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.

The Long Silence

To all, I apologize for the long silence.  It has been too difficult to keep up with everything else and also keep active with a blog.  But there are some new developments at the IGS Library that should be noted.

Those who come in might ask volunteer (and nominee to our Board) Janine Pizano about a project she and I are working on, and which was her idea, namely to build a database on our family histories and genealogies that goes beyond the catalog entry to specifically note information (such as major allied family names, time focus, major places of residence, etc.) that could assist researchers to learn about possible book resources they wouldn’t otherwise consult.  Databases, once constructed, are easily searchable.  And we want to see our books get more use and our researchers find more success.

A project of mine that now has received our Board’s approval, but which isn’t producing tangible results just yet, is to cull old research files and extract usable material (such as detailed request letters from lookup requestors, pedigree charts, document photocopies, etc.) to be filed according to major family in our surname files vertical file cabinets.  I found that — for the first 1,000 requests, dated from the late ‘80s — only 6% of requests had worthwhile material that should be saved to help others.  For the rest, we still have the volumes that were consulted to provide answers to the requests, so there’s really no need (this many years later) to save what we sent the requestors, as the search could be repeated easily if needed again.

Both of these projects are aimed at making what we have more available and useful to researchers.  Janine’s database project is partway into the letter “B,” and has covered exactly one shelf of books to date.  My filing project won’t immediately do anything beyond add to our IGS surname files, and there’s a lot of reorganizing of those files that also has to be done before they’ll be truly user-friendly.  And, at the moment, the papers selected for preservation have yet to be actually filed where they belong, so the project is only at the start.

But do come visit the Library.  New things are happening!

Astrid Adler’s 5/13 talk at the Library

Thank you to all who came to hear her this afternoon, and welcome to those who plan to come on Tuesday evening to hear this engaging presentation.  Remember, May 16th at 1310 W. Magnolia Blvd. with informal reception at 6 pm and the talk beginning at 7 pm.  However, please plan on coming a bit earlier than you had planned, as we’ve received notice of filming that evening in the next block to our west — and parking could be at a premium.  [We have three lanes, for three cars each, behind our building off the alley.]

Now, here are photos from today’s talk….




















When you come to hear her Tuesday, be sure to sign in at the front desk.  Astrid will be selling copies of her books — which she will inscribe for buyers if they wish — so come prepared.  She has done a great job telling the story of emigration to America from her home region, and these two books will make great gifts to family members who may wonder why genealogy fascinates you so!!  The first explains what the journey was like, and why people chose to make it.  The second tells the specific stories of eight families from her home town, including how they managed to adjust to their new country.

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.

Give-aways at the Library

It’s Spring Cleaning time at the IGS Library, and there are some free items for those of you who can come in.  Of particular note are: some old world atlases that are not as useful as the ones we’re keeping, and some Ohio Gen. Soc. (OGS) Reporters from years ago that are duplicate issues.  But there are other items as well that could be of help to you.  The free items mentioned are in boxes on the tables closest to our rear door (to the parking behind the library).

Other free items are now on a cart that we’re placing outside our front door, for passersby to peruse.  These are things like folded maps, old genealogical directories and guides, and various U.S. items that might catch the eye.  We hope these items might cause people to stop in and chat with us.  But we have a lot of items we simply don’t need.  And we need to clear space, and so….

Still other items often duplicate our holdings, but are of greater value.  Many of these were Betty Sharp’s home office reference copies, often of items we’ve had on the shelves for years.  Betty’s daughter Jackie donated the home library to us about a year ago, and included were many other books and periodicals we did NOT have on our shelves, but quite a few that we did.

These latter items are in a separate grouping behind the computer we have for patron use, as one enters from the front door.  For these we’re requesting a donation; suggested amounts are listed on stickers, but we’re mostly interested in finding these duplicates “good homes” where they’ll be used (so, just ask, if the “price” isn’t right).  Proceeds will help us with new book purchases, such as Roger Minert’s continuing “German immigrants in American church records” series.

News you can use….

The International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) is now online, and while it is still new and undergoing modifications you’ll want to bookmark it and refer to it often.

When you’re at the IGGP homepage, don’t overlook the information available in the sidebar with reference to our 2017 Conference.  Brochures are available for download here, or you may pick up a paper copy at the IGS Library in Burbank.

