National Genealogical Society

Educational Courses

CGS: Researching 17th and 18th Century German Ancestors

Learn why the "First Wave" of German immigrants is important to your German Research

Author: James M. Beidler

Prerequisites: None

Close to 50 million Americans trace at least part of their ancestry to Germany. They represent the largest immigrant group in America. Researching 17th and 18th Century German Ancestors introduces family historians to the history and causes for German migration to colonial America, the impact of religious persecution and groups that migrated, and the early German settlements in Pennsylvania.

Author James M. Beidler is a freelance genealogy lecturer, award-winning writer, columnist, and researcher specializing in German research, Pennsylvania ancestry, newspapers, and land records.


What Will I Learn

Researching 17th and 18th Century German Ancestors is a self-paced, independent learning course designed to help family historians hone their skills in researching their German ancestors. The course modules include:

  • Module 1.  Historical Background: Europe
  • Module 2.  Historical Background: America
  • Module 3.  Principal Records Documenting Immigration
  • Module 4.  Church Records in Europe and America
  • Module 5.  Other Methodologies for Finding Villages of Origin
  • Module 6.  Other European Records for "First Wave" Germans
  • Reading and Reference List


To learn more about Researching 17th and 18th Century German Ancestors, see the course syllabus here.


Since the courses under the Continuing Genealogical Studies category are cloud-based, you need either a computer or tablet with an Internet connection to access the lessons, examples, exercises, and quizzes. No software or material is loaded onto your computer or tablet.

To optimize your online learning experience, the Canvas system uses the current version of a number of different browsers. To check for your browser compatibility, please see for further information and details.

NGS grants a license to an individual to take the course shown above. This grants the individual a personal, nonexclusive, nontransferable right to the course materials for that student's personal educational use only. All students work independently.


Continuing Genealogical Studies


Non members

Researching 17th and 18th Century German Ancestors      



How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Course?

The Continuing Genealogical Studies series courses have no set time or date for attendance. These courses are geared toward individuals who have a variety of schedules.

Upon registration, you have access to the course for six months from the date of registration. If you need extra time, a one-time extension of three months is granted by contacting the NGS Course Administrator.

Certificate of Completion

Since the Continuing Genealogical Studies series are independent learning courses, the CGS courses do not have a certificate of completion.

Please note: The National Genealogical Society is not a licensing body, so no certification or accreditation is implied. For more information about certification or accreditation, please see Becoming a Professional Genealogist.

When Can I Start the Course?

Within three business days, you receive two separate e-mails, one that confirms your registration and one that provides log in instructions.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

All purchases of courses are final. No refunds or credits are available.


Here is a link to the Continuing Genealogical Studies: FAQs. If you have further questions, please contact the NGS Course Administrator at [email protected].


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