As I was thinking about this week’s blog, I was distracted by research into German records. This led me down the path of ancestral villages as they are key to finding German (and most countries’) records. Our ancestors and their “home” villages give us a unique view into their lives. Let’s look at ways we can add some depth to our descriptions of these villages in our family stories.
In recent blogs we have looked at immigrant letters home and I’ve provided some interesting resources for better understanding what village life might have been like for those who came before us. Today we have so many online resources that allow us to see where a village is located, including a bird’s eye view. As always, we need to respect copyright laws if we include maps and pictures in our family stories. At least seeing what your ancestor’s village looks like will allow you to paint a picture in words, sharing this knowledge with your descendants.
Here are a few ideas to get you started. I’ve included links regarding the village of Nordhalben, Bavaria, Germany as an example for each of these.
Wikipedia. It seems like almost any topic can be found on Wikipedia and tidbits about tiny villages in Germany or Ireland or Norway are no exception. Many times these articles also give you a breakdown on the organization of the community…the equivalent of our state, county, township and sometimes even the mayor is listed. Nordhalben in Wikipedia. Bare bone minimum is there but the county organization and the lovely photo are worth the look.
Images. Search Engines such as BING or Google allow you to search for text articles but what I really like to look for is images. You might find a special map or by looking at a picture, you can see that it originates from an interesting website or article. Take the time to look a little deeper at the source of these images. Nordhalben images from BING search.
Videos. Again using a search engine of your choice, be sure to check out the videos available for your village. You might be surprised by what you can find. We love to share photos and videos in this internet age and fellow travelers may provide a peak into village of your ancestors. Videos of Nordhalben. Even the smallest of villages might have a video to enjoy…it’s worth checking out.
Maps. Sites like maplandia.com or google earth and others will allow you to see what the area looks like from a satellite view or a road view and sometimes even a street view. Nordhalben using maplandia.com.
Travel Sites. Depending on your village or place of interest, you can sometimes find interesting tidbits about locations using travel sites. Even seeing what Airbnb rentals are available in area might be interesting. Nordhalben example.
While we might be limited to online resources if we are unable to travel to a country or haven’t found a translated book that describes our ancestor’s village adequately, we can find interesting tidbits about these places when we look at “non-genealogy” sites. This is an easy way to experience the village your ancestor with a few clicks of the mouse and a lot of curiosity…a simple way to add to your family story. Enjoy!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.