I'd like to share my experiences from a research trip to Baden & Wuerttemberg in December 1995 and offer some advice for others contemplating going to Germany to look for their ancestors. Although I am from Honolulu and have done most of my research there, I made plans for this trip (my second) while visiting my then-boyfriend-now-husband in Bremerhaven, Germany. I took the train and stayed in hotels during the week of December 10, 1995. First, the advice, then the trip story, and finally, some addresses of archives and libraries with their hours.
I'd already done a lot of research on my ancestors, who came from Altlussheim across the Rhein River from Speyer, using the microfilm copies of the church records at the LDS FHC in Honolulu. Unfortunately, however, LDS didn't have 2 of the 3 Familienbuecher (family registers) on microfilm, and a researcher-cousin in Altlussheim told me that the originals were still in the minister's office. I wrote a letter to the minister (in my lousy German, addressed simply to Evangelischer Pfarramt, 68804 Altlussheim) to ask if I could see the 2 volumes in his office during the week of December 11 (in Germany, the week starts on Monday), and I enclosed a SASE. I wasn't expecting any reply because I'd heard that most ministers are 'too busy' or just not interested in genealogy. Much to my surprise, he wrote back right away and told me to come on 11 Dec from 9-12 am. When I arrived, I showed him the long list of surnames I was researching from Altlussheim, and instead of giving me the Familienbuecher, he told me about a man in the town who has entered all the information from the Familienbuecher into his computer (his attitude was 'why bother to look at the originals?'). He drove me to Mr. Ballreich's house and dropped me off. What an impressive collection of genealogy he had - at least 50 2-inch notebooks filled with copies of the Familienbuecher, stories about people who emigrated, photos of descendants and gravestones in cemeteries (he makes regular trips to the US tracing Altlussheim emigrants). He intends to write a book about all Altlussheim people who emigrated, not just to America. We spent 2-3 hours going over my information, and he printed out anything I wanted from his computer. While it's nice to meet a genealogist like this, it's still better to look at the original records.
I didn't know, and still don't know, what they have at the Evangelisches Landeskirchliches Archiv (LKA) in Karlsruhe that could be useful to my research. I went to the small library there and was told that all 5 seats were reserved and I would have to come back another day. The archivist felt bad about kicking me out, so she tried to help by suggesting I go to the LDS FHC. I didn't come to Germany to go to a LDS library, and I tried to explain that I had already spent a lot of time at LDS libraries in America. Then she told me that LDS has everything they have, so they (LKA) wouldn't have anything for me. That might be true, or it might not. She also gave me some pieces of paper, some in German some in English, listing the fees the archive charges for research and how to send a written request for information on a German ancestor.
Then I went across the street to the Badische Landesbibliothek (Baden State Library). You don't need an appointment here, and there are plenty of tables and chairs. In the Hauptlesesaal (Main Reading Room), there is a section of books on Baden and Wuerttemberg, including Heimatbuecher (town histories) Ortssippenbuecher (town genealogies), some published genealogies, and other related books. When I wanted to make some photocopies, I discovered the machines don't take coins and I had to buy a copier card for 2DM (that's 10 copies) from the cashier downstairs. Most of the library's books are kept on closed shelves, and a library card is required to request a book. Since I don't have many ancestors from Baden, I spent all my time in the Hauptlesesaal and did not look at the catalog or try to get a library card.
Located just a few miles north of Stuttgart, the Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg (SAL) holds emigration permits issued in the state of Wuerttemberg. To legally emigrate, Germans had to pay their debts and apply for permission (and pay a fee for that). Many people left without permission, as apparently most of my ancestors did, so I found only 1 emigration permit out of 6 people I was looking for. For each person, you need to know the year of emigration and the town of origin. Check the 'Wuerttemberg Emigration Index' by Trudy Schenk et al. (available at many public libraries and LDS FHC's) or the Hamburg Passenger Lists, among other sources, if you don't already know where your ancestor came from. The SAL has recently moved from the old location at the Schloss (castle) to the center of town, and the Lesesaal is not easy to find. I was lucky to meet an off-duty archive employee who took me to the right place. The archivist spoke nice English, and she helped me fill out the user permit (name, address, purpose of research, etc.). No appointment was necessary (although I don't know if that's true for the microfilm machine), there was no charge for the visit, and she even didn't even charge me for the photocopies she made for me.
