Research Strategies for Hannover
Basic Research steps in Hannover
1. Before one embarks on family research, it is advisable to look for information at home. Parents and grandparents usually have stories and documents rendering the foundation of the research. It is often a good idea to record the stories being told.
2. When receiving letters, pictures, documents and notes they should be organized into a searchable system. Information for 10 generations (2047 ancestors) can become a frightful mess if not systematically correlated. An Ahnentafel (generation chart) can help to keep the information well-structured. One should start with one’s own name and vital data, then add parents and grandparents with their data and so forth.
3. Depending on the time frame, a search can start with the records of the civil registration office. In 1874 record keeping was taken over by the state and records can be retrieved through the local registration office or the local city archive, depending when the event occurred. If a death occurred 30 years ago from now (2012), the record can be retrieved through the city archive. The same is true for a marriage record, older than 80 years and a birth record, older than 100 years. A copy can be ordered for the fee of around 7 Euros. The tracing of one’s ancestors back in time can be relatively frictionless when using civil registration records, since they often supply birth dates and places.
4. The Search in archives. Before civil registration the parish priest recorded the individual’s vital information. Most record books can be found in archives today if they are no longer used by the parish priest. For the Evangelical church the records are in Kirchenkreisen, for the Catholic church they can be found in a Bistumsarchiv. Records have been photocopied and are available on microfilm or microfiche. Priests were also required to supply duplicate records. These are often found in state archives, and their archival descriptions can be retrieved online through the archive’s catalog. The further back the research goes, the more difficult it can become to find information. If a church book is no longer available, tax records or other administrative documents can help, i.e., court records.
5. To know the script. If research is conducted in archives, it is essential to be able to read old German handwriting (Kurrent) and interpret the text. One can deal with archaic terms, old professions and illnesses, Latin expressions or texts, Roman calendars, feast days, spelling problems etc. Usually, the archive personnel is not equipped in interpreting records for a patron. If research is conducted in an archive, it is advisable to employ someone capable of reading Kurrent and who is acquainted with various record types.
6. Many Germans migrated or emigrated East and settled in what is today Poland, Russia, Hungary and so forth. They established settlements and spread their culture which included their record keeping. Many documents were destroyed through wars or other calamities. However, many were kept and are housed in Eastern and German archives. For further information consult this Wiki and retrieve helpful information from the many articles rendered for research in Eastern European countries.
7. With the help of the internet, many portals are available to begin one’s research in Hannover. www.familysearch.org , www.genealogie.netz , www.ahnenforschung.net are all websites which will be helpful to the genealogist. Also, the website www.ortsfamilienbücher.net would be helpful, since a researcher has made the effort to research a particular village. His work would prove extremely helpful, since he practically has done the work for you, gathered generations back to availability of records for the village and surrounding area. Millions of entries are also available through contributions of individual researchers at www.gedbas.genealogy.net and www.foko.genealogy.net
Simon Benne. Anleitung zur Familienforschung. Eine kleine Stammbaumschule Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung
Research Problems and Strategies
- What to do when only Hanover is known as a place of origin?
1. You can check/have checked these films . They are listing in alphabetical order all births, marriages and death of members of the Evangelical church in the city of Hannover as recorded from 1774-1875. If an ancestor is not found here, he/she may not have been
a. of Evangelical religion
b. from the city of Hannover
- When children were born illegitimately and the father’s name is not known what research strategy is suggested?
1. Check who the witnesses were at birth of child. Likelihood is that there might be a relationship. There might exist a separate section in the church book for illegitimate births.
2. Check whether the mother marries the father later and the child became legitimized by the father’s acknowledgment .
3. Check confirmation records.
4. Find school records to see if school fees were paid for the child and by whom (Search in School records . One possibility “Kirchenvisitationen”, “Schülerverzeichnis”)
5. Was the child adopted? (Search in court records, key word: “ Adoptionen”, “Vormundschaft”)
6. See if a will exists in which the child was bequeathed money or property. (Search in court records for “Testamente”, "Ehestiftungen")
- When parents came from a city unknown what would be the research strategy?
