German genealogy can be a rewarding and fascinating hobby, but it can also be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, there are many online resources available to help you research your German ancestors, including websites, databases, and forums. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the best places to start your German genealogy research online.

 

 

How should I begin to search for my German ancestry?

There are several steps you can take to begin your search for your German ancestry:

  1. Gather any information you already have: Start by gathering any information you already have about your ancestors, including birth and death certificates, family photographs, and other documents. This information can help you get a better sense of where to start your research and what types of records you may be able to access.
  2. Research your family tree: Use online genealogy resources such as ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org to build a family tree and learn more about your ancestors. You can also use offline resources such as local historical societies or libraries to access census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for genealogy research.
  3. Search for records in Germany: If you have ancestors who were born or lived in Germany, you may be able to access records from the country. The German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) is a good place to start, as it has a wealth of historical records available online. You can also try contacting local archives or genealogical societies in the region where your ancestors lived.
  4. Consider hiring a professional genealogist: If you’re having trouble finding information or need help with your research, you may want to consider hiring a professional genealogist. These experts can help you access records and provide guidance on your research.
  5. Connect with other genealogy enthusiasts: Joining online forums or discussion groups dedicated to German genealogy can be a great way to get advice and connect with others who are researching their ancestors. You can also consider joining a local genealogy group or attending events such as conferences or workshops to learn more about your German ancestry.

 

Are there any unusal factors in German genealogy to be aware of?

There are a few factors that may make researching genealogy in Germany somewhat unusual compared to genealogy in other countries. Here are a few:

  • Record-keeping: Germany has a long history of thorough record-keeping, which can be very helpful for genealogy research. However, some records may be written in German, which may be difficult for those who don’t speak the language.
  • Borders: Germany has a long history of changing borders, which can make it challenging to trace family history. For example, if your ancestors lived in an area that was once part of Prussia but is now part of Poland, you may need to look for records in both countries.
  • Naming conventions: In Germany, it is common for children to be given a first name and a middle name, which is often the father’s first name. This can make it challenging to determine the father’s identity if you only have the child’s full name.
  • Migration: Like many other countries, Germany has a history of migration, both within the country and to other parts of the world. This can make it challenging to trace the history of ancestors who moved around a lot, but also opens up opportunities to research their lives in their new locations.

Researching genealogy in Germany can be a rewarding but challenging pursuit. It may be helpful to seek out the assistance of experienced genealogists or to join a group of other researchers who are interested in German genealogy.

 

What are the best online sources of information on German ancestors for genealogy research?

There are several online resources that are particularly useful for researching your German ancestors:

  1. Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände e.V.: The DAGV is the common association of German genealogical societies. Its purpose is the lobbywork for the German family researchers and the coordination of genealogical research. URL: (https://www.dagv.org/) They may occasionally assist with direct enquiries but that is not their main purpose.
  2. German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv): This organization is responsible for preserving and providing access to historical records in Germany, including census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for genealogy research. The website is available in both German and English, and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for primary sources on your ancestors. URL: https://www.bundesarchiv.de/
  3. German Genealogy Group (GGG): This organization is dedicated to helping people research their German ancestors, and their website is a treasure trove of information, including databases, research guides, and forums where you can connect with other genealogy enthusiasts. URL: https://www.germangenealogygroup.com/
  4. FamilySearch: This website is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has a wealth of genealogy resources, including census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for researching your German ancestors. URL: https://www.familysearch.org/
  5. Ancestry: This is a subscription-based website that has a wide range of genealogy resources, including census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for researching your German ancestors. URL: http://www.ancestry.de/

It’s important to note that many of these resources may require a subscription or payment to access certain records or features. It’s always a good idea to carefully review the terms of use and pricing before signing up for any genealogy website or service.

 

Can you add some other suggestions?

