Genealogy is a historical auxiliary science which, in simple terms, deals with the study of ancestors. It is not only about creating a family tree but also about researching how people lived at that time. Often not only the own ancestors are researched but also many persons in a certain regional environment.
Why do we feel compelled to trace our roots? Those names in the family tree are just that – names – and yet the kinship we feel to them is powerful. Does the fact that we’re rooted in history make us feel more secure in our present. But what if our family trees are more like vines, twining aimlessly throughout the ages?
– Dr. Henry Morgan, Forever
Since the year 1876 registry offices exist in Germany (in some regions which were occupied before by Napolen already somewhat longer). From this time on there are registry office documents such as birth, marriage and death records which can be inquired.
If one would like to research further back, then one goes over the churches. In the church books baptisms, weddings and also deaths were registered. These documents are regarded as cultural property and can be inspected either in the appropriate parish offices etc. or a central archives. With a little luck you can return here to the 16th century.
But there are also other sources which are interesting. Tax lists, sales contracts, court rulings, sample lists etc. tell us a lot about life back then. Many such documents lie in the archives and can be evaluated.