Researching in Germany

The Week in Germany, distributed free by the German Information Center, 950 Third Ave., New York NY 10022, in the 17 March 1995 issue on page 7 says that interest in family history in Germany is booming. Last year the German Center for Genealogy in Leipzig (Saxony) had 3,000 inquiries, many from genealogists tracing their ancestry. The Center has unrivaled sources of material for eastern Germany and the parts of Pomerania, Prussia, and Silesia that were once German. They have a large collection of family histories covering the German speaking world, and a collection of 100,000 personal documents, as well as a genealogical card index with information on 1.4 million people. In addition there are 16,000 Church registers dating back to the 16th century, formerly belonging to the Third Reich's Office of Family Relations. German Churches were responsible for recording births, deaths, and marriages until civil authorities took over the job in the 19th century.

From Vol. I No. 2 November 1994, Researching in Germany, excerpts from article by Jean Roth, . . . Regarding geography,
It is often necessary to determine the county's location before targeting the actual village. Some areas or "counties" found in the emigration lists are:
ROMAN EMPIRE. Proper term for all of Germany until the early 19th century.
ISENBURG. This is not a common place of origin given on the Emigration lists. It almost always refers to a general area and not a village. It is the realm of the ancient nobility of Isenburg-Budingen. Look around the town of Budington which is NE of Frankfurt and which was a major gathering place for the emigrants. Many marriages took place here.
HESSE. This is a general term referring to the region that generally surrounds Frankfurt. It usually has a sub-division name like Hesse-Nassau, Hesse-Darmstadt, or Hesse-Cassel.
HESSE DARMSTADT. This is tricky - as this term meant most of the Hesse region including both sections of the present day Hesse region - not just the area near Darmstadt.
FULDA. This is NE of Frankfurt, beyond Giessen. Many of the little villages, once located, seem to be directly north of the city of Fulda.
ERBACH. This county is located surrounding the town of Erbach - locatedto the east between Frankfurt and Heidelburg. It is just SE of the city of Darmstadt.
BADEN DURLACH. Durlach is a SE suburg of Kalrsruhe. The County of Baden - Durlach surrounded Karlsruhe.
BAVARIA. Don't be confused by present day "Bavaria." This reference often means Rheinish Bavaria, now called Rhineland Pfalz. It is the west side of the Rhine, primarily in the area north and south of Frankfurt.
Finding Aids:
1. Research Local Sources.
2. Verify Ancestor's Town If you know the name of the town, use MEYERS ORTS to clarify the correct spelling of the town, the province (state) the town was in, and if it had its own parish or civil registry. Look for these town descriptors: Ev. Pfk. (Evangelical parish); Kath. Pfk. (Catholic parish); Syn (synagogue); StdA (civil registry). These are the names of the towns and states as they were during the German Empire (1871-1919) and they are printed in the old Gothic German, so as a guidebook it is helpful. Remember, there can be several towns with the same name.
3. Verify Ancestor's Parish. The GEMEINDELEXIKON FILMS (town directories or dictionaires) may tell where your town's Lutheran (Evangelical) and Catholic Parishes and civil registries were located. Often a larger town kept parish records for smaller nearby villages which did not keep their own records.


Lower Volga Project
Of Interest
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Of Interest