Germane Advice
9/20/2010
Trace your ancestry over the Rhine and through the Black Forest with our guide to researching German roots.

What does it mean to have German roots? Well, it might account for your fondness for lederhosen and plumed hats, as well as your sauerbraten cravings. And it likely explains why, at last year's family reunion, you felt compelled to grab your beer stein, climb atop a picnic table and lead the clan in a raucous singalong (at least that's what you can tell your spouse).

Having German roots also means you're in good company: More than 40 million Americans claim to be of Deutsch descent, making it the country's most common ancestral group. You share your heritage with some of America's most notable historical figures, including presidents (such as Herbert Hoover), scientists (Albert Einstein), business magnates (John Jacob Astor) and writers (Dr. Seuss).