Tips for reseaching at archives:
by Joyce Gardner
1. Go prepared - know exactly which archive has what records and be
sure they are stored there. For example: Gross Raddow, Kreis
Regenwalde, church records are stored at a small rural archive but
could only be researched at the Szczecin (Stettin) Archive. It took
three days to get records from the town to the Szczecin Archives.
2. Have at least some knowledge of reading the old German script.
The better you can read the old script, the least frustration you
will have in searching the old records. You must do your own
research at the archives unless you have a hired a genealogist to
come with you to the archives who reads the old script. Reading
script from the 1800's is different than the script and paragraph
form used from 1600's to mid 1700's. Be prepared to run into several
versions of old script. Time is at a premium on your trip - go
prepared. Spend as much time as possible practicing reading old
script before leaving home.
3. Do not expect anyone at the German or Polish Archives to speak or
understand any English. When I was there in Sept. 2002, no one did
at the two Greifswald Archives (Landesarchiv and Landeskirchliches)
nor did anyone at the Szczecin Archives.
4. Make advance reservations at the archives and have a confirmation
before leaving home. If you are hiring a translator/guide, this
person could make the advance reservations for you, check on records
you want to research, etc.
5. Check the archive’s web site for their hours and for any holiday
closings, if possible. The hours had changed from what I had been
told by friends who were there only the year before. Note: some are
closed on Mondays and others close at noon on Fridays. Generally the
hours I found at the archives were from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Watch
out for, "special holidays".
6. Pack up and be ready to leave sharply at 3 p.m. as employee was
ready to leave and watching the clock at 2:55 p.m.
7. The records you will be searching in are 100 to 200 years old.
Treat them with respect. Clean hands, turn pages gently, if
photography is allowed, do not use flash.
8. Have money to pay for any copies and fees - credit cards not
9. Very important! – Compare what your local LDS library has on
microfilm with the archive holdings before going to the archive. Why
go halfway around the world if you can see a microfilm of it locally?
Commonly used abbreviations
F = KB über Mikrofilm zu benutzen/Churchbooks on microfilm to use
Fasz = Faszikel/Files
K = Konfirmation/Confirmation
KB = Kirchenbuch/Churchbook
MG = Muttergemeinde/Mothercommunity
T = Taufen/Baptism
TG = Tochtergemeinde/Daughtercommunity
Tr = Trauungen/Marriages
S = Bestattungen/Burials
Landeskirchliches Archiv der Pommerschen Evangelischen Kirche. Photo by Jerry Savage.
Address: Rudolf-Petershagen-Allee 3 17489 Greifswald, Germany
Telephone: (011-49) 57-25-33 Fax: (011-49) 57-25-36
In this archive are stored church evangelical Lutheran books from
Pomeranian churches, some dated as early as 1642. The latest entries
end in 1945. Advance reservations are required.
The archive is closed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The archive is
open Tuesday-Thursday 8am-3pm and on Friday 8am-12noon. Before
starting research there is a form which has to be completed. The
person at the archived did not speak English or give any help with
research. The archive does no photocopies, as the books are very
fragile. They have a publication which lists the village church
books available with the dates and contents of their archive.
You are allowed to photograph family records, but no flash. You can
use a digital camera and laptop computer or photo downloader so you
are not limited on photos in case you hit the jackpot with family
records. A light weight tripod will give you no blurry photos. I
moved the book only, not the camera. I photographed an entire page
at a time - no time to keep adjusting camera for one entry. I looked
through a book and marked family entries with strips of paper and
then photographed all at one time.
Lighting is good with plenty of table space to do research. The cost
per day to research was minimal.
We brought along our lunch and ate at a picnic table outside. Take
along energy bars for a quick bite outside the building (or in the
bathroom) instead of taking time for lunch. Be sure to ask for the
rest room to wash up before touching the old books again. No food is
allowed around the books and no sticky hands. The staff was friendly
and helpful, a wonderful place to do research!
