Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tips for Finding Your German Immigrant Ancestor's Hometown in Germany

This article was updated on 10 May 2015.

Here are some suggestions where you might find the German place of origin (city, town, or village) for your immigrant ancestor who came to America from Germany. Knowing the name of the town can help you take your genealogy research back to Germany to look for German genealogy records.

Ship Passenger Records (arrivals)
The Hamburg Passenger Departure Lists 1850-1934
If your ancestor's ship departed from the German port of Hamburg then you may be able to find the departure list for that ship. These records usually give the last residence for each passenger.

Other Sources - Death Certificates, Obituaries, Naturalization Records, Biographies, more...
Disclaimer: you may not find the place name in any of the records listed here. These are merely suggestions.

This outline was derived from the "Find your Immigrant Ancestor" section of the Basic Reasearch Guide for German Genealogy. It was created for the Germanic Genealogy Society of Colorado.

You can download a printable PDF version of this outline from: Genealogy Roots Blog Files: Finding Your German Ancestor's Hometown

Next Article in this Series: Tips for Finding German Genealogy Records for your German-American Ancestor


Anonymous said...

Great Info thsnk you!!!!

B.G. said...

Remember that Germans came to the New World from many places, not just the territory of today's Germany. Look for nationality as well as ethnicity. Even a German-sounding place name is no guarantee, as places could have many unofficial names. Passenger lists especially can contain extremely creative spelling. Check also for non-family traveling companions.

Bob Krampetz said...

Good clues, but here's another:

German ancestors, that were Lutherans (Evangelical), in or from the Polish territory of Russia may be found by

Bob K.

Celia Lewis said...

Thanks for all this information in a handy format (just downloaded the PDF). My "Kuhn" ancestors hit PA around 1730 +/- 5 years, and I have yet to find a place in Germany other than one clue on a census saying "Wurtemberg" One day...

Braam Bosman said...

I have a Great-Grandmother that I believe is of German heritage. Information obtained from her son's birth certificate indicate that she was Elizabeth Behm (unknown maiden name) and her husband was George Behm. She was born 11 July 1868 - Germany? Place of birth listed as Palone. She came to England 1897 as a cook. George was a domestic Valet. Not sure whether George came to England. I'm busy writing an informal book about my parents and would love to have further information about them. Any suggestion on how to go about it? Don't know Elizabeth's religion. Thanks, Braam Bosman