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An increasing number of digital resources for German genealogy is becoming available on the Internet, on CD-Rom and other media. Many of these materials are currently only available in German. This page is intended to
- alert the reader to available digital resources
- provide step-by-step instructions for users who do not speak German
German Research on the Internet- compiled lists
Several lists of useful websites for German genealogy are available. These lists, used for classroom instruction, are updated regularly. Included are
- German Research on the Internet - an Overview
- Internet Resources for Finding 19th Century German Emigrants
- Germany Town Genealogies and Parish Register Inventories on the Internet
Introduction to Genealogy.net
Genealogy.net, the Web site of the German Society for Computer Genealogy, provides many different resources for the family historian. Available tools include a gazetteer of the German Empire, a genealogical Wiki, a digital library, lineage-linked town genealogies, a literature data base, various name data bases, links to mailing lists, and a monthly newsletter. Most projects are on-going and welcome volunteers and contributors. Free registration is required to participate.
German language helps
This is a German-language Web site. Systematic presentation allows the use of electronic translators such as Google Translate, with reasonable success. The Web browser Google Chrome will recognize the German language and will offer to translate it. Google Translate can be accessed in other browsers by typing “translate.google.com” into a new tab. First choose the “from” and “to” languages. Then the Web address or text can be pasted into the translation box. Translations will be very literal, word for word, and are therefore not suitable for use in correspondence. To see the original text, hover over a word or phrase with the mouse.
A good German- English dictionary is available at http://www.leo.org/ .
Searches on genealogy.net are very specific and will vary depending on the use of diacritical marks, hyphens, or spaces. Numeric codes can be used to enter diacritics:
Letter Use Letter Use
Ä Alt + 142 ä Alt + 132
Ö Alt + 153 ö Alt + 148
Ü Alt + 154 ü Alt + 129
ß (= ss) Alt + 0223
An English-language homepage is found at http://www.genealogy.net/genealogy. However, most of the tabs lead to German-language pages. The English home page includes an additional tab: “emigration”, but not all of the new databases are represented in that view.
The meta-search feature enables the user to search several databases at once, including submitted genealogies, village lineage books, address books, society databases, and others. Both the search and results screens show the sources searched. Surname- and place searches can be done separately or combined.
GOV- Genealogical gazetteer
The GOV is useful for initial place name identification. This search is exact. Wild cards can’t be used, but to some extent it is possible to search for parts of names. Example: “Offenb” brings up Offenbach, Offenburg, Offenbüttel etc… The search term may be found in any part of the place name, not just at the beginning, but the results may not be complete. It may be advantageous to repeat the search with a different search term. Example: When “zim” is entered as a search term, 167 hits come up, including Groß-Zimmern (with hyphen) and Niederzimmern (without hyphen), but not Herrenzimmern. However, a search for “Herrenz” brings up Herrenzimmern, but a search for “renz” does not.
In the GOV each locality is given a unique identity number and identified by type, postal code, and associated places. A diagram shows super-ordinate objects, such as the parish, county, region etc., by time period. The entry may link to an article in the GenWiki about the locality and to various maps.
The GenWiki is the main collection of information pages. It is fully searchable and includes various types of articles. Many locality pages were generated automatically in conjunction with the GOV, and may be empty. Filled-in pages often provide helpful details and links to other resources. Many articles are very time-and jurisdiction -specific. Disambiguation pages (Example: “Hessen: Begriffserklärung” [=definition of terms] ) allow easier access to the specific page(s) needed.
The GenWiki also includes pages about record types, laws, occupations, historical terms, instructions for using resources, and anything else that may be of interest to the family historian. For instance, a search for “Datenschutz” (rights to privacy) bring up a page that summarizes the meaning as it pertains to genealogists, along with links to more detailed articles.
Various lists, for example historical occupations, have been integrated into the GenWiki. A search for “Euler” brings up the definition: occupation, and the modern word: Töpfer (potter), along with a link to the source database.
DigiBib (Digital Library)
The DigiBib, short for Digital Bibliothek (Digital Library) is one of several major on-going projects carried out by members of the German Verein fuer Computergenealogie (Society for Computer Genealogy). This society has over 3000 members worldwide and provides numerous digital resources for German family history research. Many volunteers digitize books of interest to genealogists and family historians. These materials are either free of copyright or included with the author’s express permission.
Sections found on the homepage
The DigiBib is divided into several categories:
- Genealogische Literatur- genealogical literature
- Tagebuecher und Handschriften – journals and manuscripts
- Heraldik -heraldry
- Raritaeten - rarities
- Adressbuecher, Staatskalender etc. – address books, state calendars etc.
