Premium Member of the Week: Sandi Bohle

Thank you for chatting with us today, Sandi!

Can you share with us how you got started on your genealogy journey?

I was in high school and there was a project to create a family tree in our history class. They wanted the tree to be three generations and I actually was able to go back five. Both of my grandmothers were still alive. My paternal grandmother had letters and postcards that she and my great-grandmother had saved from family in Germany. My maternal grandmother had a notebook of information she had kept on our Norwegian side. I’ve entered my 4th decade researching my family.

Wow- Four decades! That’s an amazing accomplishment. What are some of your favorite genealogy websites that you’ve come across in your research?

Currently, my favorite websites are Baden-Württemberg Landesarchiv and also Evangelical Church in Baden Regional Church Archive Karlsruhe Family Research as they cover two of the areas I am researching. I tend to stay away from the big commercial sites because there’s so much misinformation and inaccuracies.

Those are all great sources. what #1 research tip would you share with anyone who’s just getting started?

Don’t give up! If you hit a roadblock, there is a way around it. Remember, we are doing research in a country that went through two World Wars with so many cities and records being destroyed. If you hit a wall in the civic records, fall back on church records.

Absolutely! Genealogy is a marathon, not a sprint. Do you have a favorite family story that you’ve learned in your years of research?

As we all know, Japanese Americans were in internment camps during World War II. But did you know that during World War I, Germans living in the U.S. who were not citizens were required to register as Alien Enemies of the U.S.? I have a copy of my great grandfather’s, Franz Rheinhold Schwarz, paperwork. It’s been a treasure trove of information regarding the family in Germany, in addition to being able to see his handwriting/printing, and personal stats. He had applied for naturalization in 1915 after having lived in San Francisco since 1888. It finally came through in 1920.

What a special find! can you share with our readers how the premium membership has helped your further your research?

Being able to translate and read records is extremely helpful. It’s been great having a group where I can post something to get help reading something that I’m stuck on. 

That’s wonderful to hear, Sandi! Thank you for sharing your research expertise with us. 

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

Premium Member of the Week: Larry Kenyon

thanks for joining us today, Larry. Can You tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Larry Kenyon. I was born Lawrence Austin Kenyon, Jr., but my family always called me Joe – some future genealogist descendant is going to be pretty confused about that. 😉 Four hundred years ago my ancestors lived in England, Switzerland, Sweden, but mostly from areas in present-day Germany and Poland.

 how did you get started with genealogy?

My parents both shared stories about ancestors with me and my siblings growing up, but I didn’t get started until after attending a family reunion 15 years ago, where one of my aunts shared some old photos from the 1890’s of some Swedish ancestors. No one else knew who they were, and I decided it was time to start scanning some of those old photos to preserve them.

That’s great that you took that initiative on behalf of your family! Are there any websites that have been most helpful for you on your genealogy journey?

It all depends on which area I’m researching; right now it’s the Canton Bern Archives since it has all the church books online, available as PDF downloads – I love original documents. 🙂 Ancestry and My Heritage are probably where I meet the most relatives though!

those are all great resources. do you have any tips you’d like to share with our readers?

Get help from local genealogists; they will know sources you’d probably never find yourself, local history, etc. I like traveling to ancestral towns, and my most rewarding experiences have come as a result.

wonderful tip! nothing beats seeing these places in person. Do you have a favorite family story or anecdote that’s resulted from your research?

This changes every year or two; for 2020, it was discovering that one of my 9th great-grandfathers was my wife’s 11th great. I think this man has about 3 million living descendants. 😉 But I like the weird coincidences that you occasionally come across in genealogy!

Wow, that is a crazy coincidence! lastly, can you share how the premium membership has helped you the most?

Instead of ignoring words I’m having trouble deciphering, the weekly Facebook sessions have encouraged me to tackle them, opening up more clues and making my research more complete.

that’s wonderful to hear, larry. thank you for sharing!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

DNA Weekly’s Interview of SK Translations

I was recently interviewed by DNA Weekly for their genealogy blog – check out the article by clicking the button below!

SK Translations founder Katherine Schober is an experienced German genealogy translator specializing in deciphering old German handwriting. In this interview, she discusses the vocabulary, skills, and knowledge necessary for piecing together your German family history, and invites independent researchers to try it themselves by taking her online courses. 

What brought you to start SK Translations?

Premium Member of the Week: Kay Horwath

Hi Kay, thanks for joining us today!

