Alternative Germanic Research Sources

Address Books (City Directories) ~ Adreßbücher

Allenstein Ostpreußen, Hohenzollernstraße- source Reinhard Gebauer, Oberhausen
Allenstein Ostpreußen, Hohenzollernstraße- source Reinhard Gebauer, Oberhausen

This brief article focuses on one of the less-popular, but more useful, research sources. Like most Eastern German (including Prussian, Jewish, Polish, Mennonite) sources, many of these documents disappeared in World War 2 and its aftermath. Nonetheless perhaps due to the volumes produced, many address books survive in archives today.

Key points about Address Books include:

  • Address Books vary in terms of their years of publication. Although many begin to appear, in larger cities, in the mid-1800s and continue into the 1940s.
  • Address Books are not restricted to any single region or area of the former German Empire (Deutsches Reich). They were pervasive in larger German speaking communities.
  • Smaller, neighboring communities frequently are included in larger ‘urban’ volumes.
  • Because of the vast number of deaths and destruction in WW2, an Address Book may give one of the few records for a person’s existence.

Address Books (City Directories) are a useful research & tracing tool for several reasons. Oftentimes, they not only offer the names and addresses of residents but also their occupation(s). Additionally, you may find advertisements for business run by people you are researching. It was extremely common for businesses to be listed on the same page as the named business owner’s residence.

Large collections of address books are located at:

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