Come to the annual meeting — tomorrow, Sunday the 11th, 2 pm

Dear IGS Members,

Your presence is very much needed at the IGS Library, 1310 W. Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank (cross street = Griffith Park; park behind in spaces off the alley).  With all the disruptions in Ventura County, it may be hard for other members to reach the meeting — at which we vote for the incoming Board of Directors!!  So by coming, if you can, you help us reach our threshhold number of participants.

And, come early and stay late for research.  We will have computers available, and this weekend there is the option of free research on several pay sites.  That’s been advertised on several genealogical pages and blogs, but here is the information as passed along by the Germans in St. Louis group, thanks to Kathy Wurth (who summarized it well!):

“…this weekend has quite a few “free weekends” from some genealogy pay sites. They are:

“MyHeritage Miltary Records – Nov. 8 -12

“Find my Past Free Access – Nov. 9 -12

“Fold3 Native American Records – Nov 1 -15

“NEHGS All Databases – Nov 6 – 13  American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) are granting free access to more than 1.4 billion names within its data-rich online records.

If you haven’t checked out Kathy’s group, and are a German genealogist, you owe it to yourself to visit the site, here.

SGGS Spring Seminar on Saturday, April 8th from 8:45 to 3:45

Liz Shaw, Publicity representative and Facebook administrator for the Sacramento German Genealogy Society (SGGS), wishes to extend an invitation to all IGS members to attend their upcoming seminar.  The seminar will be held at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, and features Michael Lacopo, DVM a veternarian who retired in 2013 to become a professional genealogy researcher and has 30+ years experience in genealogical research.  He will present two lectures on “Using DNA to Further Your Family Tree” and two lectures on “Overcoming Brick Walls in German-American Research.”  He is a knowledgable and engaging speaker.  SGGS members have enjoyed his quick wit and willingness to answer their questions.  His science training makes him especially qualified to discuss and explain DNA testing and its use in genealogy research.

Brochures for this event will be available at the IGS researcher “Stammtisch” we’re holding this coming Sunday, beginning at 1 pm.  Or, just visit the SGGS website and click on “Spring Seminar.”  Here you’ll find cost and optional lunch details, and a map to the location.  Registration is by PayPal or mail-in form (but registration should be received by April 1st to avoid late registration pricing).  And, be aware that space is limited, and that registration may close if the event is as popular as in past years!!  Special questions or concerns?  Just email Liz or call her at 916.337.1830.

Intermediate German Genealogy Course at IGHR July 23-28, 2017

The following is a news release from Laura W. Carter, MEd, MLIS, SLIS.  She is the Director of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, hosted by the Georgia Genealogical Society.  Questions may be directed to her at IGHR Publicity….

F. Warren Bittner, a renowned expert on German genealogical research, will be teaching Intermediate German Genealogy at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), July 23 – 28, 2017, in Athens, Georgia at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel. You can view the daily schedule for this course on the IGHR website

The Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) provides an educational forum for the discovery, critical evaluation, and use of genealogical sources and methodology through a week of intensive study led by nationally renowned genealogical educators. Students choose one course that lasts throughout the week.

Intermediate German Genealogy is targeted for students “who have dabbled enough in German research to be confused by localities and challenged by the difficult handwriting.” One main goal of this class is to teach students to use the gazetteers and finding aids needed to identify places in Germany, and a full day will be spent teaching students to read Gothic German Script. Additional topics include an overview of German History 800 to 1989, German church records, marriage customs and records, feudal records, military records, websites, published sources, and Ortsfamilienbücher. This week-long course is open to anyone interested in German research. Some previous German research experience is helpful, but not required

Warren Bittner is a genealogical researcher and lecturer. He holds a Master of Science degree in history from Utah State University. He was a winner of the National Genealogical Society 2011 Writing Contest, with his article “Without Land, Occupation, Rights, or Marriage Privilege: The Büttner Family from Bavaria to New York.” This article was also awarded the National Genealogical Society, Award for Excellence, 2012 which is presented annually for an outstanding article published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. He has coordinated German research tracks at the Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR) in Birmingham, Alabama, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). For six years Warren Bittner was the German Collection Manager for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He has researched in more than fifty German archives and in more than forty U.S. archives and record repositories. 

