Based on email traffic I have seen lately, it seems to me that all too many people think they are doomed to failure with their German genealogical research simply because they are unfamiliar with the German language (dialects) or unaware of German speaking peoples’ histories. Knowing something about German and “the history of German speaking people” can certainly be very useful in conducting research. But in all honesty, there are simply not that many folks out there, no matter their daily language skills or history knowledge, who are familiar with everything about ‘old Germany’. The Germans, like most European ethnic groups, have a long and complex history, one which is well matched to their handwriting, alphabet, short hand, and past-dated terminology.
Truth be told, almost everyone, at one time or another, needs help. It makes little difference whether they need help deciphering old documents, be they German, French, English, Latin or in figuring out what documentation might be available for genealogical and historical research. As my Oma (grandmother) used to tell me, “Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache” (The German language is a difficult language.) And so it is. Germany’s history is long, varied and complicated as well, encompassing many turns and nuances. There is simply a lot to learn.
As with many knowledge challenges, there are quite a few excellent tools available on the Internet, these days, to aid in solving language and other knowledge deficiencies or difficulties. When you are in need of help with your German research, I highly recommend the following documents and sites. Whether you are a expert or novice, remember almost everyone needs help at one time or another.
Quick Dictionaries/ Translation Tools
- German Genealogy Terms -very slick & helpful (1st Choice Translations-UK)
- German Genealogical Word List (About.com)
- Common Terms in German Genealogy (USgennet)
Help in researching German Regions
- Pointers on conducting German Research (FamilySearch)
- Help with West Prussian (Westpreussen) Research (Genealogienetz)
- Help with East Prussian (Ostpreussen) Researc (Genealogienetz)
- Other Current & Former German Regions Research Help (Genealogienetz)
Gothic Script Help
Obviously, there are many more content expertise providers. If you use other tools, sites, or help that are “freely” available to those of us poor folk, please let me know and I’ll augment this document with your pointers.