At Greifswald you will have to fill out a research form that we have
translated into English for you here. Take this along if you want.
Only a few blocks away from the Greifswald Landeskirchliches
archive, This archive was open was open earlier than the Greifswald
Landeskirchliches and until 3 p.m. on Friday. I ordered records
early in the morning and then left to research at the Greifswald
Landeskirchliches. I came back and looked at records after the
Greifswald Landeskirchliches had closed on Friday.
I was able to order and look at Stettin ship records for the years I
requested. They were original, fragile, old ships logs.
Note: Cost for research in room was 6.00 Euros per person even if
second person does no research but is along. My husband just sat and
slept while I researched but he had come into research room with me.
From Paul Rakow: Over the Easter break I made a succesful visit to
the Landesarchiv in Greifswald, I thought some of you might be
interested in hearing what I found.
As background: Most of my father's ancestors came from villages
to the north of Naugard, mainly Doeringshagen, Zickerke and Trechel.
I've already been to the Landeskirchliches Archiv in Greifswald a
couple of times to look at the church books for these villages,
which go back to 1775 for Doeringshagen and Zickerke, and 1845 for
Trechel. So my goal this time was to see if I could get back any
further by looking at secular/financial records.
I was pleased with what I found, I managed to go back another
generation on several lines, and found out quite a bit of background
on the lives of my ancestors - in fact I got really lucky and even
found a statement from 1772 from one of my ancestors about the
state of his business.
I was fortunate that the villages I was interested in were
Amtsdoerfer, which means that they belonged directly to the king,
rather than to some nobleman. The king's bureaucrats in Stettin,
the Kriegs- und Domaenenkammer Stettin, kept detailed records of
how much income the royal estates were generating, which is useful
if your ancestors were royal tennants. Every 10 or 12 years in the
18th century the villages in the Naugard Amt were investigated,
reports written on the state of each village, and various lists made
The most useful records were Praestation Tables and Mill Tables.
Praestation tables listed all the payments that the villagers had
to make. Included were people wih occupations such as Budner, Kossat
or Bauer, who would have the use of at least a little land.
Labourers and the like don't appear in these lists. The payments
had feudal origins, and some of them have rather odd names, such
as "smoke chicken money". In the account books they are added up as
money, so I guess that by this time they had been converted into
money payments, rather than payment of actual chickens.
Mill Tables: The mills had a monopoly, everyone in certain villages
had to get their flour from the local mill, so to see how much the
mill was worth they needed a head-count in each village. These
lists were more complete than the Praestation tables, the head of
the household is given, then whether or not he had a wife, how many
sons and daughters he had over 10 and under 10, how many servants,
lodgers and old people were in the household. Finally there is a
column for remarks, which will sometimes give the names of the
lodgers (usually farm-workers) and the old people. Another advantage
of the Mill tables is that in villages which were partly royal and
partly noble the mill tables will list people from both parts of the
village, while the praestations tables only list the tennants on the
The inspectors also looked into various other sources of money,
such as the brewery and distillery in Naugard. This is where my
favorite bit was. In 1772 the inspectors noticed that the sales of
beer from the brewery had been falling for several years, so they
interviewed some of the inn-keepers in the area, including my
ancestor Simon Rakow, inn-keeper in Doeringshagen. He complained at
length about how bad business had been the last few years: "The
traffic of freight-wagons to Kolberg and Danzig has completely
stopped in some years, in particular in the last four years, and
people who are travelling to the towns of Greifenberg, Treptow and
Kolberg or further into east Pommern seldom stop in the inn, and if
they do spend the night they don't even drink a quart of beer, but
make do with a glass of spirits. In 14 days or 3 weeks he hardly
serves a half-barrel of beer, so it often goes sour and bad, so he
has more loss than profit from the inn."
Another source that I looked at is the Hufenklassifikation from 1717,
a survey (for tax purposes) of most of the villages in Hinterpommern,
listing the farmers and how much land and how many animals they have.
