German Genealogy 201: Strategies and Skillbuilding

Building on our course Find Your German Roots: From America to Deutschland, this class focuses on skills German researchers need to dig deeper into their families’ pasts. You’ll learn tricks for reading German script and type, what the Family History Library system can contribute to your research, and how to track down German ancestors who lived outside of today’s Germany.


  • How to transcribe and translate German records
  • Which map tools are most important and how to use them
  • Where and how to research in Germany
  • What to do when “German” ancestors didn’t live in today’s Germany


$99.99 ($89.99 for VIP)

Course Length:

4 Weeks


James M. Beidler

Start Date:

View upcoming course schedule for dates.


  • Researchers with German-speaking ancestors
  • Genealogists who want to improve their skills in reading German-language records
  • Librarians wishing to assist patrons researching German roots



Lesson 1: Script and Typeface
The course Find Your German Roots introduced you to the cursive script and typefaces genealogists need to be able to read to effectively research German-language records. Now it’s time to hone and practice these skills so you’ll be able transcribe and translate a great number of these records.
  • Practice translating common record “templates”
  • Practice with German cursive script
  • Practice with Gothic typeface
  • Exercise
Lesson 2: Maps and Gazetteers
Orienting yourself to the geographic area of research is always essential to genealogy, but probably even more so for those with German-speaking ancestors because of the history of disunity and changing boundaries. Let’s examine some tools to identify villages and to which part or parts of Germany they historically belonged.
  • Germany’s history of disunity
  • 1882 Ravenstein map
  • Eastern Europe map
  • Myers Gazeteer
  • Exercise
Lesson 3: Research Strategies—FHL and Abroad
It’s often said the best place to do German genealogical research is Salt Lake City, because the Family History Library contains wonderful microfilmed records, computer databases and books. But research in Europe has its place, too, and some records can only be found in the country of origin.
  • Using the resources of the Family History Library system
  • Researching abroad in Germany
  • Exercise
Lesson 4: Germans from Outside Today’s Germany
When it comes to “German” research, genealogists often find that their “German” ancestors did not live within the boundaries of today’s Germany. Whether from territories lost in the World Wars, areas of other countries such as Switzerland or Austria, or German-speaking enclaves sprinkled throughout Eastern Europe, these “German” forbears present special problems for which there are equally special answers.
  • German-speaking Areas:
    • Alsace-Lorraine
    • Switzerland
    • Austria
    • Poland
    • Eastern Europe
  • Quiz

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