How did I find my ancestors

Genealogy: How to Find Your Ancestors on the Internet

Tracking down one's ancestors is not just a hobby for many, but also a search for roots, support and identity. Compared to the arduous work of previous years, the Internet offers a lot of relief. No wonder that there have been countless websites on the subject of genealogy for decades, such as the international listing of tens of thousands of genealogical pages on the US site "Cyndi’s List".

There are not only commercial offers in genealogy

Even on the Internet, you should first concentrate on a certain line of the family or a place. A meta search ( is a good way to get started - one of the many research offers of the Verein für Computergenealogie. For example, information from many genealogical associations, local family books available online, address books and emigrant passenger lists are queried there. Another rich source is the huge Mormon archive ( The "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", as the Mormons are also called, collects genealogical records worldwide and makes them available free of charge - for religious reasons: to enable its believers to identify unknown ancestors through posthumous baptism to rescue". The same applies to copies accessible online as to all second-hand information: To ensure that there are no transmission errors, the information should be checked later on, if possible, on copies of the original documents, which are also increasingly being made available online.

The most popular genealogical websites are likely to be the commercial family research sites. If you start a search query there, you will find out that there appears to be information about the name you are looking for, and what kind of information it is, but at best you will see it after a free test registration. The actual information, or facsimiles of documents, can only be seen by those who have registered for a fee. However, not all information on such portals is as exclusive as it is presented. “You can find a lot of the data that you can find there free of charge,” says Helga Scabell, second chairwoman of the Verein für Computergenealogie. Anyone who enters the keyword “Augsburg” in the “GenWiki”, an online lexicon for those interested in family history, will find references to numerous sources such as historical address books, some of which are directly available online ( It works in a similar way with other municipalities and cities.

You can also research something about your ancestors via mailing lists

This also applies to historical church registers, with the denominations going different ways. The Protestant churches make historical records of births, marriages and deaths from many parishes available online via the Archion portal. Which years and locations are available can be researched free of charge; fees are then due for reading and downloading documents. In the case of the church records in the Matricula portal, which mainly come from Catholic parishes, a different approach is taken and the documents, which mainly come from Austria, Germany and Luxembourg, are made available free of charge.

You can also subscribe to specialized mailing lists that discuss individual aspects and regions of family research. An overview can be found at: For those interested in the region, there is the “Bavaria-L” list, which is dedicated to the area of ​​old Bavaria and Swabia. The forum of the Bavarian State Association for Family Studies (, which also offers regular get-togethers, some of which take place in the region, also enables an exchange with mutual advice and support.

The right software is also available online to organize and present the collected material. You can create family trees with the free programs "Ahnenblatt" (for Windows) and "Gramps" (for all operating systems). So the internet has a lot to offer for a detective look into the family history - maybe even a first hot lead.

Reading tip The new edition of a special edition of the Verein für Computergenealogie with lots of tips and information is expected to appear in January 2019: “Family research. Genealogy made easy - computer genealogy for everyone ”, 9.80 euros