5 Overlooked Resources for Eastern European Genealogy Research (Guest Post by Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A)

When tracing Eastern European ancestors, it is no secret that church registers and civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths are the most popular and useful sources for extracting important genealogical information. However, there are other record groups to be searched that may prove useful for gleaning additional details, especially in the absence of church and vital records for your locality. This article will discuss five other key resources you might be missing.

Before You Search

Remember there are two key pieces of information you need to have before you can successfully trace your ancestors in the old country:

  1. You must learn the immigrant’s original name.
  2. You will need to obtain the specific name of the town or village of origin from searching records created for or about the immigrant after arrival, and then using maps, atlases, and gazetteers to pinpoint current and historical locations.

Search Strategy

Many one-of-a-kind resources (letters, photographs, and other ephemera) exist in libraries (especially those with dedicated Slavic/Eastern European collections), historical societies, ethnic genealogical societies, and museums located throughout North America. You will also want to extend your search to similar repositories in Europe. Accessibility and availability will vary by country and local area. Privacy laws may apply.

Below is an overview of some of the most overlooked resources.

1. Census Records.

As you probably learned from exploring US or Canadian census records for your ancestors, the prime value of census records is for grouping families together. In Eastern Europe, censuses were usually taken for tax and military conscription purposes. Searching census records can be hit or miss depending on the country, the region, and whether or not registers have been preserved. Because of shifting borders and the destruction of records during wartime hostilities, only relatively small portions of certain record groups survived in many instances. Therefore, you should check registers of births, marriages, and deaths (not census records) first, opposite of what genealogists typically do when looking at North American records for their ancestors. However, locating a family in a census record can help you place them in a particular location at a specific time period. Check the FamilySearch Wiki by country and look for a Census Records tab.

Figure 1: 1869 Census Record for Andrej Verbovszky Family Source: "Slovakia Census, 1869," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L99V-FZS2?cc=1986782&wc=QZ77-BX7%3A323642201%2C323900301: 3 November 2015), Sáros > Milospuszta (Milpoš) > image 59 of 75; Bytča, Banská Bystrica, and Nitra Regional Archives.accessed 29 December 2020.

2. Military Records.

Military records are often considered a secondary resource because they are not easy records to locate. To find military records for the various armies in the Austrian, German or Russian empires, you will first need to understand the history of the time period in which your ancestors lived, as this determines whether your ancestor served during the Partitions of Poland, the Austro-Hungarian rule over the Czech and Slovak republics, etc. Next, you will need to know how the process of conscription worked and the regiment/military unit your ancestor served in. Finally, you will need to become familiar with the types of records (e.g., muster sheets, personnel sheets, military citations), which vary by regiment and period. Two excellent sources for research advice include, A Guide for Locating Military Records for the Various Regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by Carl Kotlarchik , and several excellent articles available from The Foundation for East European Family History Studies including the “Russian Central State Military Historical Archive” and “An Introduction to Austrian Military Records” by Steven W. Blodgett.

3. Land Books, Cadastral Surveys, and Tax Lists.

Land records, cadastral surveys, and tax lists are other documents that can provide additional clues about your ancestors. While often difficult to track down, land records may serve to fill in some of the generational blanks in a family tree, and tax lists can offer a glimpse into an ancestor’s financial and social status. Land records are primarily used to learn where an individual lived and when he or she lived there. They often reveal family information such as a spouse’s name, heir, other relatives, or neighbors. You may learn where a person lived before, occupations, and other clues for further research. The primary advantage of using land records is that they go back further in time than the parish registers of births, marriages, and deaths. Often, the same land was passed from generation to generation. Land records may be deposited in various archives, so you should check with the archivist to make sure you’re searching in the correct places. Cadastral maps were created to determine the economic potential of manors. Maps of manors depicted the actual configuration of farms, with bodies of water, roads, and other natural objects. The maps are accompanied by description books, which describe garden plots, fields, hay lands and pastures, and more. Just as we do, our ancestors paid taxes, and documentation from this process can be another potential source. In some countries, you will find revision lists that contain personal data on household members. Consult the FamilySearch Catalog, or check with state, regional or local archives.

4. Emigration Documents/Passports.

Most genealogists look for incoming passenger lists, but in some instances, there may be documents such as emigration lists, permissions to emigrate and records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the name, age, occupation, destination, and place of origin or birthplace of the emigrant, but if you don’t find them among family documents, they can be difficult to locate and typically reside in state or regional archives. Some countries kept records of those who left. Ancestry.com has Hamburg Passenger Lists, Handwritten Indexes, 1855-1934 and S., Passport Applications, 1795-1925 searchable online. To view a variety of passport documents, check out the Flickr Passport Photos collection by user mákvirág.

5. Town or Village Histories.

Individual towns or villages may also have published histories. These sources can come in book form or published or town or village websites. Search for the town or village name on Google, as your ancestors’ names could be mentioned in these narratives. While it could be a challenge to obtain a copy if you don’t have any living relatives in the town or village, you can always try contacting the local historian or mayor or check if the village has a page on Facebook. For example, my maternal grandfather’s family is mentioned in a book (Dejiny Osturne) about Osturňa, Slovakia, that was published by historians there. I also recently learned of a book about one of my other ancestral villages, Kučín, which mentions my book Three Slovak Women, and my 2010 visit there!

SK-Blog-EE-Image-003
Figure 2: Cover of Dejiny Osturne

Keep in mind that records are organized by location so be sure to check all parishes, archives, and local register and mayor’s offices in the ancestral town or village. While some record sets may be available online, others exist on microfilm or in print form, through FamilySearch or country-specific archival and other websites, so be sure to check back periodically for new or updated collections.

Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A., is a freelance writer, instructor, and internationally recognized lecturer, specializing in Eastern European research and writing your family history She is the author of 11 books and hundreds of magazine articles. Lisa works as an online educator and writing coach through her website Research, Write, Connect, https://www.researchwriteconnect.com and developed the Eastern European Research Certificate Program for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  Visit https://www.lisaalzo.com  for more information.

10 Must-Knows When Starting German Genealogy (Guest Post by Kathy Wurth)

From Katherine: I first met Kathy several years ago, when I was in the beginning stages of moving my German translation business into the genealogy field in particular. Kathy and her colleague Cindy were  kind enough to meet up with me in St. Louis , hear about my business, and give me some insight about working in the genealogy field. At that meeting, I was also fascinated to learn about Kathy’s business – Family Tree Tours – and her genealogy group, Germans in St. Louis. Through both of those ventures, Kathy has gained a depth of knowledge about German genealogy – knowledge which she has kindly agreed to share with us today. Enjoy!

10 Must-Knows When Starting German Genealogy 

A few months back, I asked my German research group to give some examples of what they wished they had known when they were starting out with their German genealogy.  From their answers, we’ve come up with quite a helpful list! Below, find ten facts of German genealogy research you should know before you delve in to the world of your German ancestors:

#1. ALWAYS LOOK AT CHURCH BOOK RECORDS (at home and abroad).