Lastly, the IGGP has a booth in the Exhibit Hall for RootsTech in Salt Lake City this week.  The purpose is to promote the Partnership — now at 32 organizational members & growing — and to make attendees aware of the upcoming conference.  Societies that will staff this booth for the three days (Thursday through Saturday) are the DAGV, the Germanic Genealogy Society (of Minnesota), the Sacramento German Genealogy Society, the Ostfriesen Genealogical Society of America, and your Immigrant Genealogical Society.

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!!

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….

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….

New (Co-) Editor for “Die Pommerschen Leute”

The “DPL” is the quarterly of the Pommern/Pomerania Special Interest Group of our Society.  It was once a separate organization, founded by Myron E. Gruenwald (1930-1998) in Wisconsin in 1982, beginning with the publication of his newsletter to promote an appreciation of Pomeranian heritage.  Gradually Mr. Gruenwald also published a series of nine booklets relating to the history and culture of the Pomeranians, both in Germany and in America.  With Myron’s death, publication of the quarterly moved to California.

Now we are welcoming a new (co-)editor, Chris DeWuske of Minnesota.  An elementary school art teacher, he may be expected to present us with new ways of “seeing” our ancestors.  His resources include a firm grounding in the German language, having once attended the Freie Universität in Berlin, plus also a curiosity about his “roots” which parallels that of the editor he will gradually replace, David Marks.

His first issue is Volume 39, Issue 4 (Winter 2016), which will be mailed soon.  On page two, under “Editor’s Notes,” is the following:  “His help will enable us to continue to publish what we hope are interesting and pertinent articles, not only in researching your Pomeranian ancestry, but in understanding the history and culture so that you might better understand how your family lived.”  Readers will find that this issue continues the strong traditions and standards of past years.  Welcome, Chris!!

My Wife’s 7th Cousin

Every so often I read something in a genealogical periodical that catches my interest in a personal way.  And so it was over seven years ago, when I was browsing the newly-received journals at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, MO.  An article in the Germanic Genealogy Journal produced by the Germanic Genealogy Society (of Minnesota) made reference to a village from which my wife’s 19th c. immigrant Schwingel family had emigrated.  The issue in question was volume 11 number 4 (Winter 2008), and the article was “Chasing Family Myth Through Canada to Germany,” by Dick Kline.

The article was a research case study describing how the author had successfully located a place of origin in the German state of Saarland, and the place in question was one of three villages in the parish that had served my wife’s ancestors.  This author knew of the town family book that had been published for his Klein immigrant’s ancestral village, but did he also know that one of the remaining villages had also produced such a resource book?  I had to contact him in case he wasn’t aware of this, and so I wrote to the journal’s editor to get the man’s address.

It was a good move on my part, because in the ensuing correspondence between us he was able to assist me in my own research in an important way.  I’d begun researching this particular family in the days before we had personal computers and online databases, and I’d made the mistake of not revisiting my earlier research as new source material became available.  In this instance, I had failed to search the now-digitized images of passenger records that were available by 2009, in order to document the date of arrival of my wife’s ancestral family.

As we exchanged information, he had a hunch that he’d seen my wife’s immigrant family named on a companion ship that had sailed with the one carrying his own Klein-Schneider immigrant family.  He was right!  And was I ever grateful that I’d taken the time to reach out to this man.

Dick Kline continues to publish articles through the Germanic Genealogy Journal.  The latest one appears in the volume 19 number 1 (Spring 2016) issue, and is titled “Spinning Genealogy Into Family Stories.”  In it he describes how he’s produced two brief booklets about his father’s family, and how the rewards of that effort have paid off so handsomely for him through the responses of relatives to his stories of the earlier generations.

In between the 2008 and 2016 issues, he’s also written articles for the Summer 2009, Fall 2011 and Summer 2012 issues of the same journal.  The library of the Immigrant Genealogy Society has these back issues, and both members and visitors are welcome to come in and read the continuing saga of discovery of my wife’s 7th cousin.  It’s always a treat to have established such a personal — if distant! — connection to a genealogical researcher and author.  But many of you would also enjoy reading what Dick has to say, even if you’re not “kin.”