Germany Digital Resources

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An increasing number of digital resources for German genealogy is becoming available on the Internet, on CD-Rom and other media. Many of these materials are currently only available in German. This page is intended to

  1. alert the reader to available digital resources
  2. provide step-by-step instructions for users who do not speak German

German Research on the Internet- compiled lists[edit | edit source]

Several lists of useful websites for German genealogy are available. These lists, used for classroom instruction, are updated regularly. Included are - a fabulous resource![edit | edit source], the Web site of the German Society for Computer Genealogy, provides many different resources for the family historian. Available tools include a gazetteer of the German Empire, a genealogical Wiki, a digital library, lineage-linked town genealogies, a literature data base, various name data bases, links to mailing lists, and a monthly newsletter. Most projects are on-going and welcome volunteers and contributors. Free registration is required to participate.

German language helps
[edit | edit source]

This is a German-language Web site. Systematic presentation allows the use of electronic translators such as Google Translate, with reasonable success. The Web browser Google Chrome will recognize the German language and will offer to translate it. Google Translate can be accessed in other browsers by typing “” into a new tab. First choose the “from” and “to” languages. Then the Web address or text can be pasted into the translation box. Translations will be very literal, word for word, and are therefore not suitable for use in correspondence. To see the original text, hover over a word or phrase with the mouse.

A good German- English dictionary is available at .

Searches on are very specific and will vary depending on the use of diacritical marks, hyphens, or spaces. Numeric codes can be used to enter diacritics:

Letter Use Letter Use
Ä           Alt + 142            ä         Alt + 132
Ö           Alt + 153            ö         Alt + 148
Ü           Alt + 154            ü         Alt + 129
ß (= ss) Alt + 0223

An English-language homepage is found at However, most of the tabs lead to German-language pages. The English home page includes an additional tab: “emigration”, but not all of the new databases are represented in that view.

Meta Search[edit | edit source]

The meta-search feature enables the user to search several databases at once, including submitted genealogies, village lineage books, address books, society databases, and others. Both the search and results screens show the sources searched. Surname- and place searches can be done separately or combined.

GOV- Genealogical gazetteer[edit | edit source]

The GOV is useful for initial place name identification. This search is exact. Wild cards can’t be used, but to some extent it is possible to search for parts of names. Example: “Offenb” brings up Offenbach, Offenburg, Offenbüttel etc… The search term may be found in any part of the place name, not just at the beginning, but the results may not be complete. It may be advantageous to repeat the search with a different search term. Example: When “zim” is entered as a search term, 167 hits come up, including Groß-Zimmern (with hyphen) and Niederzimmern (without hyphen), but not Herrenzimmern. However, a search for “Herrenz” brings up Herrenzimmern, but a search for “renz” does not.

In the GOV each locality is given a unique identity number and identified by type, postal code, and associated places. A diagram shows super-ordinate objects, such as the parish, county, region etc., by time period. The entry may link to an article in the GenWiki about the locality and to various maps.

GENWIKI[edit | edit source]

The GenWiki is the main collection of information pages. It is fully searchable and includes various types of articles. Many locality pages were generated automatically in conjunction with the GOV, and may be empty. Filled-in pages often provide helpful details and links to other resources. Many articles are very time-and jurisdiction -specific. Disambiguation pages (Example: “Hessen: Begriffserklärung” [=definition of terms] ) allow easier access to the specific page(s) needed.

The GenWiki also includes pages about record types, laws, occupations, historical terms, instructions for using resources, and anything else that may be of interest to the family historian. For instance, a search for “Datenschutz” (rights to privacy) bring up a page that summarizes the meaning as it pertains to genealogists, along with links to more detailed articles.

Various lists, for example historical occupations, have been integrated into the GenWiki. A search for “Euler” brings up the definition: occupation, and the modern word: Töpfer (potter), along with a link to the source database.

Using the DigiBib (Digital Library) on [edit | edit source]

The DigiBib, short for Digital Bibliothek (Digital Library) is one of several major on-going projects carried out by members of the German Verein fuer Computergenealogie (Society for Computer Genealogy). This society has over 3000 members worldwide and provides numerous digital resources for German family history research. Many volunteers digitize books of interest to genealogists and family historians. These materials are either free of copyright or included with the author’s express permission.

Sections found on the homepage[edit | edit source]

The DigiBib is divided into several categories:

  • Genealogische Literatur- genealogical literature
  • Tagebuecher und Handschriften – journals and manuscripts
  • Heraldik -heraldry Raritaeten - rarities
  • Adressbuecher, Staatskalender etc. – address books, state calendars etc. 
  • Militaerisches – military resources
  • Pfarr-und Kirchenbuchverzeichnisse – parish- and parish register inventories
  • Historische Karten – historical maps
  • Ortslexika, Topografien, Statistiken etc. – gazetteers, topographical and statistical material, etc.
  • Chroniken - histories
  • Sonstige Nachschlagewerke, Vermischtes – other reference works, miscellaneous
  • Andere digitale Bibliotheken- other digital libraries

Each section on the portal page mentions either representative or the most recently acquired titles. Click on "mehr..." to acces the complete list of books available in this category.

On the left: Administrative/information section[edit | edit source]

Neu dabei – recent additions Korrekturleser gesucht – proofreaders wanted In Vorbereitung – in preparation

Important![edit | edit source]

The DigiBib uses so-called DjVu files for many of its digitized materials. For a Wiki setting, this format has certain advantages over conventional scans, but it requires installation of a special free reader. A plug-in by LizardTech for the operating systems Windows, Mac OS-X, and Linux can be downloaded here.

Note: Occasionally Firefox users have problems opening a DjVu file; this is known to LizardTech and will hopefully be remedied soon. This problem usually does not happen in Internet Explorer. [as of July 2009]

Hints for successful navigation[edit | edit source]

Each book found in the DigiBib is a separate project. The goal is to transcribe each book and make the contents fully searchable. A "project box" is found on the right side of each page.

References[edit | edit source]