North Rhine-Westphalia/Nordrhein-Westfalen

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Surnames/tags: North_Rhine_Westphalia Germany Nordrhein_Westfalen
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North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany/Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland

This page was created to offer a place to collaborate on North Rhine-Westphalia research. You can ask questions in the comments below or offer suggestions on new resources to attach to our resources list.

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Overview of North Rhine-Westphalia

Flag and Coat of Arms:
State of the Federal Republic of Germany: 1946
Capital: Düsseldorf
English: North Rhine-Westphalia
German: Nordrhein-Westfalen
Previous locations: Province of Westphalia, Lippe
NRW location in Germany
Located in Western Germany, it is the most populated (over 17.5 million people) non-city-state in Germany while being the fourth largest in area. Ten of Germany’s largest cities are located within its borders.


North Rhine-Westphalia encompasses the plains of the Lower Rhine region and parts of the Central Uplands (die Mittelgebirge) up to the gorge of Porta Westfalica. The state shares borders with Belgium (Wallonia) in the southwest and the Netherlands (Limburg, Gelderland and Overijssel) in the west and northwest. It has borders with the German states of Lower Saxony to the north and northeast, Rhineland-Palatinate to the south and Hesse to the southeast.
Coordinates: 51°28′N 7°33′E


The modern state was established by the British military’s “Operation Marriage” on August 23, 1946. It merged the provinces of the Rhine and Westphalia. Then that of the former state of Lippe was added on January 21, 1947. Ancient history goes back with documentation of various tribes in the time of Julius Caesar. By late Roman times tribal groupings now referred to as the Franks, crossed the Rhine. By the end of the 5th century, Franks had conquered all the left bank lands of North Rhine-Westphalia. The consolidation of these lands took place in the 9th century under Charlemagne.


Germany has a number of different cultures. Shaped by Prussian traditions, Ruhr Valley traditions, and traditions of the big cities within its borders. It is one of the most diverse areas of Germany. It has lowlands in the north and forested low mountains in the south. It has a mostly temperate climate. A number of rivers and lakes are home to various water sports. Coal and steel are principal industries. It is home to a sophisticated canal system and two of the largest European ports, Dortmund and Duisburg ports. It boasts a number of castles, World Heritage Sites, Archaeological sites, and large cities each with its own diverse culture. Boating, sailing, snow and water skiing, horseback riding, hiking trails and has two indoor ski centers where winter sports are possible all year long. Its cuisine is described as hearty and substantial. The most well-known foods from North Rhine-Westphalia include Sauerbraten, waffles, potato pancakes and hearty soups and stews.

Research Help and Regional Resources

Online Resource Compilations

Vital Records

Religious Facilities

Newspapers and Obituaries


Local Cemeteries


Colleges and Universities

They often have local records and have professors who are versed in local lore so can be a wonderful resource and many are multilingual. North Rhine-Westphalia is home to 14 universities and over 50 partly postgraduate colleges

Local Phone/Address Books

Local Genealogy Groups

  • WikiTree Space: List of Addresses for Family Research in Germany
  • Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde - West German Society for Family Studies) this site has resources for research in the former Prussian Rhine Province; today North Rhine-Westphalia (admin districts Dusseldorf and Cologne) and Rhineland-Palatinate (admin districts Koblenz and Trier)
  • FamilySearch: North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen) Societies

WikiTree Free Space Pages and One-Place Studies

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WikiTree Categories

North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany


Translation Aides

In Germany a number of different written languages and dialects were used. Below are some links to sites which may help you with old documents.

This is an active Germany Project page with up-to-date information.
Last updated by Traci Thiessen: 19 Jul 2022

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Chapter Newspaper and Obituaries

There is another website to provide "Totenzettel"

posted by Jörg Behler
edited by Jörg Behler
Chapter Local Phone/Address Books

Actually there are a lot more phone books on Please find a overview under This goes for as well.

There are adress books for other cities from local libraries like - Wanne-Eickel - Herne

There should be a lot more.

posted by Jörg Behler
Thanks for reminding.The ulb actually has address books online for the administrative district of Köln, for Bonn, Aachen and Elberfeld.

Resource suggestion Nr.2:

The Totenzettel-Sammlung of the Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienforschung e.V. Currently nearly 570.000 Totenzettel (obituaries). Great resource for the area, free and searchable without an account. Again, in German but manageable.

I suggest adding the Zeitungsportal zeit.PunktNRW as a resource.

It's a free, searchable newspaper archive for Nordrhein Westfalen, with loads of local(!) historical newspapers. They are constantly adding items. It's been a great help for me, lots of information on civil registries, legal affairs (Falliment, Lizitation etc...), obituaries, changes in adress and even up to the news that one of my relatives held a chicken with 4 legs as attraction in her guesthouse ;) It's in German but easy to navigate.

posted by Christiane (Willikens) Berger
edited by Christiane (Willikens) Berger
Added Zeitungsportal to the resource list. Thanks Chris! This will be very helpful.
posted by Traci Thiessen