- Militaerisches – military resources
- Pfarr-und Kirchenbuchverzeichnisse – parish- and parish register inventories
- Historische Karten – historical maps
- Ortslexika, Topografien, Statistiken etc. – gazetteers, topographical and statistical material, etc.
- Chroniken - histories
- Sonstige Nachschlagewerke, Vermischtes – other reference works, miscellaneous
- Andere digitale Bibliotheken- other digital libraries
Each section on the portal page mentions either representative or the most recently acquired titles. Click on "mehr..." to acces the complete list of books available in this category.
On the left: Administrative/information section
Neu dabei – recent additions Korrekturleser gesucht – proofreaders wanted In Vorbereitung – in preparation
The DigiBib uses so-called DjVu files for many of its digitized materials. For a Wiki setting, this format has certain advantages over conventional scans, but it requires installation of a special free reader. A plug-in by LizardTech for the operating systems Windows, Mac OS-X, and Linux can be downloaded here.
Note: Occasionally Firefox users have problems opening a DjVu file; this is known to LizardTech and will hopefully be remedied soon. This problem usually does not happen in Internet Explorer. [as of July 2009]
Each book found in the DigiBib is a separate project. The goal is to transcribe each book and make the contents fully searchable. A "project box" is found on the right side of each page.
This portal allows easy access to all the major regional genealogical society Web pages. Some societies have English interfaces, others don’t. Most publish lists of available publications online; some also host extensive databases, such as town lineage books (OFBs), or lists of emigrants. For example, Die Maus Bremen Society for Family History hosts several OFBs on its Website that are NOT included on Genealogy.net, in addition to almost twenty other databases.
Lineage Books (Ortsfamilienbuecher-OFBs)
The over 300 fully-searchable, lineage-linked databases called town genealogies are easy to use and follow a standard format. New material is added each month.
• Access the home page on http://www.online-ofb.de/. Choose the locality, either from the alphabetical list found under “Funktionen” on the left, or from the main page. Localities are listed from north to south, with separate sections for German communities in other countries, such as Hungary
• The main page includes geographical and historical information, a list of sources used, and a tool bar with three different search options:
1. Gesamtliste der Familiennamen – List of all surnames
2. Geburtsorte auswärtiger Personen- birthplaces of persons from other localities
3. Sterbeorte weggezogener Personen – death places of those who moved away
• Click on a surname. A list of persons with birthdates [if known] comes up.
• Click on a person of interest. This brings up the individual or family page.
• Some entries may show cross-references to other online OFBs with a red notation “Es gibt (eine) ähnliche Person(en) im OFB [town name]”
• “Keine Angaben!” means “no information given”
• A family page may include spouses, parents, children, other spouses, and additional information.
• Some “books” are databases designed to gather all extant genealogical data for a given locality [town/county/geographical area], especially in cases where the church records or civil registration records are missing. Example: OFB Memelland and “Familiendatenbank Kreise Arnswalde and Friedeberg (Neumark)”
One of the fastest-growing collections, the address books database includes lists of all books and localities. All the names from the books included here have been extracted and included in the searchable database. The data base can be useful for research in larger cities and localizing unusual surnames. For example, the surname “Turley” was found in the town “Heessen” rather than “Hagen” as had been previously thought. This database is included in the Metasearch.
Users can participate in all of the following projects by indexing or submitting information. Free registration is required.
FOKO (RESEARCH CONTACTS)
This database allows family historian to find others who are working on the same families or in the same towns. After marking data sets of interest, a click on the button “Info anfordern” (request information) sends the contact information to the specified e-mail address.
GedBas is a genealogical database. Anyone can contribute data in form of Gedcom files, or search for information. Details are explained in the section “GedBas/FAQ”. Persons less than 100 years old without a death date will not show up on the Internet. Entries usually include the contributor’s contact information. This database is separate from FOKO.
FAMILIENANZEIGEN (family notices)
This data base consists of extracts from birth-, marriage-, and death notices placed in daily newspapers. Most of the entries are deaths from the last 20 years. A complete list of extracted papers is found under “Ausgewertete Zeitungen (extracted newspapers).
GRABSTEINE (tomb stones)
In Germany burial plots are usually “recycled” every 20 or 30 years, and the tomb stones removed. So a database that permanently records tomb stone information is especially useful. Since the project is fairly new, most of the tomb stones will also be of recent origin. A list of the cemeteries included is found under “Friedhöfe”.
TOTENZETTEL (Memorial cards)
The genealogical information found on memorial cards is collected in this database. It generally includes the name, birth date and –place, and death date and –place. The submitter’s contact information may be included.
VERLUSTLISTEN 1.WK (WWI Casualty lists)
The Prussian Military Archive was destroyed in 1945; therefore information about WWI soldiers is difficult to find. Among the few surviving sources are the published casualty lists. Many are already available online. This new project focuses on creating a searchable index.