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German Genealogy: Lippe (-Detmold)

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Table of Contents:

General Information


The Principality of Lippe is a historical German State located between the Weser river and the southeast part of the Teutoburger Wald (Teutoburg forest).  The capital of Lippe was the town of Detmold. Lippe has been known approximately since the year 1123; today Lippe is a part of the Bundesland Nordrhein-Westfalen  (Northrhine-Westphalia). The present Kreis Lippe within the Regierungsbezirk Detmold (administrative district) in Nordrhein-Westfalen is almost identical with the territory of the former Principality of Lippe. The highest hill in Lippe is the Köterberg with a height of almost 500 m, that politically belongs to the town of Lügde. Lippe includes an area of about 1200 square kilometers and has approximately 370 000 inhabitants  (in 1900: 138 000). After several reorganizations, the Kreis Lippe of today includes only 16 towns or large communities. These include the 158 politically independent communities and 10 towns that existed in former times.

Political Division

Due to the decree of Earl Simon V. of 29.09.1535 Ämter were formed in Lippe that represented the lowest instance of administration. They were responsible for administrative and judicial matters and were replaced by the Verwaltungsämter (administrative authorities) and Amtsgerichte (local courts) in 1879, when administration of communities and  administration of the law of justice were separated. In 1841 Lippe receives a  Landgemeindeordnung  (rural community code), Landratsämter (district magistrate offices) were formed in 1928, in 1932 die Landkreise (counties) Detmold and Lemgo came into being in which the Verwaltungsämter were merged. In 1973 the Kreis Lippe was formed by unification of the Kreise Detmold and Lemgo. In addition, larger settlements grew that received the status of towns at a very early time.

Ämter in Lippe
Verwaltungsämter in Lippe
Towns, villages and living places in Lippe

Religious Division

Since 1538, Lippe has been almost exclusively Lutheran. Lippe joined the Reformation of Martin Luther under the leadership of Philipp Landgrave of  Hessen, who was the guardian and feudal lord of Earl Bernhard VIII. zur Lippe. In some villages, the priests had started to preach Lutheran even before that time. After Earl Simon VI. took over regency, Lippe became Calvinistic in 1602/1605. This fact resulted in extensive disagreements with the Free and Hanseatic town of Lemgo. Lemgo disobeyed the edict to adopt the Calvinistic faith and remained faithful to the Lutheran faith. The religious controversy between Lippe and the town of Lemgo ended only in 1617.
Lutherans, Catholics and the Calvinist country church were legally accorded equal status in 1854. In the 17th and 18th century, there was not a single Catholic parish in the entire country Lippe. Only in 1854 the Catholics were allowed to found their own parishes.
Today, there are mostly Reformed (Calvinistic) parishes but also Lutheran and Catholic parishes in Lippe. The 77 Reformed and  Lutheran parishes belong to the Lippischen Landeskirche (Evangelical country church of Lippe) with seat in Detmold. The Catholic parishes belong to the Archbishopric Paderborn.
In some places, there are also Baptist, Methodist and Mennonite parishes as well as parishes of the Protestant Free-Church. Bad Salzuflen has a Latter-day Saints parish (Mormons).

Lutheran or Reformed parishes in Lippe.
Catholic parishes in Lippe.

Division of the Judicial Districts

In Lippe, Amts- and Landgerichte (local and county courts) exist since 1879.

Local and county courts and preceding courts.

