Where can you find records in Germany and other European Countries?

+9 votes
A part of my ancestors came from Germany and immigrated to the United States in the 1850's.  This was because of religious reasons.  My grandmother spoke what is called "High" German which means probably that her people originated from the area close to Switzerland.  After WW 2 this area that belonged to Germany went into Switzerland hands.  Who do you contact to find records what with all the upheaval of these European Countries?  I was lucky to find an obit of my G/G grandmother and a German city was included and which is no longer in existance.  I would love to find out more but I don't have the slightest idea where to look.

in Genealogy Help by Mary H. G2G6 Mach 7 (78.7k points)

3 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer


The kicker is to find the German town of origin. Once that's found, there's a VERY good chance that the LDS microfilmed the church and other records. I made great strides in my own ancestry by examining LDS microfilms. 

If you have a birth date or even year, you might have some luck finding clues through what used to be called the IGI - International Genealogical Index - maintained by the LDS. 

When you have some time, take a look at my documentation of my efforts to find my own German ancestry through familysearch.org. 

My Elisabetha: Genealogy Adventures in the Rheinpfalz


by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (771k points)
selected by Lana H
Wow... I wrote that 14 years ago!!! Much has changed.
I may have to do more research at one of the Family history centers. Thanks, Jillaine. Eowyn and especially Helmut for all your help!

+4 votes
Do you have any additional information besides hochdeutsch? That could include anything from Alemannisch to Bavarian to Austrian and more. What is the city's name? During the "Third Reich" and also after WWII a lot of municipalities were merged and some formerly independent cities may still exist as suburbs or districts of bigger cities.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (541k points)
I will have to look it up again.  I will get back with you.  Thank you for your help.
well, I found the obit. It only mentions the country, Germany. She died in 1909.  I don't understand the blame secrecy.  This was before WW1! I'm sorry, I am getting frustrated.  I will have to do more searching.  Is there by chance a place called Messen, Switzerland close to the border of Germany?  Thank you, Helmut for all your assistance.
Helmut... Does this sound familiar?  Havre,  Deutschland.  Port of departure.  1848
There is a village named Messen in the Canton of Solothurn south of Basel, it's in the German speaking part of Switzerland but would not have been considered Germany in the 19th century and is too far away from the border to be part of any minor border changes. I'll keep looking.

Port of departure may have been Le Havre, France. Most German emigrants departed via Hamburg and Bremen, but Le Havre was also used quite frequently.

wow! You have filled in quite a few holes.  Thank you, Helmut!  cheeky

+3 votes

Hi Mary, 

Here's a link that might help you find some places to start researching: 


by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)

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