Author: Josiah Schmidt

The Life of a Genealogy Translator – Guest Post by Katherine Schober

Katherine is a German-English translator who works with old German handwriting in letters, marriage and baptismal certificates, church registers and more. Check out her website at for more information. As a German genealogy translator, I can honestly say I love what I do. One day could be spent in 1868, deciphering the words of […]

Episode #8: “Happy Dankegiving” | The German-American Genealogist Podcast

Download file Published 24 November 2014 Did you know that the “First Thanksgiving” was not actually the first Thanksgiving? Or that some of the Native Americans who greeted the Pilgrims already spoke English? Or that the Thanksgiving feast of 1621 was actually a three day celebration, and that turkey was probably not on the menu? […]

Episode #7: “It’s Alive!” | The German-American Genealogist Podcast

Download file Published 17 November 2014 Put away that Ouija Board. You may not need to summon the dead to get your genealogical quandaries solved. You might find the answers you seek by locating and connecting with your living relatives. There are many reasons for wanting to find living relatives–whether it’s to locate an heir […]

Episode #6: “Family History Interview Strategies” | The German-American Genealogist Podcast

Download file Published 10 November 2014 Your loved ones aren’t going to be around forever. Have you ever wanted to sit down and ask your dad about his experience in the war, or interview your grandma to get her life story, but haven’t been sure how to conduct the interview and how to ask the […]

Episode #5: “Birthplace Hunting Made Easy” | The German-American Genealogist Podcast

Download file Published 3 November 2014 Have you ever pulled your hair out trying to find the birth place of your immigrant ancestor? Well, save your hair line, because this whole episode is devoted to that very topic. In this episode, we talk about how an examination of the first household your immigrant ancestor inhabited […]

German Genealogy Tip #33: “Rufname”, A Person’s Preferred Name, Was Often Underlined

On one of my previous posts, a commenter named “Franz” mentioned a very helpful tip: Germans often had several given names. Many times, German individuals’ “first names” were very common: Johann or Hans or Anna or Martha. In order to differentiate themselves, they would go by one of their less common middle names: Balthasar, Karl, […]

German Genealogy Tip #32: A Married Couple Usually Lived in the Husband’s Hometown

In pre-20th century Germany, individuals usually married others who lived nearby, but every so often, a man and a wife from different towns were united in marriage. When this happened, the woman usually went to live with the man’s family, and rarely the other way around. There are a few reasons for this: If a […]

German Genealogy Tip #31: FamilySearch Has Free German Records

If you’d like to see and use actual, physical images of genealogical records from Germany, many of them are available for completely free on There are far more records on FamilySearch than the handful of transcribed/indexed records you get through regular the “search” function. To explore all that FamilySearch has to offer, you will need […]

German Genealogy Tip #30: People Can Get Their Age Wrong

Scenario: Your ancestor gives an approximate birth year of 1870 for himself in all of the censuses during his adulthood. You find a birth certificate that matches him in every detail, but the birth certificate implies he is born in 1861. Can this possibly be him? The answer: Yes, it can be. Don’t get too […]

German Genealogy Tip #29: Use the German Phone Book to Find Surname Concentrations

Do you have a German immigrant ancestor whom you have absolutely no idea where in Germany they came from? Most of us do. One great method for finding clues on where they might have come from is to use the modern-day German phone book, which is available online at: Here’s how it works. If the […]