German Genealogy

After traveling to Germany for family history research, this is what I learned!

That I did not need to travel to Germany to find my Family!


It has been hard for me to trace my German family and in 2017 I had the opportunity to travel to my grandmother’s (Anne Burghardt) home town of Kassel, Germany. I had been researching on and off for about 10 years but focusing solely on my German family history for the last 3 years. You can read more about my journey into German Genealogy here: https://ellajaneanne.home.blog/2019/06/30/my-journey-into-german-genealogy/

My husband was traveling to Germany for business and I had the opportunity to go with him. I had about 6 months to plan my trip and I started as soon as my plane ticket was bought. The first thing we did was book a hotel on the Fulda River in Kassel. This was the most amazing and beautiful place I could have stayed. The next step for me was to schedule appointments with the archives in Kassel and see when we could try to research my family. After emailing them I received several responses with different online locations for me to search and a notice that they were always closed Monday and Tuesday was a holiday and they would also be closed. I could not believe that my dream of traveling to see the home town of my grandmother was coming true but finding more about my ancestors was not. After about a month I was starting to wonder if I would do any research while in Germany. I then emailed the local family history library to see if maybe they could meet with me and help. I then had to wait and wait. I finally received a response from them about 6 weeks before I was to leave and they agreed to meet with me. I then gathered all the information I already knew about my grandmother and her family and started to pack. I traveled first to London and then to Koln, Germany and spent several days there. Then on Sunday my husband finished with his business and we were finally headed to Kassel.

The first thing we did was check into our hotel and had lunch. I was so excited to be where my grandmother and her family lived.

The hotel and views from our hotel.

We then took a trip to the house that my great grandmother (Erna Lina Gossmann) lived at, in the mid 1970’s.

The top of the Hercules Monument.

After touring around Kassel Sunday afternoon, I prepared to meet with the family history center the next morning. I felt like I was finally going to find more about my German ancestor.
Monday morning came and we meet with the family history center and they asked if I had tried family search. I could not believe that I was in Germany and still was not finding any family. It was just my luck that the archives were closed and the volunteers at the family history center did not research in Kassel. We spent the rest of the rainy day shopping and headed to Frankfurt the next morning.

While I highly recommend traveling to the home of your ancestor, you do not have to travel there for family history research. With sites like family search, ancestry and the German Lutheran sites www.archion.de, you can do the research at home or in a local family history library.
Since returning home I have found parents to all 8 of my 3rd great grandparents and some of the parents of my 4th great grandparents. I have also found countless distant aunts, uncles and cousins. I am continuing to add to my German family. I even found a confirmation photo of a cousin.

Magdalena Nagel is number 22 , it is printed on her blouse below her chin. She is my 1st cousin 3 times removed. The group picture is of all the girls confirmed in Wehlheiden, Kassel, Germany in the year 1927. I was looking at this confirmation record by accident and when I saw the photo had to dig a little to find if I was related to anyone.

I hope to travel again to Germany and see all the villages that I have learned my ancestors

20 thoughts on “After traveling to Germany for family history research, this is what I learned!”

  1. Great blog post! I can relate. I’ve taken international and long distance genealogy trips to Nova Scotia, England, Hawaii, and to Spain! I learned a lot about my family tree on each trip, even just hanging out at the pubs or churches when the archives were closed!

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  2. Wonderful that you saw her town and even where she lived. You have those memories to spur you on to more research. Have you joined or contacted any of the genealogical societies in Germany?

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  3. Even though you were not able to obtain records on your trip, being in the area where your German ancestors lived — and visiting the home of you great-grandmother — were experiences you would not have had without traveling there. A sense of place is important in family history research — one of those intangibles that brings ancestral research alive — and you gained that on your journey.

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    1. I agree and it really made me feel close to my ancestor. I highly recommend traveling to ancestors home towns if you can. I am now planning in a couple of weeks to visit Germany again and will traveling to all the new villages I have since learned about.

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  4. It is humbling to be in our ancestors’ environment and walking the roads they walked. I hope you find out more! I think joining a German Genealogy Society would be a great idea.

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    1. Laura you are correct and I loved being there. I need to find a society there to join. I am going back to Germany first week of September and will be visiting 4 villages there I have found my German ancestors in. I am so excited to have another opportunity to visit my ancestors villages.

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  5. What a wonderful opportunity to travel to the country where your ancestors lived! On my Dad’s side, our ancestors are from Norway and Sweden. It would be amazing to someday visit those countries and see where my ancestors lived. Thanks for sharing about your trip!

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  6. I can’t imagine how disappointed you were after seeing the archives were closed and that the FHC didn’t even do research in Kassel! It looks like you still enjoyed your trip, and you will know now for the future that most of your German research can be done at home.

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  7. Taking a trip to places your ancestors lived is great! But you’re right, researching in foreign lands is sometimes very difficult. Trying to do as much online first is definitely the way to go!

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