German Genealogy 101: From America to Deutschland

Genealogists with German roots have a wealth of resources and a wide support network to help them discover their past. Germans have been meticulous record-keepers throughout their long history — beginning with the mostly tiny, independent German states that sprung up during the Middle Ages and continuing beyond their 1871 unification. To successfully trace your ancestors in the old country, you’ll need an understanding of Germany’s history, its records and your family’s path to America.

  • History of German immigration
  • How to decipher German names and handwriting
  • How to find church records in America and Germany
  • How to determine the town of origin


$99.99 ($89.99 for VIP)

Course Length:

4 Weeks


James M. Beidler

Start Date:

View upcoming course schedule for dates


“Very good class with great information for someone starting to look for their family in Germany.”

“Mr. Beidler, thank you for such great courses: German 101 and German 201. German 201 was a challenge at times but well worth it. ” — Donna


  • This course assumes you understand the basics principles of genealogy and have done some investigation into your family history. If you are a total beginner, consider taking the Discover Your Family Tree course before enrolling in this class.


Lesson 1: Historical Background

  • Overview of Germany’s history
    • How time and place intersect
    • Holy Roman Empire
    • Germanic Confederation
    • Second and Third Reich
  • “First Boat”: Early immigration
    • Pennsylvania Germans
    • Main origins and destinations of immigrants in 1700s
    • Economic opportunities
  • “Second Boat”
    • German Americans
    • Main origins and destinations of immigrants in 1800s
    • Reasons for immigration
  • Exercise

Lesson 2: Names, Language and Handwriting

  • Germans in an English-speaking world
    • Spelling
    • Pronunciation
  • Given names
    • High German vs. Biblical names
    • Double-naming system
  • Surnames
    • Occupational
    • Geographic
    • Characteristic
    • Patronymic
    • Naming patterns
  • Language and script
    • Developing templates
    • Fonts and handwriting
  • Exercise

Lesson 3: Finding and Using Church Records

  • Church registers in America
    • Denominations
    • Recorded events
    • Locating the parish or charge
    • Types of records
  • Church registers in Germany
    • Many records as old as 1650
    • Using German church registers
  • Quiz

Lesson 4: More Records

  • 18th-century Records Unique to Germans
    • Oaths of Allegiance and Abjuration
    • Naturalizations
    • Manumissions
    • Family documents
    • Folk art
  • Greater Variety of 19th-century Records
    • German-language newspapers
    • Passenger lists
    • Ahnentafeln
  • Quiz

Lesson 5: Finding Towns of Origin

  • The Needle in the Haystack
    • Prepare for spelling variants
    • Search all records
    • Patterns of association
    • “Whole family” genealogy
  • Types of Records to Search
  • Using the International Genealogical Index
    • The ISSA Methodology
  • Unorthodox Research Methods
    • DNA Testing
  • Samples and Examples
    • Johannes Dinius
    • Johannes Beydeler
  • Exercise

Comments are closed.