Over the last year we have had three or four requests for help with German Research that spurred us to schedule a program for the Hall House Support Group on the topic that was presented by Pastor Dan Rumfelt. The requests combined with the great program inspired me to write this month’s article. However, I have a disclaimer to make; quoting Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes, “I know nothing!” Having admitted that I do not have any experience with German Research, I do know some of the many resources that can be used to do research on your German ancestors.
I would recommend that you start at Family Search, the LDS site. It is free and offers many resources for developing your skills as well as records. You will want to log onto the familysearch.org site, click on the search tab, then select WIKI from the drop-down menu. When it opens, type Germany into the box next to the map. You will find a huge selection of topics to choose from. On the left side of the page there is a section titled, Links to Articles on getting started with German research. It includes a section with “How to” Guides, as well as articles on-locating places of origin, online tutorials, a BYU Independent Study program and German Research Troubleshooting strategies. These are all free.
Ancestry Academy offers a one-hour webinar that has excellent advice for those starting research in German ancestry. One of the most important pieces of information that it offers is the fact that Germany did not become a unified country until 1871. You may find yourself looking through records from many other localities such as Switzerland, Poland, Russia, or the Ukraine. Needless to say, this adds the issue of additional languages to navigate. Fortunately, the Family Search site offers a section on this.
Family Tree Magazine located at www.familytreemagazine.com will provide you with additional resources. Just Google it and go to the genealogy courses and use the filter on the left side of the page to click on German. You will be directed to two on-line courses. Then go to the tab for genealogy books and use the filter to select German where you will find 10 books from $8 to $25. These provide you a good way to begin building your genealogy library. You will find other on-line sources for books and resources including Cyndi’s list.
At the Hall House we have an At-A-Glance laminated pamphlet titled German Research. It provides you with a concise summary of some of the many resources that are out there. While we do not have an expert on German Research at the Hall House we do have Ancestry Library Version for your use as well as many family files that have been donated over the years. We will gladly help you to explore the internet for other resources that might be helpful.
If you have German ancestors please don’t wait, let us help you get started. We are always looking for folks to join us in this new obsession called Genealogy.
To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to jamestowngazette.com and visit Janet’s own web page.