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Free Newspapers for German Genealogy

Free Newspapers for German Genealogy

Let’s say you are looking for the German origin of one of your ancestors, and you’ve exhausted your English-language sources. You are familiar with German genealogical words and phrases because you own a copy of Ernest Thode’s German-English Genealogical Dictionary. You’re reasonably confident that the missing ancestor came to the U.S. from Berlin, so what should you do next?

The answer could be in another book by Mr. Thode, namely, the Second Edition of his Historic German Newspapers Online. For the past decade or so, Thode has been sourcing every German-language newspaper on the Internet that meets the following conditions: (1) Its contents are at least 50 years old, (2) Anyone can read it, and (3)  Any country of origin is included so long as the publication is in German.  Using these criteria, Mr. Thode found nearly 3,000 historic German-language newspapers for the Second Edition of his Historic German Newspapers Online.

As you might expect,  many historic newspapers were published in Berlin.  In fact, Mr. Thode specifies 180 of them in his latest version. So where do you begin?  Fortunately, the arrangement of  Historic German Newspapers Online  helps narrow down the field, as illustrated by the example below. As the author explains in his Introduction, turn first to the alphabetically arranged “country section” of the  volume, where you will encounter German newspapers published not only throughout Europe and North  and South America, but also in Namibia, Egypt, China, Australia, and Crimea. This section also tells you the publishing emphasis of each newspaper, for example, labor paper, Jewish, stock market paper, humor, etc. You can further narrow down your Berlin newspaper by turning to the “country section,” which is arranged alphabetically by the name of the periodical.  This section also indicates the dates of coverage and a code for the URL where you can find each paper. Since you know that your Berliner ancestor came to the United States between 1870 and 1880, and you now know that the Berliner Gerichts-Zeitung was a judicial newspaper published during that decade, it would seem to be a good starting point. You now go to the front of the book, where the URL codes are arranged alphabetically, and learn that the paper is housed at the Zeitungsinformationssymtem and is available at this URL:

The Berliner Gerichts-Zeitung may not turn out to be the one source that can resolve all the questions you have about your ancestor (see sample pages below), but Historic German Newspapers Online has now opened up a whole new world of possible sources for you, any one or two of which just might. Check it out today!