Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book Review - "In Search of Your German Roots"

I recently received the updated Fourth Edition of the book In Search of Your German Roots, A Complete Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe by Angus Baxter. The 127-page book ($16.95 retail in the USA) was published in 2008 by Genealogical Publishing Company, and is an update of the 2001 Fourth Edition.

I have quite a few ancestors from this area of north and western Europe, but they all came to America in colonial times, so I haven't undertaken the research task to find where they came from and earlier ancestors in Europe.

This book was a very pleasant surprise. I expected that it would be full of information about doing research in Germany and other nearby countries, but quite a bit of the book is about general genealogy, repositories and Germans in the United States and Canada. The chapters are:

* Introduction
* Starting the Search
* The Germans and Germany
* Starting the Family Tree
* The Records of the LDS Church
* Jewish Records
* Archives
* The Lutheran Church
* The Germans in the United States
* The Germans in Canada
* Records in Germany
* Continuation
* German Genealogical Associations in North America
* Bibliography
* Index

The most interesting part of the book for me was the chapters about Germans in the United States and Canada. These two chapters provide an excellent history lesson - the who, why, when, where and how of emigration from Germany to North America over the years - from the late 1600s to the 20th century.

The most useful part of the book for genealogists just starting their research on German ancestors is the Records in Germany chapter. This is the longest chapter in the book, and is chock full of information about the Evangelical (Lutheran, Reformed and United) and Catholic church records. The chapter includes information about the calendar change, passenger lists, official records, archives, and genealogical associations in Germany. Addresses and web sites are provided for the church offices, government offices, associations, etc.

The book description on the back cover is on the GPC web site here.

Amazingly, there is only one map in this book - a map of modern Germany opposite the title page. Maps of Germany, and the surrounding countries, at different historical stages would be very useful. I was puzzled that there was no description of the old German script or a list of common German words used in genealogy research.

This is the kind of book that would be popular on the genealogical section book shelves at the library - it is easy to read, full of information, addresses research in North America and Europe, and is not overwhelming.

The author has packed quite a bit of information into this work that is useful to the American genealogist for research in North America and German repositories and web sites. It is a fine addition to my bookcase. I highly recommend it!


Jennifer said...

Thanks for the review, Randy! I just ordered the book myself over the weekend. I saw two people on Amazon.com who didn't give it good reviews, so your review makes me feel better about ordering it.

Janet Iles said...

Hi Randy

Here is Angus Baxter's obituary from 2005http://www.thestar.com/article/108104.

I wonder who did the update to the book.

Angus Baxter was an interesting gentleman. I met him at our genealogical society meeting when he was the speaker a number of years ago.