt am Main-Höchst, is listed here. You can arrange for copied pages to be sent to you for a fee or donation. Use the "Find" function on your keyboard to search the bibliographies, as they are not alphabetical.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • It's easier than you think! You do not have to be fluent in French and German to use these records, as there is only a limited vocabulary used in them. By learning a few key phrases, you will be able to read them adequately. Here are some resources for learning to read German records.
German Genealogical Word List
French Genealogical Word List
Latin Genealogical Word List
  • These video webinars will teach you to read German handwriting:

Downloadable Handouts[edit | edit source]

Latin Records[edit | edit source]

Records of the Catholic church will usually be written in Latin:

Feast Dates[edit | edit source]

Polish[edit | edit source]

Because West Prussia is now in Poland, these articles will help:

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find their birth record, search for the births of their brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of their parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Calculate the birth date of the parents, using age at death and/or marriage to search for their birth records.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.