25 Mar 2014

Translating Meyers Konversationslexikon – Tuesday’s Tip

Have 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 This historical reference work is, of course, published in German and in Fraktur typeface.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.


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.”

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 of Central Europe (G. D. Reymann’s Special-Karte, 1832-1870)

How German Is [the] American [Language]?


Virtual Exhibits

If you live or will be traveling to Madison, the MKI Library offers:

A collection of more than 3200 books, pamphlets, and periodicals in the German language published in America, and/or by German-American authors;
A collection of more than 5300 books, articles, and pamphlets dealing significantly with political, […]

19 Nov 2013 for Prussian Genealogy – Tuesday’s Tip for Prussian genealogy is an indispensable tool. It’s difficult not to jump up and down as I write this because this resource is so great.

The brainchild of Uwe-Karsten Krickhahn, contains 94,636 locations in the former country of Prussia, with 38,691 locations that have changed to Polish, Lithuanian, or Russian names.

You can search by:

1. German name
2. Older German name
3. Kreis/County
4. By the next larger town (proximity search)
5. Current Polish, Russian or Lithuanian name
6. By Family Name

As seen in the example at right, search results include the all important Kreis, GPS, and other information to further your research.

Best of all is the option to attach the surnames you’re researching in a particular town and view surnames other researchers have posted as well.


1 Nov 2013

Updated Index to Hamburg Passenger Lists for 1850-1914

The updated index to Hamburg Passenger Lists for 1850-1914 is now available at Ancestry. This is great news: previously the database only had indexed records from 1887-1914. The additional 37 years have added 800,000 new records to the index, for a total of more than 4.5 million names. All of the images in the Hamburg Passenger Lists, aka Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934, are available and indexing has started on the remaining years from 1915-1934.

The notes for this database have been updated as well. If you haven’t found your ancestors in the Hamburger Passagierlisten, 1850-1934, Ancestry recommends a “partial index, covering the years 1850-1914 (up to the start of WWI). This index is complete for the years it covers. The index was created by the Hamburg State Archive, using the original lists in their collection, as part of an ongoing project begun in 1999. The indexing project is mainly financed by the “Hauptfürsorgestelle”, an institution of the City of Hamburg that supports training programs for handicapped persons.”

If your German is rusty (or non-existent), here’s a link to my post that translates the categories used in the Hamburg Passenger Lists for passengers departing for America. In my experience, these lists are far more detailed about places of origin than the arrival lists for New York and other U.S. ports.