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Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

German Guide

How to Begin

The first step in beginning German research is to identify the immigrant ancestor as fully as possible from U.S. sources, including a birth date, date of immigration, province of origin, and, if possible, a precise town of birth. Church records, obituaries, naturalizations, census records, and passenger lists all can provide important clues. Additional material not listed in this pathfinder may be found by consulting the library’s online catalog under the subjects: Germans in ...; Germany, etc.; under a specific province, such as “Palatinate” or “Hesse,” or under a specific record type.

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Research Guides

The Genealogy Department maintains a strong collection of guidebooks for beginning German research. Some of the works listed below contain important bibliographies that lead to other sources.

Bentz, Edna M. If I Can, You Can Decipher Germanic Records. San Diego, California: The Author, 1983. /Gc 929 B44i/ A guide for deciphering German script. Includes definitions of Latin terms, occupations and diseases.

Brandt, Edward R. Genealogical Guide to East and West Prussia (Ost - und Westpreussen): Records, Sources, Publications & Events. Minneapolis, MN: E.R. Brandt, 2002. /Gc 943.1 B734g/

______________. Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns. 2nd ed. St. Paul, MN: Germanic Genealogy Society, 1997. /Gc 943 G317a/

Jensen, Larry O. Genealogical Handbook of German Research. Pleasant Grove. Utah: The Author, 1983. 2 vols. /Gc 929 J45g/ A basic guide. Provides examples and translations of parish records.

Minert, Roger P. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents: Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Vital Records Written in Germany. Woods Cross, UT: GRT Publications, 2001./Gc 943 M662de/

Minert, Roger P. and Shirley J. Riemer. Researching in Germany: A Handbook for Your Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors. Sacramento, CA: Lorelei Press, 2001. /Gc 943 M662r/

Riemer, Shirley J. German Research Companion. 2nd ed. Sacramento, CA: Lorelei Press, 2000. /Gc 943 R44ga/

Schweitzer, George R. German Genealogical Research. Knoxville, Tennessee?: The Author. 1992. /GC 929 Sch93g/ A basic guide that provides addresses and sample letters for requesting information from Germany.

Smith, Kenneth L. German Church Books: Beyond the Basics. Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1989. /GC 929 Sm52g/ A guidebook for church records.

Suess, Jared H. Central European Genealogical Terminology. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, Inc., 1978. /Gc 929 Su24c ref/

Thode, Ernest. Address Book for Germanic Genealogy. 6th ed. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997. /Gc 929 T35af 1997/

______________. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992. /Gc 929 T35g/

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Passenger, Emigration & Immigration Lists

Passenger lists, available on microfilm, occasionally offer clues about an immigrant's origin in Germany. In addition, many of the emigration lists below will record a person’s departure from a specific village in Germany.

Burgert, Annette K. Check this author’s name in the online catalog for references to dozens of volumes listing German emigrants and their place of origin.

Filby, P. William. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. multi-volume. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1981-. /Gc 929.11 F47/ Indexes references to millions of immigrants, including many Germans.

German Emigrants Register. Diepholz, Germany: s.n., 1992. /microfiche/ Contains 12,000 names of emigrants, army deserters, and missing heirs from across the former German Empire.

Glazier, Ira A. and P. William Filby, eds. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports, 1850-. Multi-volume. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1988-. /Gc 929.13 G315/ Indexes millions of German immigrants on the microfilmed U.S. passenger arrival lists.

Glazier, Ira A., ed. Germans to America-Series II: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U.S. Ports in the 1840s. Multi-volume. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, Inc, 2002-. /Gc 929.13 G315a/

Hacker, Werner. Auswanderungen aus Baden und dem Breisgau. Stuttgart: Theiss, 1980. /Gc 929.13 H11a/ Lists 11,666 emigrations from Baden and the Breisgau in the 18th century. User guide in English.

_________. Auswanderungen aus demfruheren Hochstift Speyer nach Sudosteuropa und Ubersee im XVIII Jahrhundert. Kaiserslautern: Heimatstelle Pfalz, 1969. /Gc 943.46 H11a/ Lists about2400 18th-century emigrations from the Bishopric of Speyer.

