German Research on the Internet
by Gary T. Horlacher, Baerbel K. Johnson
Internet is a great information tool. It can be used to:
- Locate other researchers
- Post queries
- Search databases
- Search directories
- Identify information on archives and libraries
- Search library catalogs
- Participate in computer chat, tutorial, or lecture sessions
- Get information on history, translations, terms, measurements, etc.
To locate something on the Internet you can:
- Use Search Engines - If you have something specific you are searching for.
- Use Categorized lists - If you have a specific topic you are interested in.
Going from one site to others that sound interesting and are referenced together is called “Surfing the Net”. Depending on your time constraints, this can be done at random or with a purpose. Following are wonderful sites to begin your search:
Search Engines - Different search engines search the Internet differently. You may wish to try several of them. They generally look for keywords. The sites below list over 1000 search engines and two popular search engines are also listed here:
General Categorized Lists - are catalogs of the Internet by topic. General genealogical lists that are excellent include:
General German Genealogical Sites
Those familiar with USGenWeb and Genuki research sites for US and England research will appreciate the Genealogy.Net site for German research. In particular the regional resources has wonderful information about each province of Germany!
- Genealogy.Net Site
- Cyndi's List: Germany
- German Genealogy Internet Sources
- German GenWeb Site
- German Study Group
- Genealogy Guide to Internet (in German)
- German Roots Genealogy Links
- German Genealogy Home Page
- Includes Link to German Resources
- German Genealogy Frequently Asked Questions
- German Emigration to US
- German Emigration to America
- German Migration - Queries
- Immigrant Ancestor Project
- Hamburg Emigration
- German Emigration Database (Bremen)
- Transcriber's Guild & Die Maus, Genealogy Society of Bremen
- Bremen 1904-1914
- Ellis Island
- Mecklenburg-Schwerin Emigrants 1844-1915
- How to Research German Emigrants from the 1700s
- Palatine Passenger Lists - 1700s
- Pre-1800 Palatine Links
- Includes Baden, Brandenburg, Swiss, and Württemberg Emigration Indexes
- Directly search Württemberg Emigration Index
- Emigration Databases Purchase Germans to America CD
Libraries, Museums, Archives, Societies
(see also Genealogy.Net, Cyndislist, and other general sites):
- German Archives
- Archives in the World
- Hannover Lutheran Archive
- Federation of E.European Family History: Germany
If church records have not been microfilmed, then one generally needs to write to the local parish for information from their church records in the village where the ancestors lived. Some parishes now have email and some even have Internet sites, which can be a faster way to get answers to queries than from traditional correspondence. An address for the local parish may be found in several ways:
- By typing the name of the town in a search engine, one can often find a tourist site or local community site which will include information about the local church address, minister, service times, and perhaps even a link to a church site.
- By using a telephone directory such as the telephone book for Germany found under TeleAusKunft on the “teldir” site mentioned below . Enter “Kirchen” (churches) in the name field, and the town name in the placee field. This will often give you a street address and phone number of a local parish.
- By using sites like one of the following:
(Not Comprehensive List, but a place to start):
(See also German Emigration Section)
- Lists some of FEEFHS Databases
- West Prussian Land Register 1772-1773
- Site for IGI, Ancestral File
- Searches 9 of the largest Genealogy Databases from one site-Mostly US
- Mecklenburg Census Records - 1751
Note: Ancestry.com is a commercial service that is computerizing thousands of genealogical databases. Some of these are offered for free, others cost a fee. Although it has mostly US databases, it also has a number of good German databases including several emigration databases listed above, as well as New York City German Church Records and church records from Kapsweyer and Steinfeld. As they continue to add more databases, this may be a place to look for other sources. Also, although the FEEFHS site does not have a real fancy front, there are many databases from private people on their server if they can be located. “Familytreemaker” is also a commercial site. It offers a search of their several hundred CDs, but you will need to purchase them or access them through a library to find out the specific data. Their CDs #355 and 356 are indexes of Germans to American ports 1850-1888.
Here are two general sites and a few examples of regional sites. Try the general ones and others such as Cyndislist for other sites.
Germany is such a diverse country, with each kingdom, province, duchy, etc. having its own unique sources, indexes, databases, research strategies, guides, etc. It is not the purpose of this guide to list each of the provinces and their resources. Each province could have its own guide. Hopefully most of the guides, aids, and databases that people offer on the Internet for particular areas are also linked to sites such as the two given above. If not, it becomes nearly impossible to find some of the unlinked materials on the Internet. Although I did not intend to list individual regional sites other than refer to the above sites, I have included a few anyway. This is certainly not representative and you should still check the above sites first and primarily.
- Association of East German Family Historians (AGoFF)
- Donauschwaben Genealogy
- Banat Germans
- Odessa German-Russian Genealogy Library
- Volga German
- Research guide for Baden-Wurttemberg & other things
- Genealogy in Southern Oldenburg (the Catholic part, includes emigrant lists)
- Franken Research
- Fehmarn Genealogy
- Schleswig-Holstein Research and Emigrants
- Pommern Genealogy
Lookups, Exchange, Helplist:
Those used to doing US research are familiar with the idea of look-ups, where volunteers are willing to provide a free research service in various areas and resources. As genealogy is so wide-spread in the US, Canada, and England this works pretty well and one can often find someone in remote areas to help with research. In Germany, genealogy is not as common a past-time and there are not as many people engaged in it. Unfortunately the few people willing to do free look-ups have been asked to help with areas they have not offered and been inundated with requests that do not fit the criteria they offered to do. They have often withdrawn their offers for help. Please be aware that there will not be nearly as many people available in Germany to do local look-ups and respect the people who are offering by not asking for things outside their own suggested areas of help.
Address, Telephone, Email Directories:
Embassies, Youth Hostels, Trains:
Language & Handwriting (see also Cyndislist-Germany):
(Try not to use computer translations for correspondence. Get the help of a “live” person instead.)
- Language dictionaries
- Free Translation Service
- Babelfish Translation Program
- Genealogical German-English Resource
- German for beginners 2.0
- Word List, Research Guides, Etc.
Maps and Gazetteers:
Time, Money, Measurement Conversions
Miscellaneous Other Items
German Ethnic Groups (not complete):
German Town Genealogy Bibliography:
History & Culture:
There are many how to guides for all sorts of topics in German research on the Internet. Two produced by the Family History Library are:
For gazetteers, maps, and other aids for Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Stettin, Berlin, East & West Prussia, Württemberg, as well as a copy of this paper, see
Names (see also Cyndislist and other general sites, not comprehensive):
Queries (see also Cyndislist & other general sites):
Other sites for genealogy can be found in genealogy periodicals and other sources. A fairly detailed listing is made every year in the November-December issue of Everton's Genealogical Helper. Journals published by various genealogical societies often include references to sites relating to their research interests.
Many people have also put their own genealogy files on the Internet to be downloaded. Unfortunately, individual family sites are not in the scope of this paper. If you put your genealogy on the Internet, please either include it with sites that are heavily used such as www.familysearch.org or www.ancestry.com, or make sure it gets linked to geographical sites such as Genealogy.Net and WorldGenWeb. Some examples of this are Andreas Hanacek's Genealogy Page with his Moravian, Palatinate, Schaffhausen (Switzerland), and Hessen names.