POST 6 Secondary Sources VFFOW (Print and Online Index) AND BOOKS

VFFOW The Index Quassowski

The first secondary source is The Index Quassowski published in Hamburg, Germany, after the death of Quassowski in 1968. From 1977 to 1993 the Association for Family Research in East Prussia and West Prussia published his work as a 24 volume reference book.

An example is given in

The index included the marriage of Anna Spurgaitis, born May 16, 1744, in Springen, Kreis Gumbinnen, today Tamanskoe, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Anna Spurgaitis married Enskys Brozaitis on December 28, 1766. This fact gave me another kreis and another village where people with the same last name had lived.

VFFOW Verein für Familienforschung in Ost- und Westpreußen e. V. Association for Family Research in East and West Prussia

The Association for Family Research in East and West Prussia has on online name index.

You have to copy a series of letters and numbers and symbols to convince them you are not a robot but once you do that, you can put in a surname and select search. It is pretty intuitive even though it is written in German. Websites have a tendency to not be a barrier because of language. The dates are from 1874, the start of civil registration to 2017, the last time I looked.

This is the home page. Note that in the upper right-hand corner you can select Translate.

For example,

Surname Search and Start Search

Results of Spurgat Search

There are three records:

Kraupschisken (2) Kreis Ragnit (1)

I have done some research there and I will want to check these records to see if they are duplicates or new.

Ortelsburg, Ortelsburg, is a city is in Kreis Ortelsburg, part of the Gumbinnen Administrative district that is now in the northeastern corner of Poland.  A fellow researcher had a letter from a woman in Sacramento, California, whose family was from here. This record is about one of the members of her family he mentioned in his email so I might be able to forward it to them. This appears to be a birth record.

On the right you can select scans to see the actual records. You have to search each page unless you have an actual birth date. But if you don’t and you are looking, you should be able to find the record you seek just by knowing the year.

Sometimes there are references to other records written on the bottom of these records.


The last example of an East Prussian secondary source is a book: Use FamilySearch catalogue to find title of interest. For example,

Peasants and Tenants of Northeast Prussia about 1736 was compiled shortly after the last and greatest plague. A previous post highlighted this book in a different context and provides more detail.

Listed under the General Table of Hauptamter (main offices) in (Kreis) Insterburg in the Amt. (office) of Gaudischkehmen, also known as Didlacken (23.6), was Pritzkus Spurgatis.

Office of Gaudischkehmen (Didlacken) 

Pritzkus Spurgatis is listed as living in Kraupischkehmen along with nine other men, five of whose last name is written as –atis! He had 15 Morgen and was a poor (or bad) manager of the land. It is also possible that the land he was given was poor for growing crops.


The purpose of examining secondary sources, both print and online, is that they give you background information on the specific administrative district and Kreis of interest and may lead you to more primary sources is you already have the digital records.

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POST R5 Online and Print Gazetteers

Print and online gazetteers provide the correct spelling!


Parish Registers East Prussia Part III by Kevan Hansen features the Gumbinnen Administrative District.

There are reviews on other websites.

See also

The Atlantic Bridge Volume 8 Prussia: Brandenberg, East Prussia, West Prussia, Pomerania, Posen by Charles M. Hall is an older publication, considered a Tier III resource by younger professional genealogists, but if family historians are to check every source, this volume serves as a backup and works well for East Prussia.



The description for each film in the FamilySearch Catalogue includes the correct spelling of the names of all the locations in the parish.

The FamilySearch Research Wiki provides articles about many East Prussian topics important to researchers.

The Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen: (auf Grund der Materialen der Volkszählung vom 1. Dezember 1905 und anderer amtlicher Quellen) print version is now online.


Kartenmeister is the most comprehensive database of its kind in the world. It contains 103,748 locations with over 45.115 name changes once. It is particularly good for East Prussia.

See also


An online, searchable version of the Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire with integrated historical maps is now available. gives the correct spelling of any location.

Is a comprehensive super websiteßen/Kirchenbücher

The GOV part of this website was discussed in

Much of the contents is updated here with additions and screen shots.

GOV provides “a unique worldwide place ID” and “includes the geographical location of a place (coordinates…on a map); key properties such as the postal code, previous or other names, and past administrative, legal, and religious affiliations. It also contains information about churches, parishes, towns, counties, and regions, etc.”

For East Prussia researchers, go toßen/Kirchenbücher

You can also search “ostpreussen kirchenbucher”

The following screen shots provide an example of the contents of the 29 July 2018 G-GLISP post.

