How to Use Social Media in Your German Genealogy Research (Guest Post by Lianne Kruger)

This article shares ways to use different platforms of social media for your genealogical research in Germany. As social media and websites change constantly, I have included the steps you will need to find new items. We will discuss Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. 

The advantages of using social media for genealogical research in Germany include:

  • Being able to talk to people who live in the area
  • Being able to access current information
  • It’s free!

Tree, Structure, Networks, Internet, Network, Social

1. Facebook

It would be nice if we could be members of all the genealogical societies where our families lived. Most of us, however, can not afford that.

Enter Facebook – the next best thing.  These groups are available through the popular social media platform, which includes many pages which can help you in your German genealogy.

To find these groups:

  1. Click inside the search bar at the top left side of the Facebook page.

 

 

2. Type in German Genealogy.

A list of Facebook pages then appears, which includes three different categories:

  1. Lists of relevant groups
  2. Articles that mention your search items
  3. Facebook posts by those you are friends with who mentioned your search items

Groups

Below are a couple of descriptions of German genealogy groups:

German Genealogy Group

“Join us and discover that family research is the most interesting and rewarding hobby that will enable you to discover your past and preserve your heritage for future generations. Be a part of the fastest growing hobby today!”

International German Genealogy Partnership

“The International German Genealogy Partnership’s mission is to facilitate German genealogy research globally as the internationally recognized federation of German genealogy organizations. Lists session on German genealogy”

Click on the + Join button to become part of a group, receive notifications of posts made in the group, and have the ability to add posts yourself. You will also be able to talk to others trying to research their family.

Many groups will ask you to answer two or three questions before they allow you to join their group. They want to make sure that you are actually interested in their topic. Do not be offended. This helps to keep the posts centered on the topic.

Articles

These Facebook articles link to a blog post for each group or person.

Click on an article not just to read the article, but to get to know the blog itself.

Follow the blog if you like the article(s) so you will get an email when new articles are posted.

Pages

This last search list shows Facebook pages that are open to everyone that you can like. Once you click like, their posts will appear on your newsfeed stream.

Add comments and ask questions to posts in groups or to the regular pages. Get to know these people. Help others and get help from throughout the entire world.

Searching Locations

You can also search for the town your family is from in the Facebook search bar. Not only will genealogy groups appear, but history groups and chamber of commerce type pages will show up as well. Like these pages. They will help you with the family history part of your research. You might even find cousins who still live in your ancestral hometown!

 

2. Twitter

Twitter allows you to chat with others all over the world. Follow fellow genealogists and those specifically researching or who know about the topics or areas of the world you want to research. Read the tweets. Many tweets will have links to their blogs with posts on the subject, such as German genealogy. The following list appeared today when I searched German genealogy.

If I wasn’t following these people already, then the “Following” button would say “Follow”. Click on the Follow button to have their tweets appear on your feed. Ask questions and make comments to engage with others in the genealogy field.

@GenChatDE

This genealogy chat meets together on Twitter for an hour on the second Wednesday of each month. Questions are asked on a specific German genealogy topics. Other questions can also be asked, and answers are given by anyone who wants to answer. You may contribute or ask questions on the topic or related items. Their twitter page is https://twitter.com/GenchatDe

To connect and see past tweets, search for the hashtag #GenChatDE.

Get to know people on Twitter from the areas of your ancestors. They could be a relative!

 

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform where anyone can create “pins” related to any topic. Imagine it like a giant bulletin board where you save your favorite items. Effective pins have a link to a website or blog post where more information can be obtained.

To find pins on a specific topic, type the subject, such as German Genealogy, in the Pinterest search bar.

A list of pins appears. A different list appears if you type in German Genealogical Research and another list if you type in German Genealogy Research – so try out different searches and see what works best for you. If you are looking for maps of Germany, add that phrase to the search. If you want a specific city, add it to the search. 

 

Save

If there is a pin you like:

  1. Move your mouse over the pin
  2. Click on the Save
  3. Select a board to save it to.

This pin is now filed for you for later reference.

Go directly to website

  1. Move your mouse over a pin.
  2. Click on the black bar with the name of the person who posted the pin.

               This opens the link in a new browser tab.

Pin

Click on the pin to open it. The following appears with the pin on the left and more information on the right. You can hit the Save from here if you would like.

Follow

The person who posted this pin was Legacy Tree Genealogists. There is a Follow bottom to the right of their name. If you click the follow button here, you will follow all of their posts from all of their boards – just make sure you check out their boards and like what they post before you follow.

To view all of their boards, click on their name instead of the Follow button. All of their boards will then appear, as shown below. Review their boards. If you like what you see, then click Follow at the top. If there are some boards you do not want to follow, the simply click Follow beside the boards that you like, and you will only follow those.  

 

4. YouTube

YouTube has videos on “how to’s” for everything and can be a great resource for genealogy. And not just for Germany – for all aspects of genealogical research.

At the top of the screen is a search bar.

