Germany Project Resources

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Resources for German Genealogy Research

This page offers resources to help you find information on your German Ancestors.

For location-specific resources in one of Germany's 16 regions, see the individual Regions pages, or the corresponding team page (i.e., Prussia Team, Volga Germans, etc.)


Getting Started with German Genealogy

Helpful Tools to Get Started

  • Free online translator (works better than Google Translate):
  • For creating source citations, try using this free citation creator website:
  • Myers Gazetteer (help page): lists almost every place name in the German Empire (1871-1918). It gives the location (the state and other jurisdictions), where the civil registry office was and parishes if that town had them. It also gives lots of other information about each place. The only drawback to Meyer’s is that if a town did not have a parish, it does not tell where the parish was, making reference to other works necessary.
  • Amazing (short) video: 1000 Years of European Border Changes

German Genealogy - Learn the Basics

Tips on how to get started in your research:

Free Online Courses

SOURCES: German Genealogy Resource List

Compilations of Internet Resources

The following websites contain links to many online resources to use in your research:

Naming Customs and Surname Distribution

Reliable Sources

Parish/Church Records (the most reliable source for German research)

Church records, parish registers and church books, are the most important and reliable sources for family history research in Germany until 1875, when the civil registry offices started keeping these records. They recorded baptism, marriage and burial details, with the majority of people living in German/Prussian regions. Churches were responsible for keeping their own records, so knowing the religion of whom you are researching is helpful. The most common religions were Catholics and Protestants. Protestant and Catholic church records started in the 1500's. However, most of the existing church records do not begin before the end of the 30-year war. You will need to know the parish(es) your relative lived in to be able to start searching for records.
  • Matricula is an interdenominational and international platform that provides free access to church records, including the Catholic church
  • (pay site): Since 2015 this Evangelical cooperative archive website has provided an increasing number of Protestant church record images from many parts of the former German Empire.
  • Catalog, by place name - the starting place to find free viewable microfilms of parish registers (unfortunately, many of these records are not yet indexed)


  • OSB and OFB: Ortssippenbücher "OSB" (lists of families within a particular parish and are generally compilations of church records made by pastors) and Ortsfamilienbuch "OFB" (online local family and heritage books) are great sources for German genealogy and are considered to be reliable sources for pre-1700 German genealogy. However, many of these records are not available online. See: Germany Town Genealogies for more info on these sources. REMEMBER TO CITE THESE SOURCES PROPERLY: author, "title", (publication place, date), page number. Also, please extract the vital info from the book and add it into your citation, i.e.:
Hanauer, Dr. Josef. "Häusergeschichte der Marktgemeinde Eslarn", (Marktgemeinde Eslarn. 1985), p. 123, family xyz: Katharina, née Eichhorn, b.14 May 1834, d.8 August 1912; Parents: Eichorn Johann, Ludwig-Müller-Straße 2 Katharina, née Braun
  • - Meta Search of This website concentrates on German ancestors and with the meta search you are querying all their databases in one search. Many useful results should show up, but also user generated trees from GEDBAS.
  • FamilySearch: Indexed Historical Records available for free on the FamilySearch website
  • Arbeitskreis Volkszahlregister (AKVZ): mostly northern German census records - AKVZ transfers handwritten censuses and other registers of persons from the period 1671 to 1864 into machine readable form in maximum document fidelity, without changing or interpreting the original (transcription). The person database currently contains 2.3 million persons. The site is freely accessible.
  • The Deutsches Geschlechterbuch, until 1943 known as the Genealogisches Handbuch bürgerlicher Familien is a genealogical handbook with master lists of German upper and middle class families. Online at and


Civil registry offices started keeping birth, marriage and death records after 1875. These offices are in the 16 German states. They're responsible for keeping certain documents (certificates, records, maps, digital data, etc.) in the state's archives. For a list of all the offices, visit: Wikipedia: List of State Archives
  • Federal Archives
  • Stasi: State Archives
  • The Arolsen Archives are an international center on Nazi persecution with the world’s most extensive collection of documents about the victims and survivors of National Socialism. The documents relate to the various groups persecuted by the Nazi regime and contain references to around 17.5 million people. Many of the around 30 million documents are now available in the online archive of the Arolsen Archives.
If you need to contact archives or parishes to search or get access to documents, the following free space provides you with good starting point: List of Addresses for Family Research in Germany


  • Deutsche Biographie (German Biography) - Certified information on more than 730,000 personalities and families in the German speaking areas from the Middle Ages to the present; namely 50,000 biographies (ADB and NDB) and links to more than 230 online resources (literature, dictionaries, source editions etc.).


