This page is where you can discover the highlights of what the Immigrant Genealogical Society has in its collection at the library in Burbank, California. These are the go-to resources to use when you are trying to find your ancestral roots in the homeland.
If you know your ancestor’s place of origin, then search highlights by geographical location to help you find local resources.
If you are looking for an ancestral place of origin, then search highlights by surname to try to pinpoint a location.
To further search by surname, IGS has generated several surname databases to help locate immigrant ancestors in our collection.
Browse highlights of our periodical collection to gain insights into ancestral migrations.
Finally, browse notable items in our media collection.
Highlights by Geographical Location
Called by various names, these are “village family books” that are most often arranged around the village marriage records. If a couple was married in the local church, then a “group sheet” of sorts is provided for that couple and their children. These are organized first by the groom’s surname, and then in chronological order. Then the entire collection of “group sheets” is numbered sequentially, so that the bride and groom may be referenced back in time to their birth families & their children may be referenced forward in time to group sheets reflecting their own respective marriages.
Ortssippenbücher are located in the German States shelves, and are tagged with blue labels. IGS has over 200 of these books – many for the states of Bayern and Baden-Wurttemberg. Search the Ortssippenbücher location database or search the map to find your town of interest.
Map Guides to German (and Swiss) Parish Registers
If you have a place name and know its location within the German Empire (1871-1918), this series of approximately 70 volumes directs you to the proper parish and to the relevant church books. Maps locate your place of interest in relation to neighboring parishes, and the FHL film numbers are referenced where films are available.
These guides also provide a brief historical background, a town index of each region, and identify archives, repositories, and other resources relevant to the area which might aid in your research.
Großblatt 1 :100000 (Sowjetische Besatzungszone)
If your ancestors emigrated from an area that was behind the Iron Curtain after 1945, you may have had some difficulty learning about their village’s neighborhood. These 80+ very detailed maps can aid you in understanding the locale.
The Soviet Occupation Zone (Sowjetische Besatzungszone, or SBZ) is the part of Germany that was under the control of the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) from 1945 to 1949. Geographically, it was the central and eastern parts of Germany between the Elbe and Oder/Neisse rivers. The area covered about 121,000 sq km with about 16 million inhabitants.
Highlights by Surname
The surname collection is conveniently grouped together on the shelves of the Immigrant Library for easy access. That’s where you will find many of the following resources, and more.
Deutsches Familienarchiv (DFA)
This is a go-to destination for German genealogists who wish to publish their well-researched and documented family histories. Each volume has an every-name index, and the guides tell you which volumes contain your family surname. Each separate item published contains an outline of the contents, which might include extensive family histories, genealogical charts, or a sketches of local and cultural interest.
The Immigrant Library has Volumes 1-156, and 159-160, with index guides to Volumes 1-150. The series collection began in 1952. View a database of DFA surnames contained within these volumes, and perhaps your surname has been published.
This every-name index to German genealogical periodicals is organized into at least 16 Bände (volumes), each with several Hefte (issues).
The first Heft of each Band provides the names and code numbers of the sources to be indexed in the current volume. Then subsequent issues cover the many surnames that have been collectively indexed for the volume, each followed by the code number(s) of the sources that contain the name. In the entire collection there are over 30 million indexed names, taken from over 1,700 sources!
Die Ahnenlisten Kartei, 18 volumes
This work is one of several giving an index with contact information for names of “listers” of surnames on Ancestor Pedigree Charts filed with the “Leipzig Central Archive.” If you’re really lucky, the person may still be living at the address given. But these kinds of guides are still of use in pointing you to accepted spellings of a name in Germany (before America!).
Franz Schubert’s early German records collections
Franz Schubert was focused on getting census and church book (principally marriage) records in the hands of genealogical researchers, and we have much of his output available.
The items in our collection will be found under these regional headings: Niedersachsen (NSA), Schleswig-Holstein (SHO), and Brandenburg (BRN).
This was a query supplement that used to be inserted into almost every genealogical periodical published within Germany. IGS has most every issue from its beginning in 1956 through December 2007. An index of surnames is included with every issue, and IGS has a FANA surname database for you to search.
As with Everton’s Genealogical Helper, the onset of the internet took away the major incentive to post queries though this insert, and so at the end not quite three pages are actually devoted to queries, while 13 were devoted to advertising — but some had detailed descriptions of persons treated.
