Do you know the history of the village where your German ancestors came from? Are you aware of resources that might exist overseas for them? One way to find information about your village is to explore the Regional Portal in the GenWiki at CompGen. This may be accessed from the home page at CompGen or via that “Regionale Forschung” [regional research] link on GenWiki.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking….and yes, these articles are all in German. But remember that there are online translation tools. The more you work with the German language, the more comfortable you will get with it. Lastly, don’t let a few foreign words stop you from learning about your ancestors!
When you first get into the Regional Portal you will see several options. The pale-yellow headings divide these options. This is where the fun begins. For this post, I am going to focus on those options on the left side:
- “Politikal Einteilung Ortsartikel” – Articles about political divisions [click on “Regionale Forschung” to access]
- “Historisches Territorium” – Historical areas
- “Staaten, Länder und Regionen” – States, countries, and regions
- “Regionale Themenportale” – Themed portal by region
Now the first caveat: not every place in modern or historical Germany or Europe has an article. Some places have a basic page set up with little information. Articles about some areas may be a real gold mine.
After clicking on either of the first two options shown above, you will see a page divided into two sections:
- “Unterkategorien” – subcategories
- “Seiten in der Kategorie …” – wiki pages in the selected category
The subcategories are concepts or broader geographical locations, as opposed to more localized places. Clicking on a subcategory will lead to more listings of categories and articles about that topic. Note in parentheses after the subcategory, it states how many categories and articles may be found within.
The categories relate to specific areas, each leading to its own page of information. It is easier to understand once you start exploring. There are so many good articles related to places, you might lose track of time.
In my opinion, the best way to find an article about a specific village is to key its name into the search field at the top of the left margin, “Suche in GenWiki.” You can search by the article title or you can conduct full-text searches within articles. Another great way to access a GenWiki article about a specific place is to begin with GOV (the gazetteer I blogged about last week). Once you find the village in GOV, there will be a link next to “Artikel zu diesem Objekt im GenWiki.”
Delbrück is one of my ancestral villages. My 2x great grandmother, Angela Höddinghaus, was baptized there shortly after she was born on a nearby farm that has been in the family since the 1400s. That’s the topic of another blog post, for sure! There is a very nice writeup about Delbrück in GenWiki.
This entry gives a lot of historical detail about Delbrück, such as its early name variants (back to 1219), the church and religious history; the coats of arms at various times in history; books written about the area; and so much more. It explains the difference between the Land Delbrück, the Amt Delbrück, the village Delbrück, and the city Delbrück, showing how these evolved over time.
For me, the best part was the fact that it identified excellent genealogical sources in local archives there. My favorite record type featured is the Weinkäufe, which was a tax paid by people assuming the rights to a larger estate. This often happened at the time of a marriage. I was already aware of some of these records, but now I have a longer wish list for the next time I go there to research. Knowledge is power!
I’ll leave you to explore the other segments of the Regional Portal. I hope you find this helpful. Happy Hunting!