In addition to excellent courses and opportunities to network with fellow genealogists, IGHR attendees benefit from access to the world-class libraries of the University of Georgia including the law library and special collections libraries. Researchers may also enjoy making the short drive to Morrow, GA to visit the National Archives at Atlanta (NARA’s southeast region facility) and the Georgia Archives. For more information about the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, now hosted by the Georgia Genealogical Society, please visit our website and follow us on social media.

Irish Family Research — Online Workbook (FREE)

“Upfront with NGS” is the blog for the National Genealogical Society.  Every so often they post something that really gets a person to sit up and take notice.  Such is the case with an offering today on an online Irish Family Research Workbook.  This has been produced by the National Archives of Ireland, and their link to the Workbook is on the “Upfront” page that you’ll get when you click the line above….

If you’re not a member of NGS, please consider joining!  They help keep us connected.

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!!

Want to buy a German-language history book?

Here are some new offerings just mentioned in a German mailing list:

Josef Sallanz, “Dobrudscha: Deutsche Siedler zwischen Donau und Schwarzem Meer.” [ca. 350 Seiten / 19,80 Euros / ISBN 978-3-936168-73-0]

Ute Schmidt, “Bessarabien: Deutsche Kolonisten am Swarzen Meer.” [420 Seiten / 19,80 Euros / ISBN 978-3-936168-65-5]

“Nach Übersee: Deutschsprachige Auswanderer aus dem östlichen Europa um 1900” [303 Seiten / 9,80 Euros / ISBN 978-3-936168-70-9]

Basil Kerski (Hg.), “Danziger Identitäten: Eine mitteleuropäische Debatte” [288 Seiten / 5 Euros (Preisreduzierte) / ISBN 978-3-936168-58-7]

Mitja Ferenc, Joachim Hösler (Hg.), “Spurensuche in der Gottschee: Deutschsprachige Siedler in Slowenien” [245 Seiten / 5 Euros (Preisreduzierte) / ISBN 978-3-936168-53-2]

Basil Kerski (Hg.), “Stettin – Wiedergeburt einer Stadt Szczecin – Odrodzenie miasta”  [Deutsch-polnische Online-Dokumentation der wichtigsten Stimmen zur Debatte, mit zeitgenössischen und aktuellen Bildern sowie Begriffserklärungen und Verweisen]

It’s hard for us here to find much on Black Sea settlements, etc., and so this is mentioned for that one German-speaking reader who might be looking for interesting material….

“Not Stated”

I’m always interested when has some new records posted, but I’m often alerted to these opportunities by German genealogists posting messages on the various Mailinglisten to which I subscribe.  Today I went to the listed URL, and found myself looking at Ancestry’s German website page “Deutschland, evangelische Kirchenbücher, 1519-1969.”  We can see the same page in English on our own site, but I’m reasonably at home reviewing German-language genealogical pages (even though I’m not a speaker of German) because my genealogical vocabulary is fairly broad and, well, it’s just fun to be an explorer.

So I looked for the browse dropdowns, which isn’t hard to find because the page layout is pretty much the same for either site.  The box is labeled “Diese Sammlung durchsuchen” and the dropdown options are for “Historische Region” and “Stadt oder Distrikt.”  You’re with me, right?  The purpose of the box is for searching through the collection, the first choice is the region desired and the second is the specific location within the region.

Twenty actual regions offered are: Baden, Bayern, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Hannover, Hessen, Lübeck, Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, OstPreussen, Pommern, Posen, Reuss Linie, Sachsen, Schlesien, Schleswig-Holstein, Schwarzburg, West Preussen, Westfalen and Württemberg.  But then there were two other possibilities, and it amused me to see that they were listed in English on a German web page:  “Military” and “Not Stated.”  The latter has sixteen options, and I was curious to see what might be included.  So I turned to Wikipedia, the English version, and tried a few of them.

The first one listed is “Avgustovo,” which has to be a typo for Augustovo, English for Augustowo or Augustów, a city in northeastern Poland.  It had been included in the 1795 Prussian partition of Poland, but was incorporated into the Kingdom of Poland in 1815 and was later made part of Russia, according to Wikipedia.  I could see immediately that: (1) these would be places of complex history, and (2)  these could still be important to someone’s German genealogy, even if Polish today.

