Finding Records of German Ancestors :: Genealogy
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Finding Records of German Ancestors

Journal by bcagle

(Note: a vowel followed by 'e' (ue,oe,ae,) replace the umlaut vowel)

Anyone researching their German ancestry has experienced the frustration of the proverbial brick wall. Perhaps the following will help some break through.

As most of us know it is probably harder to research family in Germany than anyother country. Face the facts. Germany was an undivided nation from 1871 to 1945, only 74 years.In the 17th and 18th centuries what we now consider Germany consisted of 1789 kingdoms, principalities,grand duchies,dukedoms,electorates,and free cities, right down to tiny personal estates. Although census were taken in Germany in 1871,they did not really cover all of Germany. For example, Wuertenbuerg had census as early as 1821, Prussia in 1831 and so on. The only centralizing force in the Germanic area wha the church, first the Catholic and then Lutheran.

Germany was only unified for a short period that ended in 1945.During that time little or no attempt was made to centralize records in one place, instead they remained in capitol cities of the original states. Therefore, even though your roots are German, your ancestors may have roots in other parts of Europe. Tens of thousands settled in Ukraine and the Volga Basin area, others in Transylvania (Hungary until 1919 and Romania since) and more in Hungary and Yugoslavia. Nearly 4 million Germans settled in Czechoslovakia but were expelled by force after WWII.

Today (since the unification of Germany in 1990) the districts of Germany were replaced by five original provinces or Laender) They are (with their capitol cities):
Baden-Wuerttemberg (Stuttgart)
Bayern (Munich)
Brandenburg (Potsdam)*
Hessen (Wiesbaden)
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Schwerin)*
Niedersachen (Hannover)
Nordrhein-Westfalen (Duesseldorf)
Rheinland-Pfalz (Mains)
Saarland (Saarbrueken)
Sachsen-Anhalt (Magdeburg)*
Sachsen (Dresedn)*
Schleswig-Holstein (Kiel)
Thueringen (Erfurt)*
(Those marked with * are the ne political divisions of the Old East Germany which replace the 15 districts. The names of these Bezirkes within each of the five provinces are:
Brandenburg: Berlin, Cottbus, Frankfurt, Potsdam
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Neubrandenburg, Rostock, Schwerin
Sachsen: Dresden, Karl-Marz-Stad (now referred to Chenitz), Leipzig
Sachsen-Anhalt: Halle, Magdeburg
Thuergingen: Erfurt, Gera Suhl

By now I'm sure you are totally confused, but don't be discouraged. There is still lots of hope. You just need to take the time to find out the location of your family and then head for the churches. See my journal : German records in local Churches.

I hope this helps someone narrow down that missing conneciton.

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by bcagle Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2006-06-16 06:43:15

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