INDEX

Home

German Research

  • There is no central repository of records in Germany.
  • During the period of heaviest immigration, there was no standard of what records were kept and preserved.
  • Note: Many of the departure lists for the Port of Bremen have been destroyed.
    • Search here for remaining records
    • German Immigrants: lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York by Zimmerman and Wolfert includes many names of passengers from 1847-1871 taken from other sources.
    • "From Bremen to America in 1850: Fourteen Emigrant Ship Lists" by Smith contains 1840's and 1850's Bremen passenger listings gleaned from emigration newspaper sources.
  • Most of your research will be done in local records.
  • You will need to identify where your ancestor emigrated from and/or his actual village of origin (Heimat).
    • Hint: Look for individual town websites. Most have links to local churches, where you can write to for more information
  • Boundaries and territories have varied greatly over time.
  • Meyer's Gazetteer lists all towns in Germany as they existed prior to 1914.
    • This is a free database on Ancestry
    • A full entry has three sections:
      • Political Jurisdictions,
      • Population Data, and
      • Rail, postal, telephone, telegraph service, civil registration offices, and other governmental, business, cultural, or industry information.
    • The secret to deciphering Meyer's Gazetteers are the commas and semicolons, which create complete segments of information.
  • Ancestry has German specific records including the Wurttemberg Emigration Lists and the Germans to America volumes.
  • The Palatine Emigrant Index - consists of thousands of index cards that reference records in an attempt to show where emigrants came from and went.
    • It is unpublished. However. The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center has a photocopy.
  • FamilySearch
    • Many Germany Church records have been microfilmed.
    • The Family History Library has a microfilm copy of Die Ahnenstammkartei des Deutschen Volkes (The Master File of the German People) which contains about 2.7 million names.
  • Note: Graves are re-used in Germany, you are unlikely to find tombstone inscriptions.

Websites
  • Ahnenforschung Der Katalog is the German Cyndi's List.
    • Website is in German.
  • American Historical Society of Germans from Russia is a valuable source but you will need to visit in person to use their library.
  • Bavarica newspaper collection
  • Bremen Passenger Lists
  • GenWiki
    • FOKO - entries from researchers interested in surnames from different time periods, locations, and religious denominations.
    • GEDBAS - genealogical database of user submitted information from German genealogists.
    • GOV - historic gazetteer with place names of geographical locations as of November, 2014.
    • MetaSearch - a name search of all GenWiki databases.
  • Geogen Surname Mapping shows where a surname may have lived.
    • Uses modern borders of Germany,
    • Also shows variations of names.
  • German Archives
    • Website is in German.
    • A relatively new site used to search German archives.
    • Searches can be made geographically or by keyword.
  • Click here for an intersting article about German Names and naming conventions.
  • German Roots
    • Links you to resources for passenger lists, census indexes, birth and marriage indexes, naturalizations, military records and more.
  • Kartenmeister pinpoints and identifies information about an ancestors hometown. It includes places that were once eastern Prussia.
  • $ Kirchenbuchportal -- "church book portal"
    • Currently in beta format
    • Offers digitized records of all state protestant churches
    • Note: The website is in German
  • Roots In Germany has links to a lot of good databases including passenger lists.
  • ZEFYS Zeitungsinformationsystem newspaper collection.