I tried another.  There were three renditions of Iława (or Ilawa, as it is shown on the page), so I looked it up and found that it was once Deutsch Eylau, an important city which “became part of the Duchy of Prussia in 1525 and the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701” and then found itself within the “new province of West Prussia in 1773.”

So the moral of this story is “Explore!”  If your ancestor(s) came from a place with a lot of history and an unfortunate habit of changing jurisdictions often, then you’ll always want to be poking into the corners of websites like  There will be many blind alleys, but on occasion you might be surprised with some treasure….

Familia Austria

Günter Ofner of Vienna <> has posted as of October 8th an open offer on behalf of his association, Familia Austria (the Austrian Society for Genealogy and History), to accept into their database all family trees referencing the old Habsburg Monarchy.  One does not have to be a member of the association to participate.

This database covers 1.5 million people from all corners of the old Danube monarchy, and incorporates data from 31 Ortssippenbücher, the local family clan books.  A description of the family tree database may be found here.  Access to the database itself is here.  And please note that no password or registration is required.

There are two ways in which a researcher worldwide may participate.  Those with a family tree in gedcom format may send it to him at this address.  Those who do not use a family tree genealogy software program may instead send a paper copy; details on how to do this are provided here.  [Of course, the language employed at each of these sites will be German.]

By feeding in your family tree, you will be making your personal family research available to researchers worldwide.  Be assured that the personal data of all individuals born within the last 100 years will be automatically protected against display.  However, by placing your email address there you will make possible new direct contacts with other researchers, and will perhaps discover new distant relatives.

Not many of us will have ties to the House of Habsburg or to Austria, but this just seems to be such a warm and inclusive offer as not to be missed by those with the appropriate heritage….

The Lesson in the Back of a Bible

Tony Messenger writes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Today he told a story about immigration, in his own family and more recently.  He (and his source) also told me something I did not know — that of the twenty largest metro areas in the nation, St. Louis had the largest increase in foreign-born residents from 2014 to 2015.  Second was Minneapolis-St. Paul.

And here’s the lesson he found, in his annual flip-through of the pages in his mom’s old Bible….

“Until after my mom died, I never thought much about my immigrant past.  I was a typical American mutt,….  But we all come from somewhere.”

It’s a quick read; you’ll enjoy it!

Brandenburg east of the Oder and Neisse

If you have ancestry from eastern Brandenburg — the portion of the former Prussian province lost to Poland after 1945 — then you’ll be interested to know that there’s a German foundation dedicated to the preservation of the history and culture of the region.  The name is “Stiftung Brandenburg,” and the website URL is:

Among the available services if you can visit in person are day tours with a guide, some of which are available in English.  The location of the Brandenburg House is:  Parkallee 14, 15517 Fürstenwalde (Spree), and further information can be obtained by writing to:  <>.

Specific information about available tours can be obtained from Veronica Kölling, at:<>.  Also consider visiting to see scheduled exhibitions.  An example (which would be of interest to the newly formed German-Australian Genealogical Partnership) would be this one:
“The emigration of Ostbrandenburgern to Australia in the 19th century.”

A museum is open four hours daily, Monday through Friday, while a library is open five hours daily on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  New books acquired for the collection are displayed from time-to-time at this URL address:
…which may give you Brandenburg researchers some ideas of what new resources you’d like to see!

More on Digitized Records…

On Friday the 16th a message appeared in the BRANDENBURG-L mailing list which I found interesting.  Perhaps you will, too!  Here is the Google Translate version of a large portion of it:

What went online in the last few weeks?
Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin
1026 church records from the provinces of West Prussia, East Prussia and Posen
Central Archives of the Evangelical Church in Hessen and Nassau
573 church records from more than 60 locations
Landes Archiv Stuttgart (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg)
786 church records from more than 60 locations
Evangelical Landeskirchliches archive in Berlin
593 church records from 4 Berlin districts

What is being imported?
Landes Archiv Stuttgart (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg)

What comes after?
Landeskirchliches Archives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria
Central Archives of the Evangelical Church of the Palatinate
Archives of Lippe Church
Landes Archiv Stuttgart (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Württemberg)