Certainly! Here are a few additional online resources that may be useful for researching your German ancestors:

  1. German Genealogy Group (GGG) and has a wealth of information on German genealogy, including databases, research guides, and tips for getting started. URL: https://www.germangenealogygroup.com/
  2. German Roots: A useful list of resources for German genealogy: https://www.germanroots.com/
  3. German Historical Institute: This organization is dedicated to promoting the study of German history, and its website has a wealth of information on German genealogy, including research guides and tips for getting started. URL: https://www.dhi-paris.fr/en/genealogy/
  4. Verein für Computergenealogie eV (CompGen): This website is a comprehensive resource for genealogy research in Germany, with information on databases, research guides, and tips for getting started. It is available in both German and English. URL: https://www.compgen.de/
  5. Wikipedia: While not a primary source, Wikipedia can be a useful resource for learning about the history of Germany and the various regions and cities within the country. This can be especially useful for understanding the context in which your ancestors lived and can help you identify potential records or sources to pursue in your research. URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany

 

What about sources for German regions such as Baveria or Saxony? Where can I find state related genealogy resources?

There are several online resources that can be particularly useful for researching your German ancestors in specific states or regions, such as Bavaria or Saxony (these are just examples, you will find Google can help with similar organisations in other ‘Lander’):

  1. Bavarian State Archives (Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv): This organization is responsible for preserving and providing access to historical records in Bavaria, including census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for genealogy research. The website is available in both German and English, and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for primary sources on your ancestors in Bavaria. URL: https://www.gda.bayern.de/eng/
  2. Saxon State Archives (Sächsisches Staatsarchiv): This organization is responsible for preserving and providing access to historical records in Saxony, including census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for genealogy research. The website is available in both German and English, and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking for primary sources on your ancestors in Saxony. URL: https://www.archiv.sachsen.de/
  3. Regional archives: Many German states have their own regional archives that may have useful records for genealogy research. You can try searching online or contacting the archives directly to find out what resources are available.
  4. Local genealogical societies: Many German states and regions have local genealogical societies that can be a great resource for genealogy research. These organizations often have access to records and resources that may not be available elsewhere, and they can provide valuable assistance and guidance to researchers.
  5. Online forums and discussion groups: There are many online forums and discussion groups dedicated to genealogy research in specific states or regions of Germany. Joining these groups can be a great way to connect with other researchers and get advice and assistance with your research.

 

What if my ancestors were German nobility? Where can I find out about them?

If your ancestors were members of the German nobility, there are several online resources that may be helpful for researching their history and genealogy:

  1. Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels (GHA): This was a comprehensive resource for researching the nobility of Germany, with information on families, coats of arms, and other genealogical details. It cease publication in 2015 but has continued in a new guise as Gotha Genealogical Handbook (Gothaisches Geneaologisches Handbuch) https://gotha-handbuecher.de/
  2. Association for heraldry, genealogy and related sciences in Berlin: https://herold-verein.de/
  3. Der Wappen-Löwe Heraldische Gesellschaft e. V. https://www.wappen-loewe.de/
  4. Heraldic association “ZUM KLEEBLATT” http://www.zum-kleeblatt.de/
  5. Heraldica: This website is a comprehensive resource for researching heraldry and genealogy, including information on families from Germany. It includes information on coats of arms, family histories, and other genealogical details. URL: https://www.heraldica.org/
  6. Genealogy.net: This website is a comprehensive resource for genealogy research in Germany, with information on databases, research guides, and tips for getting started. It is available in both German and English, and it has a section specifically dedicated to the nobility of Germany. URL: https://www.genealogy.net/
  7. German Historical Institute: This organization is dedicated to promoting the study of German history, and its website has a wealth of information on German genealogy, including research guides and tips for getting started. It may be especially useful for understanding the historical context in which your noble ancestors lived. URL: https://www.dhi-paris.fr/en/genealogy/

 

My ancestors emigrated from Germany to the US, what resources can I use to find out about them?

If your ancestors emigrated from Germany, there are several online resources that may be helpful for researching their history and genealogy:

  1. Ellis Island: This website is a comprehensive resource for researching the history of immigration to the United States, and it includes a searchable database of passenger lists from ships arriving at Ellis Island and other ports of entry. Many people who emigrated from Germany passed through Ellis Island, and the records on this website may include information on your ancestors. URL: https://www.ellisisland.org/
  2. Castle Garden: This website is a comprehensive resource for researching the history of immigration to the United States, and it includes a searchable database of passenger lists from ships arriving at the port of New York between 1820 and 1892. The site has been closed but the same records can be searched for free at https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1849782

 

Are there records for German soldiers who served in WW1 and WW2 online?

