If you are just beginning to research your German ancestors, it can seem to be a very daunting task. You know that your ancestor was German, but you don’t know where they came from in Germany. You don’t speak or read German, yet you understand that the records that you will need in your research will most likely be written in German. And then of course you have seen some German records written in a script that is alien to you. For some people, that is enough reason for them to throw up their hands and decide to give up researching that part of the family.
What you need is some guidance and resources to help you with your research. Of course there are many books that can provide you with information. If you go to Google search and look for “genealogy books German”, you will find a number of available books. Finding Your German Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide, by Kevan Hansen, or A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors, by S. Chris Anderson, might be all that you need.
However, in this age of instant information, you might prefer to find your instruction in German research online. If so, go to what should be a familiar site for all genealogists, www.familysearch.org, and click on “Getting Help” in the upper right hand corner. You will find several choices available. You can obtain some research assistance online or on the phone. You can find a number of published articles on the Research Wiki, just select Germany to focus on your interest.
There is a third option that might be even more helpful. Click on “Learning Center” and select Germany, and you will find 16 different online courses available to help you acquire the tools for doing German research. The courses, which include videos and interactive slideshows contain the following offerings:
1. “German Research”, a basic course in German genealogy.
2. “German Beginning Research Series”, a three part course that uses interactive slides.
3. “German Script Tutorial”, to help you deal with the writing you find in many German records.
4. “My Ancestors Are from Germany, and I Don’t Speak German”.
5. “Reading German Handwritten Records”, a three part course.
6. There are also three lessons in Spanish for those researching German ancestors.
These online courses can be done in the comfort of your own home, and are free. You will be asked to register for the first course you take, but the registration process is simple, and will be taking your first course in minutes. Happy learning.