Researching Your European Origins Online

Michael John Neill


this document is online at


First—remember that not everything is online and one handout or person cannot list or know everything. There are things you will have to do to research your family’s European origins that are not online and will require regular mail, trips to repositories and other research techniques not involving the computer. Our presentation is two-fold:



Determining Immigrant Origins




Become familiar with the “main” genealogy words in the language of your ancestor’s country. Get a dictionary. Unless your European ancestors were from the British Isles, most websites will not have a complete set of pages translated into English.


Online Guides for Determining Immigrant Origins


Tips for Determining Your Ancestor’s Port of Arrival

Irish Passenger Lists Research Guides




Family History Library


Email Lists at


Online databases


Genline-Swedish Church Records (fee based)—various passenger lists are online and many are indexed (fee based)

German Databases Online Links to a variety of online German genealogical databases—many are in German (some are fee-based and some are not)

Free BMD—An index to English and Welsh civil registrations from 1837-1983 (in progress--free).



Other online “techniques”


Consider learning how to scan images and post them to a website or email them to someone. This can be a great way to get someone to “see” the document or record you are having a difficult time translating.


Consider creating a “blog”—one site to allow you to do this is This can be a post to easily post images and other “non-text” information for others to read an interpret. Free and knowledge of HTML, FTP, and many other acronyms is unnecessary.


Learn how to insert diacritic characters into your email. Some characters do not translate well and having the exact character is sometimes preferable. Tjärstad is in Östergötland and Janns Jürgens Janβen’s mother was Trientje Buβ. contains instructions on how to get many of these characters on your screen (you can also use the character map in Windows® or insert/symbol in some word processors).



Finding out about sources for specific areas and countries:



Visit Country/Ethnic/Religion Specific Pages


British Isles



Federation of East European Family History Societies



Using the Records when you do NOT Know the Language




Foreign Language Genealogy Word Lists

Direct links to these word lists are at:















German Script Books


Cyndislist Links to Handwriting Sites