How to Find German Villages for Family History

Show Notes & Video: Finding your German ancestor’s village is key to finding the genealogical records you need to go further back in your family tree. In this session you’ll learn:

  • How and why it is important to know the “Heimat” because many records are kept on the local level.
  • How to de garble a village name that is handed down to you (a common problem!) 
  • Records to search for village names.
  • Resources for finding those records. 

My guest presenter is James Beidler. He’s an expert on German genealogy and was gracious enough to share his expertise in the Genealogy Gems booth at Rootstech a few years ago. Visit James Beidler’s website.  Get the book: The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany. (Thank you for using our affiliate link which supports this free content.)

Watch the Video

Show Notes

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

Researching your ancestors deep into Germany simply doesn’t happen unless you know the name of the village of origin. This presentation goes over the sources to tie your immigrant to a Heimat and then find the village and its records! HIghlighted in this article are the strategies and resources referred to in this video. 

German Methodologies Review:

Your first job is to find every document of the immigrant ancestor or that mentions the immigrant ancestor:

  • Prepare for surname variants
  • “Redundancy” is a virtue (e.g., obit may well have something tombstone does not)
  • Even items such as letters and diaries might give clues!
  • Be prepared for village names to be corrupted
  • Familiarize yourself with German maps / gazetteers
  • Look for “patterns of association” with other individuals
  • Process any piece of information that might distinguish the immigrant (e.g., occupation, names of other family members, etc.)

Utilize “whole family” genealogy

  • If specific records don’t exist for your ancestor, try others in family

Look for published sources

  • 1700s families: Burgert / Jones / Yoder / Hacker
  • 1800s families: Burkett / Germans to America / Emigration indexes

Search International Genealogical Index

Search for:

  • References to individual
  • References to clusters of the surname if it is not common
  • References to shipmates
  • References to “associated persons”

Look for other sources of immigrant information:

  • Heitmatstelle Pfalz immigrant card file
  • Hamburg embarkation lists
  • German phonebooks
  • Google searches

Use the “concentric circles” strategy

  • If a village is found for the above categories of people (surname, shipmates, associated persons) but your immigrant is not found …
  • … work out from that village in “concentric circles” to other surrounding villages

“Things found on the way to something else”

  • Machmer / Magemer / Mahomer example
  • Never turn away luck!

Types of records that might yield a place of origin:

  • Naturalizations
    Declarations of intent (“first papers”) Naturalization petitions (“final papers”)
  • Baptisms of children
  • Marriage Records
  • Church burial records
  • Tombstone
  • Obituaries
  • U.S. Census
  • Family Bibles
  • Family Registers
  • Fraternal societies’ records
  • Enlistment papers
  • Discharge Papers
  • Pension documents
  • Letters from relatives
  • Postmarks on letters

Internet Websites Resources for German Research

The resources listed below can help us answer some of the most common questions we ask as genealogists. Some examples of the questions and Websites that will help:

1. What was the village of origin for my German-speaking immigrant ancestor?

Baden-Wuerttemberg 

Brandenburg: Frankfurt an der Oder 

Bremen Passenger Lists, 1920-39 

Brunswick, 1846-1871 

Mecklenburg (Institute for Migration and Ancestral Research) 

Niedersaechsen

Northern Friesland (search Friesland)

Rhein emigrants 

Schleswig-Holstein 1800s 

Westphalia emigration lists 

2. How can I help untangle the garbled name of a village of origin?

Meyers Gazetteer online 

Atlas des Deutschen Reichs by Ludwig Ravenstein 1883 

GOV Genealogical Gazetteer (part of Genealogy.net supersite) 

Comprehensive gazetteer of German places east of the Oder and Neisse rivers 

3. How can I get in contact with possible relatives from my ancestor’s village of origin?

Das Telefonbuch (German telephone directory)

German National Tourist Board 

(Also – Google names of villages and find out which local tourist board the village is a part of – e-mail directly to them)

4. How can I find out about German archives?

FamilySearch wikifor guides to Germany and its component states 

Archivschule Marburg Portal D (list of archives) 

Resources

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

 

Celebrate Constitution Day with The National Archives on YouTube

anniversary of the US Constitution DayToday is Constitution Day: the 228th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. The National Archives is celebrating with free programs and a special Family Day. 

Most of us won’t be able to attend in person, but the National Archives will be webcasting several of its free public programs live on the National Archives YouTube Channel. These include:

Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding DocumentThursday, September 17, 12 pm. “Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) tells dramatic, little-known stories behind six of the Constitution’s most indispensable provisions and explains why some of today’s issues are the direct result of how the courts, Congress, and the executive branch have minimized or ignored them. A book signing will follow the program.”

The Young Madisons: Why a New Generation Is Standing Up for the Constitution. Thursday, September 17, 7 pm. “A rising generation of civic leaders, shaped by the digital revolution, is reaffirming its commitment to the rights-based principles of the U.S. Constitution. The ninth annual State of the Constitution Lecture at the National Archives…focuses on the voices of young leaders in the spheres of policy, governance, and citizen engagement who are shaping America’s future as a constitutional democracy.”

