German Genealogy Tips

German Genealogy Tip #23: Lots of Info in County History/Biography Books

October 22, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

In the latter 1800s and early 1900s, a popular form of literature was the local county history and citizen biography book. Virtually every county in every state in America had several such history books written about it during this period. When researching German-American ancestors, especially ones who lived in rural areas, always check for local […]

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German Genealogy Tip #22: “Geb.” or “Geborene” Indicates Maiden Name

October 21, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

When reading old German documents, you will often see the term “geb.” or “geborene” in the middle of a married woman’s name. This is not part of her name. It means the same thing that we mean in English when we write “née” or “maiden name”. For instance, if a woman is named Elisabeth Scheuch […]

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German Genealogy Tip #21: Departure Passenger Lists Often Give Birth Town

October 20, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

If you’re having trouble finding your German ancestor’s birthplace, it can pay to find their passenger list from when they departed Germany. Especially if they departed from Hamburg or Bremen, there is a good chance that their birth place or town of origin is listed on the passenger list. When an emigrant left Germany, they would […]

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German Genealogy Tip #20: Find Your Immigrant Ancestor in the NARA’s “Germans to America” Database

October 19, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy TipsTutorial

Have you had bad luck searching for your German immigrant ancestor’s arrival record in the Ancestry.com collections or on other websites? The best and most comprehensive database of German arrival records for 1850-1897, in my opinion, is the National Archives’ “Germans to America Database,” located at: http://aad.archives.gov/aad/fielded-search.jsp?dt=2102&tf You can search for your immigrant ancestor by last […]

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German Genealogy Tip #19: How to Find an Ancestor’s Newspaper Obituary

October 18, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy TipsTutorial

One of the–I think–most overlooked and underappreciated resources when doing German-American genealogy, or genealogy in general, are newspaper obituaries. Especially when the obituaries are printed in the newspapers of smaller towns in rural areas, they can contain a cache of golden information. Some of the most important pieces of information a newspaper obituary might offer […]

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German Genealogy Tip #18: Villagers Sometimes Reported Births, Marriages, and Deaths to a Registrar in a Larger Nearby Town

October 17, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

For most of Germany’s history, vital events like births, marriages, and deaths were largely only recorded in church records. During some parts of history in some German regions, some civil recording of vital events also began to take place (especially in areas under French occupation during the Napoleonic wars). In the mid 1870s, after the […]

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German Genealogy Tip #17: Old German Documents Were Written in Sütterlin Script

October 17, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

If you’ve ever looked at old documents from Germany, you’ll know that many of them look as though they were written in some completely foreign alphabet. Even if you speak modern German, you might not recognize any of the words. This is because old German documents were often written in a handwriting called Sütterlin script. […]

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German Genealogy Tip #16: Germans Use Symbols to Denote Birth, Marriage, and Death

October 15, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

If you ever receive genealogical records or historical documents from Germany, or if you ever correspond with a family history researcher in Germany, you will find that German family historians use a set of symbols to denote genealogical events: * born (the star symbol references the star said to have heralded the birth of Christ) ~ baptized (the tilde […]

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German Genealogy Tip #15: Towns in Border Regions Changed Hands

October 14, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

The region that we call “Germany” has seen a lot of iterations over the centuries. Before the 1870s, “Germany” was actually a collection of dozens of different kingdoms, duchies, and principalities. Even since the 1870s, the borders of the nation of Germany have changed vastly over the years. As a result, many of the towns […]

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German Genealogy Tip #14: Usually, German Immigrants First Lived With Relatives/Friends in America

October 13, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

One strong tendency I have noticed in researching German-American genealogy is that the first household German immigrants lived in after arriving in America was usually the household of relatives, or friends from their home town in the old country. Rarely did Germans immigrate to America and then just take up residence with a complete stranger. Germans […]

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