Exploring German Genealogy - November 2023

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Exploring German Genealogy

Learn how to track your German ancestors, starting in the United States, heading across the Atlantic, and landing in their village of origin in their home country. You’ll start in Lesson 1 with a crash course in the basics you’ll need to place your research into context: German political and religious history, the geography of Germany, and German language and names.

In Lesson 2, you’ll first learn about the major patterns of German migration to the American colonies and the United States, followed by some reminders of best practices of genealogical research that will certainly need to be applied to identify your German immigrant ancestors. You’ll then be taken on a tour, with a distinctly German spin, of records from the U.S. that you should use to do so.

In Lesson 3, you’ll learn how to do the most critical thing in pursuing German family history research into Europe: finding your ancestor’s village of origin. Those with more recent immigrant ancestors will have an advantage, but you’ll learn advanced strategies to trace even colonial immigrants back to their origins in Deutschland.

Finally, in Lesson 4, you’ll learn all about doing research using records that were originally created in Germany. In many towns, civil registration records, church records, and other records can take your family tree deep into the 17th Century. You’ll also learn about other places in Europe where German speakers are prevalent and where you can find records for those countries.


What You Will Learn:

  • Background on German history, geography, language, and names
  • The patterns of German migration to the American colonies and the United States
  • Records and strategies to use to identify your German immigrant ancestors
  • Records and strategies to use to identify your ancestor’s village of origin in Germany
  • Records and strategies to use to do research using German records
  • The basics of doing in-person research at the Family History Library and in Germany itself
  • Information about and records and strategies to use to research German-speaking ancestors who came from outside of modern-day Germany

DATE: November 20, 2023 - December 17, 2023

Course Outline

Lesson 1: German History, Geography, and Language

  1. German History
    1. History of decentralization
    2. Changing borders
    3. Major political periods
  2. Religion in Germany
    1. The Reformation
    2. Thirty Years’ War
    3. Protestantism after the Thirty Years’ War
    4. Catholicism after the Thirty Years’ War
  3. German Geography
  4. Germans Outside of Germany
  5. Language and Names
    1. The German language
    2. German names
    3. Getting around language barriers
    4. Reading German Records


Lesson 2: Identifying German Immigrant Ancestors

  1. German Immigration to America
    1. The First Wave
    2. The Second Wave
    3. Differing motivations
  2. The Basics of Genealogical Research
    1. Work backward in time
    2. Evaluate and cite sources
    3. Recognize time and place
    4. Cluster genealogy
    5. Stay organized
  3. Records to Use to Identify Immigrant Ancestors
    1. Census records
    2. Birth, marriage, and death (BMD, or vital) records
    3. Church records
    4. Probate and land records
    5. Newspapers
    6. Unofficial records


Lesson 3: Making the Connection Across the Atlantic

  1. Crossing the Atlantic
    1. Finding the Heimat (Home Village)
  2. Immigration Records
    1. Passenger lists
    2. Naturalizations
    3. Oaths Lists
    4. Manumissions
  3. Additional Records and Sources
  4. Methodologies
  5. Samples and Examples
    1. Johannes Beidler/Beydeler/Beuttler
    2. Johannes Dinius


Lesson 4: Research Using German Records

  1. Jurisdictions and German Records
    1. Using German Records
  2. German Church Records
    1. Finding German Church Records Online
    2. Finding Parishes 
  3. Civil Records
    1. Civil Registration Records
    2. Population Register Cards
  4. Compiled Genealogies
    1. Online Heritage Books and Pedigrees
  5. Accessing Offline Records
    1. The Family History Library
    2. Records in Germany
    3. What Records are Available in German
  6. Germans from Outside Today’s Germany
    1. Boundaries and Border Changes
    2. Where Did Germans Settle?


Meet the Instructor

Stephen Wendt, MLIS, of Tree Tidings Genealogy, is a professional genealogist, instructor and writer. Stephen assists global clients with their diverse genealogical research needs. A specialist in Prussian/German and Scottish genealogy, he regularly speaks on a variety of genealogical topics at the international, state and at the local level. 


How do Family Tree University workshops work?

Take the course at your own pace! 

From the course start date, you’ll be able to log in to view and access your lessons and start interacting on the discussion boards. Your instructor will check in regularly to answer all of the questions and provide feedback. You will have access to your courses anytime, anywhere, with a computer, tablet or smartphone, and can study when it's most convenient for you.

After the course end date, the course will become read-only for one year. You will continue to have access through your dashboard to the materials, but the discussion boards will be closed. The materials are yours to keep. You can download them onto your desktop to access online or offline.

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