Select a Kreis from alphabetical list left of map; select the Kreis name; for that Kreis, select “Kirchenbuchbestände”; select a parish from alphabetical list left of map; select the parish name.

Across the yellow tool bar on the top you see the downward arrow pointing to GOV.

On the left you see an alphabetical listing of the kreis.

When I selected the one I was interested in, Kreis Pillkallen, this is what came up.

The historic gazetteer:

I entered the name of a location in East Prussia I have been researching for family in Willuhnen. This is what appears, a map with locations of that place. I know it is not in northeast Poland. The one I want is in the Kalinigrad Oblast of Russia, formerly Gumbinnen Administrative District, East Prussia. (But if I did not know that, this map would help me determine where to look.)

And when you see the entire table, you see how much information is there.

Name, Typ (type), Ubergeordnete Objekte, Postleitzahl, GOV- Kennung.
Below that you see the legend.
Left arrow: I selected the cross, church records.

 Superordinate Objects

At the bottom of this page, under superordinate objects, is a listing of nearby locations.

The columns give me the names, the type, the GOV ID, and the time span.

I know that there was a church, but I have no dates…yet. I know it was a village from 1621 to 1945. I know there was a manor there from 1839 to 1945.

Not only was I interested in Willuhnen, but I was also interested in Wingern, a location I found on the microfilmed Willuhnen records. I now know that it was a rural municipality settlement in existence to 1907, but the dates of my records tell me it was there in the 1820s.

When I write my research, I can include these details with the correct source.

There is also a link for images, but there are none on this village, but sometimes you can find some by googling the name of your location under Google Images.

Once I had an understanding with print and online maps and gazetteers, I could continue.

At the bottom of this page, under superordinate objects, is a listing of nearby locations.

There is also a link for images, but there are none on this village, but sometimes you can find some by googling the name of your location under Google Images.

Once I had an understanding with print and online maps and gazetteers, I could continue.

Results for Willuhnen Church Records

On the left it gives me the GOV ID: the name, type, denomination, an article about this place in, and the geographic position.

On the right I see a regional map of its location and an outline of the object, as the location is called. I consider it an exact map.

Below that are links to other online maps like Bing, Google Earth, Google Maps, Wikimapia, etc.

The purple diagram, called the Superordinate object, shows a diagram of exactly what records are available and for what years.

The Historical Gazetteer is for other locations, not just East Prussia.

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POST R4 Print and Online Maps


Parish Registers East Prussia Part III

Good maps of each kreis are a necessity to learn the exact location of each parish.

Kevan Hansen’s Parish Registers East Prussia Part III features the Gumbinnen Administrative District.

This link to the Konigsberg Administrative District lists the locations in the volume.

1900 Map of northeastern East Prussia (Prussian Lithuania, Little Lithuania, Klein Lithuania)

This map is from Dr. Darius Petkunas, the unofficial historian of the Lithuanian Lutheran Church. He drew the lines on the map to show where to look for records of Germans who migrated to New East Prussia, who would have come from East Prussia. He thought the theory of concentric circles close to Eydtkuhnen, my first clue, and the diagonal line to identify the “end”, so to speak of Prussian Lithuania.

I had studied the area closely so the names were familiar enough for me to figure them out when compared to German.


Mapywig, the Map Archive for the Military Geographical Institute of Poland (WIG), 1919 – 1939 has a new website in English with many updates in 2018.

The 6 November 2014 G-GLISP also post described mapywig for Suwalki Province.


The 29 July 2018 post described one section of, the GOV, Historical Geo Information System.

The FamilySearch Wiki

displays two maps shown in the previous post about administrative districts and many other East Prussian topics.

An Online Map of East Prussian Places

This website provides a friendly introduction to East Prussia.

The map identifies all the kreise. The purple line through the middle of East Prussia shows the current border of the Kalinigrad Oblast of Russia in the north and Poland in the south. The purple line toward the top shows the Memel/Neman/Nemanus/ River that separates Russia and Lithuania.

Then it lists all the clickable locations. A right click provides an English translation.


Go to the map. Select a Kreis. Select a location in the Kreis. You can read a short history. Some locations have images and some are identified by name and date of image. Large cities may have images in categories. Not all information or images are given for all locations.

Although this post has centered on maps, the next post about gazetteers also includes maps, just as this one about maps includes information about print and online gazetteers.


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POST R3 Research Strategy: Simultaneous Use of Secondary and Primary Sources

Without a specific location, parish, or kreis to search in, one must use secondary sources. I used them to prepare myself for East Prussian research, especially in the Gumbinnen Administrative District, and most especially in certain kreise in the northeastern most part.