Americana in Deutschen Sammlungen (ADS)
This is a listing of materials on American history and records found within the archives and libraries of what was the Federal Republic of Germany (including West Berlin).
Published by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien, it consists of 5 primary volumes and one index volume (divided into subject and name indexes). This may tell you if your immigrant ancestor in America has come to the attention of German genealogists. But also use it to see if your German city/town/village is included!
Glenzdorf’s Internationales Genealogen-Lexicon
“Glenzdorf’s” was a source guide to German genealogical researchers and their areas of interest. While the volumes we have, published in 1977, 1979 and 1984, are now seriously dated, “Glenzdorf’s” is still used as a guide to accepted spellings of German surnames, and might provide a link to a German village of origin for those surnames.
Each volume of “Glenzdorf’s” contains a Submitters’ Index, a Surname Index (some over 100,000 names), and a pointer to the listing of interest. A Place Name Index is also provided.
“Glenzdorf’s” was particularly valuable in its day because genealogically valuable records in Germany were not always to be found in a government office or archive. Often local historians kept old and valuable local records for which governments had no available space, and sometimes such individuals listed their special resources through this publication.
IGS Surname Database Highlights
Emigrants who Went to America
This was a project from the early years of IGS to extract the names of all persons identified in our collection of Ortssippenbücher (see Highlights by Geographic Location, above) who were noted as having “Gone to America”. Those names have been placed in a master index that indicates where an ancestor lived in “Germany”. If luck is with you, one of the emigrants listed may be your ancestor mentioned in one of our village books.
First Immigrant File
Another project from the early years of IGS was to codify what was known about the ancestors of our members. Through member submissions, we collected 4 card boxes of index files containing family data and submitter contact info.
These cards have since been compiled into a spreadsheet, and a First Immigrant Computer File can be digitally searched and reports printed for each surname. The file contains over 3,500 cards: over 2,000 unique surnames submitted by about 450 members. A First Immigrant File Index is available to search.
Surname Index from Vertical Files
If your ancestor shows up in the First Immigrants File, it may be that this Library has more material that would pertain to your family in the surname files. Letters, queries, correspondence, and results all relating to research requests sent in by members and non-members alike have been stashed away in this filing cabinet.
Our VP and editor has embarked on a project of culling this repository and preserving the research treasures for future reference. In the process, he has created a Surname Index Database of these files which includes primary and related surnames, as well as places of origin or settlement. Recent IGS Newsletters contain blocks of data from this surname index – about 10 surnames per issue.
Family History Section
Every library has a different selection of family histories, and we’re no exception. We have many shelves of family genealogies, German and otherwise. You might just like to browse, because although they are in surname alpha order, your family might be a key part of one that doesn’t list the name on the spine!
Similar to the surname index for the vertical files, a surname index is in the process of being created for the Family History Collection, including primary and related surnames, as well as places of origin or settlement.
Highlights in our Periodical Collection
Eastern European Periodicals
Especially strong is our collection of periodicals relating to settlement areas of Eastern Europe: Volhynian items; Max Kade Institute’s Friends Newsletter; East European Genealogy Society’s East European Genealogist; Society For German Genealogy In Eastern Europe’s SGGEE Journal; & Federation Of Eastern European Family History Society’s FEEFHS Journal.
German Genealogical Periodicals
The German Connection published by the German Research Assoc., Inc. was the product of a San Diego group that began through the efforts of the famous Edna M. Bentz, author of If I Can, You Can, Decipher Germanic Records. Those with time on their hands would do well to spend a few hours combing through these pages.
Der Blumenbaum, published by the Sacramento German Genealogy, is a great place to turn for information about German history and culture. To give you a place to start your reading, our editor has prepared a partial index of articles of interest in Der Blumenbaum.
Der Kurier, published by the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society, focuses on genealogy and history related to German settlements on the eastern seaboard.
See a list of periodicals available to view at the Immigrant Library.
Highlights in our Media Collection
Believe it or not, IGS has a collection of historic church records from Schaumburg-Lippe that are available to view on microfilm. To the best of our knowledge, these are not available anywhere else in the United States.
Gesammelte Werke von Roger P. Minert, Ph.D., A.G.
Otherwise known as “The Collected Works of Roger P. Minert, Ph.D., A.G.”, this digital collection distributed in 2017 includes many articles, references, and a bibliography of all works published by this renowned author who focused largely on German genealogy.