The Constitution: An Introduction. Wednesday, September 30, 12 pm. “Practically every aspect of American life is shaped by the Constitution….Yet most of us know surprisingly little about the Constitution itself. In his book The Constitution, professor Michael S. Paulsen, one of the nation’s leading scholars of constitutional interpretation, has written a lively introduction to the supreme law of the United States, covering the Constitution’s history and meaning in clear, accessible terms, and provides us with the tools to think critically and independently about constitutional issues.”

More on the U.S. Constitution from the National Archives:

Will you be in town that day? Here’s what you should know:

  • The original U.S. Constitution is on permanent display in the National Archives. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. due to a morning naturalization ceremony (which is not open to the public).
  • Programs will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater, unless otherwise noted. Attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW. Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.
  • FAMILY DAY: Between 1-4 pm in the Boeing Learning center there will be special hands-on activities for families and children.
  • Advance registration is required for the free program “The Young Madisons.”

More Resources

thanks youre a gemSometimes we recommend resources available through ShopFamilyTree, Amazon and other affiliates. If you decide to purchase these, thank you for using our links which supports the free Genealogy Gems blog and podcast! 

 

 

 

New Archival Collections: How to Know What’s New at Your Favorite Repository

New archival collections at your favorite repository may be the long-awaited key to solving your family history mysteries! But how can you keep up with what’s new at archives and libraries? Professional archivist Melissa Barker shares her favorite tips.

new archival collections

 

Not long ago, Lisa Louise Cooke read my article on what’s new at the Utah State Archives. She asked me how I keep up with new archival collections at my favorite repositories.

New Archival Collections May Be Just What We Need

Many of us can say that our ancestors were living in a certain area and their records should be located at certain local archives, libraries, or genealogical or historical societies. Maybe we have even done research there in the past, either by visiting the facility, contacting them by phone or email, or using their records online. Records, photographs, ephemera, and artifacts are constantly being discovered and made available in all of our wonderful archives. Many of these records may not make it to microfilm or online, but they are so rich with family information. (Don’t know where to look? Click here to learn how to find archives and libraries near your ancestor’s locale.)

But trying to keep up with all the new records that are being processed in archives, libraries, and genealogical societies can make your head spin! So how are genealogists supposed to stay current?

3 Ways to Keep Up with New Archival Collections

new archival collections uniforms1. Check the archives website. See if they have announced new records collections that are available for research (many archives do). The archives may even have a blog or newsletter that you can subscribe to, which will give you the latest news right at your fingertips. Not only will the archives announce new records that are available but they will even let their patrons know what has been recently donated to the archives and which records are currently being processed.

2. See if the archive has a social media presence. Archives like to post photos of new discoveries and records collections that are ready for the researcher. I know at the Houston County, TN. Archives I like to scan and post images of great documents or artifacts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (Like the post pictured here that I shared recently.)

LISA’S TIP: Remember to use Google search terms to find your favorite archive’s website and social media homes! A quick search such as National Archives Pinterest might be faster than trying to find it on the actual social media site. That search brings up tempting boards for National Archives in both the US and the UK:

3. When visiting an archive, ask: “What’s new?” Talk to archivists about records collections that have recently been processed and made available for research. This is a great way to find more information and records about your ancestors. As an archivist who processes records on a daily basis that are not online or even microfilmed, I get excited about sharing what I find with the genealogy community.

Until next time, this is The Archive Lady, remember it’s not all online, so contact or visit an archive today!

Learn More about Using Archival Collections

Listen to me on the free Genealogy Gems Podcast! This year the podcast is celebrating its 10th-year anniversary. Tune in to hear more inspiring stories and tips to help your family history research. Listen on your computer or on your mobile device through the Genealogy Gems app. Click here to learn more.

 

Family History Episode 36 – Your Genealogy Questions Answered, Part 1

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy Podcast
with Lisa Louise Cooke
Republished June 18, 2014

Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.

 

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 36: Your Genealogy Questions Answered, Part 1

Today’s show is all about YOU!  This episode is made up completely of your emailed questions, comments and stories. I couldn’t do this podcast without you, and I definitely want it to be a two way conversation. Joining me on today’s episode to read your emails is my daughter, Lacey Cooke.

Question: When do I use the GPS (genealogical proof standard) method? How do I know whether what I’ve found meets the genealogy research standard? Do I need a research report for every ancestor? When do I use the research worksheet? – Jenna in Kansas City

Answer: First, put priority on your direct ancestors. I write up research reports on each direct ancestor, but only after I’ve done the bulk of the research on them. Use the research worksheet when you have conflicting or unclear information that needs to be worked over a little more thoroughly. Learn more about navigating your research with the genealogical proof standard in the Family History Made Easy Podcast, Episode 20 and Episode 23.

