The ties that bind Germans together reached New World heights in the formation of fraternal societies and aid organizations in virtually every large city, as well as many smaller towns, in which there was a substantial presence of such immigrants. Some of these groups still exist today; many do not. But most have some sort of records that may help genealogists connect with information about their immigrant ancestors.
When family historians go looking for information about their immigrant ancestors, we usually start with the U.S. Census; civil records of births, marriages, and deaths; and church records that often act as vital record substitutes. Additional documents— naturalizations, tombstones, obituaries, and other death records—may help to uncover the immigrants’ specific villages of origin. Often overlooked are the records of German-themed groups, which can deny the researcher much information as membership applications often contain detailed places of birth and other information about the immigrant’s life and residences in Europe.