German translation

28 Apr 2016

Visiting Prussia for the Time-Traveling Genealogy Blog Party

Courtesy of Elizabeth O’Neal at LittleBytesofLife,
my entry is
Visiting Prussia for the Time-Traveling Genealogy Blog Party
Here’s this party’s theme:

You and The Doctor (of Doctor Who fame [who of course is David Tennant – hubba hubba]) have just finished saving the Earth from nasty, alien monsters. As your reward, The Doctor has offered to take you for a ride in his TARDIS to meet one of your ancestors!

Who is the ancestor you will meet?
I long to know Friedrich Wilhelm Alexander KIRSCHSTEIN, my great-great-grandfather, who has been my most persistent brick wall for lo these many many years. He married my great-great-grandmother, Florentine Mathilde BRAUN, on 20 Oct 1847 in Rawitsch, Posen, Prussia (now Poland). But before that he might as well have been a ghost for the past six years I’ve been looking for him and his parents. Until very recently, dundundun.*

What question(s) do you need him/her to answer?
When I meet him, I will heroically refrain from shaking him […]

9 Mar 2016

Translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories

Is your German a little rusty or perhaps even non-existent, but you are using that great resource database,
the Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934?

Knowing and translating Hamburg Passenger List Categories before you search can be very helpful. Search both the departure lists in from Hamburg, as well as the arrival lists in New York or other U.S. ports. Before you decipher the German handwriting in a record your find, it helps to know what categories of information were used on the passenger list itself. (Right click or control-click on a Mac to download the image below for easier viewing.)

Hamburg Passenger Lists (Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934 available as a searchable database at were completed in Germany by clerks for the steamship line, using information from emigrants. The Germans were thorough about completing forms, so I have found far more of the all-important information about ancestral village names and birthplaces in these emigration records than I’ve found in […]

21 Jul 2015

Finding Missing German Marriage Records

Today’s post is about finding missing German marriage records. I’ve been reading German parish records pretty steadily for five years now, and encountered my share of records that take a lot of finding and translating.

But until today, I’d never encountered a marriage record in the “comments” section of another marriage record.

I’ve been working in this region of Prussia for some time and knew I needed to order film from the Family History Library to search for these particular Kirschsteins.

The Deutschland Heiraten 1558-1929 database at FamilySearch confirmed not just the film number but also that a marriage record existed for this couple in the right village. (If you haven’t used this database, please try it: 8.5 million German marriage records at the tip of your fingers.)

The film arrives and what could be easier with a date and the names of the bride and groom? But they are not there. I search […]

19 Aug 2014

Google News Archive for German Newspapers

Today’s guest post is about using the Google News Archive for German newspapers. German-language newspapers published in the U.S. can be important sources for obituaries and other information on German immigrant ancestors. My Germanic Genealogy teacher, Carolyn Thomas, of the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society, shares her insights on using the Google News Archive for German newspapers:
Besides the links to German-language newspapers in Chronicling America Nancy has shared, the Google News Archive has some German-language historic newspapers digitized and accessed by title at

These were part of Google’s plan, unfortunately no longer supported, to digitize all extant historic newspapers. Some of us have benefitted greatly from the locations and newspapers with which Google began that effort.

For example, the following are German-language newspapers in Pennsylvania and Louisiana are available online at the Google News Archive for free:


Das Volksblatt – 1763 issues between 7 Dec 1871 and 27 Mar 1878
Freiheits-Freund – 1,741 issues between 21 Feb 1834 […]