So, we are left to look for clues in other places, DNA analysis, or other needleless haystacks.

A Y-DNA test was discussed in a previous blog.

A future post will explain the results of one reader of this blog connecting with another after a DNA test!

Each of these led to parishes in certain kreise in the Gumbinnen Administrative District of East Prussia, but no matching records at this point. A list of parish records to examine from these two DNA sources is a future research project.

A Review of Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Records are recorded as close to the event as possible. In East Prussia these include parish records and in Suwalki Province Civil Registration records.

Secondary Sources are those recorded farther away from the primary event. These include print and online Maps and Gazetteers, genealogical articles, books, and indices.

Many of the following resources have been the subjects of previous posts: they are presented here under the umbrella “Personal Experience of East Prussian Print and Online Resources.”

Lutheran records in Russian Poland have been online through SGGEE with links to FHL microfilms/digitized microfilms and AGAD records in Warsaw.

The following post includes another researcher’s experience with using SGGEE to access FHL microfilm and now digitized records and the ADAD website.

SGGEE: Lutheran Records in Russian Poland

In January 2019 another researcher and follower of this blog started indexing digitized birth, confirmation, marriage, and death records from AGAD, SGGEE, and Family Search from Kalwaria, Kybarti, Wirballen (Virbalis), Wilkowischken, and Wischtiten (Vistytis). This is a remarkable, ongoing effort. Be sure to check back as the project continues with the Marijampole records.


Germans from Kreis Wilkowischken/Vilkaviškis Lithuania

The FamilySearch Research Wiki provides information on a variety of topics about East Prussia.

FHL Digitized Records

Some contractual agreements result in only viewing these records at a local Family History Center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, i. e. most Vilkaviskis records.  However, the Marijampole records are digitized and available for home viewing. Those not yet digitized are available on microfilm at the FHL, but no longer can be ordered at your local FHC.

EWZ Records

See the 8 posts in 2018 which discussed these records. Future posts will also discuss additional findings in these records.


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Post R2 Personal Research Strategy

Finding the records of East Prussian origins of German ancestors is not easy because

Many non-German and German groups settled here.

Various jurisdictions existed in this area over the centuries.

A wide mixture of migration patterns of Germans eastward and others westward occurred.

Many researchers who have searched in the Gumbinnen Administrative District have looked, but without a location clue or family story, or family artifact, only a few researchers have found connecting records to Suwalki Province.

You might have to go to secondary sources as reviewed in upcoming posts.

As I began my East Prussian research, I had only had two clues: the border city of Eydtkuhnen and, even more nebulous, the word “Prusia” from the 1874 death record of a great-grandmother in Suwalki Province.

German Map of the Border of East Prussia and Suwalki Province

This map clearly shows the border at Eydtkuhmen, the one location two distant “cousins” both remembered that their -at parents spoke about.

First clue: Eydtkuhnen, East Prussia, is in the center of the above German map. Wilkowischki, the parish where this family lived was close to the border of Suwalki Province, a Protectorate of the Russian Empire at that time, today southwestern Lithuania.

This clue came from two different branches of the three immigrant families. When one was asked, where was “Grandpa’s father born?” Eydtkuhnen was the answer. And the other was simply, ”I ku nen” written phonetically, I-k-u-n-e-n, a word that the son of another immigrant had heard his father say often. I figured out it must be Eydtkuhnen and thought it matched the other person’s recollection.

But Eydtkuhnen did not have an evangelische church until the 1882. I was looking for records from about 1800 to 1840. However, this location made sense because of its close proximity to where the families were living, a railroad ran through Eydtkuhnen, it was in German territory, and as I have been told, by another researcher based on his family stories, it was fairly easy to cross the border during this time period.

Later I read that people in Edydtkuhnen went to church in Enzuhnen, father west, but I did not find my family there either.

My second clue came from an 1874 death record of a great grandmother, Anna Ber (aka Bersz) Spurgat, in Russian.

The Russian words state, “She was born in Prusia” with one “s”. But no East Prussia parish to look in.

Translation of 1874 Death Record of Anna Ber Spurgat

Dydwiże community Zielonka

It took place in the city Wołkowyszki on Apr. 1/13, 1874 at 10:00 o’clock in the morning.  Presented themselves Daniel German, farmer in Sparwiny, 36 years old, and Aleksander Deglau, miller in Dydwiże, 48 years old.  They have stated that yesterday, at 9:00 o’clock in the morning has died in Dydwiże – Anna Szpurgat nee Ber, 36 years old, born in Prusia, she left with her death the widowed husband Jan (Johann) Szpurgat, laborer residing in Dydwiże.  After the testimony about the death of Anna Szpurgat, this document was read to the ones who have presented themselves, who didn’t know how to read or write, and it was signed only by us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ratke, Pastor.

