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soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 1/4

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Archive-name: genealogy/german-faq/part1
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2005/01/01
Version: 2.9

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     soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions List, Part 1/4
     Copyright (c) 2005 by Jim Eggert,
     Version 2.9, 1 Jan 2005.  All Rights Reserved.

Subject: 1. Subject and intent This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list was written to help genealogists who are interested in German and German-American genealogy. It is oriented to those who are getting started, either with genealogy or with the Internet. "German" here means the German language, so this list should be useful for researchers of German, German-American, Austrian, Swiss, Alsatian, Luxembourger, Liechtensteiner, and Eastern European German genealogy. The latest version of this FAQ is available a) on WWW: <> <> b) via eMail: message body: send faqs/genealogy/german-faq/* c) via anonymous FTP: ftp Name: anonymous Password: Your@Email.Address ftp> cd /pub/usenet-by-group/soc.genealogy.german ftp> mget soc.* ftp> quit
Subject: 2. Table of Contents -- Part 1 1. Subject and Intent 2. Table of Contents 3. How can I start researching my German or German-American family? 4. What introductory or general books should I read? 5. Can you help me with surname ABCDEF? 6. Where can I register/find my surnames? 7. What are the rules for given names? -- Part 2 8. Where is the town/village Xyz? 9. How do I find an address or phone number? 10. How can I find out what village my ancestor came from? 11. What about the German census? 12. How about German cemeteries? 13. What does my German surname mean? 14. Is my family from a town with a name like their surname? 15. How can I learn about German noble families? -- Part 3 16. Where can I find German military records? 17. How do I write to a German Standesamt, parish, or archive? 18. How do I find German postal codes? 19. I don't know German. What should I do? 20. I can't read German handwriting. What should I do? 21. What is the basic German genealogical vocabulary? 22. What are the German umlauts and genealogical symbols? -- Part 4 23. How can I send money to Germany? 24. What is the IGI? 25. Where can I find passenger lists or ship information? 26. What is _Germans to America_? 27. What German archives and/or genealogical organizations are there? 28. How do I find a book about abc or xyz? 29. Should I buy a surname/crest/family history book sold by mail? 30. Where do I go on the Internet for German genealogy? 31. What are soc.genealogy.german, soc.genealogy.surnames.german, and de.sci.genealogie? 32. Are there other online resources for genealogy? 33. How can I possibly repay you for all your help? 34. Acknowledgments
Subject: 3. How can I start researching my German or German-American family? Beginners should do two things first: interview elderly or infirm relatives and read a good book on genealogy. The importance of talking to relatives before they pass away cannot be over- emphasized. Your local library probably has several books on genealogy. Check out the ones that seem best to you and read them. Don't ask how to do two things first, just do them. Then you should gather and organize all the information you have from various sources. You may want some genealogical software to help in organizing your information. Document all your sources. Organization allows you to develop an overview of what you have so that you can better direct your research. Next locate your local LDS (Mormon) FHC (Family History Center(tm)). The genealogical collection of the LDS Family History Library (FHL) is unsurpassed, and much of it can be used at your local FHC. You need not be Mormon. You can probably find the LDS church in your phone book. A list of FHCs and some of FHL resources are at <> A partial list of FHCs can also be found at <> You should also consult the online documents available on the German genealogy server at <> and may want to monitor the messages on the Usenet newsgroup <news:soc.genealogy.german> or its mirrored mail list gen-de-l. The easiest way to make fast progress is to connect with research already performed by others. When possible, such information should always be verified from original sources. To find such research, go online, go to your local LDS FHC, go to your library, and join genealogy clubs. Eventually your major information sources are likely to be German civil records and German church registers. German civil records start 1792 in Rheinland, 1803 in Hessen-Nassau, 1808 in Westfalen, in 1809 in Hannover, 1 Oct 1874 in Prussia, and 1 Jan 1876 in all of Germany. German church records start as early as the 15th century, but for many areas extant records start only after the end of the 30 Years' War in 1648, or later. Some older civil records and many church registers are available through the LDS FHC. Otherwise you must write to the German Standesamt (civil records office) or parish of interest or to the appropriate archive. Other important sources include Ortssippenb"ucher, which list all the families in a town, typically using church records as the source; the IGI, which is an index of extracted records; passenger lists; the ASTAKA, a collection of German genealogies; German state censuses; and Geschlechterb"ucher, which is a series of published genealogies. Further documents are also available in German archives. Examples of available documents include tax rolls, emigration papers, land registers, wills, and court cases. Most of these have not been filmed by the LDS and are available only at the appropriate archive. Catalogs of the holdings of some archives are available in printed form in some US research libraries. Keep in mind a general rule of genealogy is to go from the known to the unknown, and not the other way around. For example, if your name is Bauer, you should concentrate on expanding the tree of Bauers related to you by examining documents that refer to them. You should probably not research the genealogy of some other Bauer to see if he is related to you, because the chance of success is slight. Note that this general rule does not apply if you are researching a rare surname, or if you can pair the surname with a town or another surname. Another general rule is to do as much research as possible locally. Use your local LDS FHC, library, interlibrary loan, genealogical society, etc. to their fullest extent before you write or travel to distant archives or churches. It is usually cheaper and often more efficient, and it will make subsequent research more productive.
