The GAUER Family
|GAUER Family Research Tips & Techniques|
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Tracing your family back depends very much on finding out where they were born. Before the 1900s most of the records of an individual were kept in a book in their local parish church. Sometimes the individual generated military records, or tax roll records, or other kinds of records but for most people they just made their mark on the world when they were born, married, had children and died.
These church records are usually stored in archives in each country but the Mormon Church (LDS) has spent many years copying these books to microfilm. In addition, literally thousands of other books and records of all sorts can be found on LDS microfilms. These microfilms can be viewed at any Family History Center (FHC) in the world. You can search in the LDS Family History Library to see what records LDS has of interest to you.
If you can't find the original record then perhaps someone else has found it and already created a family tree. Genealogy has been a popular hobby for very many years and there are numerous family histories published all over the world. The following web sites are also valuable when searching for ancestors :
Google is, in my humble opinion, the best search site on the internet.
The Yahoo Search Tool
Yahoo is more of a subject search tool. Yahoos principal advantage is organization. There are 100s of human operators in Yahoo categorizing and organizing web pages by subject.
Searching for Current GAUERs
Finding people in Canada
Canada wide telephone directory powered by a consortium of Canada's telephone companies.
Finding people in the USA
Well organized site which includes telephone numbers and locations but also includes much
Finding people in Germany
Official telephone company site for Germany. The link above is the German version but there is a link for the English version on this page.
Many of the Family History Centers are located in Mormon churches but there is no pressure to join the church or do anything other than research your ancestors. When you arrive you sign in giving your name and area of research. Once that is complete you are welcome to proceed on your own with the microfilm readers and computers available at every FHC or you can ask for assistance from one of the volunteers. You will be searching the absolutely huge LDS Family history collection which is centralized in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Once you find a book, film or computer CDROM you are interested in you may find you are lucky enough to discover that the item you want is part of the "100 books" collection that every FHC is seeded with when it opens. If not there is an inexpensive process you can use to order a film from Salt Lake City. In a couple of weeks the film will arrive at your local FHC for your viewing pleasure. It will remain on loan for a few more weeks and then it is returned to Salt Lake City.
If you have the ability to travel to Salt Lake City then you can visit the Family History Library (FHL) in that city. They are open to the public and have a great staff of volunteers who will attempt to assist you with your research. Every book and document LDS has is available in the FHL but many records are kept off site and need a days notice or so to be transferred from their secure storage location to the FHL. If you are visiting make sure to check each of the records you are interested in and request off site records be brought in as soon as possible.
That's all there is to it. The Mormon church provides a very valuable service to every genealogist in the world.
If you do not know the name of your ancestral village then look in the Researching the Journey from Germany to Galicia section below to see if you can identify your ancestors home village from emigration records. If you still have no luck, check out the family books in Galicia in the Researching your Family in Galicia section below. Sometimes home villages are mentioned. Finally, check out the Verein fur Computergenealogie website which is a tremendous resource for family research in Germany.
If you know your village here are a couple of valuable resources to check out:
If you want to trace your ancestor back to Germany from Galicia I would suggest looking in the various emigrant records available at the LDS Family History Library. A good starting point is this list of Galizien records in the LDS Family History Library catalog. Of particular value in this list is Ludwig Schneider's comprehensive work Das Kolonisationswerk Josefs II in Galizien (The colonization programs of Josef II (emperor of Austria) in Galicia, Austria) (found in the "Austria, Galizien - Emigration and immigration" topic) which lists 3,404 names of settlers. It is available at many libraries (locations can be found in WorldCat). If it is not found at your local library then there is a good chance you can ask to have it brought in on an interlibrary loan. It also is available in the LDS Family History Library and all Family History Centers in North America can borrow a microfilm copy for a nominal charge. It is arguably the best reference for emigration from Germany to the Galician province of Austria.
Other books that are valuable for research on emigration from Germany to Galicia are :
The GGD has four really valuable resources on their website for researching your ancestors in Galicia. First is their connection to the Genealogischen Forschungsstelle der Galiziendeutschen (GFG) organization in Germany. The GFG have spent years transcribing births, deaths and marriages from original church records into family groups and then combining all the family groups in a village into a single village book. You may purchase family books for your ancestral villages at http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/Familybooks.htm.
Second is the GGD collection of maps of Galicia and indexes to those maps. See http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/GGD Maps.htm for all the details of what maps they have available and to see if your village is listed in one of their indexes.
Third is the GGD "Sharing our Heritage" database (http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/SOH.htm). This is a collection of surnames GGD members and others have reported living in Galicia. If you find a surname of interest in their database contact them at http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/ with the relevant researcher(s).
Finally, with a bit of luck your ancestors home will show up on one of the Plat maps in the GGD collection. These maps show a street layout of a village showing the location of features in the village (like schools and churches) and the names of residents in each house if known. To see which villages GGD has Plat Maps for see http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/Plat Maps.htm.For further research into your family in Galicia either do a Google search on the name of your village or do a Place search in the LDS Family History Library Catalog to see if parish books are available.
All ships arriving in the USA and Canada were required, even from the earliest days of immigration, to provide a list of all the passengers disembarking from their ship. The US National Archives and the Canadian National Archives have microfilm copies of almost all of these shiplists.