1. Check the witnesses at the children’s baptisms. Witnesses might be relatives and there may be a place name which could give a clue.
2. Check citizenship records of present residence (Search for "Ansässigmachung", ” Bürgerrolle”, “Bürgerbuch”, “Bürgerliste”,” Bürgerverzeichnis”, “Einwohnermeldeverzeichnis”)
3. Check for journeymen or servants records (Search for “Geburtsbriefe”, “Gesindebuch”, “Heimatscheine”, “Wanderbücher”, “Gutsarchiv” records)
4. Check census records. Search for “Volkszählungen”.
5. Check guild records. Search for “Innungen”
6. Check neighboring church records to see if parents appeared as witnesses.
- When given and surnames are present more than once in a parish and additional persons cannot easily be assigned to each other, what would be the research strategy?
1. Establish whole families. See who has married whom and had what children.
2. Compare findings in church books with court records. 90% of the population in Germany were dependent farmers. They did not own their farms but had usufruct , for which they were taxed and recorded in administrative records. Parents would bequeath, sell , lease or retire, and children inherit personal property. All such actions were recorded in court records. ( Search in archival records, such as ”Schuld- und Pfandprotokolle”, "Ehestiftungen" or "Amtsbuch")
3. Check tax lists. Twice a year people were required to pay taxes. See if the same heads of family pay each time. If the head of household dies, the widow continues to pay taxes until her child becomes of age and takes over or she remarries. (Search for “Steuerlisten”, “Steuerrollen”, “Amtsrechnungen”).
- When different spellings exist for a family name what would be the research strategy?
1. Be aware that spelling rules are not set until the early 1900s. Dialects can apply when writing official records. Some consonants and vowels are interchangeable. The name Triebenbach can be spelled Driebenbach, Treubenbach, Drübenbach.
2. Names can be Latinized: The name Keller becomes Cellarius, names can sound as if they are Latin, such as Debelius.
3. The priest simply made a mistake.
4. Consider looking at neighboring parish registers.
5. Always compare the spelling of a name with other documents available for the time period. (The most common ones are taxlists, in German “Steuerlisten”, “Steuerrollen”).
- When church records from a parish cannot be located what should be the research strategy?
1. Check if the correct parish was chosen. A good source to check is a gazetteer.
2. Have parish jurisdictions changed?
3. Check with the diocese (Bistum) or deanery (Dekanat) if a duplicate record does exist and where it was deposited.
Catholic Church of Niedersachsen (map)
When church books no longer exist because they were destroyed what should the research strategy be?
Gather information from other records:
1. Tax records (Steuerlisten, Schatzungslisten) – located in state archives
2. Debt registers, citizenship records, fire insurance registers (Schuldenregister, Löscheimerlisten, Brandregister, Bürgerlisten) – located in city archives, mayor‘s office
3. Guild records, notary records, land records (Innungslisten, Zunftbücher, notarielle Akten, Grundbuchsachen – state archives
4. Kataster, Bannbücher (cadastral , absolvent books) – state archives, cadastral offices, finance departments
5. Tax records of parishes (Lagerbücher) – church archives
6. House lists, address books, house ownership lists, military records, vaccination records (Häuserlisten, Adressbücher, Hauswirtslisten, Stammrollen, Impflisten) – city archives
7. News papers (Zeitungen, Amtsblätter) - city archive, state archive
8. Emigration records, census records, Wählerlisten (Auswanderungsakten, Volkszählungen, (voting records) – state archive
9. Cemetery records (Gräber, Gottesacker) – city archive
Here is a link to a forum which has collected information about research strategies in Lower Saxony
Important! If you come across an article in German which needs translation, consider the language tool in Google. On the Google main page choose language tool and category "translate a website". Hilite the URL you want translated and paste into category "translate a website". Then choose your language (German) into English and hit translate.