Dear German Genealogy Researcher!

This page is all about stuff you need to know. It makes your time online
productive and worthwhile. You need to know that:

When your new computer arrives and you are excited about discovering your family tree,
"let this word to the wise be sufficient" (as my father and grandmother used to say,
when my attention was necessary).

I'm aware of many persons who have posted information to a mailing list, or sat night-after-night in a chatroom, murine eye-drops in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, Excedrin never very far away, and then became frustrated when, after a couple of years, they've gone nowhere with in their quest for ancestors! That isn't the way to do research! Read On!




Research 101:

./hsstory.htm <----THE comprehensive research link!

dwats at cox . net

TABLE OF CONTENTS (read them all, or click on the one you want to read)

-- The World's Greatest Research Site
-- The URL you gave me doesn't work!
-- Fake Virus Warnings - Don't Forward Them; Other Stuff!
-- You Don't Want to Read the Guidelines?
-- There is Too Much to Read and Evaluate!
-- Other German Options
-- What is "Cross-Posting" and "Roll Call"??
-- In Conclusion

The world's greatest German research resources are found via ./index.htm, with thousands of visitors since 2 Aug 1997, the "official" launch date. Free access, no charge for links provided, online language translation and research assistance.

The site features:
Access to Hessen and 15 other German states, plus all the regions that were formerly part of Hessen and of the German Empire
Awesome Table of Links and the additional Link Tables.
FastTrak Resources (Family History Library by category, links to other information)
The International Genealogical Index (IGI) and Family History Library (FHL) Merged Index
Incredible Search Engines,  a Town Locator, Modern and historical maps
Civil and church archive addresses through several address-finding systems
German postal zip codes; one shows you the old town name and the new town name, smaller communities that have been annexed by larger ones, and cluster communities.
Contact with living "cousins" in Germany with the official German telephone directory
Where to buy German postage stamps and How to pay for German research
How to do German research offline and online
How to get photographs of your ancestor's village Table #3.
Subscription link to all German mailing lists

Telephones/E-Mail  (online telephone directory). Isolate pockets of your surname using Telefonbuch and the Merged Index IGI, and match them with maps of the region your family came from using the local directory. The official German telephone directory matches places with zip codes, and the postal zip code links provide addresses to write to.

World-wide obituaries and world-wide newspapers
Exhaustive Ship's Passenger Lists information
Research across Europe
Time zone calculator
Currency exchange link
Explore modern city web sites in Germany before making your travel plans. Many sites are in English and feature views of the city and cost of accomodations

German music for those with a sound card

Join a location or surname mailing list on the Home Page in the Gold Box.

Language problem? Fee-based translations, free in some cases. Old German handwriting? Same deal. See our language translation page.

Letters already written in German for you to send to the archives and to your German cousins. Remember that if the data is less than 95 years old for the ancestor you are seeking, he/she must be in your direct line, and you must be able to demonstate that, in order to survive German privacy laws.

Don Watson, Web Master, German Genealogy-Hessen Site, where SERVICE is just a smile :-) away!
dwats at


Anytime a URL doesn't work (that's one of these):, it may be overloaded by inquiries. However, if, after a while, it still doesn't work, just knock off the last section. In this example take "somewhere.htm" off the end.  If that doesn't work, take "it" off the end. Keep doing that until it works. If it never does, boo-hoo. Let me know!


Viruses are real. They are "out there" in both English and German language versions. HOWEVER ..  If you see a virus warning from an individual that asks you to forward it to everyone (sometimes it will say, "to at least ten people"), just delete it. Call it a hoax, and delete it. Passing it along will only give a hacker somewhere the opportunity to attach a virus to it, and send it on its way. If you receive an E-Mail from an unknown source that asks you to download a program,  or tells you that you have won a free vacation ("just download the details") don't download it. Delete the E-Mail and move on! Forget it! Viruses lurk in files that are downloaded and then executed. There are new versions coming at you everyday, including those which are activated by merely opening the E-Mail (be sure your Preview Pane is inactivated). You are foolish, indeed, not to have the latest virus protection program, and keep it updated. There are excellent free programs immediately available for download. See

A phony virus message is worse than SPAM. Well-intentioned people just keep passing it around until every telephone wire, every computer, every satellite, is clogged by it, jammed full of useless information. Don't pass it along .. A geek nerd no-brain jerk somewhere will attach a virus to it.

Giant internet conglomerates like Microsoft and AOL do not send out virus warnings by E-Mail. They post information about viruses to their web sites and with Microsoft Win-98 and above you can have updates automatically sent to your computer.


Ever stop to think what the world would be like if........