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The Noblemen zur Lippe have been referred to for the first time in 1123. They had their residence at the Lippe river and founded the town of Lippe in 1168/85 that is called Lippstadt today. They lost this city in the 14th century. In  1192 they founded Falkenberg and in 1200 the town of Lemgo. Later on, the areas of the counties Schwalenberg and Sternberg were added to Lippe. In the 16th century the noblemen zur Lippe were elevated to the status of Reichsgraf. In 1538, Lippe joined the Lutheran doctrine. The Lutheran faith was replaced by the Reformed faith in 1602/05. In the years 1614 to 1621 the zur Lippe line split up in the sidelines Lippe-Detmold, Lippe-Brake and Lippe-Alverdissen. A few years later, the line Lippe-Biesterfeld split up from the Lippe-Detmold  line. In 1528, Lippe becomes a Grafschaft (county); in 1720 the Earls (Counts) of Lippe-Detmold were elevated to the status of Reichsfürst (Prince of Empire) and Lippe became a Principality within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. In  1815, the Principality becomes a member of the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund), in 1866 of the North German Confederation (Norddeutscher Bund).
In 1895, the Lippe-Detmold line became extinct and the so-called fight of succession of Lippe begins that continues for 10 years. In 1905, the Lippe-Detmold line is finally inherited by the Lippe-Biesterfeld line.
After World War I, the last ruling Prince of Lippe-Detmold, Prince Leopold IV., as well as all other rulers including the German Emperor had to retire. On 12.11.1918, Prince Leopold IV. abdicated.. The PrincelyResidenzschloss Detmold (residence palace) remained in the possession of the Princely Family. The Princely Family with Armin Prince zu Lippe as the head of the family, still lives in this palace.
Within Germany, the Land Lippe continued to exist as Freistaat (Free State). Only after World War II., Lippe had to join a larger Bundesland (Land in the Federal Republic) upon a corresponding instruction of the victorious powers. The Landespräsident (Country President) of Lippe at that time, Heinrich Drake, negotiated with Niedersachsen  (Lower Saxony) as well as with Nordrhein-Westfalen (Northrhine-Westphalia). The decision was made in favour of the Land Nordrhein-Westfalen that made larger concessions to Lippe. Landespräsident Heinrich Drake obtained the transfer of the Regierungspräsidium (District president's headquarters) from Minden to Detmold. A very important reason for the decision in favour of Nordrhein-Westfalen was the consent of Nordrhein-Westfalen that the property of the former Freistaat Lippe (real estate, Staatsbäder (state spas) of Lippe, Landestheater (regional or country theatre), Landesmuseum (regional or country museum), Landesbibliothek (regional or country library) etc.) were to be considered as special property of Lippe after integration of Lippe in Nordrhein-Westfalen and that the profits were to be exclusively used for the territory of Lippe. In order to fulfill this demand, the Landesverband Lippe was founded that has been managing the property of the former Freistaat Lippe since 1949.

Chronology of Lippe
Rulers of Lippe
Line of the Noblemen zur Lippe
NRW Encyclopedia  (in German)

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Genealogical and Historical Associations and Societies

Lippischer Heimatbund Detmold
OV Lage
Plaßstr. 1
D- 32791 Lage/Lippe

Heimatverein Barntrup
Mittelstr. 14 d
D-32683 Barntrup

Heimatverein Erder
Ihmser Str. 14
D-32689 Kalletal

Heimatverein Hörste
Hiddentruper Str. 85
D-32795 Lage

Heimatverein Istrup e. V.
D-32825 Blomberg/Lippe

Naturwissenschaftlicher u.
historischer Verein Lage
Waddenhauser Str. 119
D-32791 Lage

Heimatverein Leopoldshöhe
Hermannstr. 8
D-33818 Leopoldshöhe

Other associations and societies

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Genealogical and Historical Sources

Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed Church Registers

The archived church registers are held by the archive of the Lippische Landeskirche in Detmold (archive of the country church of Lippe), by the Nordrhein-Westfälische Staatsarchiv in Detmold (state archive of Northrhine-Westphalia) or by the local parishes. The Nordrhein-Westfälische Personenstandsarchiv (archive for civil registration records) that is part of the Nordrhein-Westfälische Staatsarchiv, holds duplicates of the church registers that had to be kept by the parishes until the introduction of the civil registration records in 1876.

List of Lutheran and Reformed parishes in Lippe and their records.

Lippische Landeskirche
- Archiv -
Leopoldstr. 27
D-32756 Detmold
Fax: 05231-976850

Staatsarchiv Detmold
Willi-Hofmann-Str. 2
D-32756 Detmold
Fax: 05231-766-114

All church registers of Lippe that are still preserved have been recorded on microfilm by the Church of the Latter-day Saints and are available on film. Copies of these microfilms are also held by the archive of the Westfalian Evangelical Country Church in Bielefeld (Landeskirchliches Archiv der Ev. Kirche von Westfalen):

Ev. Kirche von Westfalen
- Landeskirchliches Archiv -
Ritterstr. 19
D-33602 Bielefeld
Fax: 0521-594-333

Catholic Church Registers

The church registers of the Catholic parishes are either held by the local parishes or at the archive of the Archbishopric Paderborn. The Catholic church registers have also been filmed and are available on microfilm.

