Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany by James Beidler: Book Review

I have been waiting for several months for this book to be published and it finally arrived!

The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany
James M. Beidler

James Beidler, who is a well known genealogy speaker – on the topic of Germany and German ancestry, of course – has published a new book.

First, what it is NOT. It is not a gazetteer, nor is it a historical directory of German villages.

What it is is a nicely annotated history of the land that we call Germany today, accompanied by a huge number of historical maps. Given that the political boundaries have changed through the centuries, this book encompasses a lot of history.

Table of Contents

Part One – The Era of Germanic Tribes
Part Two – The Middle Ages
Part Three – From the Thirty Years War to Napoleon
Part Four – Nineteenth Century Germany
Part Five – Regional and State Maps
Part Six – Twentieth-Century Germany
Part Seven – Modern-Day Religious and Demographic Maps
Part Eight – Other German-Speaking Lands

There is also a German glossary, a list of map sources and a village index. However, the village index is not an every-name index and, in fact, the two ancestral villages in my husband’s family tree are not found there.

The book actually begins with a 7-page introduction to German History Highlights, followed by the eight parts listed in the above Table of Contents.

Each Part opens with one page of historical information, followed by a number of historical maps, which provide visuals to the area described in the text. Part One has nine maps, but Part Two has 21!

While it is fabulous that one volume provides so many map views of Germany through the ages, the author himself warns that some of the historical maps will require a good magnifying glass. I have to add that strong light will also be necessary!

Given that many of us with German roots may be looking at primarily 18th and 19th century families, readers will likely make the most use of Parts Four through Seven and Part Eight, which covers other German-speaking areas, such as Switzerland and the people known as German Russians.

Part Eight on other German-speaking areas includes historical information about the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

My personal favorite chapter, though, is Part Seven, which includes modern-day Catholic provinces and regional Protestant churches.

For those who would like a digital copy of these historical maps, the Map Sources section provides links to many of the maps not in private collections.

This atlas is a massive 239 pages of German history from long before it was Germany up to 2019.

The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany is available on that well-known online site in both Kindle and hard copy versions. The price for Prime members is $22.48. The Kindle version is about a dollar less.

Compiling this number of historical maps into one handy reference book is a job well done by James Beidler and this book was well worth waiting for. Every researcher with German roots should have this book in their personal library.



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