One of my great great grandfathers on my mother’s side was Gustav Waldemar Alexander Karl Peters (1860-1904), the father of my great grandmother Helene Manock née Peters (1889-1944).

Some years ago, when I began compiling my family history, I learned that my mother’s maternal grandmother was called Helene Manock, and had the maiden surname Peters, but I had no access to records that might tell me more about Helene  and the people on her side of the family through whom I am descended.

In recent years increasing quantities of German birth, marriage and death certificates have been digitised and I have been able to use some of this material to assemble and document more of my mother’s side of our family history.

German genealogy is difficult for me, and not only the language.  Well into the twentieth century German printed documents used the so-called ‘blackletter’ typeface, difficult for an inexperienced modern reader of German to understand. I also find the handwriting of the clerks who filled in the various official forms quite hard to read.

Below is the marriage certificate of my great grandparents Helene Augusta Minna Peters and Emil Wilhelm Manock (1883-1966). They were married in Berlin on 30 December 1911.


Emil and Helene around the time of their marriage

Manock Peters marriage 1911

Name Helene Auguste Minna Peters Gender weiblich Birth Date 5 Okt 1889 Age 22 Marriage Date 30 Dez 1911 Civil Registration Office Berlin VIII Spouse Emil Wilhelm Mancik Spouse Gender männlich Spouse Birth Date 30 Apr 1883 Certificate Number 1328 Archive Sequence Number 362 Register Type Erstregister from Berlin, Germany, Selected Marriages, 1874-1920 retrieved through

The certificate records when and where Emil and Helene were born and the names of their parents. Helene was born on 5 October 1889 in Prenzlau, about 100 kilometres north of Berlin. Her father was Gustav Peters and her mother was Agnes Helene née Stern. The clerk spelled Helene as Jelena.

Helene Peters, born out of wedlock in October 1889, was registered as Helene Augusta Minna Stern. In 1890 at the time Gustav married Helene’s mother Agnes Stern he declared her to be his daughter .

Stern Peters Helene Augusta Minna birth

Name Helene Auguste Minna Stern Gender weiblich Birth Date 05/Okt/1889 Birth Place Prenzlau Brandenburg Deutschland Civil Registration Office Prenzlau Mother Helene Stern Certificate Number 444 from Prenzlau Germany births 1874-1901 retrieved from

On 28 March 1890 Gustav Peters and Agnes Stern married in Prenzlau, Brandenburg.

Peters Gustav 1890 marriage

Name Gustav Waldemar Karl Alexander Peters Gender männlich Birth Date 11/Dez/1860
Age 29 Marriage Date 28/März/1890 Marriage Place Prenzlau Brandenburg Deutschland
Spouse Agnes Helene Louise Stern Spouse Gender weiblich Spouse Birth Date 31/08/1861
Certificate Number 27 from Prenzlau, Germany, marriages 1874-1923 retrieved from


From this certificate I found that Gustav’s full name is Gustav Waldemar Karl Alexander Peters. He was born on 11 December 1860 at Alt-Ruppin. His father was Karl Peters and his mother was Auguste Peters née Grust. Agnes Helene Louise Stern was born 31 August 1861 at Prenzlau. She was the daughter of Christoph Ludwig Friedrich Stern and Charlotte Juliette Stern née Schmoll.

Alt Ruppin  is at the north of the Ruppiner See and is now part of Neuruppin, which is on the western shore of the lake. Neuruppin, 60 km north-west of Berlin, is the administrative seat of the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district in Brandenburg.

Prenzlau is 95 km north-west of Neuruppin and 105 km north of Berlin. Prenzlau is the administrative seat of the Uckermark District in Brandenburg state.

In 1904 Gustav Peters died in Berlin.

Peters Gustave 1904 death

Name Gustav Waldemar Alexander Karl Peters Age 43 Birth Date 1861 Death Date 25/März/1904 Death Place Berlin Berlin Deutschland Civil Registration Office Berlin IX Certificate Number 542 from Berlin, Germany, deaths, 1874-1920

From the certificate I can confirm he was born in Alt Ruppin and married to Agnes Stern. I am sure there other interesting details on the certificate but I need to spend more time deciphering.

In 1945 Gustav’s sister, Charlotte Minna Auguste Paasch née Peters (1869-1945) died in Hamburg. Her death certificate is easier to read.

Paasch nee Peters Charlotte 1945 death

Name Charlotte Minna Auguste Paasch Age 75 Birth Date 15/Mai/1869 Death Date 24/März/1945 Civil Registration Office Hamburg-Winterhude Father Karl Peters Mother Auguste Grust Certificate Number 233 Reference Number 332-5_9955 from Hamburg, Germany, deaths 1874-1950 from


Type-written certificates of course are easier to read. This sort of vocabulary helps:

  • ohne Beruf = without profession
  • verstorben = deceased
  • Schuhmachermeister = master shoemaker
  • Lehrer in Ruhestand = retired teacher
  • Eheschließung = wedding

I am very grateful to the people on who supplied and indexed the certificates I have been  using. I would have achieved much less without their help.

It frustrates to me to not know much more about my German forebears. However, I hope that more records that shed light on their lives will come available and that I will learn more about their lives.