Deutsch Lands
6/12/2014
Trace your ancestry in Prussia, Bavaria and more with our guide to research in Germany’s historical regions.
In this era of globalization, it’s easy to think of ourselves as citizens of the world. If you turn the clock back a century, though, you’ll see people took a much more regional view. Italians considered themselves Sicilians, Sardinians, Tuscans or Venetians. Regional loyalties in America helped start the Civil War. And the people we now call Germans referred to themselves as anything but.
 
In those days, you had Prussians and Bavarians, Palatines and Hessians, Saxons and Swabians—who all spoke various dialects of German and were united only in their dislike for each other. “In Europe as well as America, immigrants who came from Prussia didn’t like the immigrants from Bavaria, and the Bavarians didn’t like the Prussians,” says German genealogy scholar John T. Humphrey. “And immigrants from Swabia in southern Germany did not like either one.”