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German Genealogy

Brandenburg

(Provinz / Province) [Presently in Brandenburg]

Some basic facts about Brandenburg: (from Uncapher, Wendy K. and Linda M. Herrick. German Maps & Facts for Genealogy. Janesville, Wisconsin: Origins Books, 2002)

  • Size: 15,378 square miles (comparable to Maryland at 9,838 square miles)

  • Population: 1855 - 1,792,979; 1871 - 2,036,844; 1875 - 2,159,553 (1,073,393 males and 1,086,160 females)

  • Dominant Religion: Protestant (1871 - Evangelical - 1,987,891; Catholic - 34,530; Other 2,971; Jewish - 11,469; Non-Christian - 27)

  • Since 1945 part of: Brandenburg & Poland

  • Formerly: Province of Prussia

  • Prussian: 1701-1947

  • Principal crops: barley, rye, fruit, vegetables, hemp, flax, hops, tobacco, potatoes, sugar beets

  • Livestock: sheep

  • Industry: brandy, textiles

  • Minerals: lignite, limestone, gypsum, aluminum, clay

  • Rivers: Elbe, Oder, Havel, Spree, Netze, Neisse, Warthe, Schwarz Elster

A province of the Prussian Empire, Brandenburg stretched from the Elbe River to beyond the Oder River and into modern Poland in the 1800s. The province of Brandenburg included 44 Kreise (counties).

The state of Brandenburg has approximately 1000 years of history. During the middle ages, the rulers of Brandenburg were among the Grand Electors, or those who could elect a Holy Roman Emperor.

The state rose to the fore during the reign of Frederick-William (1620-1688). He helped rebuild the state after the Thirty Years' War. He was a Calvinist, and allowed thousands of French Huguenots into his kingdom as immigrants, after King Louis XIV of France expelled them.

In the early 18th century the ruler of Brandenburg became King of Prussia. Frederick III (1657-1713), through deft political intrigue was crowned King in the Duchy of Eastern Prussia and became Frederick I, King of Prussia. Brandenburg had become its' own kingdom, with the Hohenzollern Family as the rulers. Later Western Prussia was annexed by Brandenburg during the first partition of Poland in 1772.

Eastern Brandenburg is now part of Western Poland. For more historical information see the Timeline of Brandenburg History.

Before 1945 Brandenburg was divided into 2 districts with a total of 38 counties.

Potsdam District
Counties: Angermuende, Beeskow-Storkow, Brandenburg-Stadt, Charlottenburg, Jueterbog-Luckenwalde, Niederbarnim, Oberbarnim, Osthavelland, Ostpriegnitz, Potsdam-Stadt, Prenzlau, Ruppin, Spandau-Stadt, Teltow, Templin, Westhavelland, Westpriegnitz, Zauch-Belzig
 
Frankfurt an der Oder
Arnswalde, Frankfurt(Stadt), Friedebrg, Guben(Stadt), *Guben-Land, Kalau, *Koenigsberg, Kottbus(Stadt), Kottbus-Land, Krossen, Landsberg-Stadt, Landsberg-Land, Lebus, Luebden, Luckau, Oststernberg, Soldin, Sorau, Spremberg, Weststernberg, Zuellichau-Schwiebus (*now in Poland)

The highest provincial court was the Oberlandesgericht in Berlin.

The lower courts were:

  • Landgericht Berlin with Amtsgericht Berlin I
     
  • Landgericht Berlin II with (15) Amtsgerichte:
    • Alt-Landsberg, Berlin II, Bernau, Charlottenburg, Koenigs-Wusterhausen, Koepenick, Liebenwalde, Mittenwalde, Nauen, Oranienburg, Rixdorf, Spandau, Straussberg, Trebbin, Zossen.
       
  • Landgericht Frankfurt an der Oder with (11) Amtsgerichte:
    • Beeskow, Wendissch-Buchholz, Drossen, Frankfurt, Fuerstenwalde, Muencheberg, Reppen, Seelow, Sonnenburg, Storkow, Zielenzig
       
  • Landgericht Guben with (10) Amtsgerichte:
    • Forst, Fuerstenberg, Guben, Krossen, Pfoerten, Schwiebus, Sommerfeld, Sorau, Triebel, Zuellichau.
       
  • Landgericht Kottbus with (12) Amtsgerichte:
    • Dobrilugk, Finsterwalde, Kalau, Kirchhain, Kottbus, Lieberose, Luebben, Luebbenau, Luckau, Peitz, Senftenberg, Spremberg.
       
