The databases which are available here were all created by many volunteers. If you would like to contribute time to other current Heritage Preservation projects, please contact the German Genealogy Group
The databases are
indexes to original records, copies of which may usually be available from the organization that holds these records. Instructions and forms for requesting copies of the records are included in the description of each database on the "About" tab, or on the search results page.
Database Search Techniques
Here are a few techniques that may help you to get better results.
Wildcard characters - There are two wildcard characters that can be used in most search engines. The first is the asterisk “*”. When used, the * will represent any one or more characters in a name. (The percent sign also works this way). When searching for Meyer, M*r would result in Meyer, Mayer, Maier, and a few others. You have to be careful using the asterisk because the example above will also yield names from Maar through Mysior. Probably a lot more names than you want.
The second is an underscore “_” which is used to represent any single character in a name. When searching for a name like Smith, entering the name like Sm_th would result in Smith and Smyth. The asterisk (or percent sign) and the underscore can also be used in combination with each other. Jo*s_n would yield any number of letters between the o and the s and any one letter between the s and the n.
Sounds Like (Soundex) - The Sounds Like option (for surnames only) will yield many more names, but the use of that feature can prove to be extremely useful.
Name switch - Try switching the Last Name and the First Name. This is especially important when a person has a name like George Joseph or any name that includes two common given names. Foreign names were also sometime difficult to determine which was the given and which was the surname.
First Name/Given Name Search - The search routine on this web site adds a “*” wild card after whatever is entered in the first name field. Thus you only need to enter part of the first name; or try the search with no first name. A search by only the first name can be accomplished by simply entering "_*" (Underscore Asterisk, without the quotes) in the Last Name field.
Punctuation marks and spaces - Names that contain non-alphabetic characters should be searched with and without the character. Looking for O’Hara, try Ohara. Looking for D’Angelo, try Dangelo and Deangelo. Some names have a space in them – Del Vecchio, De La Campa, Van der Valk or Mac Nally. Try it with and without the space. Don’t overlook the Saint’s names. Sometimes they were spelled out as Saint Louis and others as St. Louis or St Louis. Van and Von were sometimes interchanged and sometimes omitted. Search for the name with and without the Van or Von.
Americanization of names - It is not uncommon that a person Americanized his or her name. It may take a little ingenuity on your part to come up with the variations, but try them all. Johann became John, Fritz became Frank, Luigi became Louis, Giuseppi became Joseph, etc.
Titles - Last but not least, don’t forget titles. It could be that the document listed the person as a Jr. or Sr. Other titles like Mr. Mrs. Miss. Ms. were generally not used in the documents but do not rule them out if nothing else works. Such titles are usually entered after the given name in most indexes.
Copying Results - The results of your search can be printed by clicking on the "Printer-friendly" button at the bottom of your search results. You can also copy and paste from the resulting Printer-friendly window into MS Excel or MS Word.
Obtaining Original Records - Remember, the results you see on this web site are just an index. You can obtain a copy of the original record by clicking on the "Documents and Forms" button, printing out the appropriate form at the bottom of your search results and mailing it to the appropriate repository.