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Did You Check the International Phone Books?

Did You Check the International Phone Books?

January 28, 2021

Perhaps you have walked through the doors of the Midwest Genealogy Center many times, checked its website many times, and are fairly familiar with the Library’s collection. Nevertheless, there are still resources in the MGC building considered to be “hidden resources.” International phone books could be one of them! Did you know MGC has them? They sleep neatly on the shelves on the first floor, close to your view and reach.  

These might be helpful when you search for anything related to your immigrant ancestor. For international research, you should start with your ancestor who lived on both continents. You want to connect this ancestor to sources where they came from. Your goal is to find their birth record. Keep in mind that your ancestor possibly first lived in Canada before moving to the U.S.   

International phone books can guide us and ensure we’re on the right track and have the right place of origin. Often, family descendants would still live in the same town or village as the ancestor who moved to America. So, for German ancestors, for example, MGC has German phone books for the late 1970s and early 80s. The collection is not complete, but it’s still worth checking.  

You can also possibly place and confirm family descendants who stayed in Canada, as was often the case. For example, one brother from Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or former Czechoslovakia, would go south to the U.S., and another brother would stay in Canada, where he would later move to a larger city. He or his descendants would be confirmed in the Canadian phone books MGC has.   

Many Jewish immigrants also considered the U.S. to be their final destination, but first travelled to and lived in Canada. The descendants of those siblings who stayed in Canada would often appear in the Canadian phone books. Furthermore, the later generations of those who went north after the American Revolution might be listed in these Canadian phone books as well.  

If this sparked your interest, you can find, for example, many more German phone books and city directories through this German website. Open it in Google Chrome, switch to English, and click “Do Research,” then “Project Databases,” and “Address Books.” They date back to the 1800s—some even to the 1700s—and show status or occupation. Translation tools may also be helpful while you access these. Are you also curious how many times your name appears in German phone books? Type your name and check it out here.   

Call us if you have any other questions! We want to hear from you. 

Iveta B.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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