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soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 1/4
Section - 3. How can I start researching my German or German-American family?

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Top Document: soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 1/4
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Next Document: 4. What introductory or general books should I read?
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     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
       <http://www.familysearch.org/>
     A partial list of FHCs can also be found at
       <http://www.genhomepage.com/FHC/fhc.html>

     You should also consult the online documents available on the
     German genealogy server at <http://www.genealogy.net/> 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.

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Top Document: soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 1/4
Previous Document: 2. Table of Contents
Next Document: 4. What introductory or general books should I read?

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