Church books are the most important resource you will have to find more information on your German immigrant. Since many immigrants went to German parish churches when they came to the States, and the pastors did the books in the style of the Old Country, you have a good chance of finding a place of birth in a marriage, baptism, confirmation, or death record. Once you find your ancestor’s hometown, your next step is to look at the church books in Europe to verify your family was actually from there. You can then trace additional generations back and see if a previous generation originally came from another village.

To learn to work with German church records, see The Magic of German Church Records by Katherine Schober.

#2. THERE waS NO NATIONAL CENSUS IN the eighteenth OR nineteenth CENTURY IN GERMANY.

Germany was not a unified country until 1871, and they have no census like we know it. There are census records in a few places, but there is likely no indexed census to find where your ancestor lived.  However, Ancestry.com does have a few censuses for Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Lübeck city.

#3. IF YOUR SURNAME HAS AN AE, OE, OR UE, IT COULD MEAN YOUR SURNAME HAD AN UMLAUT.

If your name is written Mueller in the U.S,  it could be Müller in Germany. If your name is written Droege in the U.S., it could be Dröge in Germany. Search for both of these surname versions when looking for your ancestor. 

#4. HAVE A LIST OF COMMONLY USED GERMAN WORDS USED IN CHURCH BOOKS AND THEIR TRANSLATIONS.

Here is a link for a German Word Lists:  https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/German_Genealogical_Word_List

#5. HAVE A LIST OF COMMONLY USED LATIN WORDS USED IN CATHOLIC CHURCH BOOKS.

Here is a link for a Latin Word Lists: https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Latin_Genealogical_Word_List

#6. DON’T EXPECT NAMES TO BE SPELLED THE SAME EVERY TIME – BE FLEXIBLE.

Try not to assume or be adamant that your people ALWAYS spelled their name one way. You must try to search all variants of your surname. It is also important to remember that in the nineteenth century, many Germans had three names (a Christian name, a second name (call name), and a third name, followed by the surname.  They may have written any one of those names on documents.

#7. ONLY KNOWING The german state – such as prussia – IS NOT ENOUGH – YOU WILL NEED TO KEEP LOOKING FOR A MORE SPECIFIC AREA.

Google German maps in different time periods (like 1815 or 1874) to see what area your German state (Prussia, for example) encompassed.  This may be the hardest wall to break to find what specific area of Germany your ancestor came from. You will have to continue to search U.S. documents to find an individual town name. 

#8. YOU PROBABLY WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR GReat-GReat-GRANDPA’S GRAVE IN GERMAnY. GRAVES ARE RECYCLED EVERY 20-30 YEARS.

This is one of the most asked questions from people going on our tours and I hate to have to disappoint them when I tell them that there are few nineteenth-century gravestones left. The grave plots in Germany are leased to the family for 20-30 years. At that point, if they don’t renew the plot, it can be leased to a new family. You will have to check church books for a recording of your ancestor’s death. In some cases, we have been a little lucky and found a few old graves, but this is not common.

#9. IF YOU HAVE A HOMETOWN NAME, YOU MUST ALSO KNOW THE STATE IT IS IN AND THEN FIND IT ON A MAP. THERE MAY BE MORE THAN ONE TOWN BY THE SAME NAME.

If you have a hometown name, you should also make sure to find it on a map! You will need to know a state (Bavaria, Baden, Hessen, etc.) and a Kreis (County) since there are many towns with the same name in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.  You should always prove you have the right town by searching the church books there for your ancestor’s name and birth/baptismal date.

#10. EVERYTHING IS NOT ONLINE – YOU MUST USE BOOKS, MICROFILMS AND GAZETTEERS as well. 

Please do not only search online. My biggest recommendation is to go LOCAL. Try contacting the local genealogy or historical society in the town or county your ancestor lived. Often, these societies may have indexes, records, and resources that are not online anywhere.  The locals are also more familiar with surnames and may have insight that would help you with your search.  Also, if there is a local public library, they may have a history/genealogy department that would be able to help. Call or e-mail them!

What other tips would you add for beginning genealogists? Let us know in the comments!

For more information on German research or heritage travel, please get in touch with us at info@familytreetours.com  To see our 2021 tours, see our website www.familytreetours.com .

Kathy Wurth is a researcher, speaker, volunteer and owner of Family Tree Tours, a heritage travel company, specializing in ancestral trips to Germany and Ireland and other European countries.  She is a member of several Genealogy societies and leader and founder of the Germans In St. Louis Research Group in St. Louis, MO. Kathy has been leading tours since 2007 and has helped hundreds of people visit their ancestral hometowns. 

How One Word Traveled Around the World (Guest Post by Narelle Kukowetz)

Greetings from a beautiful, snow-dusted mountain in southern Austria. In the last weeks, I have been diligently working my way through Katherine Schober’s fantastic online course Reading the old German Handwriting. And in getting started with my new skills, a journey of one word ended up taking me around the world. Here is my story.

HELLO KURRENTSCHRIFT!

When someone discovers Kurrentschrift (the old German handwriting) for the first time they would be hard pressed to be anything but perplexed. 

“You’re telling me, THAT letter is an ‘e’?”

The letter "e" in Kurrentschrift

A Little About Me:

To give you my background: I am an Aussie living in Austria, married to an Austrian who himself has a Slovene father and a Croatian mother!

It was my husband Bernie’s fascinating history that inspired us to delve into genealogy and family history research and over time that led to the creation of our website Project Ancestry.

As explained in the German handwriting course, Kurrentschrift was used throughout the entire German-speaking realm, and it was while researching Bernie’s Slovene ancestors that I first came across this baffling (yet somehow beautiful) form of handwriting.

So what’s the best way to improve any new skill?  Practice!

THE JOURNEY OF ONE GERMAN WORD

My mum in Australia (who has avidly toiled over our own family tree over the last twenty years) was uber excited to find out that I am learning the Kurrentschrift.  So much so, that she didn’t waste any time recommending my (cough-cough) amazing new-found translation skills…. to a distant relative in Canada!

The next thing I knew, I had an 1885 civil marriage record from Berlin in my inbox, along with the question:

“Are you able to decipher the words between – Tochter der …….. ……. worker?” (daughter of the… worker)

A MISSION FORMED

Bernie is a native German speaker (which helps immensely) and he could clearly see that ‘jetzt’ (meaning now) comes after the word ‘der’.

“The daughter of the now…..”

But what comes next? We did have one clue! The word most likely describes what comes directly after it, Arbeiter – worker.

And so, armed with the key of the Kurrentschrift letters, Bernie and I attempted several different possibilities:

“verstorbene” – deceased

“pensioniert” – retired

“geschieden” – divorced

“arbeitslos” – unemployed

None of those words fit.

The first letter of the word had us completely stumped as, to our eyes, it bears little resemblance to any of the Kurrentschrift letters.