NOTE: More links are available on the 16 Regions pages:

States, Maps and Location Resources

Cemeteries and Memorials

  • "Gefallenendenkmäler" (War Memorials): 1618-present. The collection is generally limited to fallen members of the German and Austrian armed forces of all wars
  • Online project "Grabsteine" (Tombstones): This is a public, non-commercial gravestone project
  • Gräbersuche-Online - German Military Grave Search
  • Germany Cemeteries Team, part of the Global Cemeteries Project (dormant - needs volunteers!)
  • Vingis Park Cemetery - in Vilnus, Lithuania memorial to 1600+ German WWII soldiers who were killed in action


Pre-1700, Medieval, Aristocrats and Notables

  • GenWiki: Gothaisches Genealogisches Taschenbuch is a series of books in which the German Aristocracy Archive Marburg has been publishing the genealogies of the genders of the historical nobility since 2015. The series is the successor to the Genealogical Handbook of the Nobility (GHdA) published until 2015.
  • Monumenta Germaniae Historica (digital/searches): a comprehensive series of edited and published primary sources, both chronicle and archival, for the study of Northwestern and Central European history from the end of the Roman Empire to 1500. One drawback is that much, if not most, if the information is in Latin, others are in alt- or mittelhochdeutsch, which is difficult to read/translate for some.
  • Medieval Lands: A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families by Charles Cawley. See WikiTree's source page: Space:Medieval Lands for instructions on how to cite this source.
    • OSB and OFB: Ortssippenbücher "OSB" (lists of families within a particular parish and are generally compilations of church records made by pastors) and Ortsfamilienbuch "OFB" (online local family and heritage books) are great sources for German genealogy and are considered to be reliable sources for pre-1700 German genealogy. However, many of these records are not available online. See: Germany Town Genealogies for more info on these sources. REMEMBER TO CITE THESE SOURCES PROPERLY: author, "title", (publication place, date), page number. Also, please extract the vital info from the book and add it into your citation, i.e.:
Hanauer, Dr. Josef. "Häusergeschichte der Marktgemeinde Eslarn", (Marktgemeinde Eslarn. 1985), p. 123, family xyz: Katharina, née Eichhorn, b.14 May 1834, d.8 August 1912; Parents: Eichorn Johann, Ludwig-Müller-Straße 2 Katharina, née Braun

Reliable Sources with Conditions

  • Find A Grave, Billiongraves and other cemetery sites would be deemed reliable only when a picture of the headstone is provided. Remember that even grave markers can have errors in name spelling and dates.

Unreliable Sources

  • User generated online trees like Geni, MyHeritage, Ancestry, FamilySearch, Rootsweb, Geneanet, etc. These kinds of sites can be used to find details that can lead to reliable sources. Some online trees cite sources that can be used for your profiles (after you have checked them out). Never use a user generated tree as source.
  • Published books, articles and blogs that do not have sources listed.
  • See also: Category:Frauds_and_Fabrications

German History and Timelines

Writing, Language and Translation Resources


In Germany a number of different written languages and dialects were used. Below are some links to sites which may help you with old documents:
  • Wikipedia: Blackletter, also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century
  • Wikipedia: Fraktur is a calligraphic hand of the Latin alphabet and any of several blackletter typefaces derived from this hand
  • Wikipedia: Kurrent is an old form of German-language handwriting based on late medieval cursive writing
    • Kurrent Typewriter: a tool to read old German writing - If you're trying to read/decipher a letter or any written document in the old German handwriting of Fraktur/Kurrentschrift then you need to use this tool. The website is in German but it's pretty easy. You click on the letters that you can identify, one-by-one, and if you're unsure about a letter you use the dot (.). The tool itself will give you the words that are most likely, thus helping you understand what was written.
  • Wikipedia: ß
  • Schrift - Generator - translates your typewritten text into your choice of 8 different scripts
  • Think like a German: Spelling Variations in Genealogy Documents


Translation and Language



  • Latin Dictionary - many old records are written in Latin this is a handy list of commonly used Latin words/phrases

Interact with Other German Genealogists

Groups and Societies

Mailing Lists

Consider joining one of the regional mailing lists for the region your ancestor lived in. They are full of local experts that are more than willing to help. Be aware that not all Germans are comfortable speaking/writing in English and they use online translators. Here are all genealogy mailing lists for Germany:

Social Media Groups

Other Resources on WikiTree

Help and Editing on WikiTree



High Level Categories

NOTE: The categories below are "high level categories" and should serve as a starting point to categorizing. Please do NOT add individual profiles to these categories. Instead add profiles to the narrowest category possible, starting with the subcategories named in each high-level category.
Questions about categorization should be directed to PC Jelena Eckstädt or Categorization Team Leader Steven Greenwood.