List of Catholic parishes in Lippe and their records.

Erzbistum Paderborn
- Erzbischöfliches Archiv -
Domplatz 3
D-33098 Paderborn

Church Records of other Confessions

With reference to entries in church registers of other confessions, write to the corresponding parish or, if the parish does not exist any more, write to Nordrhein-Westfälische Staatsarchiv in Detmold.

Civil Registration Records

Civil registration records since 1876 are either held in Nordrhein-Westfälische Staatsarchiv in Detmold or in the local registry office of vital statistics.

Military Records (in preparation)

Land Records (in preparation)

Professional Genealogists

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Geographical Encyclopedias and Maps (in preparation)

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Bibliography and Literature

Information about Bibliography and Literature of Lippe

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Archives and Libraries

Most (not all) of the archives in Northrhine-Westphalia are connected by the Archiv-Verbund NRW. It is possible to research on-line in the holdings of the several archives (in German).

Central Archives of State and Churches

Archiv der Lippischen Landeskirche
Leopoldstr. 27
D-32756 Detmold
Fax: 05231-976850

Erzbistum Paderborn
- Erzbischöfliches Archiv -
Domplatz 3
D-33098 Paderborn

Nordrhein-Westfälisches Staatsarchiv
Willi-Hofmann-Str. 2
D-32756 Detmold
Fax: 05231-766-114

Predecessor of the Staatsarchiv is the Fürstlich Lippische Haus- und Landesarchiv (Princely House- and Land Archive of Lippe), that was renamed in Landesarchiv für das Land Lippe (Country or Land Archive of the Land Lippe) in 1918. The designation Nordrhein-Westfälisches Staatsarchiv (Northrhine-Westfalian State Archive) has been used for the archive since 1957; since 1965 the archive also includes the Personenstandsarchiv Westfalen-Lippe (Civil record archive of Westfalen-Lippe).

A brief inventory of records held by the state archive can be found on-line using this address:

Local Archives

Stadtarchiv Bad Salzuflen
Martin-Luther-Str. 2
D-32105 Bad Salzuflen
Fax: 05222-4839

Stadtarchiv Barntrup
Mittelstr. 32
D-32683 Barntrup
Fax: 05263-40949

Stadtarchiv Blomberg
Im Siebenbürgen 1 a
D-32820 Blomberg
Fax: 02535-504290

Gemeindearchiv Dörentrup
Hauptstr. 2
D-32694 Dörentrup
Fax: 05265-73926

Gemeindearchiv Extertal
Mittelstr. 36
D-32695 Extertal

Stadtarchiv Horn-Bad Meinberg
Rathausplatz 4
D-32805 Horn-Bad Meinberg
Fax: 05234-201222

Gemeindearchiv Kalletal
Rintelner Str. 3
D-32689 Kalletal
Fax: 05264-50950

Stadtarchiv Lage
Clara-Ernst-Platz 5
D-32791 Lage

Stadtarchiv Lemgo
Rampendahl 20 a
D-32657 Lemgo
Fax: 05261-213215

Gemeindearchiv Leopoldshöhe
Kirchweg 1
D-33818 Leopoldshöhe
Fax: 05208-991111

Stadtarchiv Lügde
Am Markt 1
D-32676 Lügde
Fax: 05281-79645

Stadtarchiv Oerlinghausen
Tönsbergstr. 3
D-33806 Oerlinghausen
Fax: 05202-49393

Stadtarchiv Schieder-Schwalenberg
Domäne 3
D-32816 Schieder-Schwalenberg
Fax: 05282-60135

Gemeindearchiv Schlangen
Kirchplatz 5-6
D-33189 Schlangen
Fax: +49/05252-981210


Lippische Landesbibliothek
Lippische Landesbibliothek Detmold
Regionaldokumentation Lippe
Hornsche Str. 41
D-32756 Detmold

Phone: 05231/9266013
Fax: 05231/9266055

The Lippische Landesbibliothek (Country Library of Lippe) originates from the private library of Earl Simon VI. In 1614, the "Gräflich öffentliche Bibliothek" is founded that is merged with the Regierungsbliothek and the "Herrschaftlichen Bibliothek auf dem Schloß" in 1818. Since 1880, the library is named Lippische Landesbibliothek; since 1948/49 it is under the authority of the Landesverbandes Lippe.

