Source Information

Ancestry.com. Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany [Poland], Selected Civil Vitals, 1874-1945 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Zivilstandsregister, 1874–1945. Digital images. Landesarchiv, Berlin, Deutschland.

About Eastern Prussian Provinces, Germany [Poland], Selected Civil Vitals, 1874-1945

About this collection

This collection contains birth, marriage and death records (collectively referred to as "civil registers") from numerous local registry offices in the eastern provinces of Prussia. Most of these are now part of Poland. The records cover the years 1874 up to and including 1945.

Since the Middle Ages, the term "Prussia" has been used to indicate those areas settled by Prussia either as part of the Holy Roman Empire or as later possessions. When Frederick III of the house of Hohenzollern was crowned Frederick I, King of Prussia, in 1701, his possessions were referred to as the Kingdom of Prussia. In 1871, that kingdom became the leading state within the German Empire until 1918 when it became the Free State of Prussia, which lasted until the end of World War II. The traditional capital city of Prussia, both the Duchy and the Kingdom, was Königsberg. The capital was later moved to Berlin. Both the Kingdom and the Free State of Prussia were comprised of several provinces, which in turn were subdivided into administrative districts and counties. This collection chiefly contains records from districts found in the eastern Prussian provinces of East Prussia, Silesia, West Prussia, Brandenburg, Pomerania and Posen-West Prussia. The type of documents included and time periods covered will vary. Comprehensive vital records from every civil registration office are not available.

Beginning on October 1, 1874, local registry offices were made responsible for creating birth, marriage and death records in the former Prussian provinces. The collected records are arranged chronologically and usually in bound yearbook form which are collectively referred to as "civil registers." For some communities, complementary alphabetical directories of names may also have been created. While churches continued to keep traditional records, the State also mandated that the personal or marital status of the entire population be recorded.

What you can find in the records

Birth, marriage and death records were created using preprinted forms that were filled in by hand by the registrar. In each record the birth date and the death date usually differ from the date they were registered. Depending on the individual form or on the formulations used by the registrar, you may find:

For Births:

  • Sequential or Certificate Number
  • Registration Date
  • Informant: Occupation, Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Residence/Address, Denomination
  • Mother: Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Spouse, Denomination, Residence/Address
  • Child: Birth Date, Time of Birth, Sex, Given Names
  • Signatures

For Marriages:

  • Sequential or Certificate Number
  • Marriage Date
  • Groom: Occupation, Last name, Given names, Denomination, Age or Birthdate and Birthplace, Residence as well as details about his Parents and their Place of Residence
  • Bride: Occupation, Last name, Given names, Maiden Name, Denomination, Age or Birthdate and Birthplace, Residence as well as details about her Parents and their Place of Residence
  • Witnesses
  • Signatures

For Deaths:

  • Sequential or Certificate Number
  • Informant: Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Occupation, Residence/Address, Denomination
  • Deceased: Occupation, Given Names, Last Name, Maiden Name, Age, Denomination, Residence/Address, Place/Date of Birth, Spouse/Parents, Place/Date of Death, Time of Death
  • Beginning in 1938, the records may also include a Cause of Death and cross references to corresponding birth and/or marriage registers
  • Signatures

More about using this collection

For births, each record comprises a single page. The “Informant” was often a midwife or the child's father.

For marriages, each document has a front and back. These are displayed one after the other.

For deaths, each record comprises a single page. The “Informant” was usually a relative of the deceased. During the WWI and WWII, death information was submitted by appropriate authorities.

Additional events from the life of a child, married couple or deceased person were sometimes recorded later on in the margins of their vital record. These notes, sometimes referred to as "narration," can contain very useful information but they have not been indexed. As a result, information from the notes will not found via the search form.

Under "Browse this collection,” select the Civil Registration Office and then the Year Range and Register Type desired. In some instances only a directory of the names found in a civil register is available.

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