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German: Locating Places in Germany
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All genealogical research is ultimately local in origin. Our ancestors lived in specific places, and the records about them were usually created in those places where they lived. Even records of larger jurisdictions, such as at the national level (e.g.: census records), were generally written by officials in the specific place where a family lived. Further, it is through a family''s location that we, in part, identify them. Not only is it important to know a person''s name, birth date and relationships (parents, spouse, children), but also the place where a person lived (or was born, married, or died). All of these elements are necessary to fully, and uniquely, identify a person. The geographic aspect of genealogical research is even more important for Germanic ancestors than it is for most North Americans. Some key records for North Americans were created at the state, provincial, or national level (such as military or census records). That is seldom the case with German ancestors. Virtually all the key records about German families were created at the local level, in the town or parish where they lived. A few were created at the district (like a county) level, but virtually none at higher government jurisdictions. Therefore, locating places in Germany is an important aspect of successful German research. For North Americans, this begins with learning the correct place where a German immigrant came from; his ancestral home. From there it is essential to learn the parish where the family attended church. As research progresses, persons married into families from other areas. Those locations must also be identified, so that appropriate records can be searched. The primary tools for such research are gazetteers. They will be the focus of this course. However, important aspects of German jurisdictions are also necessary to understand, as is the ability to read, and understand, place names which may not be familiar to an English or French-speaking researcher.


Course Content

Module 1
Identifying The Immigrant's Home Town
Is it Really a Home Town?
• Cities That Share Provincial, County, or State Names
• Port Cities
• Large Cities
• Geographic Names or Terms That Are Not Towns
 
Did You Read that Place-name Right?
• Foreign Terminology
• English (or Other Foreign) Versions of Place Names
• Spelling Problems
• Places with Similar Spellings
• Multiple Places with the Same Name
• Place Name Changes
• Conclusion
 

Module 2
German Jurisdictions
Former German Countries & States
• The German Empire
• Kingdoms
• Duchies (and Grand Duchies)
• Principalities
• Free Cities
• Empire State
• The Austro-Hungarian Empire
• Austrian Provinces
• Hungarian Provinces
 
Smaller German Jurisdictions
Modern German Countries
 

Module 3
Using Meyers Gazetteer
Reading the Gothic Font
• Gothic & Roman alphabet
 
Key Abbreviations in Meyers
• Topographical Descriptions of Localities
• Abbreviations of German States
• Jurisdictions and Government Offices Abbreviations
 
Typical Layout of a Meyers Entry
• Dependent (reference) entries
• Regular Entries
• Identifying Jurisdictions in an Entry
• Determining the Civil Registry Office
• Is there a Parish in the Town?
• Practice Examples
 

Module 4
Other Gazetteers For Germany
• Alsace-Loraine
• Anhalt
• Baden
• Bavaria
• Brunswick
• Hesse
• Lippe
• Mecklenburg
• Oldenburg
• Prussia
• Saxony & Thuringia
• Waldeck
• Wuerttemberg
 

Module 5
Gazetteers For Other German-Speaking Areas
• Austro-Hungarian Empire
• Austria
• Czechoslovakia
• Hungary
• Poland
• Romania
• Switzerland
 

Module 6
Place Name Changes
Documentation of Place Name Changes
Reverse-Sort Gazetteers
 
Internet Gazetteers
• Bavarian Gazetteer
• Mecklenburg Gazetteer
 
 

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