..... There were no traffic signal lights?
..... Professional sports were played without an official?
..... You built a new home and your invited guests trashed it,
      then left, and told others it was YOUR fault?
..... Every E-Mail response to your question required a deposit in
      advance, a minimum fee for services, and no refunds?
..... Translations cost $5.00 per word?


Well .... I enjoy the luxury of retirement. I can come and go as I please. I can sit here all day or all night, if I want to. Or I can leave it alone for a couple of days. Whatever. So the way I do things is different from someone who still has to go to work. Sorry, I can't do anything about that. I know what I am doing, and I am trying to help you get to the place that you don't need me anymore. Besides, you don't normally read an entire novel at one setting. Think about it .. just one word at a time. If you are looking for Wadderson in the New York City telephone directory, you don't start on page 1 with the letter A. You zip right over to the W section and let your finger do the scrolling. Think about it. The website has now become amazingly simple.


Confused about where to post? Believe me, we are doing our best to make your research easier, faster, more readily understood! No one is telling you that you CAN'T post! Just pointing you in the right direction! So hang in there, and spend some time with all the info that follows!!

Homespun-L was created for those who want to have a bit of fun reminiscing. Subscribers are welcome to share memories, traditions,  poems, humor, stories, recipes, folklore, home remedies, and similar.
Just send the word subscribe to

Folklore-L was created for the exchange of folklore, folk medicine,  and recipes. Just
send the word subscribe to

German-Traditions-L was created for those who want to explore: traditions!

German-Foods-L was created for those with German foods and recipes in mind.
Just send the word subscribe to

German-Life-L was created to discuss history, culture, language, and  customs, of the
German people. Just send the word subscribe to

Roll-Call-L was created so that you can "roll call" to your heart's content. Just send the
word subscribe to
and avoid sending out "roll call" messages on regular mailing lists.

You can also subscribe to the digest (D) version of these. Just  replace the L with a D. Remember: These were created for your  convenience, so that you don't have to post this kind of info on a genealogy research list. Only the USA has free E-Mail/Newsgroup services. In Europe, they pay for internet access, for EVERY local call, AND long distance charges!

With "anywhere, anytime" newsgroups, and "Roll Call" mailing list, you can send anything you want to anywhere on earth. These two options free up regular genealogy mailing lists, newsgroups, and query boards reserved for specific surname and location research, and saves surname and location archive storage space from unrelated information.


Is spelling important in your search? You bet it is, especially in Germany! A slight change in spelling can send your inquiry off in all the wrong directions! For example, there are 170 villages named Holzhausen in Germany, and Germany is smaller than Montana! Another example: The village of Vohl is not the same as the village Vöhl (two dots over the o), or Voehl. They are on opposite ends of Germany!

It is the same with surnames. If you don't spell it correctly, the time it takes to find your ancestor increases exponentionally! Your best bet is to go to your local public library, historical society, Family History Center, or genealogy club, to learn all about proper spelling, and to study maps, BEFORE you post your inquiries on the internet!

What is "Netiquette" (Being nice on the net)?  Check it out at ......


Cross-posting is posting family information in a discussion group that is totally unrelated.your area of German research. You have NO IDEA that your ancestors came from there, or NO IDEA that the surnames covered may somehow be related to yours, but you post there anyway. That violates the first principle of genealogical research: Never search in a field of unknowns. Always search from what you know, in the direction of what you want to discover, following LEADS, not hunches or guesses! KNOW that your ancestry came from a particular part of Germany, or that your ancestry's surnames are covered by that list, BEFORE you even consider posting there.

You wonder what would happen if you sent an inquiry to everyone on earth about your ancestors. Would someone, somewhere, notice a familiar name, and get back to you? That is roll-call. Everyone on earth sends out their entire ancestry to everyone else on earth, wondering if there might be a "hit" somewhere. You'll actually see an E-Mail in your IN box with the subject line, ROLL CALL! Don't do it! And don't ever put all the surnames you are searching in with your automatic signature! You can manually type in the ones you are searching for in your specific location, but nowhere else.

Remember: You always search from what you know, in the direction of what you don't know, following leads you have already developed through relentless research right in your own back yard! You never search in a field of unknowns. Before you post in Germany, discover through relentless research that your ancestors came from there. Before you post in a particular German state, discover through relentless research that your ancestors came from there, and which village they came from.

I'd be delighted to have you visit my translation website at...... ./donstrans.htm
It helps pay the bills!

Thanks for reading! Keep checking this site for updates, revisions, etc.  If you do, it won't be long before we'll be calling you an expert in online genealogical research!

Don Watson

dwats at

Host, Moderator, Administrator, Site Owner, Webmaster for sites on the internet where no question  is "dumb" or "weird" and will be answered by me or another helpful researcher!