The Evangelisches Landeskirchlichesarchiv (LKA) in Stuttgart has a library and microfilm copies of record books from Lutheran churches in Wuerttemberg. (Note: LKA in Stuttgart has only Wuerttemberg records. For records from other German states, go to other archives.) The library has a small collection of genealogy-related books in the main room - no appointment necessary, and you can browse the shelves yourself. Photocopies are 0.20DM, and you pay all at once before you leave. If you want to look at microfilms, it's best to make an appointment. As mentioned above, the first time I was at the LKA in March 95, they said there wouldn't be an appointment available until August. There are only 3 microfilm reader-printer machines, so it's not a wonder that they're hard to get. In December when I was there for the second time, I got lucky in 2 ways: there was a machine available, and I found that they have microfilms of church records that LDS doesn't have. So, the archivist, who was very patient with my limited German, set me up with the 2 films on a microfilm reader, and I found my ancestor right away. After an hour and a half, and 6 copies (at 1DM each), I had to leave. I had to pay to use the microfilm machine - they charge 2DM per hour, 6DM per half day, or 10DM per day.
The Wuerttembergische Landesbibliothek (WLB) in Stuttgart is much like the Baden library in Karslruhe. It has a Hauptlesesaal (reading room) with a good collection of Heimatbeucher, Ortsippenbuecher, published genealogies and general reference books, and if you want to see the books on closed shelves, you have to get a library card. I spent many hours in the Hauptlesesaal and found a lot of useful information. I also wanted to see a collection of typewritten documents kept on the closed shelves, so I asked about a library card. It was so easy, I couldn't believe it, and it only took 5 minutes. I filled out a form with my name, address and birthdate, and then an employee entered the info into a computer. I showed my passport as identification, and when I explained I was just a tourist, he gave me a card anyway, presumably good only for use in the library. Then I went to the card catalog and looked up the author of the typewritten manuscripts to get the call number. They have their own call number system, not like Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal. Then I had to request the book by typing my library card number, my birthdate, and book's call number into a computer, and I needed help from the librarian for this (she told me, in German, what to type, when to hit the enter key, etc.). It only took a couple minutes. After the request went in, the documents appeared in the Hauptlesesaal 30 minutes later. Yippee. Then I was busy at the photocopy machine (0.20DM per copy).
Located only a few blocks from the WLB, the Verein fuer Familien- und Wappenkunde fuer Wuerttemberg und Baden has a very good collection of books. They have general reference books, including books from the American side such as 'Germans to America,' plus numerous Ortssippenbuecher and Heimatbuecher, about 30 shelves' worth of published genealogies, and 100 or so notebooks filled with Ahnentafeln (ancestor lists) submitted by members. They also have a few things for sale, such as a book listing surnames in Baden & Wuerttemberg being researched by genealogists. The library, by the way, is open to non- members and there is no charge for a visit, but it is open only on Thursday and Friday in the late afternoon, so you might have to plan your trip around that. They have a photocopy machine, and I think the charge is 0.20DM per copy.
Erprinzenstr.15, 76133 Karlsruhe.
Hours: Mon-Wed 0930-1800, Thu 0930-2000, Sat 0930-1230
Evangelischer Oberkirchenrat, Landeskirchliches Archiv fuer Baden
Blumenstr. 1, 76133 Karlsruhe
Hours: Mon-Thu 0830-1230, 1330-1600, Fri 0830-1300
Mathildenstr. 1, 71638 Ludwigsburg
Hours: Mon-Fri 0830-1630
Evangelischer Oberkirchenrat, Landeskirchliches Archiv fuer Wuerttemberg
Gaensheidestr. 4, 70184 Stuttgart
Library Hours: Mon-Thu 0800-1700, Fri 0800-1530
Archive Hours: Mon-Thu 0900-1600, Fri 0900-1530
Konrad-Adenauer-Str. 8, 70173 Stuttgart
Hours: Mon-Fri 0900-2000, Sat 0900-1300
Verein fuer Familien- und Wappenkunde fuer Wuerttemberg und Baden
Gaisburgstr. 4a (library location)
Postfach 10 54 41, 70047 Stuttgart (postal address)
Hours: Thu 1500-1800, Fri 1600-1830
For further information about these and other archives, see Andreas Hanacek's Archives in Germany.
20679 Visitors since 1 Nov 2005. Thanks for stopping by!
Last updated: June 18 2006 23:51:08.