Wednesday, November 2, 2011

German genealogy aids : Featured library resource for November 2011

Our library has a few select resources for those of us with German-speaking ancestors.  The most comprehensive is In search of your German roots, 4th ed. (2001) by Angus Baxter.  This small volume is one of several penned by this author, a noted genealogy expert who died in 2005, covering different ethnic/national areas (we also have the Canadian volume).  It addresses the far-flung history of the Germanic peoples who had significant populations in many countries, and includes separate chapters on Germans in the US and Canada, as well as Jewish records, and the Lutheran Church.  Many archives and record repositories in Germany are listed.

A short history of German place names by Harry Davis (3d edition, 1978) is a charming booklet summarizing the history of German speaking areas with particular attention to the place names characteristic for each historical period or social development.  It has a short list of selected place names explicating their meaning, and a page of “common elements” of place names, such as “au” meaning low area.

Where to look for hard-to-find German-speaking ancestors in Eastern Europe by Bruce Brandt is subtitled “Index to 16,372 surnames in 13 books.”  It covers German populations in Eastern European countries including Poland, Russia, Austria and Romania.  The author includes an order form for further information about the names listed.

In addition, volume 1 of the two notebooks of handouts from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (located above the Research Guides book cabinet) contains the following:
            Germany research outline
            Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934
            Handwriting guide: German Gothic
            German genealogical word list
            German letter writing guide

Of course, Ancestry has indexed many records from Germany and German-speaking countries, as has Family Search.  German states and parishes are increasingly putting records online as well.  As Angus Baxter remarks in the introduction to his book, “[the German-speaking peoples’] passion for order is a priceless legacy” for their descendents.

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