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German Research on the Internet
– George G. Morgan

Researching our ancestors on the eastern side of the Atlantic can be challenging to many U.S. family historians. The records are quite different and, when you add a different language to the equation, they can become more complex to locate and evaluate. Fortunately, the Internet provides many resources for us that complement the printed materials in libraries, archives, magazines, and in our own private collections.

This week's "Along Those Lines . . . " focuses on German genealogical resources on the Internet. There are vast materials available at both U.S. and German Web sites, as well as mailing lists to which you can subscribe and Usenet newsgroups which you can read online and to which you can post. Obviously the list cannot be all-inclusive, but if you are researching your German ancestry, you will find many resources listed that may help you and/or point you to other resources on the Internet.


Web Sites
First of all, please note that some of the sites listed here based in Germany and may be written in German. Never fear! You can always translate the German into English by going to the AltaVista search engine's translation site. Here you type the full Web address (URL) into the box (don't forget the http://) and select "Translate from German to English" and click on the Translate button. The translation may not be perfect because of idiomatic and slang text, but you will be able to get the general idea of the content.

The Internet Sources of German Genealogy site is probably the most comprehensive collection of links to German resources anywhere on the Internet. It is divided into multiple categories: General/Regional Information; Databases (primarily surnames); Secondary Genealogical Resources; Newsgroups; Mailing Lists; Commercial Offers; and Genealogy Software. The Frequently Asked Questions site is a gem for beginners, but there are many excellent resources here, many of which are in German and can be translated as described above.

Genealogy.net bills itself as "The number one source in German genealogy." Its German Genealogy: Tips for Researchers site provides a good primer for beginning researchers. There are detailed articles and links to other resources, as well as a nice bibliography. The site is also available in German. The German Genealogy Bridge contains a collection of excellent links, including a link to a large basic map of Germany. (If you are planning on conducting German research, you should invest in a good, detailed map of Germany.) As you trace your German lineage and the migration of your ancestors from Germany to the United States, it is essential that you learn about ship passenger lists. There are several tremendous Web sites on this subject.

The Emigration to America: Passenger Lists site written by Michael P. Palmer provides definitive reviews of two excellent books on the subject: "German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York" and "Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports," as well as mentions of other printed resources. The reviews are very instructive on the subject and include excellent tables and extensive footnotes.

In addition, Mr. Palmer's "German and American Sources for German Emigration to America" site describes in detail many of the resources available to resources.

The German Migration Resource Center site is a resource for the exchange of information between people interested in German emigrants and immigrants. You can submit, read, and search for queries about surnames, ship names, and cities of origin and destination. There is also information on almost a hundred books concerning genealogy and migration, as well a collection of German genealogy links.

The Federation of Eastern European Genealogical Societies presents its German Genealogy Cross-Index site. Here you will find a collection of links to the Web sites of a number of societies concerned with German research and/or German lineage, as well as links to maps of Germany.

It is important to learn about German names and naming patterns as you conduct your research. The German Names site at: is an excellent online reference resource on this subject.

Finally, no list of German Internet resources would be complete without the inclusion of the Germany GenWeb Project site. Like the USGenWeb Project, the German site has been created and developed by volunteers wishing to expand the availability of free information on the Internet. There is a wealth of resources here too, ranging from general information, information about regions of Germany, historical maps, some passenger lists, and information about the Kingdom of Prussia.

Resources at Ancestry.com
Ancestry.com members have access to the Wuerttemberg Emigration Index, a seven-volume work that represents the thousands of German and Prussian immigrants to the United States that made application to emigrate at Wuerttemberg, Germany. This collection, filmed at Ludwigsburg, contains the names of approximately 60,000 persons who made application to leave Germany from the late eighteenth century to 1900. The information supplied on each person includes: name, date and place of birth, residence at time of application and application date, and microfilm number. There is a wealth of other database German resources at Ancestry.com.**

Mailing Lists
Mailing lists (listservs) can extend your research range by allowing you to subscribe to e-mail discussion groups where you can exchange ideas with others researching a common interest. In this case, there are a number of lists available covering a wealth of German topics. RootsWeb hosts mailing lists about Germany, its various areas, and surnames.

Usenet Newsgroups
Throughout the sites discussed above, you will be references and/or links to Usenet newsgroups. Newsgroups resemble an online bulletin board. They are grouped by topic and area of interest, and you may read the messages posted there or post your own. Unlike mailing lists, newsgroups have nothing to do with e-mail. For information about Usenet newsgroups and about those available, check out the Genealogy Newsgroups Web page.

Summing Up
There are vast amounts of information available on the Internet for the German researcher. The list of examples I've mentioned above is by no means complete. Use these resources as a starting point in your research if you are a beginner or to expand your research if you have been working on your research for a while.

In addition, don't neglect using Internet search engines to locate German genealogical resources. The largest and fastest search engine on the Web today is FAST Search. Indexing more than 300 million Web pages and searching at light speed, this is the fastest engine on the Web. At the time of this writing, by entering "german genealogy" (in quotes), I located 3,540 documents found in 0.2475 seconds search time!

There are a lot of German resources on the Internet. Get searching!

Happy Hunting!

George


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