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 This historical reference work is, of course, published in German and in Fraktur typeface.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


5 Aug 2011

Poznan Marriage Project: Follow Friday

Today’s Follow Friday post is about the Poznan Marriage Project, a database of extracted nineteenth marriage records. Headed by Łukasz Bielecki, the Poznan Marriage Project contains 651,594 records from civil, Lutheran, and Catholic parishes within the former Prussian province of Posen, now Poznań, Poland.

In addition to the search function available by surname, location, and date, the site also provides a wealth of information about what records are available for various villages and towns.


16 Nov 2010

Standard Finder Place Name Searches

Today’s tip is about the inelegantly named “Standard Finder” that’s currently in development in the labs at Familysearch.org. Standard Finder Place Name Searches really help for research where the borders changed frequently and place names were changed between different languages. It should help simplify how you do place name search in the Family History Library Catalog by providing a list of the standardized entries for place names in the catalog.

If you’ve heard my talk on organizing your family history research, you know that I’m a big fan of controlled vocabulary (i.e., stating something the same way each time) and authority files (keeping lists of what those standardized place and surnames are).

For example, when researching my Kirschstein line, I found a Hamburg departure record saying my great-grandfather Bruno left from Rawitsch, Prussia. Today that’s Raciwz, Poland, as a quick Google search will tell you. But searching the Standard Finder, I also learn other variant names I could […]

30 Oct 2010

Baptism of Florentine Mathilde Braun: Surname Saturday

Today’s Surname Saturday post is about one of those good news/bad news genealogy days.

Good: there’s a baptismal record for my great-great grandmother and she has a twin sister.

Bad: the village pastor had handwriting that 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.

Here’s what I learned about Frederica Ida & Florentina Mathilde BRAUN:

[Entry No.] 280. 29 December [1814]
Twin 1  Friederica Ida
Born on the 7th of the same [month]

[Entry No.] 281. Ditto
Twin 2
Florentina Mathilde
Born on the 7th of the same [month]

Father:   [Carl] Heinrich BRAUN, merchant
Mother:  Joh[anna] Juliana née TRENKLER

The Trenklers lived in Rawitsch for many generations and are relatively easy to find, the Brauns less so, and the Kirschsteins are practically non-existent. I’m starting to think Florentina’s husband, Friedrich Kirschstein, was born somewhere other than Rawitsch.

If it were easy, it wouldn’t be fun, right?