Germany

30 Mar 2014

Some Thoughts on Reading German Parish Microfilm

reading german parish microfilm sassy jane genealogy

This is what your brain looks like on microfilm.

Warning: genealogy whining ahead. I have some thoughts on reading German parish microfilm – a LOT of German parish microfilm that looked just like the screenshot on the right.

I was lucky to be at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, with every roll of microfilm available. So I did due diligence, reading German parish microfilm for five days for every village in my search area – but with no results.

Why did I pick genealogy? Why not something easier, like taking up home dentistry, a backyard moon launch, or counting grains of sand on the beach?

So after all those hours and rolls of German records, I have to say there are two people I dislike, however pointlessly retroactive.

The pastor:

Let’s leave handwriting and spelling out of it. Not fair to pick on the guy when that was his job to be the educated person in a village who was responsible for creating vital records, now is it?

But I’m so glad the pastor made sure write JOHANN GOTTFRIED and MARIA ANNA in letters two inches high and then write the surname in tiny tiny script buried somewhere in the record like it was a secret. And of course, the pastor made sure use a mix of Sütterlinschrift, Kurrentschrift, Roman letters, plus some Latin and Polish mixed in, just to keep things light.

And yes, some of that handwriting strongly resembles a chicken on acid who ran through an inkwell before it made a break for freedom running across the pages of the parish register.

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25 Mar 2014

Translating Meyers Konversationslexikon – Tuesday’s Tip

translating meyers orts sassy jane genealogyHave you used Meyers Konversationslexikon?

Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs (English title: Meyers Commercial Gazetteer of the German Empire) is an essential resource for German genealogy researchers. Meyers Orts is available in print at libraries and at Ancestry and FamilySearch.

But for English-speaking researchers, Meyers Orts can be tricky to use. This historical reference work is, of course, published in German and in Fraktur typeface. An additional complication for monolingual English-speaking researchers (like me) is the frequent use of abbreviations. When you don’t speak German, it’s hard to know what word is being abbreviated. And the type can be very small for aging eyes to see.

While there is no substitute for the seminal Meyers Orts gazetteer, another Meyers publication may also help. Meyers also published the Meyers Konversationslexikon. Full title: Großes Konversationslexikon: Ein Nachschlagewerk des allgemeinen Wissens. Sechste, gänzlich neubearbeitete und vermehrte Auflage. Leipzig und Wien 1905-1909. (English title: Meyers Large Encyclopedia. A reference book of general knowledge. Sixth, completely revised and enlarged edition. Leipzig and Vienna from 1905 to 1909).

Some of the same information found in Meyers Orts is also in Meyers Konversationslexikon. This “Large Encyclopedia,” includes concise information on a city, town, or village. Included is geographic location, population, province, civil registry offices, churches and synagogues, all valuable information when searching for ancestors. Also included in each entry is information on civic organizations, institutions, schools, agriculture, factories, businesses, governmental organizations and hierarchy, transportation, and more.

Using Meyers Konversationslexikon is relatively easy thanks to the digital version at Wörterbuchnetz, from the Trier Center for Digital Humanities at the University of Trier. Their digital edition of Meyers Konversationslexikon uses the Roman alphabet, has adjustable type size, an excellent search interface, and best of all, when you turn on the translating function of your browser, the gist of each entry is easily readable in English.

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1 Jan 2014

Ein glückliches neues Jahr

Ein glückliches neues Jahr to all my readers and fellow genealogists. Just back from an unexpected and delightful trip along the Rhine with my husband to the Christmas Markets. My first trip to Germany was wonderful and I am determined to go back very soon, especially since our trip was not near my ancestral villages. That, and I need want more feuerwurst.

The very best to you in the coming year.

germany sassy jane genealogy

 

6 Dec 2013

Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies – Follow Friday

The Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies is today’s Follow Friday. Founded at the University of Wisconsin in 1983 with a grant from the Max Kade Foundation of New York, the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies examines how “German-speaking immigrants and their descendants have both shaped their North American environment and been shaped by it.”

Familienglück, ein Büchlein für Jünglinge und Jungfrauen, die sich verheirathen wollen, 1903. (courtesy MKI)

Familienglück, ein Büchlein für Jünglinge und Jungfrauen, die sich verheirathen wollen, 1903. (courtesy MKI)

German-American immigration, history, culture, and language are the topics of interest at the MKI, and the following links may be helpful to genealogists researching German lines:

American Languages: German Dialects

Scanned images from the MKI Archives 

Ethnicity in Wisconsin

Historical Maps […]