Question: I need help finding a newspaper article on the killing of my great-great grandfather Thomas Leonard Frazier that originally appeared in The Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. I didn’t cite the source when I first found it! – Kent Frazier

Answer: I found the article you’re looking for at GenealogyBank.com. Online newspapers are scattered all over the internet. I started at GenealogyBank because they have a lot and I have a subscription. If you have trouble finding newspaper article, review the episodes below. You may also want to try regional and state archives, public libraries, genealogical and historical societies and large genealogy or university libraries.

Comment: I just listened to Family History Podcast Episode 33 about hard buy medicine online gurgaon drive file organization, including organizing photos files, and I just listened to Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 18 (not currently available online) on how to identify old photos by the cars that appear in them. My sister recently sent me a batch of old family photos, including one with the van in which I learned to drive. I decided to organize them according to your suggestions and it’s worked really well. I have one more suggestion: add a caption to each photo’s metadata. It’s like writing about the photo on the back of it.

To add a caption in Windows, right-click on the file, then click Properties. On a Mac, click on the File icon and then in the Finder menu, click on Get Info. I’m using Windows Vista, so this comes up with a window that has three tabs on it: General, Security and Details. Go to the Details tab and click to the right of the fields that are listed there to enable editing. On my computer, there are fields for Title, Subject, Tags and Comments as well as Authors, Date Taken and Date Acquired. There are a number of other fields that can be edited on this screen that have to do with the photographic equipment that was used, so scanned photos from your grandparents’ Kodak Brownie cameras can be updated too. The fields that I fill in are Subject, Tags and where known, the Authors and Date Taken. The Tags field can be very useful for the computer’s search function.  If these fields are not available from the operating system itself, most modern photo editing software has functionality that will let you edit these same fields from within the photo software [for example, in Adobe Photoshop, this is under File -> File Info]. –Sean Lamb

In Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 25, I interviewed Ken Watson who talked about tagging photos with actual GPS (global positioning) coordinates in meta-tags.

Comment: You have inspired me to start a blog! Thanks for Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 33. –Russ Worthington

Russ provides this link to his blog post about applying my hard drive organization strategies and incorporating Family Tree Maker software. For hard drive organization, see Family History Podcast Episode 32 and Episode 33.

Question: I’ve been doing genealogy for a couple of years on and off. I found your two podcasts and I’m almost caught up on Family History Made Easy. (Next will be the “Genealogy Gems” podcast!) Is there a “best practice” for which name should be used for a woman’s record? Maiden or married? Also, will you recap what a primary source is? –Bob Callahan

Answer: When I started the podcast, I wondered whether having two podcasts was overkill. I’m getting great feedback telling me that’s not the case! A primary source contains genealogical data collected at the time of the event reported by someone of authority and/or who was at the event and has first-hand knowledge. You may have several primary sources for each fact, like a family Bible and a government or church record for a birth or death. (A secondary source for that might be a birth announcement in a newspaper. The reporter obviously wasn’t there and doesn’t have firsthand knowledge of the event. If that’s all you have, dig a little deeper.)

As for your question about women’s names, a woman is listed in on a family tree with the name she was born with: her maiden name. She will be connected to any spouses later in life, and you can get her married name from there. They may appear in records with any of their surnames. A death record on Ancestry.com may have her listed by her married name, but in your family tree you should have her by her maiden name.

Comment: Let me first say that I am a new listener and have been on a Genealogy Gems and Family History Made Easy Podcast marathon!  For the past month, I have listened to almost all of your podcasts and have gleaned quite a bit of information…to the point that it has almost overloaded my brain. But that is a good thing because I have a lot of new ideas for expanding the tree that my grandmother started forty plus years ago…

I just listened /watched the Premium Members Video for organizing your hard drive (available only to Premium Members). I have one more suggestion. It’s on how to copy multiple folders with the same name into your surname folders.

When setting up the surname folders and the sub-folders that go inside each, you set up one set of folders inside of one of the surname folders that are brand new with no documents inside of them. Then highlight each of them by first clicking on the first folder inside the surname folder, press and hold the shift key and click on the last folder and then right click on one of the highlighted folders and click copy from the drop down list.  Then click and open the next surname folder, right click inside the folder and then click on paste from the drop down folder. –Eric Gomes

This is a GREAT suggestion!  I constantly move multiple files at a time, but completely forgot that this can be done with file folders.

Question: Do you have any suggestions on what to look at when checking out and deciding on a society to join? –Eric Gomes

Answer: It depends on what your goals are. If your goals are camaraderie, education, involvement and community service, involve yourself with a local society. Go visit! See how welcoming they are, what kinds of programs they offer and whether they meet your needs. Don’t be shy about meeting the president and asking for a recent copy of their newsletter. Test drive it to see what’s a good fit for you.

If you’re trying to learn about where your ancestor lived, look for a society closest to that area. Look for societies near and far at the Federation of Genealogical Societies website on the Find a Society page. Or Google the name of the city and/or county/province and the keywords “genealogy society” to find what you’re looking for. Coming up dry? Contact a reference or local history/genealogy librarian at a local library or someone at a local historical society to ask for a recommendation.

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