Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives

soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Part 2/4

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - MultiPage )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Neighborhoods ]
Archive-name: genealogy/german-faq/part2
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 2005/01/01
Version: 2.9

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
     soc.genealogy.german Frequently Asked Questions List, Part 2/4
     Copyright (c) 2005 by Jim Eggert,
     Version 2.9, 1 Jan 2005.  All Rights Reserved.

Subject: 8. Where is the town/village Xyz? The best places to look are: online: Genealogisches Orts Verzeichnis (GOV) For modern and historical Germany. Gives geographical, historical, archival, and bibliographical information. <> GEOserv For modern Germany only. Send email to with the message body the name of the village you are looking for. Further instructions can be received by using INFO as the name of a village, or from the German genealogy server at <> Yahoo Routenplaner <> Expedia <> GEOnet Names Server (GNS) For modern placenames anywhere outside the USA. <> ShtetlSeeker, for central and eastern Europe, gives German and local names <> Kartenmeister For formerly German places east of the Oder and Neisse rivers. <> Atlas des deutschen Reiches 1883 edition by Ravenstein with index. View at 400%. <> Rademachers deutsch-"osterreichisches Ortsbuch 1871-1945 Includes Germany and Austria. <> Global Gazetteer <> atlas: Falk (formerly RV) Autoatlas (volumes for Germany and Poland) 1:200,000, about 16 Euros ADAC ProfiAtlas Deutschland 1:100,000, spiral bound, about 25 Euros maps: Excellent modern and historical maps are published by the Landesvermessungsbeh"orden (geodetic survey offices) <>, the Bundesamt f"ur Kartographie und Geod"asie in Berlin <> the Bundesamt f"ur Landestopographie in Switzerland <> the Bundesamt f"ur Eich- und Vermessungswesen in Austria <> and others, and are available at German bookstores or through Interlink Bookshop. The FEEFHS has an online maproom at <> Old city and town maps are available from Generations Press at <> gazetteers: 1912 _Meyers Ortslexikon_ (Meyers Gazetteer) For towns in Germany or lost by Germany after either 20th- century world war. Probably at your local LDS FHC. _Ortsnamenverzeichnis der Ortschaften jenseits von Oder und Neisse_ (Gazetteer of Localities East of the Oder and Neisse) If the town was lost by Germany after the Second World War, this will give you the current name. telephone CD-ROMs: Sometimes a country-wide street listing can find a street named after a lost village.
Subject: 9. How do I find an address or phone number? For German phone numbers, the best resources are CD-ROMs or the DeTeMedien website. DeTeMedien, Das Telefonbuch, PC/Mac/Linux. <> G-Data, PowerInfo 2005 und zur"uck, Windows 98/ME/XP/NT4/2000 <> For Austria, telephone listings are available on CD-ROM or the web: Herold Telefonbuch CD home, PC <>. For Switzerland, try the online directories at <> and <> Several CD-ROM listings are also available: Telinfo (Win 95/98/NT/2000/ME/XP, Mac 8.6/9/OSX) TwixTel (Win 98/XP/2000), and Directories CD (PC, MacOSX10.2+). French (including Alsace-Lorraine) addresses and telephone numbers can be had at <> Enter the following departement numbers: Alsace (Elsass) Lorraine (Lothringen) 67 Bas-Rhin 54 Meurthe-et-Moselle 68 Haut-Rhin 55 Meuse 57 Moselle 88 Vosges For the Netherlands (Holland), try <> <> For Poland, use <> US addresses and telephone numbers can be found at <> There are also many online directories at <>
Subject: 10. How can I find out what village my ancestor came from? This is sometimes easy, sometimes quite difficult, and sometimes impossible. This is the general order of resources to be used in finding the German origin of German-American families: o Narratives from older relatives o Previous family research, notes, etc., if available o Family documents or mementos from the old country o US census (1920 and earlier) - can learn immigration and/or naturalization year o IGI, for uncommon names, if the birth or marriage date is known, or if two names in combination are known o Passenger ship records, both arrival lists and embarkation lists, and indexes like _Germans to America_ o Naturalization records - usually held at the county level in the US o Obituaries, especially in German-language newspapers o American church records o County histories/genealogies o Local historical/genealogical societies o Local fraternal and other ethnic or cultural organizations o Tombstones or cemetery records o German state emigration records and indexes, including citizenship release papers, passports, estate and debt settlement papers, property