A few general points about the records and the archives: The archive
is in an impressive red building, originally a military barracks,
very Prussian-looking. On the days I was there it wasn't crowded,
there were still free places in the reading room.
The latest you can order something to be delivered the same day is
at 10 in the morning, so be sure that you either get there early on
your first day, or order a few items in advance when you make your
appointment to visit.
Some of the hand-writing styles are quite tough to read. I'd been
practising reading German handwriting over the month before my visit,
but I still found some of the hands quite tough, especially in the
Hufenklassifikation. On the last day I could read quite a bit better
than on the first. More practice in advance would have been good.
I made most progress with the families where I had already got back
to the 18th century, I didn't have a great deal of success with 19th
century records, though I did look at a few rezess files from the
mid 19th century, dealing with rationalising the payments made by the
farmers to the church (I may write about those in a day or two, but
this is already a rather long posting).
More comments on the Landesarchiv Greifswald:
Booking: I phoned the archive about 2 months before my visit
to book a place in the reading room, and discuss briefly what sort
of things I was looking for.
Language: I lived and worked in Germany for 14 years, and returned
to England a few years ago. So I spoke German when I visited the
archive, and I can't tell you how well the staff speak English.
In general you can't expect that everybody will speak English,
particularly in the East where people may have spent their school-
years learning Russian, not English.
Staff: The woman in the catalogue room was helpful and knowledgeable.
She made suggestions of things to look for, and brought me to the
relevant catalogue book or card index.
Electronic access: I don't expect much of the real archive
material to appear on the internet any time soon, but *part* of
the catalogue is online at: http://ariadne.uni-greifswald.de/
which can be useful for planning a visit. A good overview of the
archives content (in German) is at:
The whole site:
http://www.hinterpommern.de/Wegweiser/ is very useful.
There is one set of documents which are being put on line, the
Swedish maps of Vorpommern, made in the 1690s, are being added to
These are really very attractive, if you are interested in the area
covered they are well worth looking at.
Vorpommern and Hinterpommern: In the 18th century Hinterpommern
was ruled by the King in Prussia, but Vorpommern belonged to Sweden.
So the documents covering the two areas will be different.
The Landesarchiv has a lot of archival material from the time
of Swedish rule, my guess would be that there might be more
material in Greifswald for ancestors from Vorpommern than from
By Joyce Gardner
The archive in Stettin. Photo by Jan Savage.
The Stettin archive also requires advance reservations. There is a
daily fee and a Polish form which needs to be completed before
research. There is a limit to how many books can be requested in
one day. Researchers are observed on a monitor.
NOTE: AS OF 15 JANUARY, 2012, RESEARCHERS ARE PERMITTED TO
PHOTOGRAPH RECORDS USING THEIR OWN DIGITAL CAMERA (without flash).
If you are only visiting for the day and have a rental car be sure
it is in a gated, guarded (and insured) parking lot. One is located
a few blocks away from the archives.
Last time to order books is 2:30 p.m. each day, even on Monday's
when Archive is open until 6 p.m.
The church book for Gross Raddow, Kreis Regenwalde was not in good
condition. It had no cover, and was a big thick book, about 4-5
inches thick, held together with the string of the old binding.
Sections were loose and pages were out of order, It was difficult to
follow through family lines while jumping around years.
The problem I had is even though I had specifically requested the
Gross Raddow church records in advance, when I arrived I was given
the civil records. These civil records have been microfilmed by the
LDS and I had already searched them at my local library. I had not
only done my research as to what records they had at the Szczecin
Archives before going on this trip, but had received copies of birth
records from the Gross Raddow church records from them by mail
months before my visit. After I finally convinced them that it was
the Church records for Gross Raddow I wanted, not the civil records,
I was shocked to learn the these church records are stored at
another location and that it took three to five days for them to
arrive at the Szczecin Archives. We could not drive to the other
town where they were stored, as they could only be viewed at the
I don't know what other records may be stored at this or another
location, but be prepared for the unexpected at this Archive. I
suggest you not only be very specific if you want to see church
records and for what village and time period when you make your
reservations but highlight or emphasize the word, "church".
They have a publication which lists the village church books
available with the dates and contents of their archive.
Note: Be sure if you pay for a photocopy done by the archives that
they put their official stamp on it. This "official stamp,” is given
as the reason for the cost of the copies
Watch out for "Special Holiday's." I planned on returning to do more
research but the archive was closed on Friday for a "Special
Holiday." I never found out what the special holiday was. I took the
name of the person working in the research room and his phone number
and had our polish guide telephone the archives and speak directly
to him to be sure the Gross Roggow church book was there before
driving back to Szczecin.
Be aware of time needed to order books, - order your next
books/records at least half an hour before finishing with book you
are working on or else will be just sitting and waiting for your
next book. Archives can suddenly limit you to a number of books you
can research per day.
The reference book used by the staff at the Szczecin Archives is an
old edition. It did not show church books that we knew were at the
archives. You must prove to them that they have the records or you
will not be able to order the church books and look at the records.
Joanne took a photocopy of the title page and the page listing the
records for Labuhn, Kreis Regenwalde and had to show them these
pages to get the records. Another person asked for these records a
month later and did not get them - they did not have, "proof."
Here is the form you have to fill out at the Stettin Archive to get records.
Stettin/Szczecin Archive Information by Sullivan Richardson, 1 May, 2011.
I visited the Archiwum Panstwowe (Staatsarchiv) in Szczecin, Poland
in March, 2011 which I want to report about.
First of all, I want to thank all of you who made suggestions as I
was planning my visit. Everything worked out great!
I was there the week of March 7th through March 11th.
Notwithstanding the published hours, here's when the archive was open:
Monday - 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Tuesday - 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday - 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM.
I made an "appointment" by email before I arrived, which really
helped them to be ready for me. The church books I wanted to look
at were already pulled and waiting for me.
Here are my suggestions to anyone planning a visit:
1. First, search the database of "church books and civil records" at
http://www.pommerndatenbank.de/. (Thank you, Gunthard, for this
wonderful resource!) This should help you confirm that the records
are at the Stettin archive. I'd print the results page out and take
it with you! The reason is, the column called "signature" is
actually the book number at the archive. It will help you to know
which volumes (books) to request. (I referred to this page quite
often during my visit, to request additional volumes.)
2. Next, check the archive's PRADZIAD database to confirm that they
also show that they have the records. Here is the link:
I suggest you search for both the German name and the Polish name of
the town you are interested in. (If you don't know the Polish name,
check the www.kartenmeister.com database - Thanks, Uwe, for this
resource!) Sometimes, items are listed under one name but not the
other. The search results should be consistent with the
pommerndatenbank results, but the book numbers are not listed.
These results will also show whether the books are physically stored
at the Szczecin location or whether the archive has to arrange for
the books to be brought in from another location. (Apparently, the
archive has some satellite offices.)
3. Send an email to the archive at: email@example.com,
telling them when you'd like to visit and what records you'd like to
look at. For this email, I actually "cut and pasted" the results of
the PRADZIAD database search into my email, so they'd know exactly
what I was looking for. If you know the book numbers you'd like to
start with (from the pommerndatenbank search), include those in
your email, so they can pull the books ahead of time. You can write
the archive in either English or German. It took about a week for
them to respond to me. If you get a response in Polish, use
http://translate.google.com/ to translate it. If it appears to
confirm your visit, print it out and bring it with you. Note: The
man who responded to my email was Witold Mijal, who is in charge of
the reading room where you will look at the records. If you don't
get a response by writing to the "sekretariat" email address above,
try writing Witold directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. I was at the archive at 8:30 the first morning. (It was an easy
4-block walk from my hotel. You don't need to rent a car to get
around town.) After stepping inside the front door, I was greeted
by a guard at a window in front of another locked door. I showed
him the print-out of the email confirming my visit (step #3), and he
not only let me in, but he escorted me to the reading room, which
was up one flight of stairs (no elevator that I could see).
