In addition to the Black Sea German database, the following links will help you research your German ancestors in North America.
- Research Repository
- U.S. Vital Records
- Canada Vital Statistics
- Ellis Island
- Castle Garden
- New York Passenger List Guide
- Canadian Ship Lists
- National Archives (U.S.)
- Library and Archives Canada
- Researching in Canada Q&A
- Odessa Digital Library
- United States, Russians to America Index, 1834-1897
- Land grants (Bureau of Land Management)
Aberle, Msgr. George P.
From the Steppes to the Prairies
The Black Sea Germans in the Dakotas
The Russian-German Settlements in the United States
Memories of the Black Sea Germans
Town and church history books are also valuable resources when researching your Black Sea Germany ancestors.
Some of these books may be available at your local library or available from Amazon.com, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia, or the Germans from Russia Heritage Society.
Researching in North AmericaOverview
A small group of Black Sea Germans (from Johannestal, Worms, Rohrbach, and the city of Odessa) were the first to head for North America in 1847-1848. These families settled in Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin. A second group from Worms and Rohrbach came in 1873, settling in Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakota Territory.
But the great exodus of German colonists from South Russia really began in 1876 when they were deprived of their final privileges granted them by Tsar Alexander I. Compulsory military service, a hunger for land, and government policies to Russianize the German colonists created a desire to leave.
During the early 1880s, it is estimated that there were as many as 200,000 German emigrants from Eastern Europe to the U.S. per year. But from 1898-1904, migration slowed down with only 41,598 German-Russians coming to America ( U.S. Commissioner of Immigration).
Most of these Black Sea Germans settled in the Dakotas and Saskatchewan, later moving west to Montana, Washington, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Birth records include birth certificates, church birth registers, baptismal certificates, and sometimes civil birth records. These include the child’s name, date and place of birth, sometimes the baptism date, the parents’ names (which is key to finding an earlier generation), and sometimes the godparents (which can give you clues about siblings and other family relationships). U.S. Vital Records and Canadian Vital Statistics are a good place to start when looking for birth, death, and marriage records. Especially for earlier years when civil registration wasn't common, the local church register is also a valuable source for birth information.
Marriage records include marriage certificates, church marriage registers, and sometimes civil records of marriages. These include the bride’s and groom’s names, the date and place of the wedding, and usually includes the names and locations of the fathers of the bride and groom (key to finding the previous generation or finding a previous place of residence). They may also include the ages of the bride and groom (helpful for finding their birth records).
Death records include death certificates, church death registers, and sometimes civil death records. These include the name of the deceased, the date and place of death, the birthplace of the deceased (a great clue for research, but remember that the person giving the information may not know the correct location), sometimes the cause of death, and often the age of the person in years/months/days. While the calculated age is a great research clue, these are often calculated incorrectly…use with caution.
In addition to official death records, obituaries and death notices in newspapers can be a valuable source of information on the deaths of family members. These notices often list surviving family members. And don't forget headstones. They, too, usually include the deceased's birth and death years.
Obituaries can usually be located at local funeral homes or in local newspapers. A popular website, obituaries.com allows you to search obituaries from U.S. and Canadian newspapers.
Find a grave is a great website for finding gravesites, with records for about 62 million! They have volunteers that will photograph a headstone for you free of charge.
Census records vary somewhat, but most list all members of the family and their ages. U.S. censuses show country of birth, occupation, language spoken. A popular website for U.S. census records is Census Finder. There is also a Census Finder for Canadian records.
Format and content vary, but these are very helpful in researching movement from one location to another. These usually include all family members and show where they were going.
From 1855 to 1947, immigrants arriving in New York were processed at Castle Garden, Ellis Island, or an interim Barge Office. Read more...
All ship manifests for Castle Garden and Ellis
Island arrivals (1820-1947) are available through any
FHL or NARA branch. Please see the section on Passenger
Ships into NY for information on searching them.
Ship manifests for other U.S. ports, such as Baltimore,
are also available from the FHL and NARA.
Ship manifests for other U.S. ports, such as Baltimore, are also available from the FHL and NARA.
The "Germans to America" books (Ira A. Glazier & P. William Filby) are a tremendous resource of ship lists. This 60-volume series includes passenger lists from the 1850s to the early 1900s, each with an alphabetical index. Transcribed from the original microfilms, the books are easy to read and reasonably accurate.
Only immigrants of German ancestry are included so this is by no means a complete index. The FHL has a complete set (Call # 973 W2ger), as do other major libraries in the U.S. and Canada.
Naturalization is the process by which an alien becomes an American citizen. These records can provide a researcher with information such as a person's birth date and location, occupation, immigration year, marital status and spouse information, witnesses' names and addresses, and more. U.S. Naturalization records can be ordered through the National Archives. Library and Archives Canada have Canadian naturalization records.
Compiled service records consist of an envelope containing card abstracts taken from muster rolls, returns, pay vouchers, and other records. They will provide you with your ancestor's rank, unit, date mustered in and mustered out, basic biographical information, medical information, and military information.
The National Archives holds Federal military service records in two repositories:
- * The National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., for Revolutionary War to 1912
- * National Military Personnel Records Center (NPRC), in St. Louis, Missouri, for WWI to the present
- Contact the Regional Archives in your area, as the regional offices may also have the military service records that you are looking for on microfilm.
Ancestry.com also has military records but they do charge a fee for their service.