Astrid Adler Presents: “Emigration from the German Perspective”

During the 19th century, nearly six million Germans left their homes for other lands, and most would never see Germany again.  Ms. Adler writes about this historical migration in her new books, “Our Ancestors Were German” and “Goodbye Forever,” and has spoken previously on this topic on two occasions in Ventura County.

In “Our Ancestors Were German,” Ms. Adler discusses local emigration history from the Grand Duchy Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach region during the 19th century.  German descendants will learn about the reasons for their ancestors’ emigration.  Stories are told about the individuals and families who left Germany based on the historical evidence from passenger lists, census data, family letters, and family trees.  “Goodbye, Forever” tells about emigration history over a period of sixty years in the village of Tiefenort.  Meeting reports of the village council and weather records from the region were also analyzed, giving a unique impression about daily life in a typical German village during the 19th century.

Ms. Adler grew up and still lives in the village of Tiefenort in the former East Germany.  For the past ten years she has specialized in genealogy, especially emigration to America from the Grand Duchy Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach region during the 19th century.  She was honored by the State of Thuringia for her first research exhibition, and is also building an extensive private emigrant database for the South Thuringia area.

Two dates are available to hear her at the IGS Library in Burbank in May.  She will speak on Saturday, May 13th at 1 pm, and again on the evening of Tuesday, May 16th, at 7 pm.  Both talks will be preceded by informal receptions (Noon on the 13th, and 6 pm on the 16th), and will be followed by a further opportunity to meet and converse with our speaker.  Signed books will be available for purchase.  [Idea:  Plan to see our Thuringia resources (on the shelf, or in our vertical files) while at the Library, and bring anything you may have on this interesting area of Germany to share with others.]

Our Library is located at 1310 W. Magnolia Blvd., between Mariposa and Griffith Park cross-streets.  Limited parking is available behind the Library, and may be accessed via the alley.  Other parking is available on Magnolia Blvd. or on the residential streets close by the Library.

James Beidler’s article

We’re fortunate to have friends in high places!!  Free-lance writer and German genealogy lecturer James M. Beidler has just written about the Immigrant Genealogical Society for German Life magazine — DECEMBER/JANUARY 2017 issue — and it’s a nice treatment of who we are and what a treasure we have in our Library.  Go pick up a copy at your chain bookstore’s magazine racks.  This issue is rich with feature articles you’ll also want to see; “Beautiful Erfurt!” is one of them….  Consider sending in a subscription for yourself or a family member!!

A Book on Immigrants from Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach

I first heard German researcher and author Astrid Adler (Tiefenort, Thuringia, Germany) speak to the Ventura County Genealogical Society in April of this year.  Some six million Germans emigrated in the 19th c., and some were from her region…and not a few were from her town!  Her extensive research into this local emigration and its causes led to an exhibition on the subject — for which she was honored by her state in 2012.  Her talk covering the high points of her German-language book on the topic was informative, entertaining, and definitely well-received.  Now she has published an English-language version for American readers.

Our Ancestors Were German: Emigration in the 19th Century from Grand Duchy Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach is an attractive volume that adequately covers this broad subject of emigration/immigration from a variety of perspectives.  She plans to promote the book beginning with a first presentation in Ventura County on January 14th at 11 am at the Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum, on Market St.  In May, a book tour will formally begin with stops in Southern California and in the Washington, DC area.

Orders for the book may be placed here.  Full information about all of her books (including a forthcoming one) may be found on that page as well.  A list of the towns from which the emigrants originated, as well as the states in which they located, may be found here.

Genealogists Helping Genealogists!

This is how it’s all supposed to work.  Years ago, volunteers at the Immigrant Genealogical Society created a card file on immigrants to America.  It was for any immigrant, from any country, and at any time in our nation’s history.  And it was for the purpose of sharing what we as individual members knew, in order that we might help other genealogists who were still trying to trace their ancestor back across and beyond our nation’s borders.

And so, because I (the IGS publications editor) had an idea about rounding up the names of immigrants from the former Kingdom of Saxony and doing something with it, I thought that the Immigrant Ancestor File was a good place to start.  Oh, I’d looked at it in the past, when I was interested to see if there was data on a particular family or individual.  But this was the first time in the five years that I’ve been here that I actually took one of the four card file boxes and started through it, card-by-card.

And then it happened that I spotted a card with a reference, not to “Sachsen,” but to Thüringen (Thuringia).  And I remembered Astrid Adler, a German researcher and book compiler living in Tiefenort, Germany.  Late last year she’d made a presentation to the Ventura County (CA) Gen. Soc. on her effort to recreate a record of emigrants from Thüringen to America in the mid-19th century.  She’d begun this effort because her region was so notably lacking in documentation as to where its sons and daughters had removed.

Because I was in the audience for that talk, and was highly impressed by not only her spoken words but also her slide presentation, I immediately searched my shelves for anything that might aid her project.  Finding some persons from her region who’d moved to St. Louis at an early date — including one family that had originated not ten miles from her home! — I sent the data in an email to her at first opportunity, even though my findings slightly predated her target focus period.

And so here I was again, tripping across something that might help her and/or other German researchers connect the dots as they seek to find distant American cousins who descend from this largely (officially) undocumented body of emigrants.  But was it a valid reference?  The card I’d found was without a formal source citation, although it appeared to be data extracted by a volunteer from an American county history.  If so, was it from the late 19th century, or post-Bicentennial?  Or was it from some other source instead?

Thus it was that I turned to my telephone and placed a call to the one IGS member whom I knew to be our own local authority on the county in question.  Eunice Limberg had in fact been one of our stalwart volunteers until she moved out of the area a few years back.  But every so often she shares with us what she’s found in regard to her Koch ancestral family back in Gasconade County, Missouri.  As this card referenced the same county, I knew I had to ask her if she was familiar with either the KEHR family (with roots in Thüringen) or the Brüns/BRUENS family (into whom the female immigrant in question had married, once in America).

Eunice called me back yesterday, and while the KEHR name was unfamiliar — it turns out it had died out in the county — she did know the BRUENS name!  She guided me to the appropriate 1979 county history, even to the extent of citing the page numbers I should review.  Now I had at least the citiation I needed to complete what I’d sent earlier to Astrid Adler.

Will this end up helping someone make the connection they seek?  Only time will tell.  The dots, however, have been connected.  A researcher in Germany looking for KEHR descendants in America will now have at least one specific locale in which to begin their American pursuit of cousins.  And all because American researchers are working in tandem with German researchers, and because IGS members support one another and share both their interests and their discoveries….

Which brings me to the conclusion of this story.  If we are to be a vibrant society, we need to — each one! — be active in reaching out to the others.  Just recently, because I also handle membership records, I heard from a member who’d decided not to renew.  This person had a valid reason for that decision:  we’d not provided a break-through on the family name being researched.  Okay, I can accept that.

But societies have to be more than just answer-givers if they’re to continue to exist; otherwise, it’s all just Ancestry.com and Facebook.  The “special sauce” that we add to the genealogical “recipe” is those truly personal connections that you won’t find in the on-line world.  Yes, you will make contact with others there, and you can (and do) exchange.  But it’s through societies that you can form personal bonds (even long-distance, with a little work!) that can bring your research to life.

Join us now:  What do you have to contribute?  Because your contribution is unique, and it has value!