We tried different methods:

a) Entering potential words into the online script generator deutsche-handschrift.de.
b) Comparing the letters to others written within the document.
c) Enlarging the letters by zooming in the computer screen (this only makes it harder).

We were none the wiser.  A new tactic was required

The word "geschieden" (divorced) produced by the online script generator linked in letter "a" above.

We decided to send it to our clever German friend Ralf in Adelaide, Australia.

Nope, Ralf had no clue either.

So Ralf sent it on to his father Ernst, in Germany, who evidently ‘loves a good challenge’.

Nope, Ernst had no clue either.

Ernst then sent it on to his aunt (she is well into her 90’s) as she had learnt Kurrentschrift as a child!

SO WHAT WAS THE WORD?

We believe the word is “verehelichten” which is an older spelling of “veheiratet”, meaning married. (Genealogy Translator Katherine Schober: Yes, that is correct!

So if you look back up at the extract from the document, the complete sentence would be:

“Tochter der jetzt verehelichten Arbeiter Starick Johanna Friederike”

“Daughter of the now married worker Starick Johanna Friederike …”

Mystery solved.

We forwarded the solution to my mum in Australia, who then sent it back over to Magarethe in Canada, who in the mean time had also sent it to a friend in Germany for investigation!

SUCCESS

It took seven (very determined) people from four countries BUT we finally had an answer!

The moral of the story?

Use your network. Oh, and never give up on a good challenge!

Can you imagine the registry office employee from 1885, not knowing that some 135 years later, just one word they had written would have so many people interacting?

I think it’s amazing.

About the Author

Narelle (Nelly) and her husband Bernie Kukowetz are the founders of Project Ancestry.

Project Ancestry is an online platform and growing community for family history and genealogy research. We focus on a unique part of Europe that intersects three beautiful countries which historically have always been intertwined: Austria, Slovenia and Italy (Friuli Venezia Giulia). 

That’s in the Archives: Using State Archive Websites For Your Genealogy Research (Guest Post by Melissa Barker)

Are there records you aren’t finding because you don’t know they exist? We know that not all genealogy records are online, but they are being digitized and added to websites daily. Digging deeper into state archives websites to find your ancestor’s records just might be the next step in your genealogy research.

What is an Archive?

Understanding exactly what an archive is and the different kinds of archives is essential.

An archive is defined by the Society of American Archivists as: An organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations (http://www2.archivists.org/glossary/terms).

There could be one or more of these types of archives in any area where your ancestors lived:

  • County or local archives collects and preserves local government records and historical records
  • State archives collects and preserves government records and historical records from across the state
  • An historical society that collects and preserves local records is also considered an archive.
  • A genealogical society that accepts donations of family records is an archive.
  • A museum that has exhibits and displays may also have records collections and would be considered an archive. Don’t forget the museums!
  • Local public libraries that have genealogy rooms with records in them are archives.
  • University & Colleges with on campus libraries and archives is a great archive resource.
  • Religious denomination archives collect and preserves church records of all kinds within their specific denomination.

The term “archive” is not solely used to represent a county or state archive; any organization that accepts, collects and preserves government, historical and genealogical documents, records, memorabilia and artifacts is considered an archive, even if they don’t have the word “archive” in their title.

Where Do I Start?

Knowing where to find the records and how to find the records is the first step in digging deeper into archives. It’s always best to start at the local level and glean all you can from these archives:

  • Try to narrow down the area where your ancestors lived to the specific county (parish) and the specific city within that county (parish)
  • Find out what archives are in that specific area, where is the facility and obtain contact information.
  • Talk to the archivists, librarians, clerks, county historians and educate yourself about what records are available and where the records are physically located
  • Locate and bookmark the websites of each local archive.

Going to the Next Level

If the records you are looking for are not at the local level, they may be at the state level. All 50 states in the United States have a state archive and all of them have a building you can visit. Best of all, every state archive has a website. If you are not able to travel to the state archives to do research in-person, their website just might be the next best thing.

Locate the website of the state archive for the state where your ancestors lived. Doing a simple Google search should bring up the state archive website. Once you are at the website, explore and investigate the entire page. Getting yourself familiar with the website itself and how it is arranged will help you when trying to locate specific record sources. 

You will also see that you may have to dig and click on everything to find what you are looking for or to find the hidden sources on a state archive website. Some specific pages or sections that you should be on the lookout for are ones that have page headings having to do with genealogy or history. The records and information you are looking for most likely is not going to be on the front page of the website. Take some time to really dig into the website and make notes about what you find and where things are located so you can return to those pages easily.

Online Sources

Many state archive websites have sections entitled Online Sources. This is where you will most likely find indexes, finding aids and information about the records collections the archives have at their facility. This section of the website could have multiple layers, so don’t be afraid to click through the pages to see everything that is available. This is where the researcher will find indexes they can search for their surnames. 

Manuscript Collection finding aids can also be found in this section. The finding aid is a “road map” to any manuscript collection and will help you determine if there is something within the collection that is of interest to you and your genealogy research. You may also find indexes to the Vertical File Collections at the state archives. Many state archives also provide an index of the county records they have in their collections and this index could very well be on their website.

Online Exhibits and Displays

Many of our state archives have digitized their documents, photographs and artifacts and created online exhibits and displays for their visitors. Just like in-person exhibit and displays, this is a chance for the archives to show their patrons what they have in the back rooms of their facility. More and more archives are adding online exhibits and displays to their websites to attract researchers. These online exhibits and displays will have digitized documents, photographs, and artifacts on many different subjects. Some state archives will change out their online exhibits and displays periodically, so it is important to check back often.

 

Digital Archives

State archives are the epicenters of document collection and preservation for each state. More and more state archives are encouraging their institutions to digitize as many of their collections as they can so these records can be shared with the public. These digitized documents, photographs and ephemera can be found on the website for anyone and everyone to view.

State archive websites can be a true treasure trove for the genealogist. If you are not able to travel to the states where your ancestors lived to do research, digging into the state archive website might just be where you find that piece of information that tears down that brick wall.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Manager and Public Historian currently working at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives. She lectures, teaches and writes about the genealogy research process, researching in archives and records preservation. She conducts virtual webinar presentations across the United States for genealogical and historical societies. She writes a popular blog entitled A Genealogist in the Archives and is a well-known genealogy Book Reviewer. She writes a bi-weekly advice column entitled The Archive Lady published at Genealogy Bargains. She writes history pieces for her local newspaper The Houston County Herald called From the Archives. She is a Professional Genealogist with an expertise in Tennessee records and she takes clients. She has been researching her own family history for the past 30 years.

Hof- und Häusergeschichten: How Farm and Building Histories Can Help Your German Research (Guest Post by Scott Holl)

When it comes to searching for genealogical information, researchers with German ancestry have the advantage of access to many high-quality published secondary sources. Prime among these are Ortssippenbücher (OSBs), which I described in the June 2019 issue of the SK Translations newsletter. Hofgeschichten and Häuschergeschichten are additional sources that can provide valuable information about your ancestor.

