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Finding Ancestor Information in Germany

 
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 383
Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:46 am    Post subject: Finding Ancestor Information in Germany Reply with quote

For many of us from Concordia, our ancestors came to America from Germany. Finding records for them may be a little more difficult than more recent information here in the U.S. However, there are several website that I have found to be very helpful in locating historical data from the “old country”. Whether you are successful in finding information about your own relatives is somewhat a matter of luck. It all depends on which of the older records have been indexed and posted on-line.

The first site to check is https://www.familysearch.org/, i.e. the Family History Center website in Salt Lake City. You simply enter the name of the individual you are looking for and it usually will return a large number of search results, including similar sounding names (if you don’t specify an exact match). On the left side of the results page, there are a number of options to filter the results to a more manageable number. For example, you can narrow the search to specific collections of birth/marriage/death records, census records, or migration records. You can also specify dates and locations to narrow the search. A surprising number of German church records have been indexed and that number keeps growing.

A second site is specific to Germany, namely http://www.online-ofb.de/. This link is to the family heritage books (Ortsfamilienbücher) of that website. Here you need to know the general area where your ancestors lived and click on the link for a particular community. For example, under Bremen and surroundings, you will see a link to Selsingen where the Hinck, Reith, and other families lived. At the top of the page are links to other information on the German genealogy.net site. Some, but not all, pages include the option to display the text in English. If not and you are not familiar with German, you can also use an on-line translation facility such as Google Translate. The Ortsfamilienbücher (and the similar Ortssippenbücher) are compilations of family histories. They usually include information extracted from the church records, but may include additional information. If you are fortunate to find such a book for your ancestors, you will usually discover a lot of interesting information.
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roger.pape
Site Admin


Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 383
Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:40 pm    Post subject: Other German Genealogy and Ortsfamilienbücher Reply with quote

As noted in the post above, Ortsfamilienbücher are an excellent source of family history back in Germany, that is if you can find one for the location where your ancestors came from. If your are not familiar with these books, there is a good description at FamilySearch. The link that was cited in the earlier post (http://www.online-ofb.de/) is part of a much more comprehensive German web server with several addresses (such as genealogy.net or compgen.de) maintained by the Verein für Computergenealogie e.V. (Association for Computer Genealogy). When you go to the top level server using one of these latter two addresses, there are various tabs at the top of the web page that provide access to a number of other sources of information. The website is in German, but you have several options reading the data if you are not proficient in the language. One is to paste blocks of text into Google Translate (https://translate.google.com/) or, if you use the Google Chrome browser, a small window will pop up asking if you want to translate the page. Select 'Translate' and all pages that you link to from that point will also be translated. (In case you get switched back to a page in German, you can right click anywhere in the page and select the 'Translate to English' option.) Very convenient!

Try the various links on the genealogy.net site and you will find a lot of other information. For example, if you select the GEDBAS tab, you can enter a specific name to see if any information is posted for that individual or family. (Note. This data is extracted from family trees that were submitted rather than from the Ortsfamilienbücher.) If you click on 'Links', you will find a link to Auswanderung/Linkliste, i.e. various lists of emigres or passenger lists. Among other things you may find gravestones, addresses of various churches, digital editions of historical books, newspaper announcements of births, marriages, and deaths, etc.

Getting back to the Ortsfamilienbücher. a large number of them were produced over the years but only a small subset of them have been digitized, indexed and posted on-line. There are about 340 of them posted on the site listed above. The one for Selsingen, that contained a number of ancestors of families in the Concordia area, was deleted from this site. However, I was able to find it at another location, namely at http://www.genpluswin-database.de/nofb/index.php. This site also includes a number of other locations of interest, such as Heeslingen. For some families, you will find traces back a number of generations; for others, little if any. It all depends on the detail provided by the compiler of the book.
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