I recently had the opportunity to orders some German records through my local LDS library. I was quite nervous about the entire affair and I blogged to my readers about it. However, one such reader Kathy, came to my rescue and was a wealth of information. Kathy is not a blogger, had not commented on a blog before and had yet to order microfilm but she had the opportunity to work with some German records for her own family research and she provided some tips for me along with an extensive list of resources.
After taking her advice, along with using some of the links, (I will be honest I haven’t made my way through all of them yet) I would like to take this opportunity to share her words of wisdom and her resources with my readers. Therefore, if you have some German ancestors in your history then this is your lucky day.
Kathy’s Tips and Resources for German Genealogy:
From my experience, I’d suggest that you spend your time while waiting for the arrival of that microfilm you ordered by studying up on these areas:
1) How to read old German handwriting (hint: there’s more than one kind of handwritten script--it depends on how old the records are)
2) How to translate common terms used in German language records (because, really, most of the time you don’t need to read much German—especially if you understand how the documents tend to be organized).
3) A keen understanding about life in Germany back in the time you want to research is helpful. It’s the subtle things that elude those of us who are not natives and educating yourself about the cultural and social history of that time and specific area can help.
4) Download digital copies of any potentially useful records. Print copies wouldn’t leave you with as much detail in the image. With a digital image you can easily enlarge a section or use other software to enhance it that would be impossible with a paper copy.
Kathy’s resource list was so extensive I have provided a link to a downloadable copy for ease of use.
Resources for Reading and Translating German Records
(Since acquiring Kathy’s help, and taking a stab at my first set of German records with some success, I am feeling quietly comfortable in obtaining further documents.)
Your Family History Research-What's Holding You Back?