In doing German research, I found the following pattern to be of great assistance to me, perhaps it can help you also:
RESEARCH TRAINING AND RESOURCES: Educate yourself regarding the German genealogical process. The following resources are a good place to start:
- Jensen, Larry O. Genealogical Handbook of German Research. Pleasant Grove, Utah, 1980; available at www.familysearch.org ~ Research Helps ~ Articles ~ “G” ~ Genealogical Handbook of German Research. This path will also lead you to the German Genealogical Word list, the German-Letter Writing Guide and the Germany Research Outline.
- http://ce.byu.edu/is/site/courses/free.cfm; Free BYU Independent Study Online German Family History Courses
- https://wiki.familysearch.org Patterned after Wikipedia, this online-library is community based and dedicated to topics specific to Family History research.
LANGUAGE AND ARCHAIC TERMS: You do not need to speak fluent German in order to experience success in German research. You will need a good modern German dictionary and at least one dictionary containing the archaic terms.
- Thode, Ernest. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore, Maryland; Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. c 1992
- www.familysearch.org ~ Research Helps ~ Articles ~ has Genealogical Word Lists available. Languages often found in Germanic records are: German, Latin, French, Dutch, Danish, and Polish.
HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY AND GAZETTEERS: Study the history and geographical changes of Germany because both have impacted the genealogical records. Search the Internet for a history of your ancestor’s town of origin. The FamilySearch Research Wiki and Wikipedia are two good places to start.
No centralized record or surname retrieval systems exist for Germany. The records were kept on a local level and need to be accessed on that same local level. Records were kept on a region, county, military, court, civil registration, and parish level. The Meyer’s Gazetteer will provide your ancestral town’s record jurisdictions. It will only provide parish information if a location had its own parish. For parish jurisdictions, consult the FamilySearch Research Wiki and http://www.progenealogists.com/germangazetteersonline.htm for extracts or links to many of the individual regional gazetteers.
- Meyer’s Orts- und Verkehrs=Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs. Leipzig, Germany, Bibliographisches Institut c 1912. Available at http://www.familysearch.org/ and http://www.ancestry.com.
RECORDS AND HANDWRITING: Once you have determined the place of origin and have found searchable records, you will need to familiarize yourself with the various types of German script. In addition to the resources already listed, additional help is available at:
- Free online German Handwriting Courses: www.familysearch.org ~ FHLC ~ Education ~ FHL Research Series Online ~ Reading Handwritten Records Series ~ German Lesson 1-3.
- BYU German script tutorials http://script.byu.edu/german/en/welcome.aspx
- Minert, Roger. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents, Analyzing German, Latin, and French in Vital Records Written in Germany; Woods Cross, U.S.A., GRT Publications, c 2001
I have only referenced a few of the many valuable resources available to assist you in your German genealogical research. I’ll end with just one more. FamilySearch Forums is a community message board where you can ask questions and receive direction from a vast community of researchers. Good luck with your German research!