  • Landgericht Landsberg an der Warte with (15) Amtsgerichte:
    • Arnswalde, Baerwalde, Berlinchen, Driesen, Friedeberg, Koenigsberg, Kuestrin, Landsberg, Lippehne, Neudamm, Neuwedell, Reetz, Soldin, Woldenburg, Zehden
       
  • Landgericht Neuruppin with (15) Amtsgerichte:
    • Fehrbellin, Gransee, Havelberg, Kremmen, Kyritz, Lenzen, Lindow, Meyenburg, Neuruppin, Perleberg, Pritzwalk, Rheinsberg, Wittenberge, Wittstock, Wusterhausen
       
  • Landgericht Potsdam with (11) Amtsgerichte:
    • Baruth, Beelitz, Belzig, Brandenburg, Dahme, Jueterbog, Luckenwalde, Potsdam, Rathenow, Treuenbrietzen, Werder.
       
  • Landgericht Prenzlau with (12) Amtsgerichte:
    • Angermuende, Bruessow, Eberswalde, Freienwalde, Lychen, Oderberg, Prenzlau, Schwedt, Strasburg in der Uckermark, Templin, Wriezen, Zehdenick

Church Records, 1500-1872 - The boundaries of Brandenburg may have changed during this period. However, parish and local records were not usually affected. During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), Brandenburg lost between one third and two thirds of its population. Some records were destroyed, and some have gaps in them. Records kept during this period were also lost or destroyed during World War II (1939-1945).

Resources

Brandenburg - Genealogy.net
  • Auswanderungskartei (index of emigrants for the district of Potsdam) (FHL fiche 6109220) Extracted and available online at Ancestry.

  • Auswanderungskartei (index of emigrants for the district of Frankfurt/Oder) (FHL fiche 6109219). Extracted and available online at Ancestry.

  • Berlin Address Directory for the Years 1799 to 1943 (requires payment)
     
  • Brandenburg in the 1700s - map
     
  • Brandenburg in the 1920s - map
     
  • Brandenburg (surnames) Message Board - read and post messages related to the surnames you are researching
     
  • Brandenburg, Prussia Emigration Index (Ancestry.com - requires payment) These records are also available on microfiche from the Family History Library under the title: Brandenburgishes Landeshauptarchiv Potsdam, Auswanerungskartei. FHL microfiche #6109219 (22 total Fiches).
     
  • Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg
     
  • German Empire East - 1882 - Brandenburg - map

  • Hagen, William W. Ordinary Prussians: Brandenburg Junkers and Villagers, 1500-1840. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. This book is about ordinary villagers and landlords (Junkers) in the Prussian-German countryside, from the late middle ages to the nineteenth century. It is distinguished by its concentration on first-person testimony, and focus on the lives and fortunes of ordinary people during the era of the rise of capitalism and the modern state. The book is a major contribution to fundamental debates in German history on the origins of modern political authoritarianism.
     
  • Hall, Charles M. The Atlantic Bridge to Germany. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers Inc. Volume 8: Preußen (Prussia); Brandenburg, Ostpreußen (East Prussia), Westpreußen (West Prussia), Pommern (Pomerania). Helpful in locating ancestral towns.
     
  • Schwartz, Paul. Die Kirchenbücher der Mark Brandenburg [Invetory of Brandenburg parish registers] FHL 943.15 K23s; film 1181819 item 1.
     
  • Themel, Karl. Übersicht über die Bestände der Pfarr und Kirchenarchive in den Sprengeln Cottbus, Eberswalde und Potsdam der Evangelischen Kirche in Berlin Brandenburg [Inventory of Protestant churchbooks]. FHL 943.155B
     
  • Übersicht über den Bestand der Kirchenbücher und kirchlichen Archivalien der Provinz Brandenburg, Preußen [Inventory of parish registers and other church records, Brandenburg] FHL fiche 957868 item 1.
     
  • Vorberg, Georg, Die Kirchenbücher der Mark Brandenburg [Inventory of Brandenburg parish registers; includes Berlin, Lebus, and Frankfurt an der Oder]. FHL 943.15 K23s pt. 2; film 1181819 item 2.
     
  • Wolfert, Marion, comp. Brandenburg, Prussia Emigration Records. [database online] Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 2001. Original data: Auswanderungskartei (emigration cards) located at Brandenburgishes Landeshauptarchiv in Potsdam, Germany or Family History Library microfiche #6109219 (22 total rolls). Brandenburg, Prussia Emigration Index database now contains the names of more than 36,800 persons.