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Museums in Lippe with Reference to the History of Lippe or Local History

Stadt- und Bädermuseum
Bad Salzuflen
Lange Str. 41
D-32105 Bad Salzuflen
Fax: 05222-59766

Lippisches Landesmuseum
Ameide 4
D-32756 Detmold
Fax: 05231-9925-25

Natural science, earliest and early history, folklore, history of Lippe.

Westfälisches Freilichtmuseum
Krummes Haus
D-32760 Detmold
Fax: 05231-706106

History of villages of Westfalia and Lippe and their inhabitants. 100 different buildings with original historical furnishings.

Orts- und Zieglermuseum
Lange Str. 72
D-32791 Lage

Museum of the itinerant workers (brick workers), town museum.

Westfälisches Industriemuseum
Ziegelei Sylbach
Sprikernheide 77
D-32791 Lage
Fax: 0231-6961-14

Brickworks museum, social history.

Breite Str. 19
D-32657 Lemgo
Fax: 05261-213-215

Museum of the history of witch-hunting in Lippe, town museum.

Schloß Brake
Schloß-Str. 18
D-32657 Lemgo
Fax: 05261-9450-50

History of art and civilization of the Weser area, Weserrenaissance, Neorenaissance.

Archaeologisches Freilichtmuseum
Am Barkhauser Berg 2-6
D-33813 Oerlinghausen
Fax: 05202-2220

History of the development from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages.

Personalities of Lippe

Bandel, Ernst von  (1800-1876) (in preparation)

Brahms, Johannes  (1833-1897) (in preparation)

Drake, Heinrich  (1881-1970) (in preparation)

Freiligrath, Ferdinand  (1810-1876) (in preparation)

Grabbe, Christian Dietrich  (1801-1836) (in preparation)

Junker, Karl  (1850-1912) (in preparation)

Pauline Fürstin zur Lippe (1769-1820) (some more information in preparation)
Princess Pauline zu Lippe-Detmold takes over regency for her young son. Thanks to her Lippe-Detmold could preserve its independence in the times of Napoleon. She founded the first kindergarten in Germany, predecessor of today's Fürstin-Pauline-Stiftung, as well as other social institutions. In Detmold, there is a monument and the Paulinenroad in memory of her.

Kämpfer, Engelbert (1651-1716), physician, explorer and writer, born in Lemgo. Today, his works are in the British Library in London. (in preparation)

Weerth, Ferdinand  (1774-1836) (in preparation)

Internet Pages with Reference to Lippe

Kreis Lippe
Bezirksregierung  Detmold
Land Nordrhein-Westfalen
Lippische Landeskirche
Erzbistum Paderborn
Nordrhein-Westfälisches Staatsarchiv Detmold
Residenzschloss Detmold
Lippische Landesbibliothek
Homepage town Blomberg
Homepage town Bad Salzuflen
Homepage town Detmold
Homepage community Extertal
Homepage community Kalletal
Homepage town Lemgo
Homepage community Schlangen

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Other Sources

Genealogical Mailing Lists

There is no special mailing list for Lippe (-Detmold).

Different German minor states including Lippe are combined in the genealogical mailing list German-Kingdoms. This list can be ordered by e-mailing to while leaving the reference line empty. Just give the word subscribe in the body of the e-mail without further text or signature.

The mailing list Westfalen-L is a more specific mailing-list that includes the Prussian province Westphalia and the Principality of Lippe. Order this list by e-mailing to: with the reference line left blank. Just specify the word  subscribe  in the body of the e-mail without further text or signature.

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Other States - Historical and Geographical Regions

Geographical Regions

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Last update: 16_01.2000 (ab) - All rights reserved - 

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