Germany

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 […]

3 Aug 2014

Free Online German-Language Newspapers

Free online German-language newspapers published in the United States are invaluable resources for genealogists. If you’re searching for ancestors from Germany, Austria, and Prussia who emigrated to America, 19th- and 20th-century German-language newspapers can hold important clues not found in English-language records.

Published in areas with large enclaves of German-speaking immigrants, these newspapers fostered communities and neighborhoods. According to the Library of Congress, by 1890 more than 1,000 German newspapers were being published in the United States. 

Chronicling America is a Library of Congress website offering access to newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922.  Nearly eight million newspaper pages from 32 states and the District of Columbia are digitized and available.

Here are 19 historic German-language newspaper titles available for free at Chronicling America. Click on the hyperlinks in the titles to start your research.

No. of Issues
Earliest Issue
Latest Issue
More Info

Indiana
Indiana Tribüne. Indianapolis, Ind., 1878-1907

1831
1900-08-17
1907-03-02
Yes

Iowa
Der Demokrat. Davenport, Iowa, 186?-1868

171
1862-07-03
1865-12-28
Yes

Iowa
Der Tägliche Demokrat. Davenport, Iowa, […]

13 May 2014

German Card for Genealogy 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 Kurrentschrift or Alte Deutsche Schrift (“old German 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

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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.

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