First and foremost, how did you get started in Genealogy?

My mom held reverence for her older relatives that trickled down to me. As a kid, I loved hearing stories from the past from any relative who would tell them. When I was about 15, my mom talked her father into letting her borrow the turn-of-the-century, family group photos that he kept locked away, so that she could make copies. When I saw them for the first time, I was mesmerized. I just had to know who those people were. I wanted to know what they did and what made them tick. I wanted to know where they came from and how they got here. That would have been in the early 1980’s when tracking down records and articles took a whole lot more effort, but it was the beginning of my life-long love of genealogy.

I can definitely relate to that. Now that things are a bit easier online, what are your Favorite Genealogy Websites You Use? Any you’d pass on to our readers?

ALL the genealogy websites are my favorite – lol. I do have subscriptions to GenealogyBank,, and, and I also use any free newspaper archive I can get my hands on, like the Advantage Preservation county sites.

For me, it’s always been about the stories. I’m more interested in getting a glimpse into an ancestor’s life than I am in the pedigree. One of my favorite things is finding newspaper stories or records that “prove” the stories I grew up hearing. I also do a fair amount of searching for other people’s family, sometimes when there are unknown parents or grandparents. Obituaries can be really helpful in nailing down family ties and connections.

I have my tree on Ancestry, but I use FamilySearch a lot, because there are so many old European church books. I’m almost glad that many of them are not indexed, because you learn so much about a community and family relations when you have to go through them a page at a time to find what you are looking for. Same with Matricula.

Ooooh…and I just learned about Meyer’s Gazetteer from a Katherine Schober handwriting workshop. I was able to solve a genealogy mystery almost immediately the first time I used it, and was able to add two more generations to a difficult line in my husband’s tree as a result!

Those are all so great, and I’m glad you ere able to add two generations to your research. How exciting! What would be your number one tip for others starting out their research?

Whatever search engine or search function you are using, beat it into submission until it reveals what you are looking for!

It doesn’t always work, but if my initial search doesn’t work, I try searching with everything else I can think of – alternate name spellings and potential misspellings, middle name and nickname, different location, no location, wild cards, family members’ names, initials, potential keywords – anything that might crack the nut. I just keep hammering away at the keys, and often it works!

Also, remember that just because you didn’t find it the first time you looked, doesn’t mean you won’t find it the next time, whether in an online search, or a record book. I revisit the same online church books often, because information I have now might make a record I’ve seen several times before, more meaningful now with my new context.

Those are wonderful tips! What about stories in your family? Any Favorite story that’s been passed down?

My mother told me that her grandmother used to talk about one of her brothers, Harry Mattice, who disappeared. They never knew what happened to him.

It took a 2nd cousin and I almost a decade, but between census records, his wife’s obituary, and a death certificate with limited information, we pieced it all together. Around 1917, he left Eastern Nebraska for Western Nebraska where he married Ada, a Swedish immigrant. She got pregnant almost immediately, gave birth to twin daughters, and died hours later.

He then moved to Texas to work in the oil fields. We located a death certificate that we were pretty sure was his with only his name, approximate age, and cause of death (head trauma), but we couldn’t locate an obituary. I tried an online message board one last time looking for help.

A kind soul looked beyond the obituary section and found an article about his death in another section of the newspaper. Harry, known as “Harry the Trapper”, had been living, it seems, as a hermit!

One day, he was headed back to his camp on a mule. The mule threw him off and tragically kicked him in the head. He never regained consciousness. I felt we had for sure found the right Harry Mattice when it said in the article that they could not locate next-of-kin, but that folks heard him speak of his two little daughters in Nebraska.

Wow, what a crazy story! That’s amazing. And finally, what about the premium membership? Has it helped your research?

Being able to get handwriting and translation help has brought many of the German language records I’ve been looking at to life. Often I can make out names and dates, but sometimes there is other important information that gives more insight into the lives of the folks in the record, and it has been wonderful being able to get help once a week when I need it.

so happy to hear it. THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR STORY and great tips WITH US, Kay!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

  • Donna Jones (Stumbling upon Loyalists in the Revolutionary War…)
  • Sandy Johnson (Great website tips and a discovery after ten years of research…)
  • Michele Dambach (A special trip to Germany with her German-born father…)
  • Janis Keough (A missing count in the family…)
  • Alex Tolksdorf (Russian soldier, some cherries, and a toilet…)
  • Nina Gafni (Uncovering the past, even when it is painful…)
  • Debra Hoffman (The unbelievable story of a found postcard…)
  • James Beidler (Planning a family reunion in only three days…)
  • Maria Mueller (Meeting a new cousin and not realizing it…)

Premium Member of the Week: Donna Jones

Hi Donna! Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing German genealogy and what got you started?

I’ve been doing German genealogy for at least 25 years. My dad had given me a handwritten pedigree chart that his aunt had created. His mother and her family had emigrated from Canada to Cleveland, Ohio. This was before the internet and I went to the state archive to see if I could find any information.

I was shocked to learn my ancestors were Loyalists in the Revolutionary War. They were mostly German from the Palatinate area and I had nine 6th great grandfathers that were in the war. They were from the Mohawk Valley, New York.

On my dad’s paternal side, all I knew was they said they were from Bavaria in the 1880 census. Thanks to some kind, generous people in the Genealogy Bavaria Facebook group, I learned my 2nd great grandfather was from Marktheidenfeld, Germany. Oh, but his wife was more elusive. I eventually found her in Rostock, Mecklenbur-Vorpommern, Germany.

Wow, Loyalists in the Revolutionary War! That’s definitely an interesting family story. Any other favorite family stories that you have?
Yes! One day I received an email through Ancestry from someone asking how I was related to my 2nd great uncle, Albert Brod. I had never received any inquiries on the Brod’s and was quite excited. As it turned out, this person’s 2nd great aunt Viola Stoll had married Albert. It was through this couple that we connected and have collaborated on helping each with our research. I like to think that they would be happy that we have connected.
I bet they would be. That’s great that you’ve been able to help each other with your research. Speaking of research, what’s your favorite genealogy website that you like to use?
I have found that you have to use multiple sites since there is different indexing, search engines, and collections.  I mainly use but also

You can’t go wrong there! Speaking of tips, what would be your #1 genealogy tip you’d share with others?

At first my goal was to go back as far as I could. Now I am slowly going back and looking at my tree and finding mistakes. There are people I had added without sources. My research tip is to periodically review your tree since more collections may have been added. When researching a person, using a timeline and research log will greatly help improve the quality of your work.

That’s a great tip – and definitely very important. Finally, what is one way in which the Premium membership has helped your research?

The premium articles have been extremely helpful. The June 2020 article on occupations included the website Genwiki Berufsbezeichnung. I knew my Brod ancestors were Schiffers on the Main River back to the early 1600’s. This website said that a Schiffer was boatmen.  What was so exciting was there was a picture from a book from 1567 of a Schiffer:

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Donna!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

Premium Member of the Week: Sandy Johnson

Hi Sandy. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today! Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing German genealogy and what got you started?

 I have been doing genealogy for over 30 years, and pretty quickly got into the German part of it because my maternal side knew where in Germany we came from. Of course the location name had been “Americanized” so it was a bit of a challenge.


I started genealogy for a few reasons – my Grandmother showed me her old family pictures and I was very curious about those ancestors of mine. Plus my Dad was a great story-teller.

The story-telling makes it so fun! What’s your favorite genealogy story related to your family?
The most current one is when my cousins and I found our Great-Great-Grandmother’s birth location in Germany. We had spent ten years trying to locate where she came from. It was like she just appeared here in Minnesota when she married our Great-Great-Grandfather! We could not locate anything about her or her family. With the help and advice of Baerbel Johnson, FHL’s German Specialist, we were able to find it. It really helps to know German Kurrentschrift when going through all that microfilm!
That’s great that you were able to find her after ten years – congratulations! For people still on that elusive search, do you have any favorite websites you would share?

When needing help with words,  I use WordMine.Info (I learned about “Hangman” from one of Katherine’s webinars). 

I also use for those pesky abbreviation issues. I also like to use to see if I’m actually reading the letters correctly on the word I’m trying to translate. 

For research I frequently use and, among many others.


Those are all great sites – thanks for sharing! Speaking of tips, what would be your #1 genealogy tip you’d share with others?

Keep digging (researching)! New items and resources keep popping up. 

So true! Finally, what is one way in which the Premium membership has helped your research?

I have so many!

A big help was the Premium article on abbreviations because i had come across some abbreviation problems in one of my document. I was really delighted when our Premium Facebook Group discussed some abbreviation issues awhile back and I could add those to my abbreviation collection.

I print many of the SK Translations articles and include those in my translation help binder. I also copy many of the words and translations of those words from our Premium Facebook group for that same binder.


I’m so glad to hear that everything has been helpful for you. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sandy!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

Premium Member of the Week: Michele Dambach

Hi Michele. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. Can you tell us how long you’ve been doing German genealogy and what got you started?

I was dabbling in genealogy for a few years, but really began in earnest in 2019. My Dad and I were planning a trip to Danzig/Gdansk, where he was born during WWII. He got in touch with some of the local officials, who welcomed us with open arms.

 In addition, they discovered marriage certificates and other documents from my great grandparents. This caused me to want to learn even more prior to our trip, and I’ve been hooked ever since. 

That makes sense. A trip to Germany always makes things more fun and exciting. What about websites? Do you have a favorite?
Aside from being a Premium member of SK Translations, I use Ancestry, Family Search, and Meyers. Google is also a great friend – with information from around the world sourced with even just a broad search term. 
I love those websites too. As you’ve continued your German genealogy journey, have you learned a top tip that you would like to share with our readers?

I highly recommend taking a course on reading/translating the German handwriting. With so many letters looking similar or resembling one another, it has become invaluable for me. And as  you begin to become more familiar with the script, it truly does get a bit easier. 

Thanks for the course shout-out! I’m so happy to hear that it has helped you so much. What about any stories? Do you have a favorite story related to your ancestors?

My father and I were able to take a trip to Gdansk in December 2019. Through research and documents, I was able to take photos in front of the house where my father, my grandparents and great-grandparents lived. I also found the building where my great-grandfather ran his freight and moving business, close to the Motlawa River. But the best part was seeing the baptismal font where my father was baptized. The font had just been returned to the sanctuary in St. Mary’s Basilica after years of being in storage. My father and I met with the Monsignor and were able to pray together in front of the font – it was a very moving experience!


Wow, that does sound incredible. How special for you to both be able to be there together. 
Finally, how has the Premium membership helped your German genealogy research? 
The Premium membership provides monthly articles that explore topics in depth that assist in my research. In addition, the Premium Facebook group has become invaluable to me. I anticipate our weekly “meetings” to get assistance with those one or two words on a document that are leaving me stumped. These words, once deciphered, often lead to new clues about where to search next for family records. 

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Michele!

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories. And be sure to give them a comment if what they have to share has helped you, or if you like their family stories!

Premium Member of the Week: Janis Allison Keough

Hi Janis, thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today. hOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING GERMAN GENEALOGY and what got you started?

I’ve been “doing” genealogy in general for 50+ years, ever since I found a bunch of family documents, including German letters (in the Old Script!), in my grandmother’s attic. I’ve been too intimidated to really get into my German genealogy until recently, when I took Katie’s online handwriting class. So, really, I’m a German Genealogy newbie!

What’s your favorite genealogy website you use nowadays?

I use and the most, because they have so much and are so easy, but I’m hoping to learn about some of the websites specifically for German research.

I love those websites too. As you’ve continued in your german genealogy journey, have you learned a top tip that you would want to share with our readers?

Just keep trying. You never know when that document you know must be there will finally appear. Once, I accidentally found an important record simply by googling a name out of desperation.

that’s so nice when that happens! what about any stories? Do you have a favorite story related to your ancestors?

My favorite story is about my great grand aunt, Caroline Dedrick/Dietrich. The family myth was that she married a German count who was touring America, had a son with him, and went back to Germany with him. He then tricked her into returning to America without her son, and she never saw the count or her son again.

After much research, I found that she did marry a German man named Ernst von Ferber, but he wasn’t a count. They moved to Olewein, Iowa, where their son, Julius, was born. Ernst opened a store there, but the business failed, and I believe they did go back to Germany. 

Caroline came back alone and lived with her family in Illinois. She was listed as a widow named Ferber in the census, but she went back to using her maiden name soon after that. She never married again and died in Kansas. Ernst immigrated to Canada, married again, and had a large family. I’m still looking for evidence of their divorce and of Caroline being in Germany. I have DNA matches to descendants of their son, Julius von Ferber, so I’ve managed to confirm some of the story!

that’s great! And finally, How has the premium membership helped your research in german genealogy?

Premium membership has helped me find new places to search, helped with my transcription of those old letters,  and introduced me to other researchers. The community is very friendly and helpful.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Janis!

 Voices of the Ancestors - remember those that came before you ...

Check out our other Premium Member Highlights and their fascinating genealogy stories:

“Not Trying to Hide That It Has Lived a Life”: An Interview with Book Conservator Noah Smutz

I was recently introduced to Noah Smutz through a mutual friend. When she heard what he did for a living, she had a feeling he and I would hit it off – and she was right. On our Zoom call last week, I had to really try and stop myself from asking him too many questions – something I’m prone to do when I get excited about a topic – but I just found myself wanting to know more and more about his fascinating line of work. Because you all love history as much as I do, I asked Noah if he would be interested in doing a formal interview about his job. Lucky for us, he said yes! 

Read on to find out little bit about his unique career, some expert tips on family bible storage, and where you shouldn’t be keeping your old family photos…

Hi, Noah. Thanks for taking the time to talk today. First, can you tell us a little more about what you do for people who are not familiar with your work?

Hello – and sure, I’d be happy to. I’m a conservator – someone who cares for and repairs cultural heritage objects. Specifically, I am a book conservator. This means I conserve and repair old books and all types of archival records. 

In the past year, for example, I’ve had books from the sixteenth century to the twentieth century, French and Indian War officer commissions, books on St. Louis history, a few prints, and of course, some family bibles.

Wow, amazing. So what is a typical day’s work like for you?

Basically, I make items whole and usable again. This includes tasks like reattaching the boards to a book, creating a new binding for a book, flattening a map that’s been folded for 70 years and mending the tears, and other things like that.

Noah at Work

That sounds fascinating. How did you get started in the field?

I have a bachelor degree in Classics from the University of Kansas. My original plan was to become an archaeologist, which culminated in spending six weeks on a dig in Crete. I loved Crete, but soon figured out that archaeology and I weren’t a good fit. While on the dig I was introduced to archaeological conservators, which was my very first interaction with conservators – and I was intrigued.

So, when I returned to the University of Kansas, I got a job as a student worker mending circulating collections – any books that can be checked out of the library and thrown in a backpack or book drop. That was when I knew that this career was for me. After finishing my undergraduate degree, I went to West Dean College in the United Kingdom and completed a two-year masters degree in conservation studies.

Learning to work with old books in the United Kingdom sounds like an incredible experience. What’s the oldest item you got to work with there?

While interning at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, I worked to repair a book from 1342 (though the binding was from the nineteenth century).

You’ve got me beat! The oldest document I’ve worked with is 1533 – and that book is from a full two centuries before. That must have been a great experience. Is that the most interesting document you’ve worked with, or would you say something else?

That was definitely interesting, but at the Smithsonian Libraries, I had the opportunity to work on a book called Principles of Beauty. It’s from the late 1700’s and depicts women with different shaped faces in profile. Different hair styles were then printed on very thin, see-through tissue paper. The book allowed readers to mix and match these different hair styles to see how they look with different shaped faces. 

It was a fascinating piece because of its function. It was also an incredibly rewarding treatment. The binding had to be fully re-sewn before the original boards were reattached and a new leather spine was created. The tissue paper overlays were dirty, creased, and torn. So we then had to wash, flatten, and mend those. Finally, I created an enclosure to house all of those pieces together (For more information on the process, see here).

Old Book Before and After Treatment

Wow, I would be so nervous I would accidentally tear something! What is the hardest task you face when conserving books?

Nineteenth century materials can be tricky. As I’m sure you genealogists know, paper from the nineteenth century is usually very poor quality and extremely brittle. Leather from the same time period is similarly poor quality. This is due to the industrialization of production techniques without fully appreciating the long term effects of, at the time, new chemical processing procedures. Due to the delicacy of these materials, brittle paper, and crumbling leather, it takes additional focus and sometimes time to coax these items into doing what you want.

You need a lot of tools to work with old books!

That’s so interesting to learn that about the nineteenth-century paper. It is very brittle, and I never knew why. In addition to letters, a lot of our readers have family bibles, which I know you work with a lot. What would you tell people who want to keep their family bibles in good condition? Any steps they should take?

A box of some type can be incredibly helpful to protect family bibles. These bibles tend to be large and their own weight can work against them. A box keeps the boards from getting scuffed on the shelf and protects the bible if it’s frequently going from one family member to another. I’ve seen many bibles where the spine was detached 20 years ago and has been misplaced, or the marriages page came loose and disappeared at some point. A box helps prevent things like that from happening.

Additionally, if the bible is stored in an open place – on a table for example – make sure it does not receive direct sunlight as that will cause damage over time. 

Book Before Treatment

Same Book After Treatment

Those are great tips, thank you. I see that you also provide photo storage services. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Sure. My family, like many of your readers’ families most likely, has boxes of old photographs that typically lived in garages, basements, or attics. There’s very little organization and you’re as likely to pull a photo out from 1880 as 1980. 

There are many photo storage products on the market that claim to be ‘archival’, but that term is a marketing term that doesn’t mean anything. So it can be difficult for individuals to determine which product to purchase and which product is best for the type of photograph they have.

There are many different photographic processes and they can’t all be stored in the same type of folder. In addition to these items, when a person goes to purchase photo sleeves or envelopes, they may only need 5 or 25 – but the minimum order size can be 100+. NS Conservation offers a service to rehouse all of a person’s family photos, and we then return them in an acid-free, archivally-sound box. This way all the items are stored correctly and the individual is not left with 75+ expensive photo sleeves that they have no use for.

That makes sense. I know a lot of my readers have some very old family photos. I always love when they share them with me and I get to see the faces of the people I am translating about! What’s your number one tip for photo storage?

Don’t put photos in the attic, garage, or basement. The climate in these areas is usually unregulated and large temperature and relative humidity fluctuations are especially damaging to photographs. It’s much better to store them somewhere in the main living space, even if it’s on a high shelf in a closet. Also, keep photographs out of direct sunlight.

All great tips, thank you! And finally, one last question for you, which you told me you get asked a lot. What is the difference between conservation and restoration?

Conservation is the act of repairing an item so that its lifespan is increased, while also not trying to hide that it has lived a life. Restoration is repairing an item in such a way that it looks like it did when it was new. For example, to conserve a book, the original boards will be retained even if they have water staining and are faded. Whereas restoring that book might mean making a new binding, or redying the cloth so that it is not faded and the water staining doesn’t show.

Noah’s Workshop

That’s a great explanation. I love the phrase “not trying to hide that it has lived a life.” That really fits well with what we also try to do as genealogists. 

Thank you, Noah, for taking the time to explain book and photo conversation to us. Where can people find you if they want more information on anything we discussed?

Thanks for having me. My website is and my other contact information is as listed below. Please feel free to get in touch!


Phone: 314-810-9184

Instagram: @nsconservation

Noah Smutz is a book conservator and the owner of NS Conservation.Noah has been in the field of conservation since 2011 when he started as a student worker in the University of Kansas Libraries conservation lab. He has since held internships for the Smithsonian Archives and Bodleian Library amongst others. He graduated with his Masters Degree in Book Conservation from West Dean College in the United Kingdom. Previously he has worked as a Book Conservator for the Smithsonian Libraries. Noah has worked with institutions such as the St. Louis Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Missouri State Archives, and the Missouri History Museum. He has been a member of the American Institute for Conservation since 2010 and a Professional Associate since 2019.

Book Before Treatment

Book After Treatment

Premium Member of the Week: Alexander Tolksdorf


Alexander Tolksdorf


Over 10 years.
My paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1950s. As such, I began exploring my family history directly in German records and sources from the get-go. Indeed, as all of my grandparents immigrated to the United States, Germany seemed like the easiest place to start!

3. What’s your favorite genealogy story from your family?

A story my great grandmother loved to recount. While I never met her directly, the story has been retold through my father. My great grandmother grew up in the Prussian province of Posen, near Ostrowo, on a farmstead, which contained a cherry orchard. She was a young girl when World War I broke out, and one day witnessed soldiers from the Russian army foraging across the farm collecting cherries. One soldier decided to demonstrate his civility to my onlooking family, so he proceeded inside the house to wash the cherries. Unusual for the time, the house contained an indoor bathroom and toilet. Indeed, the soldier spotted the toilet and, thinking it a washbasin of sorts, deposited his cherries in the toilet to wash them — and of course, pulled the lever. As the cherries disappeared before his eyes due to this new dark magic, he proceeded to pull out his rifle and shoot up the toilet while yelling obscenities! Certainly must have been frightening at the time, but my great grandmother always burst out laughing when telling the story!

4. What’s One Piece of Genealogy Advice You’d Give to Others?

Always keep looking! Retrace your steps and approach the problem from a different angle. Often time, genealogical records and resources can be difficult to find or access, but will reward your persistence.

5. How has the premium membership helped your research in german genealogy?

 I am actively looking to improve and develop my ability to read and transcribe the old German scripts. The Premium Membership has given me invaluable tips and tricks to analyze a new piece of text and the ample practice to develop my skills.