German Interest Group at Seattle Genealogy Society

It’s a grey, spring day in Seattle. What better way to spend a few hours than enjoying the company of other fellow genealogy researchers?

Checking the Seattle Genealogical Society website, I saw that there was a special German interest group meeting today. Arriving a few minutes behind schedule, I was welcomed to a full table of about 8 other hopeful family historians.

If I had been better prepared, I would have written down the host’s name. However, I was so caught up in the great tips and researching options that it slipped my mind. I’ll remember to be better about that in the future.


Make note of the name and contact information of hosts at all group discussions or workshops, you never know when you’ll want to contact or reference them in the future.

Discussion started with a round robin introduction and a request to share the surnames and locations of our German research subjects. Some folks knew a lot, others had just started their quest. I landed somewhere just above beginner, but not yet intermediate.

I know the full names of my half dozen ancestral immigrants from Germany (KAISER, SPRINGER, OBERNOLTE, ALLINGER). For a few, I even knew the small villages of their births. For others, just the provinces or port of departures.

There’s still a lot of research yet to be done, and I know (from a previous workshop) that I have some special challenges regarding the Northern German Ostfriesen branches of the family due to their unique geographical location and limited access to Ortssippenbuch (OSBs, community lineage books).

I was having a purposefully casual day. However, next time I plan to be prepared with family sheet reports or some kind of summary on all my German ancestors to make remembering the details easier during introductions.


It’s helpful to sit down for a few minutes before study groups and organize summaries and notes about your research subjects for easy recall.

The primary focus of the talk centered around exploring Family Search’s German Genealogy Wiki.


Beyond hitting up Google for possible research avenues, try visiting Family Search’s Research Wiki and RootsWeb .

Because I knew that I could go back and research everything that was talked about concerning exploring the wiki, I only took notes on side conversation suggestions. This allowed me to focus more on the conversation and less on note taking.

You’re much better served by doing your research close to home at a Family Research Center, rather than spending all your time in an archive. That way you can enjoy experiencing things on your trips abroad.

Overall, it was a pleasant few hours learning about the challenges of my peers and listening for the gems of insight dropped by the woman who had over 20 years experience researching her German heritage.