recommendalbe geneaology sources?

  • mustangd

    Posts: 434

    Jan 15, 2012 8:20 AM GMT
    hello and thanks for taking time to read this. i'm curious to try and trace my ancestry back to across the pond, specifically germany, from both of my parents. can anyone recommend a resource or resources that they found useful? i'd like to have an understanding ot the history of the 2 families prior to my ancestors emigrating, and what current distant relation exists today.

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    Jan 15, 2012 1:15 PM GMT
    My father does extensive research using ancestry.com. It's not his sole resource, and he has not done much work on European information, but I think he has found it most valuable for being on contact with other people who are also doing research into the same families. He doesn't always feel their research is correct or complete, but it helps him narrow down a lot of searching.
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    Jan 15, 2012 3:13 PM GMT
    Ancestry.com is good as long as the data is accurate. If there aren't any birth or death certificates shown to back it up, the historian in me says be skeptical. One of my family members brought us back to the Revolutionary War. I wanted to go further to see when and where my family came from. (1530s, Somerset, England is when my family first came to America).
    Make good use of public records (birth, marriage, death certificates, land deeds etc.) and registers of towns, parishes, or villages in Germany. Most are free (in England anyway) but you might have to pay them to retrieve something unless you go there yourself. One thing about European ancestry is that they kept good archives. It is slightly easier if you have a famous relative or prominent family (land owner, lots of children) in your past. This certainly helps if your family came here during colonial times as was my case.
  • mustangd

    Posts: 434

    Jan 15, 2012 4:39 PM GMT
    thanks guys, i appreciate your time taken to reply and your insights.
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    Jan 15, 2012 5:48 PM GMT
    There is no substitute for talking to your family members and pushing their memories. Write it down and enter it all in a good database. I use a program called Reunion... it is the definitive genealogy software but is Mac-only. I've traced my mom's family back to the early 1700s in Belfast, Ireland. Stumbled upon some great resources by accident along the way, but it was only by asking aunts, uncles, cousins and other rather distant relatives. You'll be surprised how many other people in your extended family are already doing the same thing and are willing to share/work with you. Good luck and enjoy!
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    Jan 15, 2012 6:14 PM GMT
    I use Ancestry.com which is the most prolific source for millions of documents. It costs though but you can try it on a 14 day free trial using your credit card although you must cancel by the 14th day otherwise they consider you to have signed up and will start charging monthly. I first did the 14 day free trial about 3 years ago and cancelled. When I signed up this past September all my tree and information was still there as I'd left it from the free trial period. So that was good.

    It's highly addictive and you can find yourself sitting at the puter for hours upon hours not realizing how much time has gone by. As well, the more you add to your tree the more "hints" and leads to other people investigating your relatives etc. start to pop up with little "leafs" that are impossible to ignore.. it's almost like a video game to be honest.. trying to shoot down all the leafs.

    I've since reconnected with quite a few family members over the UK and the US who we lost touch with after my dad died. One cousin whom I'd met over there when we were kids and since lost track of was on Ancestry and we reconnected.. She didn't have any family pictures because her estranged sister had taken them all so I was able to email her dozens of pictures of her dad, her grandparents etc all the way back to the late 1800's

    The LDS church (Mormons) run Ancestry.com. They have literally hundreds if not thousands of their parishioners around the world scanning all these documents into the database. I think they bought the rights to do it from all these respective govt archives in exchange for a portion of the profits etc.
  • HollywoodHist...

    Posts: 403

    Feb 27, 2012 1:56 AM GMT
    RIGuy60 saidAncestry.com is good as long as the data is accurate. If there aren't any birth or death certificates shown to back it up, the historian in me says be skeptical. One of my family members brought us back to the Revolutionary War. I wanted to go further to see when and where my family came from. (1530s, Somerset, England is when my family first came to America).
    Make good use of public records (birth, marriage, death certificates, land deeds etc.) and registers of towns, parishes, or villages in Germany. Most are free (in England anyway) but you might have to pay them to retrieve something unless you go there yourself. One thing about European ancestry is that they kept good archives. It is slightly easier if you have a famous relative or prominent family (land owner, lots of children) in your past. This certainly helps if your family came here during colonial times as was my case.


    To follow up on this - he is right, but you have to understand what you are looking at on Ancestry. The majority of the site is actually documentation - primarily the US, Canada and England but with growing databases in the rest of the world. There are, however, also family trees created by amateur genealogists and old indexes compiled by the Mormon church. Be HIGHLY skeptical of the information found in these sources. Jot them down, think of them as clues but by no means consider them actual source material. Always back it up with actual documentation. It will save you a LOT of aggrivation down the road.

    I've been studying since I was 14, I'm now 33. I don't generally do it professionally but I have taken on clients form time to time. Let me know where you are at and I'd be happy to help get you to the next step. I would also highly recommend that you trace as much informaiton as possible about each generation before going on further. It's a little more time consuming but far more rewarding.
  • tnlifter

    Posts: 76

    Feb 27, 2012 2:41 AM GMT
    I've used Ancestry.com a lot. I've found it useful and reliable, although I've used documents to double check. Ancestry.com helped me trace back lines back to the 400s. Also check with your oldest living relatives - they will have a lot of info and clues. Ask about family Bibles. I found one that traced my family back 400 years! If they lived in a town, look for city directories. If you trace back into Colonial or royal families, then you've hit the jackpot, as the work has already been done. Good luck!