BYU publishes survey cataloguing German immigrants

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

As German immigrants came to this country they left behind a trail of records familiar to all genealogists &045;&045;- from birth, marriage and death records to citizenship, census, land, military, tax and immigration records.

The problem, of course, is locating these records in a country thousands of miles away with records located in some 2000 national, state, and local repositories to say nothing of the church and other private archives. Some of the records date back as far as the Middle Ages and include family history sources so vast in number and so scattered that the mind actually reels with possibilities.

Sound impossible? It is discouraging at the very least. To met this challenge, a Brigham Young University project was devised in 1996 with the goal of identifying the records of German immigrants by cataloguing the relevant record holdings in all the public and private archives in the Federal Republic of Germany.

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Under the direction of Professor Raymond Wright approximately 2000 national, state and local government archives as well as private archives were surveyed. Questionnaires were mailed to archivists asking them to identify their archives’ jurisdictions and to describe the records housed in their archives and the services provided by their staffs. The returned questionnaires, supplemented by Internet searches, were used to create summaries of each archive. The result of this extensive survey has now been published in book form as Ancestors in German Archives, an exhaustive guide to family history sources in both public and private German archives. Designed to answer the researcher’s most frequently asked questions regarding the type of records that exist and where such records can be found, this massive volume holds the key to genealogical research in Germany. Anyone searching for data about people who lived in Germany in the past need only determine which archives today have jurisdiction over the records that were created by church or state institutions.

The book is organized by chapters covering the federal archives (Bundesarchive), religious archives, and the various archives in each of Germany’s sixteen states (Lander), including town (Kreisstadde), city (Stadtarchiv), and county archives (Kreis).

Within each state chapter all entries are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the city in which the archive is located. The first part of each chapter contains listings of state archives; next, all city and regional archives are listed. Church archives with jurisdictions within the state are in the third section, while the fourth section lists family archives. Last, all other archives in the state for which a questionnaire was returned, or a website found, are listed. For each Archive, name, address, phone, fax, e-mail and Internet connections are provided. And as an added benefit, it even includes records from Former German Communities that are now in other countries.

The result is a virtual one-stop guide to genealogical sources in Germany. This promises to be the most indispensable finding-aid ever published on the subject and will make this daunting search an achievable goal. Published by Genealogical Publishing Company, the 1200 paged book is cloth bound and is illustrated with maps as well as a complete index. Just released, it may be ordered through the company at 1001 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202-3897 or by phone at 1-800-296-6687. It is priced at $85 plus $4.00 shipping.

DOES ANYONE KNOW…….. ………Dale Johnson (Huntsville, AL,

) is seeking information about the Birmingham Ridge Community near the Lee County or Union County line in Mississippi. In SAMUEL ANGEW’s Diary, a copy of which has been seen at the Tupelo library, a section is included about a crippled photographer named Archer. It is stated that he was a brother to minister Archer who lives at Birmingham. Mr. Johnson feels this preacher Archer was her husband’s ancestor, FRANCIS M. ARCHER, who was born in Tennessee, lived in Tishomingo County and by 1880 is on the 1880 Union County, MS, census. He is believed to have been a minister to one of the Methodist churches there. Francis’ death date is known but no burial site is given. She has his Civil War records but little information is given there. Is there a map online showing this area? Are there any Archers in Lee County today? Can any reader help with information about this family?

………Jeanne T. Lane (

) is searching for information on CHARLES SHOEMAKER. He was born in Pennsylvania about 1859. He moved with his parents, JOHN and DOROTHY (DORA) SHOEMAKER before 1865. The family lived in Fairfield County, Ohio until after the 1880 census was taken. Most of the family then moved to northwestern Ohio and remained there until death. When John and Dorothy Shoemaker died in 1909 and 1911 both of their obituaries stated that their son, Charles, was living in Mississippi. In one of the obits it said he was living in Tupelo.

However no records have been found of him. She has not had access to the 1910 Census. Does anyone have knowledge of this man and his family in this area?

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