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For genealogical research, German-language newspapers are at least as useful as their English language counterparts. Astonishingly, there are now approximately 2,000 historic German-language newspapers online at numerous public, private, and commercial websites. The combined newspapers (fifty years and older) comprise billions of pages and refer to millions of individuals. Since most of these digitized papers are fully searchable, this guide to the newspapers, indicating newspaper title, place of publication, date range, and website, is a key to a mother lode of information found in German-language papers and is a revolutionary new tool for German genealogy research.
Most of the papers cited are from Germany and the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, though there are papers cited here from as far afield as China and Oklahoma. Citations range from large papers to small, from dailies to weeklies, national papers to local papers, even trade papers, government papers, and occupational papers for saddlers, railroad men, gardeners, bookbinders, and tailors. A single site hosted by the Austrian National Library, for example, has digitized millions of pages in hundreds of titles from Austro-Hungary, with the years 1700-1875 now almost fully digitized, as are World War I newspapers from 1914-1918. Hundreds of other websites are hosted by libraries, universities, museums, and institutions, many with English language interfaces.
The genealogical information you can find in these newspapers is almost limitless. It includes notices of births, marriages, and deaths from civil registrations, baptisms and wedding announcements from churches, intentions to emigrate, trade news, lists of pupils, appointments to office, promotions, transfers, retirements, deaths, estate sales, lists of hotel guests, and a multitude of everyday notices. To find this information all you have to do is look for your place of interest in the ÒPlacesÓ section to see what papers are online for your area of interest; then in the ÒTitlesÓ section find a general description of the paper's coverage and a citation to the website. You'll be amazed at the range of information available to you online in German-language newspapers.
Newspapers are uniquely rich sources of information, so it's not just people you want to look for. Newspapers are an important part of the holistic approach to family history. If, for example, you know the place your ancestor came from, you can add information about the community and the county, possibly the number of houses and the population, the occupations and industries, possibly some of the surnames; maybe the names of schools and military units, churches and institutions, athletic clubs and social organizationsÑall of which provide context for the life and times of your ancestors.
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