Subscription genealogy site Ancestry.com just added 31 new databases for researching German ancestors. The 11.7 million records cover civil registrations (government birth, marriage and death records) for various places in Germany, dating between 1874 and 1950. There’s no single link to search just these 31 collections, so you could do a few things:
- Searching one database at a time is your best bet if you know it covers the area in Germany where your family lived. Go to the card catalog and use the filters on the left: Under Filter by Collection, narrow the database list to Birth, Marriage and Death Records; and under Filter by Location; narrow by Europe, then by Germany.
Then at the top of the list, use the Sort By dropdown menu to choose Date Added, and the new German databases rise to the top of the list. Click a title to search that collection.
- You also can view a list of all German birth, marriage and death records by going to the Search All Records page and scrolling down to Explore by Location. Click the Europe tab, then click Germany. Under Germany Birth, Marriage & Death, you’ll see a few databses listed; if you click the “View other” link at the end of that short list, you’ll see all the German birth, marriage and death records. This list is arranged by record count, though, and you can’t sort it in other ways.
- If you want to search all the German civil registration records at once, run a global search for your German ancestor from the Ancestry.com Search All Records page. (At the bottom of the search form, make sure the box for Historical Records is checked.)
Then narrow your results on the left: In the Collection dropdown menu, choose Germany and click the green Update button. Next, under the All Categories heading, choose Birth, Marriage & Death.
If you still have too many results, look at the top of your results list, click the Categories tab and choose the database titles that most relate to your search.
For more Ancestry.com search strategies, see our book Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com.
My third-great-grandfather Joseph Ladenkötter was born in 1814 in Rheine, Steinfurt, Germany. Rheine is not among the areas covered with this records addition, but I thought I might find a relative who was born, married or died elsewhere.
I searched on the surname Ladenk*tter (with the asterisk wildcard to pick up both Ladenkotter and Ladenkoetter), and found a 1911 marriage record for Auguste Gertrud Ladenkötter (it looks like her birth surname was different, so she may have been a widow) and Wilhelm August Friedrich. The records are in German, of course.
The Ladenkötter surname is pretty unusual, so I suspect that Auguste Gertrud was married to one of my relatives before she married Wilhelm. (I see the record mentions Rheine.) My next step is figuring out what the record says, which should help me find out if my hunch is correct.
Are you researching Germans? Visit Family Tree Shop to find out more about our German Genealogy Premium Collection. It contains six terrific research tools, including the Family Tree German Genealogy Guide and the German Genealogy Cheat Sheet (which will be the first thing I get out when I’m ready to start on the marriage record).