5. In the reading room office, I met Witold (who speaks Polish and
German) and his younger assistant (who speaks Polish and English).
I found them to be very helpful during my visit. After showing my
passport and filling out a few papers, I was given access to the
books so I was able to get right to work. There is technically a
limit of 5 books at one time that you can have access to, but since
I knew the book numbers from step #1, this was not a problem. Also,
since they don't rush to refile the books, you may find that they'll
keep the extra books you're interested in right there in their office.
6. Witold seemed genuinely interested in my work. Even if you don't
really speak German, I suggest you learn a few phrases in German to
explain why you're there, bring a pedigree chart to show what your
family connection is, etc. Being a non-native German speaker
himself, I found him to be very patient with my efforts to speak
German with him.
7. It was easy to request additional books from the storage area,
but they like to have a few hours notice. Also, although no
photography is allowed in the reading room, it was easy to request
photocopies, which cost about $1 or $2 each, depending on the size
of the pages.* Again, you should plan ahead and allow them several
hours to make the copies, since they like to plan their time and
make all the copies at once. Other than the optional photocopying
charges, there were no costs to use the archive.
8. The tables in the reading room had adjoining electrical outlets,
in case you wish to plug in a charger for a computer. For my part,
however, I found it faster to copy things down by hand on preprinted
forms I had designed, and then input the data into my computer
program later. Of course, how you do it is totally up to you!
9. There are a number of places to eat within easy walking distance
of the archive. There is also a large, modern, indoor mall about
1/2 mile north of the archive (the Galaxy Centrum), which has
anything and everything you might want, including a food court,
Internet cafe, shopping, entertainment, or just a place to sit and
relax other than your hotel room. Szczecin is undoubtedly a
beautiful city to visit during the summertime, but in March, it got
quite cold after the sun went down each day.
* Joyce Gardner note - in 2009 I was given a choice of having
photocopies or having the records photographed and put on a CD. At
this time the archive preferred to have the records photographed
because it is more archival friendly to use a camera without flash
than having them photocopied. The cost of several records on a CD
was $3.00 in 2009. When Sullivan Richardson visited the Archive in
March, 2011 putting his records on a CD was not mentioned to him.
As he wrote in a follow-up e-mail to me, "They never did offer to
make me a CD,, but that doesn't necessarily mean they wouldn't do it
if you asked. Interestingly, I recently sent Witold a follow-up
email and asked if he would look up a specific record for me. He
responded by emailing me back and attaching some .jpg pictures of
the record that were apparently taken with a digital camera. So I
guess perhaps that is still an option if you request it, but I have
no way of knowing for sure or what it would now cost." My advice
is to ask if they will photograph your record/records and put it on
a CD for you and be sure to ask the cost for this.
The town hall in Schlochau.
Urzed Stanu Cywilnego
If you are looking for records that are less than 100 years old you
may find what you are looking for at the local town hall of the
county capital. It is useful to question the town hall records
department with a translator. You will probably have to fill out a
Polish form too. Records older than 100 years are sent to the local
archive. In Pommern the largest archives are in Stettin and
Koeslin. Smaller archives can be found in large cities like
Neustettin, Plathe, Stargard, and Stolp. Sometimes the Town Hall
houses a county museum too.
Here is an old picture of the town hall in Rummelsburg. No one we
know has done any research here. If you have please tell us about it.
Urzad Stanu Cywilnego
ul. Grunwaldska 1
Miasta i Gminy
The Köslin/Koszalin Archive
The archive in Köslin/Koszalin with pre-1945 records.