Hofgeschichten are farm histories (Hof means farm). Häuschergeschichten are building histories (Haus means house but can refer generally to a building). Both types of publications pertain to a specific village or town and include chronologies of each property in the community listing a succession of occupants. Häusergeschichten, as the name suggests, usually include a construction history of the property, although Hofgeschichten can also include this type of information.

For the most part, the succession lists (Höfefolgen or Bestizerfolgen) pertain to tenants, as property ownership was usually impossible for common people until the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. Leases were heritable depending on the area of Germany, making it feasible for a family to occupy a property over many generations. This feature can make the lists useful for connecting generations.

Data is commonly extracted from tithe and tax records and may be supplemented by genealogical information from church records. Non-German speakers should be able to decipher the information in the lists if they can identify common words and abbreviations.

The chronological lists usually appear in the context of a broader local history that can help researchers ground their ancestral research in the larger historical and social context. Information can include historical development of the community, descriptions of churches and other important institutions, lists of war casualties, information about emigrants from the village, and maps and photographs. Researchers who do not read German may want to consult a translator in order to glean this information.

Example: Oberpreuschwitz

A farm history for the village of Oberpreuschwitz near Bayreuth, Bavaria was written by Ernst Wiedemann and published in Archiv für Geschichte von Oberfranken, Band 47 (1967) (Bayreuth: Historischer Verein für Oberfranken), pp. 7–110 under the title, “Hofgeschichte der Gemeinde Oberpreuschwitz, Kreis Bayreuth”.

The Hofgeschichte for Oberpreuschwitz begins with narrative sections outlining the historic development of the community through its land divisions among various landholders, and descriptions of the boundaries, characteristics, and ownership of the fields related to each house number.

This Flurkarte (field map) from the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte shows the village in the center surrounded by fields associated with the community in 1682. The different shadings refer to the key below the map that indicates ownership. Text in the article give physical descriptions of the fields, which are referred to by the number on the map, and notes which farms are associated with them.

The main section features the Besitzerfolge, a farm-by-farm chronological listing of successive occupants. The article also includes a Hofgeschichte of the neighboring hamlet of Unterpreuschwitz. The chronologies are followed by lists of sources used, a table summarizing tax-list data, and a name index.

The following chronology appears on pp. 55–56.

 

 

TRANSLATION:

House No. 17, a manor, together with House No. 20.

1596 Peter Jeger and his son-in-law, Hans Neukam, a forest worker.
1620 Cunz Graßinger, subsequently Forkenhof
1620 Hans Hacker, mentioned since 1618 (still unmarried), died 1646.
1646 Hans Hacker’s widow, buried 16 Nov. 1678, 80 years old.
(1662) Hans Hacker, the son, buried 24 Oct. 1700, 73 years old; married on 26 Oct. 1660 to Margaret, widow of Hans Walther in Donndorf and daughter of Hans Ritter in Simmelbuch, buried on 19 May, 1699, 62 years old.
1700 Hans Hacker, birth name Seeser, baptized on 24 Oct 1670, buried on 1 Aug. 1704, married on 23 Nov. 1696 to Barbara Popp from Eckersdorf, buried on 18 Feb 1731, 60 years old. Second marriage on 26 Jan. 1706 to:
1706 Hans Roder from Vorlahm, born 6 Dec. 1677, buried 11 July 1713.
1714 Third marriage (of Barbara Popp) on 13 Nov. 1714 to Nicolaus Tressendörfer from Eckersdorf, born 21 Feb. 1683, buried 10. Feb. 1731.
First half
1731 Johann Hacker, the son [of Hans Hacker and Barbara Popp], see House Nr. 20

The other half
1731 Hans Roder, the son [of Hans Roder and Barbara Popp], born on 17 April 1707, died on 4 May 1761, married on 12 Nov. 1731 to Anna, daughter of Hans Rieß in Dörnhof, born on 23 April 1716, died on 11 April 1778.
1772 Lorenz Roder, the son, born 1 July 1745, died 20 July 1811, married on 2 June 1776 to Anna Neukam from Dörnhof, died 12 July 1825, 74 years and five months old.
1811 Margareth Roder, the daughter, born on 20 May 1784, died on 20 Jan. 1829, married on 13 May 1802 to Leonhard Holl from Oberwaiz, born on 10 June 1782, died on 25 Feb. 1862.
1844 Johann Holl, the son, born 6 July 1818, died 1 Feb. 1886, married on 13 May 1845 to Anna Barbara, daughter of Adam Hacker, born 19 July 1821, died on 24 June 1893.
1889 Konrad Holl, the son, born 13 July 1864, died 17 June 1921, married 1 July 1890 to Kunigund Margaret, daughter of Konrad Kirschner in Melkendorf, born 10 July 1871, died 9 Feb. 1953.
1928 Adam Holl, the son, married on 5 Jan. 1938 to Margaret Körber from Unterpreuschwitz.

 

ANALYSIS:

This example shows that the farm at House No. 17 had been occupied by the Hacker family beginning in 1620. In 1700, Hans Hacker became the occupant. When he died in 1704, his widow, Barbara, married two more times, first to Hans Roder in 1706 and, after his death, to Nicolaus Tressendörfer. Both Barbara and her third husband died in 1731. The property was then divided between Johann Hacker, a son from her first marriage, and Hans Roder, a son from her second marriage. The property was split so that both sons could inherit tenancy. Johann Hacker occupied one section of the property, which was designated as House No. 20, and whose chronology continues in a separate list. In 1811, Margaret Roder inherited the property. She married Leonhard Holl in 1802, and the property continued in the possession of the Holl family until the end of at least 1928, when the list ends. A footnote next to Leonard Holl’s name on the bottom of page 55 in this example lists his direct ancestors back to Hans Holl, Sr., who was born about 1588.

Tables in the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte list farms with their obligations at different periods. In 1499, house nos. 17 and 20 had the status of half of a manor and that occupants owed 26-1/2 days of labor to the margravial landlord per year. By 1682, that increased to 70-1/2 days per year. In 1812, land reforms gave financial support to farmers to buy their properties outright. In 1854, the Holl family in house no. 17 owed 35 days of labor in the community fields and 13 days in the communal forests. Communal rights equaled ½, and they were to harvest four cords of wood from the communal forest.
 

 

This map from the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte shows the property associated with house nos. 17 and 20 (pink highlight added by author). The key below the map shows that the farm was a margravial property.

 

FINDING HOF– AND HÄUSERGESCHICHTEN

Some Hof- and Häusergeschichten are stand-alone publications, but many are included in histories of the local community. Look for books in which the village name is the title and words such as Geschichte, Chronik, Hofgeschichte, Hausgeschichte, Höfe, Häuser, and Heimatkunde (local history). The following are examples of titles:

  • Häuserchronik Braschstadt
  • Häusergeschichte Kirchberg bei Simbach am Inn
  • Häuser und Höfe von Paitzdorf und Mennsdorf
  • 500 Jahre Haus- und Hofgeschichte von Bobing
  • Holzgünz: Heimatkundliche Beiträge zur Geschichte der Ortsteile Ober- und Unterholzgünz

 

The Haus- und Hofchronik for Holzgünz, a village in the Swabian region of Bavaria, is very different in format and content from the Oberpreuschwitz Hofgeschichte.  It offers historical information about building construction and alterations, including photographs, and floor plans, as in this example. Narrative sections within the building histories describe the circumstances of occupant succession. Occupants are listed with birth and marriage dates. The Haus- und Hofchronik was published as part of a more extensive local history. (Hermann Immerz, Holzgünz: Heimakundliche Beiträge zur Geschichte der Ortsteile Ober- und Unterholzgünz, Kempten: Heimatbund Allgäu e. V. Kempten, 1998).

Hof- and Häusergeschichten also appear as articles in journals published by genealogical and historical societies in Germany.

The St. Louis County Library History & Genealogy Department actively collects these and other sources for German research. Search the library’s catalog at https://webpac.slcl.org/ or contact the History & Genealogy Department at genealogy@slcl.org. Other libraries with sizable German research collections may also have them, and they are usually listed in WorldCat. Many are available for sale at abebooks.com and other online book sellers, as well.

Locating Hof- and Häusergeschichten for a village or town and interpreting the information in them can be a challenge, but the results can yield and substantial amount of genealogical data pertaining to your ancestor and valuable historical and cultural information to add to your family’s history.

 

Scott Holl is manager of History & Genealogy at St. Louis County Library in St. Louis, Missouri. He holds a BA in German from Fort Hays State University, an MA in Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and an MLIS from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.

A Visit With Grandma is Worth More Than You Think – Here’s Why (Guest Post by India Young)

When’s the last time you called your grandma?

Maya Angelou once said, “The more you know of
your history, the more liberated you are.”

While studying history at the University of Utah about five years ago, I happened upon an article in The New York Times that changed my life. It not only reaffirmed my belief in the value of history, but also redirected my course of study within the field as a whole.

Families may want to create a mission statement similar to the ones many companies use to identify their core values.
The Family Stories That Bind Us, New York Times, 2013

Entitled The Family Stories That Bind Us, this article provides scientific insight on the connection between doing one’s own family history and an increased capacity to develop resiliency in the face of opposition, specifically in the case of adolescent youth. In discussion of a study conducted at Emery University in the United States, this article concludes that:

The more children know about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned.

Grandma, Grandson, Generations, Love, Hold Tight

What an
insightful discovery! Having grown up in a society bursting at the seems with
childhood mental illnesses such as depression, ADHD, ADD, bipolar disorder, and
anxiety, I can affirm that the cry for psychological stability is literally
everywhere. Perhaps this is one way in which history, and more specifically our
own personal history, can have real, tangible benefits in the lives of everyday
people, children and adults alike.

How This Discovery Opened My Eyes…

After graduation, I began interviewing the elderly in my community. I listened to and recorded their life stories, and then made videos of their stories for their posterity to keep. The results were pretty incredible. My eyes were opened from behind the lens as I left each interview feeling inspired, strengthened and connected to something so much greater than myself. Their grit and tenacity, coupled with a greater perspective of life as a whole, changed me for the better.

It’s Bigger Than Me…

While I’d happily keep doing these 1-on-1 interviews for the rest of my days, I think that this is something bigger than just me. I believe with all my heart that every child, teenager and young adult need to have the experience of sitting with and really listening to someone much older and wiser than them.

I’ve come up with a way to make it easy and fun for young people to do just this; to interview and record their elderly relatives telling stories from their lives. (More on that here if you’re curious..). However, while COVID-19 is still a grave concern right now, I know we can’t physically visit our elderly loved ones in their homes. So! In the interim I’m instead encouraging  *virtual visiting* of the elders in our communities!

My Challenge to You…

This week I challenge you or your kids to do a video-chat with someone in your life who could use a visit today. This could be a grandma, grandpa, a neighbor, or a family friend. Pick up the phone and FaceTime or Skype or Facebook video chat with them and just SEE the magic as they light up at the sight of your face. It will mean the world to them, and here’s the secret, it will mean the world to you, too.

And, if you need a little help to get the conversation rolling and keep it interesting, I wrote an ebook called Grandparent Chats a few months ago when quarantine began. It’s a collection of 10 curated questionnaires with the two-fold goal of:

-lifting the spirits of the elderly by engaging with them on a regular basis, and;

-inspiring youth to see personal value in the lessons our elders have to share.

The questions cover themes like ancestry, career, love & relationships, and spirituality. I’ve included a link to download the first Grandparent Chat for free here, if you’re interested!

In a society so focused on ‘having more’ and ‘being more,’ perhaps one way to thrive today is to better understand how we fit within history as a whole. Maybe one key to knowing how to best move forwards with purpose and confidence is to lean on the lessons of the past to provide guidance and context. I love these words written by historian Frank Harper nearly 9 decades ago in 1936:

While the outside is altered, the heart of life is unaltered.

We are, after all, a sum of many parts, and perhaps so much of that which has come before us actually does reside in who we really are.

Happy chatting!

References:

“The Family Stories That Bind Us.” The New York Times

Hi, I’m India – a new mom, fitness junkie and avid family historian. I believe that history gives us context, and I fear that in the midst of today’s fast paced world, we don’t take the time to appreciate the valuable lessons our elders have to share. My husband and I launched my passion project, Narrativo, in late 2019. We promote bonding between generations while giving families a way to preserve their stories with lifelike quality at a reasonable price. We strive each day to help young people find strength in the stories of the past, feel a sense of belonging in a greater human context, and to develop and intergenerational self. Check us out at www.narrativo.co!

How German City Directories Helped Me Find My Great-Grandfather (Guest Post by Garth Wunsch)

Have you hit a brick wall? Is your one German ancestor giving you more trouble than you could ever have imagined? Luckily, there’s another source available – one you might never have considered. Thank you to Garth Wunsch for sharing his journey of using these fantastic sources with us! 

Berlin City Directory

How German City Directories Helped Me Find my Great-Grandfather

I’m seventy-five years old, which I seldom think about, but today is still the first day of the best half of my life… and at the rate my genealogical research is going, I may well need that next three score and ten… well actually, fifteen, to solve all the riddles my family history has posed.

Genealogy is strictly a hobby, so no professional letters after my name, no book credits, no public speaking… and in fact this is the first published article I’ve written outside my own genealogical society in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.  So this is an amateur’s story using “ancient” city directories (German: Adressbücher) from Eastern and Western Europe. I was amazed at what they have to offer…

It all started with Grandma…

My interest in our family history began with a Q & A between my paternal grandmother and myself. Grandma was doing her usual thing… working at something or other around the giant flat-topped Findlay cook stove, the heartbeat of the home in pre-electricity Anywhere. Although that encounter was well over forty years ago, I still have the original notes I scribbled with a red pencil on buff newsprint!

Fast forward four decades…I’m attending one of our monthly genealogical meetings, and I come across a magazine left behind for us by another member. The feature article, on using the World Wide Web to research your German roots, included a website that I hadn’t seen before. I decided to check it out – and was very glad I did. 

A Trip Back in time…

Once at the computer, I type in the link, and find myself inside thousands of pages of old German Fraktur text. I was, in effect, looking through pages and pages of digitized city directories spanning many decades of Berlin’s residents. In addition to names, these directories included: 

  • People’s addresses
  • Who else lived in the building
  • People’s occupations
  • Double-index between name and address for businesses and individuals

WOW! 

Could my great-grandfather Adolph be somewhere in these historical pages?

To access these Berlin city directories yourself:

1. Go to https://digital.zlb.de/viewer/index/
2. Click on the telephone and address book image. 
3. Click on the little German flag at the top right, and it will switch to the British flag – and English text (no need to do this if you are fluent in German). 
 
For other address books besides Berlin, simply Google “Adressbuch + your ancestor’s city” and see what comes up!

on the trail of my great-grandfather…

In 1900, the population of Berlin was 1,888,848 – a lot of names to go through! Luckily, the directory only listed the “heads of households”, so this narrowed down the search a bit at least…

From my Q&A with grandma forty years before, I knew that Adolph (the name he went by – and the only name I had for him) was a baker by trade, that he lived in Berlin, and eventually married the young Fräulein that delivered the baked goods every morning – the baker’s maid.

Sample Page of Berlin City Directory

In the surname section, I began my painstaking struggle with the text, looking for our last name of Wunsch. I searched through the W’s, moving 50 pages at a time, until at last I landed in approximately the right spot.

But suddenly, those upper case W’s looked like fancy English M’s to me! Perusing page after page of Fraktur font had “fraktured” my brain and I had trouble remembering W’s looked so different! Because of that, I actually skipped past the name Wunsch on my first go. It appeared to my English brain as Munich. I was confused, how did I end up back in the M’s? 

Then it dawned on me – again – hey silly, this is Fraktur and that is a W. So back I go, looking for that Fraktur Wunsch,  and there it was!

I Found the last name, now what?

While the city directory is organized alphabetically by surname, under the surname, there are no rules. It appears they were just typeset in random order . So how to find Adolph?

Luckily, I only had six A. Wunschs’ to choose from. One was a female with her married name. (Useful tip… if a female is listed, she’s likely a widow, and you get her married name too). That narrowed my search down to five.

Recall I mentioned that occupations were listed in these records? There was a miller and and a cigarette maker… and my German isn’t good enough to figure out the rest… but thanks to Google Translate, I knew that “baker” was Bäcker. To my great good fortune, of the five names listed, there was only one Bäcker. I had him!

Wunsch, W.A., Bäcker (baker)

And the best part…

Based on the “A’, the last name, the location, and occupation, it had to be him, but what was that W before the A? I called up Gerry Rosenfeld, my German-speaking friend and a fellow researcher, to share my great discovery.  Gerry had an Ancestry subscription, so off he went, and in twenty minutes called back with info on Wilhelm Adolph Wunsch. Everything matched with my great-grandfather, especially his birthdate! 

Discovering this W was crucial to my future research – I could now use the name Wilhelm Adolph Wunsch to find more information on my great-grandfather (For more information on German names, see here). 

And find it I did! Knowing his name was Wilhelm Adolph Wunsch allowed me to find his long-sought marriage certificate below:

I trust this little story will encourage you to keep up your search and find your own German ancestors!

In conclusion:

1. City directories can provide you with the name, address, occupation, housemates, and business information of your German ancestor.

2. To access city directories, either use this link for the Berlin directories or type in the German word “Adressbuch + city name” to see if you can find your town’s address book. 

3. The first names may be in random order under the alphabetized surname. Knowing the names are in random order is useful to remember if you happen to be searching a really long surname list, such as Schimidt. You just never know where your Schmidt is on the list…never give up!

4. Keeping a discovery journal as you make your great genealogy finds may be very helpful for future research (for yourself and other family members). 

Good hunting!

Related Links: How German Address Books at Ancestry.com Are Helping Bust Brick Walls 

Garth Wunsch:
Born on a farm in 1944 in Mattawa, Ontario,  I was raised in the mining village of Creighton Mine, now a ghost town, but technically part of the City of Greater Sudbury. The town consisted almost entirely of first and second generation European immigrants, so at an early age I developed an ear and love for those languages, which has proven valuable in my genealogical pursuits. In 2015 I was able to make a successful research and vacation trip to Poland, my paternal ancestral home.
 
I’ve been a member of the Sudbury branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, recently rebranded Ontario Ancestors, for about four decades. In that time I’ve been responsible for streamlining our cemetery transcription and publishing process, thus helping to greatly enlarge our database (and income). I also spearheaded the copying, indexing and publishing the employment records of about fourteen thousand employees of the Mond Nickel Company, the primary miner in the Sudbury Mining Camp from 1905 – 1928. Ancillary to all this is my ongoing support of the branch as an active photographer/memory keeper.

How to Use Google Drive For Your Genealogy Research: 7 Questions with Expert Lianne Kruger

Thank you to Lianne for this guest post and sharing her expertise with us. For more information on Lianne, see her bio below, or check out her blog here: iFamilyHistory.blogspot.ca.

1. How Can Google Drive Help With My Genealogy?

  • Back-Up: All of your important genealogy files (such as documents, photos, and letters) should be in three locations: your computer, a USB drive, and somewhere online (that way, if something happens to one, you haven’t lost all your valuable documents!). Google Drive is a good location for the online component.
  • Global Access: Google Drive allows you to access your genealogy files from anywhere, on any device, as long as you have an internet connection.
  • Sharing: Google Drive allows you to share your genealogy files and photos with family members. You can give your family the ability to add information to the documents themselves, or simply just view them if you prefer to maintain control yourself.

2. How Do I Access Google Drive?

  1. If you have a Google e-mail, you already have Google Drive. If you don’t have one yet, you can easily create one here.
  2. Once your Google e-mail is set up, open your web browser.
    1. Type in Google.com.
    2. Log in to Google using the username and password setup when you created the account. Do not use the full Google email.
    3. In the top right of the page are 9 dots. This is a menu.
      Click on the dots.
    4. Select Google Drive.

3. How Do I Create a New Genealogy File in Google Drive?

If you want to write something within Google Drive, such as a family history or research log, take the following steps:

  1. From the main menu of Google Drive, click + New.

2. Select the program you want to use. For genealogical purposes, Google Docs is great for writing your family history, and Google Sheets is helpful if you are creating an inventory list or a research log. (If the program you want is not on the first list, simply click More, as shown in the image above).

3. Type your new document title at the top left of the screen.

4. Start writing down your genealogical data. Your document will be automatically saved every few minutes.

4. How Do I Upload Genealogy Files That Are Already On My Computer?

Some of your genealogy files may already be stored on your computer. You can easily upload these from your computer to your Google Drive by following the steps below:

1. Click New.

2. Click File upload.

3. Find the file on your computer and click upload. It will then be saved on your drive.

5. How Do I Create a Folder to Group Certain Genealogy Documents Together?

If you are working with multiple lines, it may be nice to group certain documents together in one place. To do so:

  1. Click New.

2. Click Folder.

3. The following window will then appear:

4. Type in the name for the folder.

(This name might be a last name for a specific line or a certain location, depending on what you are going to store and how you are grouping your items).

5. Click Create.

6. I’ve Uploaded Many Genealogy Documents. How Do I View All My Saved Files and Folders on Google Drive?

There are two ways to view files and folders: the view list and the grid list.

This is a view list:

This is a grid list:

You can choose which option works best for you.

Google Drive will also show you a “Recent List”. This is found above the grid or list views.

If you don’t like the recent list at the top, you can remove it by taking the following steps:

  1. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Make sure General is selected on the left.
  4. Scroll down (bar on the right) until you can see the section Suggestions.
  5. Click inside the box to remove the check mark for “Make relevant files handy when you need them in Quick Access.”

The Quick Access section will now no longer appear at the top.

You can still view this list at anytime after closing the list at the top with the following steps:

  1. On the main menu on the left, click Recent.

Recent files are listed in date categories such as Last week, Earlier this month, and Earlier this year.

7. Is It Possible to Search For A File By Name or Subject Matter?

Yes, it is. To find a file in your Google Drive:

  1. Click in the
    Search box at the top of the screen.

2. Type in the name of a file or a phrase inside the file that you are looking for.

3. A list of files that have the text as a title or text inside that file will appear.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Google Drive can be extremely helpful for your genealogy research. In addition to giving you peace of mind with back-up options for your files, you can also easily share letters, photos, census records, newspaper clippings and more with your family and friends. Best yet, you can also access them yourself at any library, archive, or any place of your choosing.

Do you use Google Drive? Any tips for other users? Let us know in the comments!

Lianne began doing genealogy as a youth with family at graveyards, then as a teenager with a list of names in front of a microfilm reader on Saturdays at a Family History Library. At college she began researching her paternal grandmother’s line researching back to the first European landowners of Canada.

Lianne taught genealogical courses five years at LDS Institute in Ogden, Utah. She has spoken at genealogical conferences and sessions for RootsTech, Ontario Genealogical Society, The Genealogy Show (UK), FamilyRoots, Saskatchewan, and variety of locations in Alberta. Lianne has articles published by BYU Studies Quarterly magazine, FamilySearch.org, SK Translation, AGS Relatively Speaking and Tree Climber. 

She has done webinars for The Surname Society, Virtual Genealogical Society, Red Deer Family History Fair, and a panelist for Looking 4 Ancestors.

She was President of Red Deer branch of Alberta Genealogical Society (AGS) for two years and Vice President of AGS for six years. She is now on the Ancestry.ca advisory committee and a member of the mitoYDNA board.

Lianne’s blog is iFamilyHistory.blogspot.ca.

Check out Lianne’s other popular guest post: How to Use Social Media in Your German Genealogy Research

Three Tried and True Ways to Inspire Children to Love Family History (Guest Post by Shenley Puterbaugh)

Getting children excited about family history may sound intimidating, but the benefits they can experience from knowing their family history are worth every effort. Knowing family stories has been proven to result in higher self-esteem, resilience, a sense of place and security, a strong sense of control, lower levels of behavioral problems, and more successful family function (studies done by University of Wisconsin, Princeton University, and Emory University).

But how can we help children experience these benefits? According to Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, our goal should be to help them “have a small discovery experience that invokes emotion…that’s what is going to spread…Discovery brings the spirit and emotion to it” (Trent Toone, “5 Questions with FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood,” Deseret News, 1 Mar. 2018).

This discovery experience will help inspire children to love family history themselves. So what should you consider when deciding what kind of discovery experience to create for your child or grandchild?

1. Age

Try to remember what it was like to be their age. Make it fun and unique to them. Traveling to cemeteries and churches may not interest young children and may even bore them but a bedtime story would engage them and ingrain the stories of their ancestors into their minds. In contrast, adults may not get as much excitement out of a picture-matching game as they would attending or planning an ancestor night or planning and going on a trip to the homeland of their ancestors.

2. Interests

Do they like acting, drawing, cooking, organizing? Do they find maps interesting or do they enjoy music? Let their interests guide you.

3. Learning Style

We all have different ways that we learn best. The three learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Consider the individual learning style of your child and choose any idea that will cater to that style. Some children will gravitate toward hands-on games and projects, and others will lean toward reading books about the time period ancestors lived.

Once you have thought about these three key factors, you are ready to choose an idea and inspire! Here are three fun ideas to inspire your children or grandchildren to love family history!

1. Generations Project

Let the child choose an ancestor to connect with. Think together about what you know about him or her. Where did they live? What did they do for a profession or hobby? What skills did they have? What traditions did they have? What did they eat?  

Once you have learned this information about your ancestor, choose a project such as:

  • Learn something or do something that they did such as fishing, using a washboard, knitting, gardening, going to an opera, or having a picnic in the mountains.
  • Visit a place they lived or frequented such as a lake, the ocean, or a park.
  • Do one of their traditions.
  • Make one of their recipes.

Children can consider what their ancestor may have thought during the activity— for example, did they find the activity difficult or relaxing? Was the place beautiful in their eyes? Was the recipe delicious?

2. Create an Ancestor Playlist

Psychologist Jill Suttie said, “Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection… Playing music or singing together may be particularly potent in bringing about social closeness through the release of endorphins” (“How Music Bonds Us Together,” Greater Good Magazine, June 2016).

By listening to music your ancestors listened to and loved, these connections can even cross generations! Make a playlist of songs your ancestors might have enjoyed. You may be able to ask living relatives about the music that their parents and grandparents listened to. They may know specific songs or they may just remember a genre of music.

If there aren’t any living relatives to ask, then you can find out what music was popular during the time period and in the location of your ancestors. After you have the playlist together, listen to it in the car or at home and talk about the ancestors who liked those songs as they come on. No matter what the children think of the music, they will connect with their ancestor in a new way. 

3. Play Games

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning” (Diane Ackerman). There are so many games you can play to help children connect to their ancestors. Make a trivia game with fun facts about ancestors. This can be done in the form of Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit, and Bingo. You can also make card games with the photos of ancestors and play games such as Go Fish and Memory. Make the difficulty level age appropriate. These games will make learning about ancestors fun and engaging!

For more ideas, visit inspirefamilyhistory.com. Like and follow “inspirefamilyhistory” on Facebook and Instagram for regular ideas and resources.

