The Joy of Digging Deeper — A “Christmas Present” !!

I’m always looking for that “new thing” that makes it all worthwhile exploring the wonderful world of German genealogy.  Which, for this mostly monolingual American, can indeed make me feel at times like Indiana Jones!  And today was one of those days.  Come with me as I retrace my steps….

In my email inbox from before dawn this morning was this daily digest of my German mailing list for East Prussia:  OW-Preussen-L Nachrichtensammlung, Band 147, Eintrag 78.  The very first item caught my attention, partly because it contained a link to a webpage somewhere, and these are often interesting.  Furthermore, I did not fully understand the subject line:

Subject: Re: [OWP] Bedeutung von Zahlen und Buchstaben in Prästationstabellen

and that raised my curiosity.  What was that strange word, “Prästationstabellen”?  It does not appear in either Ernest Thode’s German-English Genealogical Dictionary, or my cherished 1936 edition of Cassell’s New German and English Dictionary.  And Google Translate said only that it meant “pre-station tables.”  Which means what, exactly?  I had no idea.  And so I went to the link in the message to see where it would take me.  And I found myself at:

1.  GenWiki Portal:Pillkallen (for Kreis Pillkallen – Schloßberg)
This didn’t appear to be related, on the face of it, and so I went looking for that word.  In the fourth section, pertaining to history & population, there it is — buried part way down the list of links — that strange word, “Prästationstabellen.”  Clicking the second link takes us to a further page:

2.  Hinweise zu den Prästationstabellen und Mühlenconsignationen, Erläuterungen von Prof. Erwin Spehr.
And near the top is this statement, first in German and then in “my” translation (using the above-named sources):

Prästationstabellen (PT) sind Listen, in denen die laufenden Abgaben (Prästationen) der besitzenden ländlichen Bevölkerung an das Domänenamt aufgeführt sind.  Da diese Abgaben nur von Grundbesitzern erhoben wurden, sind in diesen Tabellen lediglich Bauern, Handwerker und Eigenkätner namentlich aufgeführt, nicht jedoch z.B. Landarbeiter.  Auch wurden Bauern und besitzende Bürger der Städte sowie Bewohner und Bauern adliger und geistlicher Territorien nicht erfasst, weil diese dem Domänenamt gegenüber keine Verpflichtungen hatten.

Pre-station tables (PT) are lists in which the current taxes (pre-stations) of the propertied rural population are listed at the (state-owned) estate offices.  Since these were levied only by landowners, only peasants, craftsmen, and cottagers with their own garden are mentioned in these tables.  Farm workers, peasants and wealthy citizens of the cities as well as inhabitants and peasants of noble and spiritual territories were not included because they had no obligations to the estate office.

So there it is — a new type of German document of which I had been unaware.  Placed in the IGS Library vertical files in the folder covering miscellaneous document types, it may perhaps smooth the way for a researcher seeking answers.  Merry Christmas!!

2017 Desk Calendar

The Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE) has produced a 2017 desk calendar featuring photos of Germans in Poland.
This project was done in collaboration with one of their members in Germany, whose father was an editor and photographer among Germans in Poland and Volhynia early in the 20th century. His surviving photo archive has been donated to the Herder-Institut in Marburg.
SGGEE has these calendars available for sale using PayPal in North America and invites anyone with an interest to visit their website for further details. It makes a quality gift for anyone whose German ancestors lived in Poland in the 1930s. Please note that this webpage also contains information in German about where to purchase copies in Europe.

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!!

Ortssippenbücher collection lists!

It’s been a struggle to find and upload the lists we had years ago to help researchers identify the town heritage books we have in our collection.  But it’s finally done!

Go to the Resources tab on this homepage, and click on it.  There are just two lists, one which gives all towns in alpha order, and one that first breaks them down by home region before alphabetizing them.  But to see these books further organized according the regional jurisdictions, go to the appropriate Finding Aid for the region.  Here’s how:

If you want to select one of our older newsletters to view, or if you want to check out our Library Finding Aids, then use the pull-down feature of the Resources tab to see these more complex options.  In each Finding Aid, the Ortssippenbücher are arranged within jurisdictions, so that if you know the ones for your town [find them at] you can see which other towns “nearby” are included in our collection….

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.

New Maps – Always Welcome!

The library has received three nice maps from Jean Kuehneman of Napa, CA.  She wrote that she was “clearing out my genealogy files” (How many of us need to do that??), and “found several maps that are too important to toss out….”  Thanks, Jean!!  We appreciate your thinking of us.

There is a map of the eastern Baltic countries, and a Polish map showing the portion of the country that used to be Pommern.  But the third one is in 1:50,000 scale — very detailed — and depicts the coastal area of Germany northeast of Rostock.  This is roughly the small region from Ribnitz-Damgarten to Barth, and a bit beyond.  There were “sticky notes” on it marking two villages of interest, showing that the map had been acquired with an eye to research.

Jean is concerned that she has few relatives who share her love for research, …relatives to whom she could pass along her collection for future preservation.  It’s a question we all face:  What to do with what we’ve carefully assembled over many years?  And so she’s doing the best she can to see that items get to where they might still be used.  We welcome such donations, and we’d welcome readers’ thoughts as to how to preserve family research notes, letters, photos, family lore, etc. etc.

Please reply to the webmaster if you have suggestions to share….