Kopie księg metrykalnych,], 1843-1898 [Wylkowiszki], Death Register, no. 40 (1874).

She was “born in Prusia” is the only clue I have that any ancestor came from Prussia as late as the 1830s as Anna was born circa 1838. If you know the political history of the area, you know that German immigrants were still migrating east at least until her 1838 birth, 30 years after the 1795-1807 Prussian era.

I have not found her birth even though I have researched extensively.

Another researcher found a marriage record that included the name of her birthplace in Prussia! It seems as if one was born in the Russian Empire, it was not noted, but if one was born elsewhere, i. e. Prussia, that information might be found in the record.

So, using whatever secondary sources I could find, both print and online, I searched for specific locations to access primary records.

The earliest existing records in Suwalki Province date to about 1828 when the evangelische churches were founded. Others started later. Many records were destroyed in wars and fires in the archives, especially in the border areas.

The earliest family record in Suwalki Province I could find was 1849.

I developed a time frame of 1800 to 1840 to see if I could find any births and marriages of 8 surnames of great and 2nd great grandparents.  As I found locations in secondary sources for people with the same surnames, I checked to see if there were birth and marriage records on FamilySearch.

The names were Ber (Berz), Gudat (Guddat), Henning, Keller, Kuczynska, Raudinat, Spurgat, and Walat (Wallat)

Along the way, I have learned a lot about East Prussian resources.

I found a good map of each kreis so I knew each location in that Kreis and search in nearby parishes.

I started with films that had an index.

The FamilySearch wiki provides information on many East Prussian topics.


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2019 Post R1 Administrative Divisions of East Prussia

East Prussia: 1807-1818-1923

This is the shape of East Prussia that most family historians are familiar with.

The above map and others below are from Lands of the German Empire.

These borders were stable until after WWI when the northeast arm, historically Prussian-German became part of Lithuania and the southwest was expanded to include five kreise that were part of West Prussia.

1808 Two Administrative Districts of East Prussia

Although the ethnic areas were established in the early 18th century, it was not until 1808 that the two administrative districts of East Prussia were established.

Konigsberg in the west, more German, and Gumbinnen in the east, more Lithuanian.

But certainly because of the wide mixture of migration patterns of Germans eastward and others westward, there were Germans in the Gumbinnen area and vice versa.

East Prussian Kreise

So here are the kreis of East Prussia established between 1808 and 1819.

Map of Gumbinnen Administrative District

Gumbinnen Administrative District from the Lithuanian Perspective


The Lithuanian perspective described the Gumbinnen Administrative District this way:

“The Lithuanian province in Prussia. Administrative division after 1818. Districts of Lithuania Minor with (Lithuanian names).”

The German names of the Kreise or counties are on the right.

The shaded area at the top is Memelland.

“The district of Klaipeda (Memel in German) was administered from Konigsberg.” It is geographically part of Gumbinnen Administrative District but because Germans had been settling there since 1252 and gradually became the dominant culture in the region, it was part of the more German, the Konigsberg Administrative District of East Prussia!

This Memel area remained in East Prussia until Lithuanian independence was declared in 1923 and remained as part of Lithuania until Germany “annexed” it in 1939. After the war, it became part of Lithuanian USSR, and today is part of Lithuania.

Parishes Assigned to the Gumbinnen District

How did these kreise come to have the shape that they did?

One explanation:

It should be possible in a day’s travel to go from the farthest place of the kreis to the major city and back. As a rule, the greatest distance should not exceed three miles, so just under 22 km.ed. A kreis should have 20,000-36,000 inhabitants. In the sparsely populated “Lithuanian” kreise, it was difficult to determine these borders with regard to old allegiances.

Konigsberg Administrative District

The Konigsberg Administrative district, farther west and adjacent to West Prussia was more “German.” Note that Memel, although geographically closer to the Gumbinnen Administrative District, was more German and thus part of the Konigsberg Administrative District.

The northern half of the Kӧnigsberg Administrative District is now Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. The southern half is now in Poland. Memel is in Lithuania.

Map Guide for German Parish Registers


The Map Guide for German Parish Registers uses the 1905 date from the 13 volume Prussian gazetteer series because it provided consistency for the Kingdom of Prussia.