Shenley was inspired to love family history when her mom told her stories and helped her diagram her family tree when she was a child. For the past 16 years, she has spent many hours researching, interviewing relatives, digging through old boxes and records, and sharing what she has learned with others. While homeschooling their three children, Shenley and her husband, Brett, incorporate family history as much as possible. She has taught family history classes to children, youth, and adults, and strives to inspire her family, friends, and  everyone to love family history. Besides doing family history, Shenley enjoys going to the mountains, playing tennis, baking, reading, and traveling.

How to Use Social Media in Your German Genealogy Research (Guest Post by Lianne Kruger)

This article shares ways to use different platforms of social media for your genealogical research in Germany. As social media and websites change constantly, I have included the steps you will need to find new items. We will discuss Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. 

The advantages of using social media for genealogical research in Germany include:

  • Being able to talk to people who live in the area
  • Being able to access current information
  • It’s free!

Tree, Structure, Networks, Internet, Network, Social

1. Facebook

It would be nice if we could be members of all the genealogical societies where our families lived. Most of us, however, can not afford that.

Enter Facebook – the next best thing.  These groups are available through the popular social media platform, which includes many pages which can help you in your German genealogy.

To find these groups:

  1. Click inside the search bar at the top left side of the Facebook page.

 

 

2. Type in German Genealogy.

A list of Facebook pages then appears, which includes three different categories:

  1. Lists of relevant groups
  2. Articles that mention your search items
  3. Facebook posts by those you are friends with who mentioned your search items

Groups

Below are a couple of descriptions of German genealogy groups:

German Genealogy Group

“Join us and discover that family research is the most interesting and rewarding hobby that will enable you to discover your past and preserve your heritage for future generations. Be a part of the fastest growing hobby today!”

International German Genealogy Partnership

“The International German Genealogy Partnership’s mission is to facilitate German genealogy research globally as the internationally recognized federation of German genealogy organizations. Lists session on German genealogy”

Click on the + Join button to become part of a group, receive notifications of posts made in the group, and have the ability to add posts yourself. You will also be able to talk to others trying to research their family.

Many groups will ask you to answer two or three questions before they allow you to join their group. They want to make sure that you are actually interested in their topic. Do not be offended. This helps to keep the posts centered on the topic.

Articles

These Facebook articles link to a blog post for each group or person.

Click on an article not just to read the article, but to get to know the blog itself.

Follow the blog if you like the article(s) so you will get an email when new articles are posted.

Pages

This last search list shows Facebook pages that are open to everyone that you can like. Once you click like, their posts will appear on your newsfeed stream.

Add comments and ask questions to posts in groups or to the regular pages. Get to know these people. Help others and get help from throughout the entire world.

Searching Locations

You can also search for the town your family is from in the Facebook search bar. Not only will genealogy groups appear, but history groups and chamber of commerce type pages will show up as well. Like these pages. They will help you with the family history part of your research. You might even find cousins who still live in your ancestral hometown!

 

2. Twitter

Twitter allows you to chat with others all over the world. Follow fellow genealogists and those specifically researching or who know about the topics or areas of the world you want to research. Read the tweets. Many tweets will have links to their blogs with posts on the subject, such as German genealogy. The following list appeared today when I searched German genealogy.

If I wasn’t following these people already, then the “Following” button would say “Follow”. Click on the Follow button to have their tweets appear on your feed. Ask questions and make comments to engage with others in the genealogy field.

@GenChatDE

This genealogy chat meets together on Twitter for an hour on the second Wednesday of each month. Questions are asked on a specific German genealogy topics. Other questions can also be asked, and answers are given by anyone who wants to answer. You may contribute or ask questions on the topic or related items. Their twitter page is https://twitter.com/GenchatDe

To connect and see past tweets, search for the hashtag #GenChatDE.

Get to know people on Twitter from the areas of your ancestors. They could be a relative!

 

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform where anyone can create “pins” related to any topic. Imagine it like a giant bulletin board where you save your favorite items. Effective pins have a link to a website or blog post where more information can be obtained.

To find pins on a specific topic, type the subject, such as German Genealogy, in the Pinterest search bar.

A list of pins appears. A different list appears if you type in German Genealogical Research and another list if you type in German Genealogy Research – so try out different searches and see what works best for you. If you are looking for maps of Germany, add that phrase to the search. If you want a specific city, add it to the search. 

 

Save

If there is a pin you like:

  1. Move your mouse over the pin
  2. Click on the Save
  3. Select a board to save it to.

This pin is now filed for you for later reference.

Go directly to website

  1. Move your mouse over a pin.
  2. Click on the black bar with the name of the person who posted the pin.

               This opens the link in a new browser tab.

Pin

Click on the pin to open it. The following appears with the pin on the left and more information on the right. You can hit the Save from here if you would like.

Follow

The person who posted this pin was Legacy Tree Genealogists. There is a Follow bottom to the right of their name. If you click the follow button here, you will follow all of their posts from all of their boards – just make sure you check out their boards and like what they post before you follow.

To view all of their boards, click on their name instead of the Follow button. All of their boards will then appear, as shown below. Review their boards. If you like what you see, then click Follow at the top. If there are some boards you do not want to follow, the simply click Follow beside the boards that you like, and you will only follow those.  

 

4. YouTube

YouTube has videos on “how to’s” for everything and can be a great resource for genealogy. And not just for Germany – for all aspects of genealogical research.

At the top of the screen is a search bar.

In the search bar type in German Genealogical Research or German Genealogy Research.

Videos that meet that criteria will appear. Below is the list that I saw today. However, with more videos uploaded daily, this list will constantly change. 

 

Watch later

After searching for a topic, a list of videos will then appear. If these look like videos you would like to watch, and you want to make sure you don’t lose them, then mark them as Watch Later by taking the following steps:

  1. Move your mouse over the video.

A clock will appear in the top right corner.

  1. Click on the clock.

The clock changes to a checkmark.

The video is now on your Watch Later list.

The watch list appears on the left menu of your YouTube page, as shown below.

#Hashtags

Check the bottom of videos that have content you like. Some videos have hashtags. If the hashtag matches a subject you find interesting, click on it. A list of videos with the same hashtag will appear (if there are any, otherwise it will just lists random videos).

Use these social media strategies to supplement your genealogy research, and you will be amazed at the doors opened for you. Do you have any more strategies? Let us know in the comments!

LKruger Genealogy.jpg

From microfilm and a list of names as a teenager to researching her paternal grandmother’s line back to the first white landowners of Canada, Lianne loves to share her knowledge, experience, and love for genealogy and technology. She has published articles and spoken at conferences in Ontario, England, Saskatchewan, multiple locations in Alberta, and Utah including RootsTech.

 

 

Follow Katherine Schober on the following social media platforms for more German genealogy tips!

Facebook: @SKtranslationservices

Twitter: @SK_Translations

Pinterest: Katherine Schober, SK Translations

Instagram: @katherineschober

YouTube: Katherine Schober