Hamilton County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 15865
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215-0865
Telephone:  (513) 956-7078

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A chapter of the
Ohio Genealogical Society
Records and Resources for Germans in Hamilton County
German immigration to Hamilton County
Mass immigration began in the 1830s, but the biggest wave of German immigration to Cincinnati occurred in the 1880s. In 1890, 57 percent of the total population of nearly three hundred thousand was either born in Germany or had German parents. Further waves of German immigration took place in the 1930s (particularly German Jewish immigrants) and after World War II. At the turn of the twenty-first century, approximately half of Cincinnati's population was of German descent.
For information on the origins and locations of German immigrants in Hamilton County as well as their later migrations, see “Germans in Hamilton County” on the FamilySearch wiki.
A blog post, German Genealogy Resources on 16 October 2018 by the HCGS Director-at-Large Kathleen Reed, has links to online research sources for German ancestry.
“German Genealogy Books Available for Use”
This 74-page guide by Kenny Burck lists books and articles to assist researchers in discovering their German ancestors. The resources are listed in categories such as German research guides, German immigration records, German books listed by states, German periodicals, and German articles in The Tracer, among many others.
The list includes publication data and library call numbers for the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives, the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the Palatines to America Collection in the Columbus Metropolitan Library and others. The list continues to grow as new books are published or found so recheck it from time to time.
Records of Germans in Hamilton County
See Cemeteries for more information about Hamilton County cemeteries. The following large cemeteries are predominantly German.       
Indexes to smaller German cemeteries are included in other volumes of the Hamilton County Burial Records series. See “German Genealogy Books Available for Use”, pages 12-14.
Veterans buried in Hamilton County who served in wars prior to World War I have memorial pages on Find A Grave which may have a photo of their headstone.
Churches and synagogues
The records of German churches were kept in the German language for many years and can be a rich source of information, sometimes including birthplaces. Religious Records and Religious Institutions have information on indexes and access to religious records, including Catholic records. The Jewish Interest Group has information on Jewish records. Protestant records are being digitized on FamilySearch. See the HCGS Shop for information about available books.
Deutsche Pionier Verein von Cincinnati (large German society)                             
For more details about German societies, see Deb Cyprych, “The Records of German Societies in Hamilton County,” Tracer 37:3 (August 2016), and “Germans in Hamilton County” on the FamilySearch wiki.
Index of Lesser Known German Resources, by Marilyn Wood Armstrong, Beverly Igel Breitenstein, and Jeffrey G. Herbert, includes many birthplaces:
  • Descriptive book of the 9th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
  • Cincinnati Central Turner Society membership lists
  • Every-name index to three Cincinnati histories in German:
  • German-American Newspapers and Periodicals 1732-1955 by Arndt and Olson lists 174 Cincinnati German newspapers in existence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Over 92,000 death notices in four German newspapers before 1920 (* indicates birthplace shown), indexes by Jeffrey Herbert, microfilm at PLCH: Freie Presse 1874-1920 (to 1964 at PLCH), Volksblatt 1846-1918, Volksfreund 1850-1908, Zeitung 1887-1901
  • Other German newspapers on microfilm at PLCH: Anzeiger, 1880-1901; Die Deborah, 1855-1902 (Jewish, also at Hebrew Union College), Haus und Herd, 1873-1918 (German Methodist); Protestantische Zeitblätter, 1853-1865 (United Lutheran and Reformed); Wahrheitsfreund, 1837-1907 (Catholic); Westliche Blätter, 1865-1918
  • Free scans of death notices in newspapers held by PLCH 
  • Christliche Apologete, 1838-1941, German Methodist, at CHLA; Jeffrey Herbert, Index of Death Notices Appearing in Der Christliche Apologete, 1839-1899online index
For more details about secular and religious German newspapers, see “Germans in Hamilton County” on the FamilySearch wiki.
The German General Protestant Orphan Home was founded in 1849.
  • CHLA’s finding aid lists the names of children in several types of records. The names are also indexed in the 2011 issues of The Tracer.
  • Christine S. Engels and Ursula Umberg, “German General Protestant Orphan Home Records, 1849-1973,” Tracer 32:1 (February 2011)
The St. Aloysius Orphan Asylum, a German Catholic orphanage, was founded in 1837. Until 1917 only children who spoke German were admitted.  
  • CHLA’s finding aid lists the names of children in orphan files, guardianships, and estates.
  • Deb Cyprych, “New Finding Aid with Indexes for St. Aloysius Orphanage Records,” Tracer 38:3 (September 2017)
For more information, see Guardianships and Orphanages .
Tracer articles
The Tracer Article Index has two subject indexes for The Tracer, 1979-2018, with numerous articles about Germans and German records.
  • “Researching Your German Ancestors Using German Newspapers,” parts 1 and 2, Jeff Herbert (2014)
  • “What's New in German Research,” Jeff Herbert (2018)
Societies and collections
The LDS Family History Center in Norwood has a large collection of German and German-American microfilms and books. A keyword search for “German” in its inventory reveals 1,602 microfilms stored there that have “German” in the title. Other searches can be made in the inventory.
Since 1895, the League has served as the central German-American umbrella association in Greater Cincinnati, with delegates from German-American organizations. The German Heritage Museum, operated by the League in a German log house in West Fork Park, is the repository of the historical artifacts and records of local German-Americans and has a collection of German-American materials including family histories, emigration indexes, church records, and other books and manuscripts.
The German-Americana Collection is one of the nation's largest collections of books, pamphlets, documents, journals, newspapers and manuscripts pertaining to German-American history, literature and culture. The Collection is located in the Blegen Library in the Archives and Rare Books Library of the University of Cincinnati.
The German Interest Group of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society is a founding member of this partnership, created in 2014 to facilitate German genealogy research globally as the internationally recognized federation of more than one hundred German genealogy organizations.
CHPL has been collecting books about Germany and in the German language since 1853. Many of its German genealogy books are listed in “German Genealogy Books Available for Use.”
Note: In 2023 HCGS discontinued offering the Venne in America publication. Copies can be viewed at the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library (CHPL). The catalog information can be found at https://cincinnatilibrary.bibliocommons.com/v2/record/S170C2771673.
page modified: 2023-05-23 RTB; 05/20/2023 JGH