Trace your ancestry in Prussia, Bavaria and more with our guide to research in Germany’s historical regions.
In this era of globalization, it’s easy to think of
ourselves as citizens of the world. If you turn the clock back a
century, though, you’ll see people took a much more regional view.
Italians considered themselves Sicilians, Sardinians, Tuscans or
Venetians. Regional loyalties in America helped start the Civil War.
And the people we now call Germans referred to themselves as anything
those days, you had Prussians and Bavarians, Palatines and Hessians,
Saxons and Swabians—who all spoke various dialects of German and were
united only in their dislike for each other. “In Europe as well as
America, immigrants who came from Prussia didn’t like the immigrants
from Bavaria, and the Bavarians didn’t like the Prussians,” says German
genealogy scholar John T. Humphrey. “And immigrants from Swabia in
southern Germany did not like either one.”