sales, departure taxes, expulsion papers, and records for transportation of minors o US Social Security records, for individuals living after 1935 Note that the Social Security Death Index is only a start. o Probate records o US Civil War pension or other military records, if appropriate o Ahnenstammkartei (ASTAKA) o Individuals in Germany with the same name, but only if the name is very unusual or if you know approximately where your ancestor came from o Neighbors in America, because sometimes unrelated families emigrated together o Contemporary newspapers, which often printed passenger lists and emigrant correspondence Search these sources not only for the German immigrant, but also his or her spouses, descendants, and other relatives. There is an excellent and concise list of resources for German-American immigration research available on the German genealogy server at <> The FHL also offers a good research outline entitled _Tracing Immigrant Origins_, available at your local FHC or online.
Subject: 11. What about the German census? The German central government conducted censuses in 1871, every five years from 1875 to 1910, 1919, 1925, 1933, 1935 (Saar), and 1939. West Germany had censuses in 1946, 1950, 1961, 1970, and 1987. East Germany had censuses in 1945, 1946, 1964, 1971, and 1981. Except for the 1939 census, these censuses are not useful for genealogical purposes; available data are of a statistical nature only. Each of the states conducted their own censuses at other times. Some of these censuses are available via your local LDS FHC and are quite useful genealogically. The central German census authority can tell you if certain censuses exist and where they can be found: Statistisches Bundesamt Gustav Stresemann Ring 11 Postfach 5528 65189 Wiesbaden
Subject: 12. How about German cemeteries? German cemeteries are not as useful for genealogical purpose as those in the US. Normally gravesites are leased for 20-25 years, after which they may be renewed or usually revert to the cemetery owner (church or town) and are reused. Some gravesites are sold to a family and used for generations, but even then the site is reused within the family. Some gravestones of historic importance are retained for the long term. Gravesites are maintained by the families. Sometimes cemeteries are converted to parks, but retain their cemeterial nature. Graves in 20th-century military cemeteries are not reused, but are maintained by a commission as a reminder of the honor of soldiers and the horror of war.
Subject: 13. What does my German surname mean? The meaning of a German surname can often be found in a German- English dictionary (e.g., Schmidt means smith, M"uller means miller). Sometimes spelling modifications, pronunciation shifts, or dialectal origins hide the original meaning. In such cases, a general or specifically German name lexicon can be useful. Three standard German works are _Deutsche Namenkunde_ by Max Gottschald, _Deutsches Namenlexikon_ by Hans Bahlow, also available in English as _Dictionary of German Names_, _Das grosse Buch der Familiennamen_ by Horst Naumann, and _dtv-Atlas Namenkunde_ (Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag). Please note that name interpretation is often speculative.
Subject: 14. Is my family from a town with a name like their surname? Assuming that the family name is a place name perhaps with the common suffix -er (as in Oberheimer), then it is very possible that the family did indeed come from that place (Oberheim) originally. But they probably left that place before they acquired the surname, which was probably before the earliest extant records, so you will likely never be able to prove it. Also note that place names are often shared by several towns, and that a surname may be related etymologically but not genealogically to a place name.
Subject: 15. How can I learn about German noble families? The standard series of books on German nobility is the Gotha series, which has appeared under various titles since the late 18th century. Look in your library catalog for a title similar to _Gothaisches genealogisches Taschenbuch der adeligen H"auser_ or _Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels_. The latter has an online surname index at <> Herbert Stoyan has an excellent online resource for noble genealogy called WW-Person at <> Paul Theroff has an online Gotha at <> Please be advised, however, that stories of noble relations in American families are often exaggerated. ------------------------------ 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

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - MultiPage

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer: (Jim Eggert)

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM