I have some thoughts on reading German parish microfilm – a LOT of German parish microfilm and that’s a screenshot of one of many terrible pages I encountered above.
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.
Let’s leave handwriting and spelling out of it. Not fair to pick on the guy whose job was to be the educated person in a village, and who was responsible for creating written 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.
But why not put the year at the top of every page? Or how about some actual page numbers? Or even – radical thought, use page numbers and the year on every page. And while you’re at it, stop using iron gall ink that bleeds through the page.
Those helpful little hints you left behind: Tight Binding! Smeared Ink! Faded Page! Repaired Document! Try reading this stuff, instead of filming it, and you’ll know what trouble is.
So, no, didn’t find a single record. I’ll be in the fetal position next to the scanner I don’t need. And then I’ll start up again with another roll and hope the pastor and the microfilmer are on the side of my ancestors and me.
Hide this from your students, Cari, or they’ll quit before they start!
I’m right with you, Nancy (as you well know!) BUT the saving grace – for the pain of it all – is discovering ANYTHING at ALL of one’s ancestry 150 years ago, LET ALONE in the 15th or 16th centuries! Imagine the thrill of finding a 4-line church death/burial record of an 8th-great-grandfather, which is followed by a 20-line pastoral description of the October 1632 sacking of the village and desecration of the church by Lord Wallenstein’s drunken hordes in the Thirty-Years-War (1618-1648). Family History at its finest and most incredible!
Hope you enjoy my empathetic smiles. 🙂
Amen – and let’s throw in the Norwegians for good measure.
And while you’re at it let’s hear it for my Swedes….Janet