Location Categories

Using modern locations to categorize locations in Germany is the simplest and easiest way for all members to categorize locations on their profiles. For categories to be useful, they need to be used uniformly, so here's our "guidance" on category usage:
  1. If you'd like to add a German location category to a profile, the Project encourages you to add a MODERN location category (a location in the present 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany). Germany Project PC Florian Straub posted a "how-to" video on adding location categories HERE.
  2. There are "historic" location categories under Category: German History and Category: Former German Territories; however, the Project does not encourage the use of historic location categories on profiles. If you want to use these categories, please also add a modern category to the profile as well. Please do not create any new categories under the German History top-level category as these categories are not being maintained by the Project.
  3. Migrational and cemetery categories are fine as they are. The project does not maintain these categories either, but adding new ones to the existing structure is fine with us.
  4. Although we do not maintain historic categories and do not recommend using them, please DO NOT delete them before consulting Jelena Eckstädt or Florian Straub.
  • Category: States of Germany - these are the 16 modern-day states in the Federal Republic of Germany, created in 1949, and reunified in 1990 (these are the LOCATION CATEGORIES that you should use on profiles from all time periods - new categories are currently being added)
  • Category: German History - these are HISTORIC location categories and are not recommended
  • Category: Former German Territories - these too are HISTORIC location categories and are not recommended
Instructions for categorizing locations: Structure and How to Use Regional Categories for Germany

Migration Categories

Related Projects and Pages

German Name Studies

Other WikiTree Pages

Example Profiles

We hope you have found this page of links useful to your research. If you know of any valuable resources that are not on the list then please add a link and what type of records the resource provides in the comments section on this page, or send a private message to a Germany Project leader and we'll put the resource in the list.

Thank you for collaborating and contributing to the Germany Project Resources Page.
This is an active Germany Project page with up-to-date information.
Last updated by Traci Thiessen: 11 Dec 2022

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Hi Germany Project, I came across this website a while ago and keep on forgetting to recommend it as something for the Pre-1700 Medieval, Aristocrats and Notables section. It has links to online books organised according to family name and usually the books relate to just one particular noble family.

Like any such lists the books can vary in reliability, but overall the reliability of the books I have accessed seems good. They are almost all in German but if the book has an index and/or genealogical tables then as a non-German speaker I can often find my way around the information I need.


posted by John Atkinson
Regarding "Meyers Gazetteer". I have added the word "almost" to 2 lines "lists every place name in the German Empire (1871-1918))".

I regularly use Meyers and not every place name is listed. I did not find a place name listed every time I looked for one. Then I did use this pathway to look at the historic maps to find the place name I was looking for. Please note that Meyers has a very useful ability to use wildcards if the spelling is not clear. I mostly look for places East of the Oder River. I have no experience of how well Meyers works in the West side of the German Empire.

posted by Steve Thomas
edited by Steve Thomas
re: German Naming Customs is no longer available. It's a dead link.

posted by Randy McLaughlin
Thanks for pointing that out. I deleted the link.
posted by Jelena Eckstädt
I found the following a few days ago. Similar subject. Possible replacement for the dead link. It was easier to Google "German naming conventions" than to figure out where I might find similar information in the Wikitree universe.

Family Tree Magazine. “German Naming Traditions Genealogists Should Know,” July 9, 2015.

It sure helped me to understand why so many of my wife's extended German family went by their middle name or why they kept giving their kids the same first name! It's too bad that it's not easier to bring this to the attention of other geneaology buffs.

posted by Randy McLaughlin
I like the new layout, however the black, red, gold background is making some of the links hard to read. Just my opinion.


posted by Rolf Maxa
Thanks Rolf. I removed the was added in error. I appreciate your pointing it out!


posted by Traci Thiessen
Please consider adding Arbeitsgemeinschaft Genealogie Magdeburg — Magdebur to this page and to any other German pages that list reliable sources to use.
posted on German Roots Project Reliable Sources (merged) by William Foster Jr
I added this link to our Saxony-Anhalt Team Resource page here:
posted on German Roots Project Reliable Sources (merged) by Traci Thiessen
The AGGM (shortage of the genealogical club that created the OHB) is no source in itself. The link to the OHB Magdeburg is included in the landing page of the German OHBs above. So I don't see the need to add your link on this page.
posted on German Roots Project Reliable Sources (merged) by Jelena Eckstädt
Please see the G2G conversation at Because this is the page that people are referred to during the pre-1700 certification process, I think it should really include a statement that primary sources (especially parish records viewed at Archion or Matricula) are also to be considered reliable sources.
posted on German Roots Project Reliable Sources (merged) by [Living Geschwind]
A German researcher recommended the journal "Zeitschrift für Niederdeutsche Familienkunde." It is the

official, 100-year old journal of the genealogical society of Hamburg (from 1987 to 2018 jointly published by the genealogical socities of Bremen, Göttingen, Hamburg and Hannover), cf. Articles are rich in footnotes referencing original sources, incl. baptismal, wedding and funeral church registers, government and ecclesiastical archives etc. He considers it highly reliable.

posted on German Roots Project Reliable Sources (merged) by Debi (McGee) Hoag
What a Great Help... Thank You!!
posted on German Roots Project Resources (merged) by Tara (Stebler) Greer