Baltic Germans

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Ostseeprovinzenmap
Surnames/tags: Baltic-Germans Deutschbalten Germany
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This page is part of the Germany Project


Who are the Baltic-Germans?

The Baltic-Germans (Deutsch-Balten) are a German-speaking minority from the historic regions of Estland, Livland, and Kurland (collectively known in German as the Ostseeprovinzen), now part of modern-day Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. German-speakers were settled in the region from the twelfth century and amounted to almost 200,000 individuals at the population's peak in the late nineteenth century, but were overwhelmingly displaced during the upheavals of the twentieth century and now consist of a world-wide diaspora as well as a few thousand still residing in their historic homeland.


We are remarkably fortunate that many of the key resources for tracing Baltic-German ancestry are digitised and freely available. These are listed below. If you want to read more about how to begin tracing a Baltic-German pedigree, you might find this series of blog posts helpful.

Church Books and Revision Lists

The Saaga Project

  • This is the digital home of the National Archives of Estonia and the Tallinn City Archives. It contains images of church books for all parishes in what is now Estonia (historic Estland and part of Livland), revision lists, and other essential resources. Free to use, but account required.


  • This is the digital home of the State Historical Archive of Latvia. Like Saaga, it contains images of church book for all parishes in what is now Latvia (part of historic Livland and Kurland) as well as some outwith the state's present borders, revision lists, and other documents. Free to use, but account required.

Church Books of the St. Petersburg Lutheran Consistory (Familysearch)

  • This collection of images contains duplicates of the church books of Lutheran congregations within the consistory of St. Petersburg (broadly western and northern Russia excluding the Baltic provinces) between 1833 and 1885. Many Baltic-Germans can be found here, but it is important to remember that the index is incomplete; consult the record images themselves. Free to use, but account required.

Biographical Dictionaries and Printed Sources

Baltische biographische Lexika

  • This collaborative digitisation project between the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and the Universitätsbibliothek Tartu includes scanned images of some of the key printed resources for Baltic-German genealogy, including the essential Genealogische Handbuch der baltischen Ritterschaften. Free to use.

Baltisches biografisches Lexikon digital

  • This is the digital version of the standard Baltic-German biographical dictionary. Its coverage is extensive and it is an important resource when exploring the life of any notable Baltic-German.

DSpace: Deutsche Bücher

  • This extensive collection of digital books hosted by the University of Tartu contains numerous published genealogies and other works relevant to the study of Baltic-German individuals and families.

Noble Genealogies

Genealogisches Handbuch der baltischen Ritterschaften
This is the standard printed work on the matriculated nobility of the Baltic provinces and has been digitised as follows (note that only the Estland and Oesel volumes were completed - the Livland and Kurland volumes contain only a moiety of the total number of noble families in those provinces).

Kurland Ritterschafts Archive, Geschlechtsregister (Familysearch)

  • This collection of pedigrees from the archive of the Kurland knighthood is the essential first port of call for studying any noble family from that province, though be wary that they may not always be entirely accurate or complete.

Estland Ritterschaft, Genealogical Files of Noble Families (Saaga)

  • This collection contains the massive study of Estland noble families prepared by Georges Baron Wrangell and Nikolai von Essen in the 1920s and 1930s. It is exceptionally accurate, well-documented, and detailed - an essential resource for genealogical research in Estland.

WikiTree Links

Memories: 2
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My grandmother, Adeline Wilhelmina Kawell, immigrated to St. Louis in 1881 at the age of 11 mos. The ship manifest indicated she came from Peterhof. Would that put her in this group?
posted 14 Oct 2020 by L. Jerry Hansen   [thank L. Jerry]
I have added a team members section for you (or them) to add your team members names in a list. It's nice to see who the members are. Feel free to move it where you want it etc :) looking absolutely amazing by the way. Amazing job Kelsey.
posted 11 Jul 2019 by Kylie Haese   [thank Kylie]
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Hi Kelsey,

Please add Germany Project as co-manager of this profile (just click add as manager inder the privacy tab) ... the project is already on the trusted list.

Thanks, Traci

Done! Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help.

All the best, Kelsey

Thank you Kelsey! Appreciate it!
posted by Traci Thiessen

This page looks very nice, but I'm not sure if I can contribute anything to the group. My mother's ancestors lived in Lithuania Minor (East Prussia) and her DNA matches so far are all Lithuanian, Polish & Russian names, etc. Oh well, if I run across any information that I think would be helpful I will post it here. Good Luck, dusty

posted by [Living Boren]
Hi guys! Great page!

Just checking in to see how your work is getting on here? I would love to know how it is all going?

Also just because I am curious, is there many resources available for the Baltic-Germans?

Kylie ~Germany project leader

posted by Kylie Haese
Thanks, Kylie! We're progressing slowly but surely and have just added another member of the diaspora to our research team, Greville Seddon.

In terms of resources, we're incredibly lucky. Kirchenbücher - what you might call 'parish registers' in English - survive in good numbers for the vast majority of parishes across the three Baltic provinces and together with the Russian revision lists (sort of, but not exactly, like censuses) it's usually possible to trace non-noble families back to the 17th or 18th centuries and noble families much earlier.

All the best, Kelsey

Hi Kelsey,

Are any of those registers available online? If so, let's add links to them above, under the heading "Links" or add a new heading "Resources". We'd like to see some resources added to this page so others can access them. Thanks for your help! Traci

posted by Traci Thiessen
Hi Traci,

Thanks for this - adding links to resource is an excellent idea and I've just done so now. See what you think!

All the best, Kelsey

BEAUTIFUL!! That info will be useful to MANY people. Thanks so much Kelsey!
posted by Traci Thiessen