Subject: 4. What introductory or general books should I read? Here is a list of some useful books. Most of these works have bibliographies that will lead you to other useful references. Family History Library research outline, _Germany_, inexpensive and excellent 52-page guide, also on the LDS site Brandt et al., _Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns_, 2nd ed., an excellent 517-page guide Riemer, _The German Research Companion_, also excellent Baxter, _In Search of Your German Roots_, generally available, 3rd edition Ribbe and Henning, _Taschenbuch f"ur Familiengeschichtsforschung_, 12th edition 2001, a standard German reference work Burghardt, _Familienforschung_ Friedrichs, _How to Find My German Ancestors and Relatives_ Jensen, _A Genealogical Handbook of German Research_, vols. I-II, also available on the LDS website Palen, _Genealogical Research Guide to Germany_ _Glenzdorfs Internationales Genealogen Lexikon_, vols. I-III Schweitzer, _German Genealogical Research_ Thode, _Address Book for German Genealogy_ Thode, _German-English Genealogical Dictionary_ Dearden & Dearden, _The German Researcher: How to Get the Most out of an LDS Family History Center_ Bentz, _If I Can You Can Decipher Germanic Records_, guide to reading handwriting and script Smith, _German Church Books: Beyond the Basics_ Barth, _Auf den Spuren des europ"aischen Amerika-Auswanderers_ Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ostdeutscher Familienforscher, _Wegweiser_, 4. Aufl., for East Germany and former German lands in Eastern Europe. Also in English translation.
Subject: 5. Can you help me with surname ABCDEF? Simple surname queries without any supporting information are strongly discouraged. For most surnames, there are simply too many individuals with the same name for a surname request to be useful. To make success more probable, you must supply as much information as you can, including the surname(s) and given names; place(s) of residence (in Germany and elsewhere); dates of birth, emigration, marriage, and death; religious affiliation; associated family names; and any other information you may have. Include also what sources you have consulted, successfully or not, in your search. Be concise but informative. Make your question clear. Use an informative subject line like this: SCHMIDT; Neustadt i.Holstein,SCN,DEU > Boston,MA,USA; 1873-1924 Many people prefer that surnames be written in all caps to aid visual scanning. Make your placenames unambiguous (Neustadt an der Weinstrasse; Frankfurt am Main). Avoid imprecise dates like "the late 1800s" (does that mean 1850-1899 or 1805-1809?). Be advised that it is unlikely that you will find someone willing to do extensive research for you for free unless he or she is related to the subject of your search. However, you may receive valuable advice that may turn your dead end into a new lead. If you are lucky, you may find someone who is also researching along the same lines (same family, location, event, or resource) and then you can both profit by sharing notes. Also, common courtesy would require that, when you receive advice or leads, you act on them before repeating the query.
Subject: 6. Where can I register/find my surnames? Surnames are best registered on the Internet in several fora: the RootsWeb Surname List <> and the RootsWeb WorldConnect Project <> The Gedbas project collects German genealogical data: <> German surname listings are also made in the German GenWeb pages <> The Forscherkontakte (FOKO, researcher contacts) lists mostly German surnames, and can be searched at <> You can also register your research and interests with the LDS.
Subject: 7. What are the rules for given names? Different areas/times/families had different naming conventions. No general rule applies in every case. Babies are often named for family members or baptismal sponsors, and sometimes a pattern can be found. Often a person does not go by his first given name, especially if that first name is Johann or Maria. The name actually used (termed the Rufname) is often denoted by an asterisk or by underlining or bolding. ------------------------------ Suggestions for additions or improvements should be sent to the author, Jim Eggert

User Contributions:

I'm trying to find German Naval records (Prussian navy I believe) for my Uncle who served in Trieste, Italy from approx. 1879 to 1890 from that port. (and he traveled around the world). I need some advice, any advice, on how I could find a record of him being there or even any record of him being in the German Navy there. A genealogist that could help, or where the records might be housed. I did see on another post that some German records were destroyed in Berlin in 1945, but I don't know those details. I appreciate any comments. Thank you.
Sep 6, 2021 @ 7:19 pm
I think I am looking for a needle in a haystack. Want to find my ancestor, name is Wolfgang AUMANN, of Grafenkirche, Germany, who fought with Napoleon as a mercenary. Maybe a book titled Koniglich-Baierisches Reigierungsblatt.
Thank you
Doris Dunlap
Oct 30, 2021 @ 3:15 pm
How do I find my Father's POW records. He was in WWI, Prussian military. Infanterie Regiment 140. He was captured in France, but said the POW camp guards were British.
Dec 21, 2021 @ 5:17 pm
How do I find my grandfathers war records. He was stationed at the eastern front in WW2 then captured and was POW in England

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