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Ancestral Research in Germany.

The following article is from "Verein für Familien- und Wappenkunde in Wuerttemberg und Baden e.V." (Society for Family Science and Heraldry in Wuerttemberg and Baden)

There are a number of private societies of hobby-genealogists, each working in a region within its historic lines of demarcation (a country, province, town). These societies know the genealogical literature and location of archives of their region and can give competent information on facts at hand and recommendations. But they cannot do any research work for you. In appropriate cases they could get you in contact with a professional genealogist, archives or another suitable institution. To pay their fees would then be up to you.

Basically records are those on birth (child and parents), marriages (couple and sometimes their parents), death. Records are kept at municipal civil registrar's offices (Standesamt), working in general since 1876, in Wuerttemberg since 1816. Also in parochial Protestant/Lutheran and Catholic archives. These records of christenings, marriages and burials, often going back to the year 1600, are written in script one must know how to decipher. The systems are decentralized and ordered exactly chronologically. Their facts and data being in no computer, one must know where the events took place, to be able to locate and evaluate the documents. In principle there will be no answer to questions on an ancestor without quoting his place of origin/birth/marriage. General indications, such as "Germany", "Prussia", "the region of Stuttgart" will not do. By the way: Baden or Hannover often means the country of Baden or Hannover rather than the city of Baden-Baden or Hannover. The place of origin of an emigrant, if there is no other source, may be found in the rather incomplete records of emigration (especially in the 19th century) of the counties of Baden, Bayern, Hessen-Darmstadt, Pfalz, Wuerttemberg. Or from the harbour of Hamburg: in the "Historic Emigration Office", Postfach 10 22 49, D-20015 Hamburg, Germany. Passenger-lists from other harbours are not available. Positive results on research work cannot be guaranteed: fees are involved irrespective of results.

Before starting a wild search here in Germany, try to obtain advice and information at home by contacting a local association which you can find in the "Directory of Genealogical Societies" in the USA and Canada, published by Paul M. Harrod Company, Baltimore, Maryland 31234, USA. The Genealogical Society of Utah, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150 in the USA has very extensive records with microfilmns of numerous German parochial registers, and it will be worthwhile to check there first.

The German computer-genealogists organise a German BBS with several databases. You can ring it up with your modem and have a look into the databases yourself. The number is 49-6151-42494 1. The FIDOnode is 2:2464/24 and the SYsOp is Dieter Zwinger. One big database there is "Forscherkontakte" to which more than 2500 researchers have sent in the familynames they have researched. You can buy parts of the database on a floppy-disc of printed in books. The parts are sorted regionally. We call them "Regionallisten". For a list of prices write: Dieter Zwinger, Osannstrasse 24, D-64285 Darmstadt, Germany enclosing international postal reply-coupons.

Our societyis a private, non sponsored genealogical society of hobby-genealogists. Though the assistants in our office (mainly seniors between 65 and 85) are volunteers, including the translators, we have a lot of expenses for maintaining our office, our library and for the very expensive German mail - at this stage 3 German Marks for an airmail letter to the USA or Canada. Therefore we are not in a position to act on inquiries unless we get some money. We think of either 15 Dollars cash or sent by postal money order (no bank checks!). On an average we get more than 1200 inquiries per year, 60% from the USA, most of them written in English, many without adding money for the reply (but US stamps instead, which of course are not accepted by our German post-offices).

Generally all foreigners are asked to use a typewriter, or to print names of persons and places. And good English is understood better than insufficient German.

We wish you good luck for your undertaking!


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