parish registers

13 May 2014

German Card for Genealogical Research

The German Card is the best $5 I’ve ever spent, certainly in research terms.

The SGGS German Card is a four-panel card, hinged and laminated, that folds up to the size of a credit card. Around the outside edges of the panels are the old script and Fraktur alphabets, showing both upper and lower case, arranged so that you can hold each letter directly under the German word you are trying to decipher. It is designed to be carried in one’s wallet or purse for use in the library or at the archives. I have one in my wallet and one by my desktop computer.

This pocket research aid is exclusively available from the Sacramento German Genealogy Society.

The German Card includes:
  • Old German alphabets – upper case and lower case, for both the old German handwriting and the printed Gothic font
  • Basic German vocabulary words as used in church and civil records
  • U.S. census dates for years in which pertinent immigration information appears
  • Basic German genealogy resources
  • Major symbols used in old German genealogical recordkeeping
  • Soundex Code

[…]

30 Mar 2014

Some Thoughts on Reading German Parish 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.

[…]

18 Feb 2014

FamilySearch Place Name Searches – Tuesday’s Tip

This Tuesday’s Tip is about effective FamilySearch place name searches, including how to find related places.

We know the FamilySearch online library catalog is the place to go to find out what microfilm is available for loan in the vast Family History Library collections.

For this tip, although it sounds illogical, choose the original version of the catalog for more search options. The newer version of the catalog has been out for a while, but it’s still labeled as being in “beta” or testing mode, and doesn’t offer this feature.

Follow these steps to find out what records are available for a specific region via the Family History Library:

1. Visit the original catalog here.

FamilySearch Place Name Searches sassy jane genealogy

2. Choose Place Search and enter search term. Then choose View Related Places button […]

4 Feb 2014

Bills of Mortality – Tuesday’s Tip

Bills of Mortality records are the topic of Tuesday’s Tip and a new-to-me record group.

Containing the weekly mortality statistics for London, Bills of Mortality were compiled by parish clerks. Before the nineteenth century, Bills of Mortality were the main source of death statistics. The earliest known bill dates from November 1532, but the records mostly date to the period when they were used to track deaths from the epidemics, particularly The Great Plague of London. In 1570, baptisms were added and 1629 the cause of death was added. They were published through 1836, when civil registration supplanted these records.

Infant and child mortality rates were so numerous, according to historian Lynda Payne at Children and Youth in History, that they were listed according to age bracket, rather than disease. “Chrisomes” were infants younger than a month old; “teeth” were babies not yet through with teething.

The Bills of Mortality are listed by parish and by cause of death (“griping in the guts” was one picturesque, if vague, category) and do not include names. But if you have death dates and locations that match these records, they can lend some important context to your family research.

London’s Wellcome Library, of the world’s great collections for the study of medical history, just made 100,000 high-resolution images available for download from their archives. The new digital collection includes advertisements, paintings by artists both renowned and obscure, and early photographs.

Also included in the Wellcome Library’s digital collections are Bills of Mortality during the Great Plague in London from 1664-1665. Search “bills of mortality” at Wellcome’s Images page.

[…]