There are several online resources that may have records for German soldiers who served in World War I and World War II:

  1. Bundesarchiv: This is the German Federal Archives, and it is responsible for preserving and providing access to historical records in Germany, including military records. The website is available in both German and English, and it has a section specifically dedicated to military records. URL: https://www.bundesarchiv.de/DE/Navigation/Benutzen/Hinweise-zur-Benutzung/Militaerische-Unterlagen/militaerische-unterlagen.html
  2. Fold3: This is a subscription-based website that has a wide range of military records, including records for German soldiers who served in World War I and World War II. It has a searchable database of military personnel records, as well as other documents such as draft registration cards and casualty lists. URL: https://www.fold3.com/
  3. Ancestry: This is a subscription-based website that has a wide range of genealogy resources, including military records. It has a searchable database of military personnel records for German soldiers who served in World War I and World War II, as well as other documents such as draft registration cards and casualty lists. URL: https://www.ancestry.com/
  4. FamilySearch: This website is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has a wealth of genealogy resources, including military records. It has a searchable database of military personnel records for German soldiers who served in World War I and World War II, as well as other documents such as draft registration cards and casualty lists. URL: https://www.familysearch.org/

 

What if my ancestors were Jewish? Are there resources for family history research specifically relating to German Jewish genealogy?

There are several online resources that may be particularly useful for researching your Jewish ancestors from Germany:

  1. International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS): This organization has a wealth of information on Jewish genealogy, including research guides, databases, and tips for getting started. It also has a section specifically dedicated to German Jewish genealogy. URL: https://www.iajgs.org/
  2. JewishGen: This is a comprehensive resource for Jewish genealogy, with a focus on Eastern Europe and Germany. It includes databases, research guides, and forums where you can connect with other genealogy enthusiasts. URL: https://www.jewishgen.org/
  3. Leo Baeck Institute: This organization is dedicated to the study of the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry, and its website has a wealth of information on Jewish genealogy in Germany. It includes databases, research guides, and other resources that may be useful for your research. URL: https://www.lbi.org/
  4. Yad Vashem: This is the official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and its website has a wealth of information on Jewish genealogy, including databases, research guides, and tips for getting started. It may be especially useful for researching ancestors who were victims of the Holocaust. URL: https://www.yadvashem.org/

 

What are the most useful German words for family history and genealogy and their English translations?

  • Ahnen: Ancestors
  • Ahnenforschung: Genealogy
  • Ahnentafel: Ancestor table or pedigree chart
  • Akten: Records
  • Eheregister: Marriage register
  • Familienbuch: Family book
  • Familienforschung: Family history research
  • Familienstammbaum: Family tree
  • Geburtsregister: Birth register
  • Geburtsurkunde: Birth certificate
  • Heiratsregister: Marriage register
  • Heiratsurkunde: Marriage certificate
  • Kirchenbuch: Church register
  • Kirchenbuchamt: Church registry office
  • Lebenslauf: Biography
  • Nachkommen: Descendants
  • Ortsfamilienbuch: Local family book
  • Personenstandsregister: Civil registry
  • Protokoll: Protocol
  • Stammbaum: Family tree
  • Stammfolge: Line of descent
  • Standesamt: Civil registry office
  • Sterberegister: Death register
  • Sterbeurkunde: Death certificate
  • Vorfahren: Forefathers
  • Zivilstandsamt: Civil registry office

 

Genealogy research can be a challenging but rewarding hobby, especially when it comes to tracing German ancestry. There are several steps that can be taken to start this research, including gathering any existing information, building a family tree, accessing records in Germany, hiring a professional genealogist, and connecting with other genealogy enthusiasts. Some of the best online resources for researching German ancestors include the Genealogical Society of Germany, the German Federal Archives, the German Genealogy Group, FamilySearch, and Ancestry. Other useful sources of information include local historical societies, libraries, and archives in the region where the ancestors lived. It is also possible to access primary sources such as census records, military records, and other documents that may be useful for genealogy research.

 

 

 

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