- Learning About German Compiled Sources
By Michele Simmons Lewis,CG, student
Ready to continue your advanced German courses with The National Institute for Genealogical Studies? German: Compiled Sources is available and I just completed it.
Any genealogy class will tell you that compiled sources aren’t as good as original records and we should not use them for anything more than a clue. Though this is usually the case, it is less so when dealing with German compiled sources. The author of this course, Kory Meyerink, BS, MLS, AG, FUGA, explains the pitfalls of compiled sources but also explains why German compiled sources are more reliable than their US counterparts.
I was born in Germany and I can tell you that part of the reason this is true is that Germans are a disciplined and ordered people. It is an important part of their culture. “Ordnung muss sein!” (There must be order!). They have been keeping meticulous parish and civil records for centuries. They have officially recognized lineage book collections that began publication in the mid-1800s. They have special nobility lineage books that were first published in the mid-1700s. These books are based on records that may or may not exist today. Some of these German compiled sources will be your best evidence.
Researchers in Germany, though they may not source their findings the same way as what is expected here in the US, produce lineages and biographies that are normally sound and reliable. They just can’t help themselves, it is in their DNA. What you won’t find is the copy and paste mentality that some US “researchers” have. If you investigate any of the US “tree” websites you will see this copy and paste mentality. Sources for information are simply other trees that also lack source citations. This would make the average German researcher cringe.
Why is this important? Sometimes the original records no longer exist or they not easily accessible to the average genealogist. FamilySearch has microfilmed many German records but there are some that are only available in Germany. Some of the German archives are starting to put digital images of the records they hold online but it will be many years before these collections are anywhere close to complete.
I am very lucky to have a close working relationship with a German researcher in Germany. We work on a One-Name Study together. She happens to be a graphic designer by trade so all her genealogy is produced in a graphical format. What you won’t see are source citations in her output but if I ask her where she got a specific fact she will check her detailed notes and be able to tell me. Germans do not document the same way as we do but their research is no less credible. Does this mean that I don’t think you should document your sources in an accepted format? Of course not. What I am saying is using a German compiled genealogy can carry more weight than a US one.
This course will show you where to look to find these German compiled genealogies. Here is an overview of what you will be covering in this six-week course.
Module 1: Collections and Databases
Module 2: Family Histories & Biographies
Module 3: Lineage Books
Module 4: Periodicals
Module 5: Biographical Sources
Module 6: Local Sources
The accompanying text by Meyerink is excellent and will help you build your German reference library.