In the search bar type in German Genealogical Research or German Genealogy Research.

Videos that meet that criteria will appear. Below is the list that I saw today. However, with more videos uploaded daily, this list will constantly change. 

 

Watch later

After searching for a topic, a list of videos will then appear. If these look like videos you would like to watch, and you want to make sure you don’t lose them, then mark them as Watch Later by taking the following steps:

  1. Move your mouse over the video.

A clock will appear in the top right corner.

  1. Click on the clock.

The clock changes to a checkmark.

The video is now on your Watch Later list.

The watch list appears on the left menu of your YouTube page, as shown below.

#Hashtags

Check the bottom of videos that have content you like. Some videos have hashtags. If the hashtag matches a subject you find interesting, click on it. A list of videos with the same hashtag will appear (if there are any, otherwise it will just lists random videos).

Use these social media strategies to supplement your genealogy research, and you will be amazed at the doors opened for you. Do you have any more strategies? Let us know in the comments!

LKruger Genealogy.jpg

From microfilm and a list of names as a teenager to researching her paternal grandmother’s line back to the first white landowners of Canada, Lianne loves to share her knowledge, experience, and love for genealogy and technology. She has published articles and spoken at conferences in Ontario, England, Saskatchewan, multiple locations in Alberta, and Utah including RootsTech.

 

 

Follow Katherine Schober on the following social media platforms for more German genealogy tips!

Facebook: @SKtranslationservices

Twitter: @SK_Translations

Pinterest: Katherine Schober, SK Translations

Instagram: @katherineschober

YouTube: Katherine Schober

 

 

Free Webinar: Six Things You Need to Know About Church Records

overwhelmed by german church records? you’re not alone!

Church records can be gold mines of information for German genealogists. But let’s be honest – they’re kind of overwhelming. In this webinar, professional genealogy translator Katherine Schober shares six things you need to know about German church records before you start working with them – making your time with these records much more beneficial for your genealogy search!

When: Tuesday, October 22, 1:00 p.m. EDT

Cost: Free!

Sign up: I want free Church record tips – sign me up!

 

 

The Ultimate List of Months in German Genealogy

When analyzing  your ancestors’ documents, you are likely looking for two things – events and dates. Being able to read these dates, therefore, is of the utmost importance for your genealogy research. In an ideal world, all you would need to do would be to memorize the 12 German words for the months (German: Monate) of the year. and you’d be good to go. But because we are talking about documents of the past, there were often multiple words used for the same month, depending on the time, the region, the scribe, etc. So it’s important to be familiar with all these variations. But no worries – I’ve got you covered!

Two different words for January – Jänner and Januar 

In the table below, I’ve summarized for you the different possibilities of German words you may run into for each month. The “regular” – and most common – translation of the month in German is first, and this word is provided for you in the old handwriting as well. The words that follow are the less common – but no less important – variations, as sometimes this will be the only month word you find in your ancestor’s record.

You’ll notice that September – December are denoted 7, 8, 9, and 10ber/bris (you may also see December written as Xbris). This numbering of the months dates back to the time of the Romans, when the calendar began in March, making September the 7th month of the year. So don’t get confused and think 7bris means July!  Most of the other month words are descriptions – March as “Wind Month” and October as “Wine Month” for example – and are rather interesting in their translations. So if you run into one of these less common words, just refer to this table, and you should be good to go. Happy transcribing!

The Ultimate List of Months in German Genealogy

 

My 5 Favorite Books for Deciphering German Records

The Association of Professional Genealogists recently asked me about my favorite books for German genealogy, and it got me thinking – I should share them with you as well! I always include a slide in my presentations at conferences about the books I’d recommend, but I’ve never written them on the blog before, so I’d say it’s high time I did so. Check out the books that I use in my translation work below (in no particular order).

This post contains some  affiliate links, which does not affect you at all, but does helps support my business as I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. This in turn helps me to continue supporting you with educational (I hope!) genealogy content. That being said, I personally own – and personally love – all of these books, and hope that they help you as much as they have helped me. I couldn’t translate without them!

My 5 Favorite Books for Deciphering German Records

  1. German to English Genealogical Dictionary by Ernest Thode

  

I only discovered Ernest Thode’s dictionary two years ago, and I wish I had known about it so much sooner. It would have saved me hours of Internet research trying to figure out what obscure and old-fashioned German words mean. Do you remember my blog post 10 German Words You Won’t Find in a Dictionary? Well, you actually will find a lot of those words in this wonderful dictionary! Focusing on genealogy-specific words, this almost-300-page dictionary is a must-have for anyone researching German records. It’s sitting on my desk as I type right now! 

2. If I Can, You Can Decipher Germanic Records by Edna Bentz 

 

Edna Bentz’ book was one of the first books I bought when I started learning the old German handwriting.  Filled with lists of genealogy terminology plus what these words look like in the old German script, this book is extremely helpful for someone beginning their German genealogy journey. From common abbreviations and months of the year to illnesses and occupations, this book will save you a lot of time and frustration as you decipher your documents. 

3. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents by Rogert Minert

This book was the first book I bought when I decided to become a genealogy translator. Minert teaches you the individual letters of the German script, explaining how to recognize each one, and also provides numerous examples of various records with their transcriptions and translations. Truly a great resource for anyone looking to decipher records themselves.

4.  The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany by James M. Beidler 

This newest book by James M. Beidler is another must-have. Filled with over 100 full-color maps, this atlas is both incredibly beautiful and educational. The maps in the book allow you to see the border changes of Germany throughout the centuries – making it much easier to find your ancestors’ hometown and where their records may be kept. Plus, it looks pretty on a coffee table! (For more of Beidler’s great genealogy books, see here: www.JamesMBeidler.com). 

5. Tips and Tricks of Deciphering German Handwriting by Katherine Schober

I can’t let you go without mentioning my own book, can I? Tips and Tricks of Deciphering German Handwriting is everything I wish I would have known when I was first starting to learn the old German script. During those first few years of starting my genealogy translator career, I spent a lot of frustrating time on the Internet, trying to find the answers to all of my questions as I ran into them on various documents. This book summarizes all of those answers for you, which I hope will save you a lot of time and frustration yourself. It’s all of my best secrets, summarized in book form!

So there you have it! These are the five books that I have in my office right now, and every one of them is helpful in a different way. What about you? Do you have any of these books, or would you add any to the list? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

5 Tips for Deciphering Town Names on German Records

Your ancestor’s hometown is one of the most important finds you will make on your genealogy journey. Unfortunately, a town name can also be one of the hardest words to decipher on a historical record. Why? Because towns exist in the thousands, and, technically, the town name can be made up of any combination of letters that make sense within the German language. A bit overwhelming, to say the least!

So how do you go about deciphering the town name if you can’t read all the individual letters? Read on to find out all the tricks that I use when I am translating my clients’ documents:

1. take advantage of Google’s suggestion features

The first tip is the most obvious, but it is definitely worth mentioning. Try typing your transcription guess into Google Search, with the country or state where your document comes from after it (for example, type “Obertraun, Austria” into the search box). If an entry comes up, you then have verification that your transcription is correct.

If you are one or two letters off, however, Google’s “Showing Results For” or “Did You Mean?” features are very helpful. If you typed “Obertrun, Austria” into the search box, Google may correct you, saying “Showing results for Obertraun, Austria”. You can then double check the handwritten word on your document, along wit the location of Google’s suggestion, and verify that the suggestion is correct. If it is, mark it down, and continue transcribing. Nice when a search engine is so helpful!

 

2. use Meyer’s Gazetteer’s wildcard tool

If your town is in Germany (or used to be), then Meyer’s Gazetteer is the website for you. This collection of pre-WWI towns, villages, cities, estates, and more is a wonderful tool for deciphering towns – especially if you can’t read all the letters. Simply type the letters you recognize into the website’s search engine – and use an asterisk for the letters you don’t. Meyer’s Gazetteer will then give you a list of all towns with that letter combination.

Have a long list? Narrow your search by selecting the state (if known) where your document comes from (“Filter Results by Region”). You will then get a list of only the towns in that region, and can go back to your handwritten word and see if any of these towns match up with your word on your document.

3. Toggle the Meyer’s Gazetteer Map

No luck with the list? If you know another town name on your document (where the document comes from, the groom’s town name, etc.), then type that town name into Meyer’s Gazetteer’s search engine. Click on it, and it will take you to the entry for that town. Next, click on the map to the left of the entry, and the modern map will toggle to the historical map (pretty cool, right?). You can then drag the map around and see what towns are in the surrounding area. Does one of those nearby town names match up with your handwritten word? I have found a lot of town names using this historical map!

4. play with Google Maps

Just like the old-fashioned map on Meyer’s Gazetteer, Google Maps also works well for this trick. Type in the town you know related to your document, and drag the map around to see if any other towns nearby match up with your mystery word. (If you can’t find it on the Meyer’s Gazetteer map, try Google, and vice-versa – I sometimes have more luck with one, and sometimes with the other, depending on the town. Always good to have two options!).

5. Use the Record itself

Last but not least (although perhaps this should be first – it’s a good trick), use the record itself! More times than I care to admit, I have struggled and struggled over what a town name could be, only to find a stamp with that town name – in printed text! – at the bottom of the document. So before you start deciphering, scan your entire document, and look for other components of the document that might include the town name. These might include:

  • Stamps
  • Column Headings
  • Document Titles
  • Margin Notes (perhaps the town name is easier to read there)
  • And More – every document is different!

So there you have it! With these five tips, deciphering the towns in your German documents should become much easier and easier. And if you want more help reading the German handwriting, check out my new self-paced handwriting course here! You’ll be reading the script in no time.

Any other tricks that you use? Let us know in the comments!