If you do German research, there is a German website that you want to become familiar with, if you aren’t already. CompGen.de is the website of the Verein für Computergenealogie (Society for Computer Genealogy), a German genealogy group that has created a goldmine of free online information. There are so many treasures tucked away, that I can’t cover all of them in one post. This will be the first of several posts about CompGen.de. You may also hear people refer to this website as GenWiki.
“Lexika,” the German word for dictionaries, is the area I’m going to talk about today. You will see this link in the middle of the GenWiki page.
If you are not comfortable with the German language, you might feel the need to panic. Or to look for an English link. There is an English language option. If you scroll down on the page, you will see a link for English (also Danish, French, or Dutch, your choice).
Before you breathe a sigh of relief, I have to tell you NOT to click that English link. Why? Because many parts of the Lexika have not been translated to English. In the English version, you will only see the content that has been translated. For example, there is a dictionary labelled “Berufsbezeichnung” (occupation names). If you click on that link in the English version, you only see one article for Tagelöhner (day laborer). The German version gives over 2,600 occupations! That’s quite a difference. And yes, the definitions will be in German, but you can use various online tools to translate them. Google Translate will give a “rough” translation of the entire page. For individual words, I like Beolingus.
Several types of Lexika may be found here. There are seven main categories, shown here with their subcategories:
- Abkürzungen (abbreviations)
- Alte oder fremde Begriffe (old or foreign terms)
- Berufsbezeichnung (occupations)
- Krankheitsbezeichnung (illnesses)
- Fremdsprachige Begriffe (foreign language terms)
- Historische Begriffe (historical terms)
- Genealogische Begriffe (genealogical terms)
- Rechtsbegriffe (legal terms)
- Alte Maβe und Zeitangaben (old measurements and dates)
- Alte Maβe und Einheiten (old measures and units)
- KalenderBegriffe (calendar terms)
- Hochzeitzjubiläen (wedding anniversaries)
- Namen und Verwandtschaft (names and relationships)
- Vornamen (given names)
- Familiennamen (surnames)
- Verwandtschaftbezeichnung (relationship terms)
- Thematische Forschung (research by topic)
- Adel (nobility)
- Militär (military)
- Berufsgruppe (occupational organizations, such as guilds)
- Hilfswissenschaft (related areas of study)
- Historische Hilfswissenschaft (historical areas of study)
- Heraldik (heraldry)
- Feuilleton (Dies und Das) (this and that)
Each one of these links contains multiple articles. Some contain hundreds or even thousands of exploring options. Don’t let a little language barrier stop you. The more you work with the German language, the more comfortable you will become with it, I promise. Take this opportunity to learn more about your ancestor’s occupation, the guild he may have belonged to, or the money that he carried in his pocket.
Stay tuned for more articles about CompGen. Happy Hunting!