To access shiplists for ships arriving in US ports (New York, Baltimore, etc) you can either go in person to the US National Archives in Washington or, if you check their holdings first, to one of the regional National Archives centers scattered around the USA OR you can get a microfilm copy of a particular port and year via Interlibrary Loan from your local public library. For Canadian ports (Halifax & Quebec City) you can get microfilms of a particular port and year from the Canadian Archives. Major Canadian libraries have copies of the Canadian port shiplist microfilms or can get them on interlibrary loan.
These ship lists can be anything from neat printing on a form to a poorly handwritten list on a scrap of paper. Some of them are so soiled or damaged as to be unreadable so be prepared. Also, there are no indexes included with the lists. They are ordered in simple chronological order. Basically, each ships manifest of passengers is located in the films in the order they were filed at the port authorities offices. Sometimes as many as 5 ships a day arrived at ports like New York. There are a couple of published indexes (e.g. Filby, P. William: Passenger and Immigration Lists Index; Gale Research; 1988) which you can get on Interlibrary loan but they are very fragmentary. If you do a Keyword search on "passenger lists" in the LDS Family History Library Catalog you will find a long list of these indexes that are available.
So, without knowing the exact date your ancestor arrived in North America you are faced with a very daunting task finding a mention of them in a ship list. For example, a 2 year search in the passenger lists of ships arriving in Canadian ports looking for the arrival of one family in 1890 was completely unsuccessful. Finally, while collecting all information about people with the same surname who immigrated to North America, a record was found of the arrival of the family in question in a series of books called "Germans to America". They arrived in New York of all places.
For those of us of German ancestry the "Germans to America" books are a tremendous resource of shiplists. This series of books totals over 60 volumes at this time and ranges from the 1850s to the early 1900s. Each book has an alphabetical index of surnames. These books are printed lists transcribed from the original microfilms so they are easy to read and although they have many flaws the accuracy is reasonably good. Only immigrants of "German" ancestry are supposedly included so this is by no means a complete index. This series is called "Germans to America" by Ira A.Glazier & P. William Filby (Scholarly Resources; 1984-). The Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake has a complete set of these books (Ref 973 W2ger) (details including ISBN numbers are at: http://www.familysearch.org/eng/Library/fhlcatalog/printing/titledetailsprint.asp?titleno=582490) and I'm sure other major libraries in the USA and Canada have a set (Seattle Public Library has a set). Contact your local library with the ISBN number to get copies from other libraries via Interlibrary loan.
If you can't find your ancestors disembarking in North America another alternative is the other side of the Atlantic. The primary embarkation ports in Europe where Bremen and Hamburg. The Bremen records were lost in WWII but if your ancestor boarded their ship in Hamburg, Germany. Information about these passenger lists are available at :
LDS FHL: The Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850–1934 Resource Guide and GenWiki: Passenger Lists, Hamburg 1850-1934for details on the Hamburg lists and how access them.
A terrific resource for immigrants to America is the Ellis Island Project which has records of arrivals in New York from 1892 - 1924. They are constantly adding new data so that date could change at any time. Here is some more information about immigrants arriving in New York:
All ship manifests for Castle Garden and Ellis Island arrivals (1820-1947) are available through any FHC or NARA branch. Please see the section on Passenger Ships into NY for information on searching them.
One last suggestion: 3 years or so after arriving immigrants could apply for naturalization and in that application they were required to state where they were from and the date they arrived. This could be useful if you can find ancestor's Naturalization certificate. For Canadians the Canadian Government provides access to whatever citizenship documents that are available). For US citizens the US Government Citizenship and Immigration Services has a USCIS Genealogy Program.
There have been two main waves of Germans returning to the homeland from Galicia. The first was just before World War II when many thousands of German settlers in Russia and elsewhere were resettled back to Germany. The Germans, as usual, kept meticulous records of this resettlement and they were captured by allied troops in Berlin at the end of the war. They are known as the "EWZ" records and are housed in the US archives (NARA). They are available for viewing at NARA offices around the USA. GDD started a program a number of years ago to create an index of these records and was able to create an index of over 55,000 individuals by the time the project ended. Unfortunately they are no longer adding to these records and I have no further information about the people mentioned in this database other than what you see in their on-line database at http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/BDC_Files/index.htm.
However, all is not lost. The GGD "1939 Resettlement Records" database is only a partial transcription from a huge cache of records called the EWZ records. More of your family records may exist in the EWZ records that they did not transcribe. Also, each of the individuals mentioned in our database came from a page in these EWZ records and as you can see by the example GGD gives at http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/Images/ewz.gif there is much more information on those documents than is available on their web pages. The actual documents in the EWZ will have name, dates and locations for individuals but much more information can be included... including occupations, other family members and even a photo sometimes.
If you follow the instructions on their help page (http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/BDC_help.htm) you will see more information about these EWZ pages and how to view the original documents. If you want to see the actual documents that these records were transcribed from, the PDF document at this link will allow you to determine which LDS film number(s) contains images of the original documents for your surnames.
There is a second set of resources for EWZ records the Germans from Russia Heritage Society (GRHS) and the Odessa3 Library also have indexes of EWZ records. These records focus on Germans returning from Russia to Germany. If you have family that were left in Russia before the second world war then they might be in these records.
The second main wave came to Germany after the collapse of the USSR in the mid 1990s. Germans in USSR controlled territories after 1914 were persecuted in a numbers of ways including execution and exile to Siberia. After the Iron curtain collapsed many people of German heritage left the devastation of post collapse USSR for better prospects in Germany. It is not known if a database of this migration exists.
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