_________. Auswanderungen aus Rheinpfalz und Saarland im 18 Jahrhundert. Stuttgart: K. Theiss,1987. /Gc 943.42 H11a/ Lists 16,834 emigrations from the Palatinate west of the Rhine andother small territories in the area. User guide in English.

_________. Kurpfalzische Auswanderer vom Unteren Neckar: Rechtsrheinische Gebiete der Kurpfalz. Stuttgart: Konrad Theiss, 1983. / Gc 929.13 H11k/ Lists 2356 emigration cases from the Palatinate east of the Rhine River. User guide in English.

Hamburg Passenger Lists: Direct Lists March 2, 1850 -Dec. 31, 1900 and Direct Index April 1, 1855 - April 5, 1901. /microtext/ A record of departures from Hamburg, one of the principal ports ofembarkation.

Rohrbach, Lewis Bunker. The Salzburger Expulsion Lists. Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 1999. /Gc 943.63 R636s/

Schenk, Trudy, et. al. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index. Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Inc., 1986-2002. 8 volumes. /Gc 929.13 Sch17w/ Lists thousands of emigrants to America from Wuerttemberg. Smith, Clifford Neal. More than twenty-five individual texts containing German passenger lists, some of which have not been indexed in Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index. For a complete listing, check under the author’s name in the online catalog.

Stumpp, Karl. Emigrants from Germany to Russia in the Years 1763 to 1862. Lincoln, Nebraska: American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, 1973. /GC 929.13 St95e/ Lists 20,000 emigrant families with origins.

Zimmerman, Gary J. and Marion Wolfert. German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York, 1847-1871 with Places of Origin. Baltimore, MD: GenealogicalPublishing Co., 1985-1993. 4 vols. /Gc 929.13 Z65g, Gc 929.13 Z65ga, Gc 929.13 Z65gb, Gc929.13 Z65gc/ Lists origins for 137,000 immigrants.

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Military Records

Auerbach, Inge and Otto Frohlich, eds. Hessische Truppen im Amerikanischen Unabhangigkeitskrieg. (HETRINA) Marburg/Lahn: Der Archivschule Marburg, 1972-1987. 6 vols. /Gc 973.34Aalmar Bd. 1-6/ Computer printouts of German mercenary troops from Hessen-Kassel (v. 1-4), Waldeck (v. 5), and Hessen Hauau (v. 6), 1776-1784. Includes soldier's town of origin.

Kelly, Arthur C. M. Hessian Troops in the American Revolution: Extracts from the Hetrina. Rhinebeck, NY: Kinships, 1991. 6 vols. /Gc 973.34 Aa1ke/

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Gazetteers and Maps

Autoatlas, Deutschland : 1:200,000. Berlin: R.V. Verlag, 1996. /Gc 943 Au82/ German atlas for a reunified Germany.

Hall, Charles M. Atlantic Bridge to Germany. Logan, UT: Everton Publishers, 1974-1997. 10 vols. /Gc 929 H14a/ Detailed maps with lists of church records by place. The volumes cover: 1) Baden-Wuertemberg; 2) Hessen, Rheinland-Pfaltz & the Palatinate; 3) Bavaria; 4) Saarland, Alsace-Lorraine & Switzerland; 5) Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg & Bremen; 6) Mecklenburg; 7) Nordrhein-Westphalia; 8) Prussia: Brandenburg, East Prussia, West Prussia, Pommerania, Posen; 9) Saxony, and 10) Hannover.

Maps of the German Empire, 1845-1916 (Karte des Deutschen Reiches). /microtext/ Detailed maps of the German Empire. Scale 1:100,000. Published in the 19th and early 20th centuries, this is the most detailed German map series available in the Genealogy Department. Use the map numbers from the grid at the beginning of the roll to find the more detailed maps that follow. Minert, Roger P. Check this author’s name in the online catalog for references to place name indices available for Schleswig-Holstein (with Bremen, Hamburg, and Lubeck), Braunschweig, Oldenburg, Thuringia, Hanover, Baden, Hesse, Hesse-Nassau, Mecklenburg, Palatinate, and Wurttemberg.

Mueller, Joachim. Muellers Grosses Deutsches Ortsbuch. 18th ed. Stuttgart: Mair, 1974. /Gc 943.003 M91m/ Lists more than 107,000 places with those in western Germany referenced to the Deutsche Generalkarte, described above. Instructions inside the cover.

Neue Grosse Shell Atlas, 1990-91. Ostffidern, Germany: Mairs Geographischer Verlag, 1990. /GC 912.4 N36 1990-91/ Scale 1:400,000.

Thode, Ernest. Interpreting Mispelled, Misspelt, Misspelled German Place-Names. Marietta, OH: E. Thode, 1992. /Gc 929 T35i/

Wright, Raymond. Meyers Orts-und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs: With Researcher's Guide and Translations of the Introduction, Instruction for the Use of the Gazetteer and Abbreviations. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2000. 3 vols. /Gc 943 W93m/ The most comprehensive gazetteer available for the German Empire. Includes a guide in English.

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Surname Dictionaries

Surnames may offer clues about an ancestor's place of origin. Although some, such as occupational names, are found throughout the former German Empire, others are more rare and can be traced to a particular region. The following dictionaries provide information about the origin and meaning of German surnames.

Bahlow, Hans, Dictionary of German Names. 2nd ed. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002. /Gc 943 B14da/

Brechenmacher, Joseph Karlman. Etymologisches Woterbuch der Deutschen Familiennamen. 2vols. Limburg/Lahn: Starke, 1957-63 /Gc 929.4 B74e/

Gottschald, Max. Deutsche Namenkunde. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1971. /Gc 929.4 G7ld/

Minert, Roger P. Spelling Variations in German Names: Solving Family History Problems Through Applications of German and English Phonetics. Woods Cross, UT: GRT Publications, 2000./Gc 943 M662sp/

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Genealogies and Nobility

The Genealogy Department's holdings of German vital records is limited to what is available on the International Genealogical Index component of FamilySearch available at, which includes millions of birth and marriage records. In addition, the collection also houses many published genealogies of German nobility and burghers, including coats of arms for some families. Several other sources listed below trace the German origins of 18th century immigrants from the Palatinate.

Almanach de Gotha: annuaire genealogique, diplomatique et statistique. 111 vols. Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1819-1934. /Gc 929.7 A16/ Covers all grades of German nobility, including commoners who were granted coats of arms and/or raised to minor nobility status.

Almanach de Gotha: Annual Genealogical Reference. London : Almanach de Gotha Ltd., 1999. /Gc 929.705 Al6A 1999/

Burgert, Annette K. and Henry Z. Jones, Jr. Westerwald to America: Some 18th Century German Immigrants. Camden, Maine: Picton Press. 1989. /Gc 929.13 B91w/ Traces the origins ofhundreds of Palatine families.

Deutsches Geschlechterbuch (formerly Genealogisches Handbuch Burglicher Familien) vols. 1-181, 183. Sorlitz: E.U. Starke, 1889-1980. /Gc 929.13 D48/ Contains the largest series of compiled German genealogies. Many volumes are devoted to lineages from a specific German state. Each volume is indexed, and there is a partial cumulative index. Noble descents in v. 1-42.

Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels. vol. 1-10,12-13,15-19. Glucksburg /Ostsee: C.A. Stark Verlag, 1951-1959. /Gc 929.73 G278/ Official genealogical manual of the nobility since 1951. In four series: 1) Furstlichen Hauser (princely houses); 2) Adeligen Hauser (noble houses; 3) Freiherrliche Hauser (baronial houses); and 4) Graflich Hauser (houses of counts or earls). Indexed.

Genealogisches Handbuch des in Bayern immatrikulierten Adels. vols. 1-10. Neustadt/Aisch: Verlag Degener & Co., 1950-1970. /Gc 929.73 G28/  Pedigrees of Bavarian nobility.

Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch der Freiherrlichen Hauser. vols. 39-42, 44-46, 48-89, 92.  Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1889-1942. /Gc 929.73 G71/ Contains noble arms recorded with pedigrees.

Jones, Henry Z. Jr. More Palatine Families: Some Immigrants to the Middle Colonies 1717-1776 and their European Origins. Universal City, California: The Author. 1991. /GC 929.13 J71m/Traces the origins of hundreds of families in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

_________. The Palatine Families of New York: A Study of the German Immigrants Who Arrived in Colonial New York in 1710. 2 vols. Universal City, California: The Author, 1985./Gc 974.7 J71p/ About 550 families are traced to their place of origin in Germany.

Jones, Henry Z. Jr. and Lewis Bunker Rohrbach. Even More Palatine Families: 18th Century Immigrants to the American Colonies and Their German, Swiss and Austrian Origins. 3 vols.Rockport, ME: Picton Press, 2002. /Gc 929.13 J71ma/

Rietstap, J.B. Armorial General. New York: Barnes and Noble. Inc., 1965. 2 vols. of text with 3 additional vols. of plates. /Gc 929.6 R44a and R44ara/ Standard work on heraldry for 100,000 European families. Most are illustrated with a series of accompanying plates.

Siebmacher, Johannes. Siebmacher's Grosses und Allgemeines Wappenbuch. 82 vols. Nurnberg: Verlag von Bauer und Raspe, 1856-1938. /Gc 929.8 Si11a/ Contains genealogies of many ancient noble and burgher families. Includes coats of arms.

_________. Jager-Sunstenau, Hanns. General-Index zu den Siebmacher'schen Wappenbuchern 1605- 1961. Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck-U, Verlagsanstalt, 1964. /Gc 929.8 Si11ata/ Index tothe above set.

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Some German-interest periodicals include: German Genealogical Digest, German Genealogical Society of America Bulletin, German Connection, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, and Palatine Immigrant. For a subject index to articles in these and other periodical titles, check the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) or the following index:

Der Schlussel. vols. 1-2 only. Gottingen: Heinz Reise Verlag, 1950-1956. /Gc 016.943 Sch8 v.1 2/ “The Key" indexes German genealogical, heraldic, and historical periodicals by article, place names, and family.

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The Genealogy Department owns a number of important bibliographical works that lead to collections of German sources outside this library. The researcher is encouraged to explore them for further references.

Arndt, Karl J. R. and May E. Olson. The German Language Press of the Americas 1732-1968: A History and Bibliography. 2 vols. Munich: Verlag Dokumentation, 1973-76. /073 Ar6g/

Cerny, Johni. A Guide to German Parish Registers in the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988./Gc 943 C33g/

Familiengeschichtliche Bibliographie. vols. 1-7, 11. Leipzig and Neustadt an der Aisch: Verlag Degener & Co., 1928-1963. /Gc 016.92913 F213/ Authoritative bibliography of Germanlanguage genealogical publications.

Family History Library Catalog. Salt Lake City, UT: Genealogical Society of Utah. /Online at The principal German genealogical collection in the U.S., with thousands of microfilmed church records, military records, and other sources.

Johnson, Arta F., ed. Bibliography & Source Materials for Researching German-Speaking Ancestry. Columbus, Ohio: The Author. 1982. /Gc 016.929 B471/

Meynen, Emil. Bibliography on German Settlements in Colonial North America, especially on the Pennsylvania Germans and Their Descendants 1683-1933. Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1937./Gc 016.9732 M57b/

Miller, Michael M. Researching Germans from Russia: Annotated Bibliography of the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. Fargo. North Dakota: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies,1987. /Gc 016.9784 N81r/

Pochmann, Henry A. Bibliography of German Culture in America to 1940. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953. /Gc 016.325243 P75b/

Spohr, Oswald, ed. Familiengeschichtliche Quellen: Zeitschrift familiengeschichtlicher Quellennachweise. 13 vols. Leipzig and Neustadt/Aisch: Verlag Degener & Co., 1926-1959./016.92913 F21/ More than 30 million names are indexed in thousands of printed sources withbibliography.

Tolzmann, Don Heinrich. German-Americana: A Bibliography. Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1975. /Gc 016.325243 T58g/

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