• Gallery of the 7 millions, German Emigration Center Bremerhaven
    Gallery of the 7 millions, German Emigration Center Bremerhaven ©German Emigration Center Bremerhaven
  • German Emigration Center Bremerhaven
    German Emigration Center Bremerhaven ©German Emigration Center
  • German Emigration Center Bremerhaven
    German Emigration Center Bremerhaven ©German Emigration Center
  • Dining Hall
    Dining Hall ©Hapag Lloyd AG
  • On the way to the ship
    On the way to the ship ©Hapag Lloyd AG
  • In front of Ballinstadt
    In front of Ballinstadt ©Ballinstadt

Trace your German roots: Resources, Tools, Databases

Welcome to the Genealogy section. Here you will find the resources, tools, and databases to research your family history and plan your own "Route to your Roots" heritage trip to Germany. Documentation on immigration from Germany is inconsistent. But researchers have a variety of collections, repositories and databases available. The sources date back to the beginning of German immigration in the early 17th century and into the 19th century.

To start off, your research strategy should be focused on finding the last residence or at least the area in Germany your family came from. Then, you can identify local or regional resources. For this purpose, passenger manifests, including lists of arrivals at U.S. ports, or departures from Germany often provide very helpful information. Those include established large databases, provided by commercial firms for fees, or those offered for free by societies or other institutions.

The next steps lead you to state archives, church archives, and civil registration offices of communities, towns or districts. Also, local databases, including name-lists, family and local history publications are helpful. You will notice that archives in Germany – be it church or state archives, Germany-based web sites from genealogical societies, church offices or groups of volunteers - do not always provide English-language navigation or explanation. Therefore it is recommended to contact them directly. Be prepared that many of the institutions or organizations may not have the resources to carry out research, or that they need time to work on your request. Nominal fees may apply.

The following recommendations are based on a selection of addresses, resources, institutions and tools that are helpful in a basic and practical way. Please keep in mind that even in times of electronic data and high-speed Internet, historical biographical research is a complicated task that requires time and patience.