The third region Allenstein, was created in 1905 and covered the southern areas of Königsberg and Gumbinnen. It existed until 1945 when the area was divided—Lithuania in the north, Russian in the middle, and Poland in the south.

The four southern counties were separated from Gumbinnen and put together with the southern part of the district of Konigsberg to form the new administrative district of Olsztyn.

Even some of the district boundaries (Kreise) changed over the years which is reflected in the FamilySearch catalog as it shows them in a neighboring district from what the gazetteer reflects.

So, for the researcher with East Prussian roots, it might be important to know this distinction: 2 administrative districts starting between 1808-1819; three from 1905 to 1945.

Other online maps also show these three divisions.

See also

The FamilySearch Research Wiki provides information on many topics related to East Prussia.


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Post HF NF 1: East Prussia in Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction

East Prussia from the Novelist’s Point of View

Description of East Prussia in February 1804

Michael Gregorio’s Intent of Criminal Reason

The setting is French-occupied East Prussia during the winter of 1804. The 19th century brings out the clash of new and old ideas. The main character notes the landscape as his carriage rolls along:

Bleak villages and isolated farms dotted the landscape here and there, marking out the hilltops and highway. Peasants toiled in the fields, up to their knees in the snow, to save stranded cows and sheep. The world was a massive grey blur, the distant hills blending into the horizon with no precise point at which the earth ended and the heavens began. Page 13.

The King had chosen armed neutrality…Other great states of Europe took their chances against the French. Soldiers had to be re-equipped, generals better paid, horses pampered and fed, fit and ready for the war which everyone knew was bound to come…. All this bought hardship, even misery to Prussia.

Like everyman in Europe he was paying for the French Revolution and for the fright that Napoleon was spreading throughout the continent of Europe. Like everyman in Europe he was paying for the French Revolution and for the fright that Napoleon was spreading throughout the continent of Europe.

Civic expenses had been cut to pay for military expenses as a consequence.

Description of East Prussia in October 1806

Michael Gregorio’s Days of Atonement

This novel delves into the consequences of the Napoleonic laws on life in Prussia in 1807. The French Revolution declared that men and women of every color, race and creed were equal in theory, but there were special cases.

Like every other Prussian she was wounded by the reduced state of our nation, by the changes the French had forced upon us as defeat followed defeat, and rout followed rout. Page 2.

Our safety depends on peaceful coexistence with the invaders. Page 3.

My sympathies went out to the defeated remnants of our own poor army… Page 5.

Description of East Prussia by a German Soldier in WWII

Suite Francaise, a novel by Irene Nemirovsky. Translated by Sandra Smith.

Here is a brief description of East Prussia by a WWII soldier as he marches towards Paris in 1940. On May 10, 1940, the Germans had attacked France and quickly defeated the French army. The French government fled Paris on June 10, and the Germans occupied the city on June 14.

This pure biting air remined him of eastern Prussia. Oh, when would he again see those plains, that pale-green grass, those marshes, the extraordinary beauty of the skies in the spring—that late spring of northern countries– those amber skies, pearly clouds, reeds, marshes, sparse clumps of silver birch?

When would be again hunt for heron and curlew?

Particular attention [needed to be paid] to the horses and how they were treated, how they would be used, “where the wind of war would carry them.”

East Prussian Non-Fiction

 “Forgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia” by Max Egremont (2011)

Although I have not read this book, I intend to order it. It comes highly recommended by another outstanding West Prussian researcher.

The book includes alternating historical essays and memoirs by musicians, doctors, members of the gentry, a gamekeeper, and a pastor.

See also

A Related Book

I have not read The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding, but it has come highly recommended to me by another researcher and follower of this blog.

Although the setting is not East Prussia, it takes place farther west in Gross Glienicke, a small village 15km west of downtown Berlin, 14 miles north of Potsdam, in what had been the province of Brandenburg.

The best link is below:

Here are some other links.

You may also be interested in an interview with the author which focuses on his inspiration for the book, a 1993 visit with his grandmother to the lake house she remembers so well.

Here is a link just made for family researchers: If this excerpt does not hook you, there is nothing else I can write that will.

Over the next two years, I threw myself into the investigation [about the history of the house]. I dug through archives in Berlin and Potsdam, London and Hamburg. I interviewed botanists, historians, musicologists, building preservationists and politicians – each providing insight into the story – and, most importantly, I tracked down representatives of the families who lived in, and near to, the house.

Finally, there is an update to November 2018.



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