Raymond S. Wright III, Nathan S. Rives, Mirjam J. Kirkham, Saskia Schier Bunting
When they came to America, German immigrants left behind a trail of records
familiar to everyone in genealogy, from births, marriages, and deaths to
citizenship and census records, and from land and tax records to emigration
records. The key to German genealogical research, of course, is to find out
where these records are located, but since there are more than 2,000 national,
state, and local repositories in Germany, to say nothing of church repositories
and other private archives, such an undertaking is daunting if not downright
impossible. We know there are records, but what good are they if we can’t find
them? And these records stretch back to the Middle Ages, encompassing family
history sources so vast in number and so scattered that the mind reels.
To overcome this challenge, a Brigham Young University project was launched
in 1996 to identify the records of German emigrants by cataloguing the relevant
record holdings in all the public and private archives in the Federal Republic
of Germany. This book is the direct outgrowth of that ambitious project. Under
the supervision of Professor Raymond Wright, approximately 2,000 national, state
and local government archives, as well as private archives, were surveyed.
Questionnaires were mailed to archivists asking them to identify their
archives’ jurisdictions and to describe the records housed in their archives
and the services provided by their staff. The returned questionnaires,
supplemented by Internet searches, were used to create summaries of each
archive’s jurisdictions, holdings, and services. The result of this massive
survey, published here, is an exhaustive guide to family history sources in
German archives at every level of jurisdiction, public and private. Anyone
searching for data about people who lived in Germany in the past need only
determine which archives today have jurisdiction over the records that were
created by church or state institutions.
The questionnaire sent to German archivists asked specifically for
information about each archive’s collections of vital records, religious
records, military records, emigration records, passport records, censuses, and
town and county records. Archivists were also asked to describe any published
guides or inventories to their collections. Compiled in book form, the answers
appear here in chapters dealing with the federal archives (Bundesarchive),
religious archives, and the various archives in each of Germany’s sixteen
states (Lander), including town (Kreisstadte), city (Stadtarchiv),
and county archives (Kreis).
To facilitate the location of records in each archive or repository, the book
is arranged in the following manner: Within each state chapter all entries are
arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the city in which the archive is
located. The first part of each chapter contains listings of state archives;
next, all city and regional archives are listed. Church archives with
jurisdictions within the state are in the third section, while the fourth
section lists family archives. Last, all other archives in the state for which a
questionnaire was returned, or a website found, are listed.
For each of the 2,000 archives, information is provided under the following
- Name and Address of the Archive (including phone, fax, e-mail, and
- Jurisdiction of the Archive
- Organization of the Archive’s Records
- Published Guides or Descriptions of Collections
- Emigration Records
- Records of Churches or Religious Communities
- Civil Registration of Births, Marriages, and Deaths
- Civil Registration of Residents
- Records of Cities, Towns, and Districts
- Military Records
- Records from Former German Communities Now in Other Countries
Designed to answer the researcher’s most frequently asked questions
regarding the type of records that exist and where such records can be found,
this massive compilation holds the key to genealogical research in Germany.
Comparisons abound, but Ancestors in German Archives closely resembles Ancestry’s
Red Book in that it is an all-in-one directory to genealogical sources in
all repositories in all places in one country. In this case, of course, it is a
one-stop guide to genealogical sources in Germany, and it is clearly the most
indispensable finding-aid ever published on the subject. Most importantly, it
answers the fundamental questions about the very existence of genealogical
records in Germany and paves the way for successful research.
Format: Paper, 2 vols.
Pages: x + 1198 pp.
|Item Number:|| 401-6505
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|List Price:| 90.00