This series of posts presents one researcher’s study of East Prussia specifically for those researching ancestors in what is now Lithuania and whose origins probably lie in East Prussia. At least one family story suggests that movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was easier than it is today as their ancestors easily crossed the border between the German and Russian Empires. Perhaps the next 19 posts will help Suwalki Province researchers find one kernel of evidence that may result in finding a village of origin in East Prussia.
Proposed posts. Changes possible.
POST M1 Overview and The Pruzi
POST M2 The Peoples of East Prussia
POST PH 1 The Rise of Prussia to 1772
POST PH 2 The Rise of Prussia 1772 to 1803
POST PH 3 The Napoleonic Era 13-1807 to the Congress of Vienna 1815
POST PH 4 1815 to present
HISTORICAL FICTION and NON-FICTION
POST HF-NF 1 East Prussia in Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction
POST R 1 Administrative Divisions of East Prussia
POST R 2 Personal Research Strategy
POST R 3 Research Strategy: Simultaneous Use of Secondary and Primary Sources
POST R 4 Print and Online Maps
POST R 5 Print and Online Gazetteers
POST R 6 Additional Secondary Sources: Periodical: Altpreussische Geschlechterkunde
POST R 7 Books and Print and Online Indices
POST R 8 East Prussian Records in Ancestry.com: Searching by Surname
POST R 9 Steps beyond a Surname Sort
POST R 10 Tale of 2 Browsers
POST R 11 Sources for East Prussia
POST R 12 List of GGS Articles on East Prussia and Online Sources
Migrations: People of East Prussia
It is important to understand the varieties of people who lived in East Prussia and the reasons that they came here.
Migrations over the Centuries
Germans had been migrating east for centuries. No mass migration occurred at any one time. Most researchers agree that for Prussia the migration of Germans to the East began with the Teutonic Knights in the mid-13th century. Even the Teutonic Knights included many non-Germans. To understand the German movement to East Prussia, it is important to understand who these Prussians were. Migrations were both eastward and westward.
Image of Old Prussian “Commoners”
Who Were the Pruzi?
The Pruzi, often called the Old Prussians, did not become the people of Prussia, known for their military endurance. Prussia was composed of many German states, duchies, and kingdoms that banded together in the mid-19th century and formed the Second German Empire from 1871 to 1918. Prussia, the nation, was fused into the German Empire.
It is one of the great ironies of history that the conquered tribe, the Pruzi, became extinct, but the name Prussia remained among the nations of the world until the Allied Control Council formally dissolved the state of Prussia on February 25, 1947. (Koch, 288.)
This map shows the 65,800 km, the approximate extent of the pre-conquest territory of the Prussian tribes, before they were assimilated by the Germans, Lithuanians, Poles, and Belarussians.
Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia
The author is indebted to Ed Brandt and Adelburt Goertz’s book Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia (Ost-und Westpreussen) Records, Sources, Publications and Evets), Minneapolis, MN: no publisher, 2002. This guide is the most detailed source for understanding the migrations of people to East Prussia. Both Brandt and Goertz are deceased now but their legacy is unmatchable. The depth of their research provided Brandt with resources to make statements like these: One third of East Prussians reportedly have at least two Preussen ancestors if they go back five generations. GGJ, VOL 2, No. 4, Winter 1999. Page 9.