German Genealogy Tips

German Genealogy Tip #13: Stowaway Legends are Usually False

October 13, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

When I was growing up, I had a legend on both sides of my family about a German ancestor who stowed away on a ship to America. They were both very similar: a German boy of about 17 years of age managed to get on a ship without a ticket and then hid amongst the […]

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German Genealogy Tip #12: Dates in Germany are Written Day.Month.Year

October 11, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

In America, dates are usually written in the format “October 11th, 2014,” and when writing only numbers, “10-11-2014” or “10/11/2014”. The pattern we use in America is month-day-year. In Germany, however, they use a (what I think is a much more sensible) system that goes: day.month.year. (The smallest unit of time, followed by a larger […]

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German Genealogy Tip #11: Marburg Archive Will Look Up Hessian Emigration Info for Free

October 11, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

One of the best kept secrets in the Hessian genealogy field is the Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg’s (the Hessian State Archive of Marburg) free emigration look-up service. If you send an email (in German text) to the State Archive in Marburg asking them (politely) to check for an emigration of a Hessian ancestor (note–they only keep records for […]

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German Genealogy Tip #10: German Immigrants Often Switched Occupations to Farming/Mining

October 10, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

By the mid 1800s, there was very little land left in Germany that hadn’t already been divided up into small parcels. It was difficult to make a living at farming, and being able to own a large and successful farm was often the ultimate dream of German men. Due to the scarcity of farm land […]

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German Genealogy Tip #9: Be Patient With German Archives

October 9, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

Many researchers of their German ancestors eventually reach the point where it comes time to cross the Atlantic, and they need to get birth, marriage, or death records from Germany. When this time comes, one of the best institutions to contact is one of the regional church archives (a “Landeskirchliches Archiv”). Regional church archives will […]

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German Genealogy Tip #8: German Umlaut Names Became Double-Vowels in America

October 8, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

Do you know what an “umlaut” is? An “umlaut” a “double dot” mark over a vowel, to indicate a more fronted or rounded pronunciation. Examples of German surnames with umlauts include: Schäfer, Schröder, or Müller. Schäfer (with an umlaut) is pronounced “Shay-fer,” but if you don’t put the umlaut in, you should technically (in German) […]

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German Genealogy Tip #7: Anglicized German Names

October 7, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

Something you will inevitably find when you research German ancestors who immigrated to America are names that changed to something more “English sounding”. Can you blame somebody named “Balthasar” for desiring a name that fits in a little better in Ameria? Some Germans would change their names only slightly: Wilhelms would become Bills, and Adelheids […]

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German Genealogy Tip #6: In Germany, People Used Their Occupation as a Title

October 5, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

When looking at genealogical records in Germany, especially from the pre-20th century era, you will often find that individuals’ names were prefixed by their job title. These occupational prefixes were capitalized, so don’t confuse the job title for being part of their given name. Common examples are: Taglöhner Johann Brack (English: day laborer Johann Brack) Leinweber […]

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German Genealogy Tip #5: Lots of Free Resources on Genealogy.net

October 4, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

For those of you who research German ancestors, did you know about the existence of a website called Genealogy.net (also accessible at CompGen.de)? The website is mostly in German, but you can use Google Translate to translate pages (either copy and paste the text into Google Translate, or paste the entire URL of the website and […]

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German Genealogy Tip #4: Name Spelling Didn’t Matter to Germans

October 3, 2014 Josiah Schmidt German Genealogy Tips

Today’s German genealogy tip of the day is this: do not get tripped up by differently spelled names. Prior to the 20th century, name spelling really didn’t matter, especially to Germans. Many Germans from that area could not even write, and would sign documents with their “mark” (usually an “X” or a “+”). This can […]

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