BR: Ancestors in German Archives

Wright III, Raymond S.; Nathan S. Rives; Mirjam J. Kirkham; and Saskia Schier Bunting. Ancestors in German Archives: A Guide to Family History Sources. Baltimore : Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2004.

Do you have a brick wall involving a German ancestor?  Want to make sure you hae considered all the available records for a particular proof you are writing?  Either issue may drive you to obtain this book.  I have just finished reviewing this book (one does not really “read” this book.) and found it to be quite helpful in identifying archives and the records they hold.

The book begins with a brief overview of the complex history of the the Germany including WWI and WWII.  Then the book describes the organizational structure of the national, state and local archives.  Included are also church and private or family archives, the latter primarily of the German nobility.

Archive rules and protocols are covered which are very helpful due to odd opening/closing hours and pull protocols. Strategies for a successful visit are outlined.

Content for the book was gathered by students at BYU by use of a survey to all identified archives.  Some surveys were not returned, some questions were not answered.

Here is an example of a typical entry:

Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv Aurich, Oldersumer Str. 50, 26603 Aurich (Tel: 4941-176660, Fax: 4941-176673, Website:, E-mail:

What follows is a description of the coverage area, how the archive organizes its holdings and if there are finding aids.  Subsequent entries are of record types of usual interest to genealogists and requests a description of them.  For example, the entry for emigration outlines three different locations where emigration records are held.  The statement describing church records is consistent with my understanding of the filmed records held by the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City for the same area.  However, one cannot tell if the films cover more villages than are held by the FHL If the responding archive has no holdings in that category, the response was “none.”

I was wondering if there were any church records I was missing which may include some pastor notes describing the conflict my ancestor had with the church just prior to his emigration.  (answer: it doesn’t look like it.)  I was also wondering if there emigration records held in Germany.

You might consider taking a look at this book if you have a German brick wall or there is some specific information you are looking for but you do not know where the record may reside.

I got my copy of the book from inter-library loan from the UW Library.  Thank you, University of Houston. And, thanks to Warren Bittner for recommending the book in his German class at NGS 2015.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: finished printing the SGS Bulletin, watched Mark Lowe’s “Tick Mark Censuses” class on Ancestry Academy, had lunch with three local genealogy buddies, and working on three upcoming presentations (NwGC, SGS (2))–House Histories, Insanity in the 19th c., and Fire Insurance Maps.


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