Note: There are two archives in Köslin. One with records
before 1945 and one with records after 1945.
Oddzia³ I (materia³y archiwalne do 1945 r.)
(Branch 1, archival materials up to 1945.)
ul. gen. Andersa 38
The archive in Köslin/Koszalin with post-1945 records.
Archivum Panstowe w Koszalinie
ul. Marii Sklodowskiej-Curie 2
75-950 Koszalin (archive with post 1945 records)
skr. poczt. 149
Tel./Fax 0048 – 94 – 342 26 22, 0048 - 94 - 346 21 81
Hours: 8am-3pm Mon-Fri.
About the pre-1945 archive with German materials:
I visited the Köslin Archives this past September to look at the
Lupow church books. We made an appointment ahead of time through a
German friend - I tried to do it myself but they don't answer
emails, even in Polish. Since we had only one possible day to visit
the archive, I also wrote them a letter in Polish (I had it
translated) and asked them to send me a reply verifying our
reservation, which they did. I had noted in the letter what records
we wanted to look at -I was told this is a good idea - they can have
them ready for you.
My husband and I arrived at the Gromada Hotel the night before and
then took a taxi to the archives. (our rental car was in the hotel's
secure parking lot.) The building is in a nice park setting in the
middle of Koszalin, but the building itself is an old communist
block grey cement building with grafitti on the outside. We had our
taxi driver ring the bell and wait for us to be let in. Once inside,
the interior is ok - kind of like an old public school. The archive
is on the top, up 5 flights of stairs. Once there, we had to fill
out forms and give information including our passport numbers (so
bring your passport). The research room is very small - it has
about 8 places. My husband and I shared a table. Once of the women,
who spoke quite good English (I was surprised because I was told the
archive employees only spoke Polish and German) brought us the
original church books - not microfilm. Together my husband and I
looked at 3 different Lupow church books. However, even though there
are no signs forbidding photos, DO NOT take any photos - my husband
took non-flash digital photos and one of the people in the next room
saw him, ran and told the archive lady, who yelled at my husband. At
least she didn't take the film or camera! We arrived when the
archive opened at 8 AM and stayed until they closed at 3 PM. I
brought a water bottle with and went out in the hall to drink it,
away from the church books. There is a bathroom on the floor - very
old but clean and functional.
There is no possibility of photo copies. I would not even consider
bringing any food, even to eat in the hall - I figured they could
not complain about water. After we left the archive, we were so
happy to be outside, we did not take a taxi back to the hotel, but
walked back through the city, which seemed to be perfectly safe and
interesting. I did find much good information about my ancestors.
See also: http://www.schlawe.de/familienforschung/koszalin/index.htm
for a list of their holdings.
The Stolp/Slupsk Archive
The archive in Slupsk is a branch of the one in Koeslin.
Archiwum Panstwowe w Koszalinie Oddzial w Slupsku
PL 76 200 Slupsk
ul. W. Lutoslawskiego 17
Tel (59) 42-23-27 or try (0-59) 842-54-13
Fax (59) 842-23-27
The Szczecinek/Neustettin Archive
The archive in Neustettin is also a branch of the one in Koeslin.
Archiwum Panstwowe w Szczecinku
ul. Parkowa 4
PL-78-400 SZCZECINEK, Polska
The Plathe/Ploty Archive
ul. Zamkowa 2
PL-73-310 PLOTY POLSKA
The Stargard/Stargard Szczecinski Archive
ul. Basztowa 2
PL-73-110 STARGARD SZCZECINSKI, POLSKA
The Polish State Archives have listed their holdings at this
This website is difficult to use if one does not speak/read Polish.
The newly rebuilt University of Greifswald Library.
Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahnstraße/Rudolf-Petershagen-Allee on the
University Campus, Greifwald, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
The University of Greifswald Library boasts 1.3 million books, and
newspapers on Pommern. They do not lend out the books so you must go
there in person.
Another useful website for archive information is at: