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Flooded… Catastrophic influences on genealogy

28. February 2017, Heike Leiacker - Archives, Societies, Museums, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Events, Historical Documents, General

Flood in Hamburg, 17.02.1962; picture by Oxfordian Kissuth (own work). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHamburg_-_Flutkatastrophe_1962.jpg

In the night of 16 to 17 February 1962 the hurricane Vinicinette caused a storm flood at the North Sea coast of Germany. Hamburg was affected especially hard, the early warning systems failed and the danger wasn’t taken seriously. The residents of Hamburg were surprised by the water in their sleep. 315 people died in the city alone (of 340 people in total).

Documents that might have helped genealogists today were destroyed as well. The public record office itself was left unharmed, but the records of some administrative bodies were affected. It’s hard to estimate, how many records of private companies were lost as well. If one of your ancestors worked in any of those affected companies prior to 1962, it might be hard to find information today.

Flooded… Catastrophic influences on genealogy

The meaning of calendars in genealogical research in Germany – part three

25. January 2017, Andrea Bentschneider - Genealogy, General, Knowledge, Historical Documents

How could genealogical research be conducted without time and dates? After we have already  explained the different calendrical systems in former blog entries, in this article we would like to present the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar, the latter is valid today in Western countries.

The meaning of calendars in genealogical research in Germany – part three

The unexpected hiding places of sources in genealogical research

19. January 2017, Andrea Bentschneider - Historical Documents, Personalities, General

Who would think that a painting from a church would reveal a complete family history?

In 2009, we researched the German ancestors of the popular Australian cook Maggie Beer for an episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" in Budenheim near Mainz. The focus lay on the Ackermann and Krohmann family lines.

In the course of the investigation we came across a painting which had hung in the former Catholic church St. Pankratius in Budenheim. During reconstruction works a few years before, two portraits had been discovered: a woman and a child depicted as an angel hovering above a family father with 5 children. After they had been painted over for many years these pictures were revealed and renovated upon discovery.

The unexpected hiding places of sources in genealogical research

The meaning of calendars in genealogical research in Germany – part two

29. December 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - Genealogy, General, Knowledge, Historical Documents

http://www.lzkv.de/frk/bilder/frk1-14.pdf

After presenting the church calendar and – with it – the influence of religion on the time calculation in our last blog, we would like to inform a little bit more about the different calendar systems.

For evaluating sources in genealogical research, it is important to know not only the specific temporal period but also in which region or under which political rule these sources were made. By these factors the calendar systems were influenced as well.

The meaning of calendars in genealogical research in Germany – part two

The meaning of calendars in genealogical research in Germany

15. December 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Genealogy, Historical Documents, Knowledge

Source: state archive Hamburg, 514-6 No. 9 marriage register of St. Nikolai, Finkenwerder 1794-1848, 1822.

Dates are basic for doing genealogical research. By knowing specific dates we as genealogists are able to look for searched persons and to create complete ancestral charts. While doing genealogical research, the different calendrical systems need to be considered.

 

Different calendrical systems

In history there were always calendars, already in older civilizations systems were elaborated to classify time and the unit of a ”year” systematically. Hence different calendrical systems were established: The Romans brought in the Julian Calendar, in France the French Republican Calender was established in 1792. Moreover, every religion has its own computation of time which is guided by the holidays among others.

The meaning of calendars in genealogical research in Germany

Hagenbeck - a long-term institution in Hamburg - Part 1

06. July 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Hamburg, Historical Documents, Historical Events

Source: State archive Hamburg, collection: 373-7 I, VIII (Auswanderungsamt I). VIII A 1 Band 227, Mikrofilmnummer: K_1815, page 2269; also searchable on Ancestry.com.

There is a song well-known in Hamburg called "Geh'n wir mal zu Hagenbeck...." ["Let's go to Hagenbeck..."] and when somebody sings it everyone knows it's about a visit to the zoo. It must be remarked though that Hagenbeck is an animal park strictly speaking: the enclosures are embedded in a park with artificial lakes and mountains and also the concept of laying more emphasis on species-appropriate husbandry in outdoor enclosures was developed by Carl Hagenbeck in 1896; later he even had the patent for it.

Over the decades, what had started as a small animal shop with 6 seals in 1848 escalated into an animal park which was opened at today's location in Hamburg-Stellingen in 1907. "Hagenbecks Tierpark" became the animal park Hagenbeck over time showing several attractions like the "polar sea" and the tropical aquarium.

Apart from the animals, Hagenbeck was also famous for something else: the ethnological exhibitions. At a time when not everybody could read and owned books at home, when there were no cinemas and TV sets, these exhibitions were considered an appropriate measure to let the people of Hamburg " gaze" at other cultures which were considered to be savage and uncivilized; thus, Inuit, Saami, or indigenous peoples of Africa and America became a kind of special exhibitions in addition to the animals.

Hagenbeck - a long-term institution in Hamburg - Part 1

Passports in the past and the present

22. February 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge

picture source: http://data.dm2e.eu/data/place/sbb/kpe_DE-1a_995/Berlin

In today’s German passport (the word originates from the Latin “passus”, passage) eight attributes and a photograph can be found.

In previous times – without the photograph – the descriptions and attributes had to be lengthier and more accurate. In the beginning of the 18th century there were 20 individual points of reference to be named. Name, age, nationality and height of the person as well as an exact description on the nature of different bodily parts. Color and completeness of teeth were registered as well as strength of beard hair or lip shape. Especially identifying features like “limping” or “hunchbacked” and even habits and character traits were dutifully noted. Because this level of detail was practiced over several generations sometimes you can learn quite a lot of interesting particulars about famous people. For example it is known that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had brown eyes and hadn´t turned fully gray by the age of 57.

Passports in the past and the present