Frequently Asked Questions
How to find relatives and friends in Germany and German ancestors
Everybody who is a legal and permanent resident in Germany is registered with a "Meldebehörde" (registration office) and has to notify this office when he or she moves. It is thus theoretically very easy to find somebody. However, the "Meldestelle" does not have the right to pass information on to a third party unless there is a well-founded reason such as legal persecution, death or illness of a close relative, inheritance or child support payments. Addresses of registration offices (Meldebehörde) can be requested from telephone inquiries in your own country.
There are a number of other ways to find somebody without having to involve an official body. There is a very good chance to find somebody via the online telephone directory and other internet resources. Here are some of the most reliable ones:
German White Pages
German Ancestors and Genealogical Research
General information on how to trace your German ancestors
If you are interested in genealogical research, visit the following links:
- About the USA: Genealogy
Portal for exploring German heritage provided by the German National Tourism Board and the German Information Center USA (German Embassy and Consulates in the United States)
- National Archives – Genealogy www.archives.gov/genealogy
The National Archives has custody of millions of records relating to people who have had dealings with the federal government. These records are located in National Archives facilities in the Washington D.C. area. The Genealogy Page of the National Archives and Records Administration provides finding aids, guides, and research tools which prepares for a visit to one of their facilities or for requesting records from NARA.
- Immigrant Genealogical Society (IGS) immigrantgensoc.org
Founded in North Hollywood, California in 1982 to help Americans trace their ancestors' origins, particularly in the German speaking areas of Europe.
- RootsWeb rootsweb.com
Includes search engines and databases, family trees (over 70 million names), surname and geographical mailing lists, and message boards. The site also hosts other volunteer projects such as the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild and Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. Although it remains free to users, RootsWeb is sponsored by Ancestry.com, whose extensive database (both free and pay) can also be searched from this site.
Launched in 2006 as the German language version of Ancestry.com. Both fee-based and free information available. Includes passenger manifests of former Hamburg “Link to your roots” project.
- FamilySearch.org www.familysearch.org
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints offers an Internet Genealogy Service. You can search for your ancestors in their vast record collections, get step-by-step research guidance on searching for ancestors, view maps, forms, guides, and other research helps. They hold microfilms of many German materials such as parish registers of baptisms, marriages and deaths in Salt Lake City.
- Federation of Genealogical Societies www.fgs.org
Founded in 1976, it represents the members of more than 500 genealogical societies
„...helping you locate information on FAMILY HISTORY, information about immigration records, census records, historical accounts, in the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th century in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany.“ - a member of Ancestry.com
Emigration and Immigration lists
Emigration/immigration lists and passenger lists provide information on emigrants from all over Germany.
- GermanOriginality.com - Genealogy
Extensive list of links to passenger manifests and other regional sources for tracing German ancestors.
- Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
Ships manifests departing from Germany: http://immigrantships.net/bremenproj/bremenproject.html
- American Family Immigration History Center
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. has developed an exciting family genealogy facility. Housed in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and accessible via the Internet, the American Family Immigration History CenterTM uses state-of-the-art interactive computer technology to bring the immigration records on ancestors who came to the United States between 1892 and 1924.
Project of the ‘Verein für Computergenealogie’. This association provides information on regional resources, societies, clubs, databases of genealogy societies, emigration information, passenger ship lists, sample letters to churches, offices, archives, organizations and much more. There is also a step by step guide on how to perform genealogical research in Germany by combining traditional research methods with Internet genealogy: www.genealogienetz.de/misc/anfaenger.html
Tips for researchers: www.genealogienetz.de/misc/tips.html
Further regional sources:
- Genealogy Research in Stuttgart Libraries and Archives
- Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Saarländische Familienkunde -ASF-
The page is available in German only.
- Institute for Migration and Ancestral Research e. V. www.imar-mv.com
In the 19th century about 200,000 Mecklenburg people left their country to find a new homeland. Most of them emigrated to America. If your ancestors come from Mecklenburg or West Pomerania I.M.A.R. will help you to trace your family roots.
- The Lower Saxony state archives in Hannover, Osnabrück and Wolfenbuettel provide information on persons who emigrated to the United State in the 18th and 19th century. The site can be searched by name, profession and place of birth. Unfortunately, there is no English explanation available.
- Research Center German Emigrants in the USA www.uni-oldenburg.de/nausa/nausae.htm
The Research Center has at its disposal 1,586 rolls of Microfilm with passenger lists, that have been preserved. These rolls from the National Archives, Washington D.C., are available to the public in the library of the Oldenburg University.