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When will you marry? Age of marriage in Germany

13. August 2017, Heike Leiacker - Family, General, Genealogy, Germany, Hamburg, Knowledge

Picture by Andreas Bohnenstengel [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hochzeit_08.jpg)

Many people probably know the question, when they will (finally) marry, all too well. At least it isn’t much of a problem in the western world to live together and have children without being married. In the past it would have been a scandal. But at what age did people marry? And is it true that it happened much earlier than today?

These questions are relevant for genealogy as well. To find ancestors or specific marriage or birth dates it may well be relevant to have an idea how big generations spans may have been or which age of marriage might be probable.

When will you marry? Age of marriage in Germany

Hamburg’s sister city Chicago

31. July 2017, Heike Leiacker - Emigration, General, German-American, Hamburg, History, Knowledge

Chicago Skyline at sunrise (2009), Photo by Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chicago_sunrise_1.jpg)

Since July 1994, to be precise since 20 July 1994, Chicago is Hamburg’s twin city. After the first initiative was made in 1957, the idea was readopted in the 1990s.

There are good reasons for being sister cities. Both are characterized by their waterside location (at Lake Michigan and the Elbe), despite at the same time being located at the inland. They are both economical as well as cultural centers and there are furthermore historical parallels and connections. Just to mention it briefly, both cities were affected by great fires (Hamburg in 1842, Chicago in 1871) that changed their appearances permanently. But most of all, both cities played an important role in the migration from Germany to America in the 19th century: Hamburg as an emigration harbor, Chicago as a place of refuge for immigrants.

Hamburg’s sister city Chicago

Why a German became the first King of the Belgians

21. July 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, Historical Events, History, Holiday, Knowledge, Personalities

Leopold I of Belgium, Picture by unknown (Zeno.org, ID-Number 20001849204) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AL%C3%A9opold_I.jpg)

Since 1890, 21 July is the Belgian National Day. This goes back to 1831 when the first King of the Belgians, Leopold I, took the oath on the constitution of the newly independent nation. He came from a German dynasty.

Why a German became the first King of the Belgians

Sources for genealogy: Birth-, marriage and death certificates

15. July 2017, Heike Leiacker - Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge, Tips and Tricks

First page of a marriage certificate by a civil registry office from 1880, picture by Mediatus (Own work (Familienarchiv)) [CC0, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Standesamtliche_Heiratsurkunde_Wilhelm_Carl_Friedrich_Gräber_-_Sophia_Caroline_Wilhelmine_Jörß,_1880,_Teil_I.png)

Some time ago we published a top-10-list of sources for genealogy in Germany on this Blog. Today, we would like to start keeping our promise by providing more information on the particular sources. Let’s get started with the civil registries.

Sources for genealogy: Birth-, marriage and death certificates

Street names: What do you do, if you don’t know how to name something?

09. July 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, Germany, Knowledge

Street sign of Namenlose Straße (Nameless Street) in Glückstadt, Germany.

You can find streets or parts of streets that never had any official name – for whatever reason. But that there actually is a street that is called “Namenlose Straße” (Nameless Street)? Yes you can find that as well! Namely in Glückstadt, Germany.

Street names: What do you do, if you don’t know how to name something?

The history of German family names – Part 2

30. June 2017, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Germany, Knowledge, Onomastics

Figure „Der Schmidt“ (the smith) from a book of classes by Jost Amman and Hans Sachs from 1568 (Amman, Jost; Sachs, Hans: Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, hoher und nidriger, geistlicher und weltlicher, aller Künsten, Handwercken und Händeln..., Frankfurt am Main 1568, p. 77) [Public Domain], via Wikipedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schmidt-1568.png).

Some time ago we released The history of German family names – Part 1 here on our blog. We didn’t forget that we promised a sequel. Today it’s finally here. This time we will talk about professions and nicknames as family names.

The history of German family names – Part 2

No marriage without vaccination!

17. June 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, Genealogy, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge

Detail from the register of marriages of the parish Münsterdorf, available at the Kirchenkreisarchiv (church district archive) in Wrist, Germany (https://www.kk-rm.de/unser-kirchenkreis/kirchenkreis-archiv.html)

What has a „Vaccinationsschein“ (vaccination certificate) to do with a wedding (and what is it)? Or is there something else written in the church book?

Is there any genealogist who doesn’t know the situation? Finally, you have found a document regarding a sought-after person, but you are not able to read everything. Even after deciphering the words, or after you think you might have deciphered them, you are not sure what to do with the information. Often, background information is necessary to understand what this is all about.

No marriage without vaccination!

Children’s Day = Children’s Day? Celebrations in East and West Germany

01. June 2017, Heike Leiacker - Family, General, Germany, Holiday, Knowledge, Traditions

Campaign to collect waste material in order to buy an animal that was to be given to Berlin zoo on International Children’s Day in 1959. Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-59459-0002 / Ulmer, Rudi / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-59459-0002,_Aus_Altstoffen_ein_Tier_f%C3%BCr_den_Tierpark.jpg)

Even if there are no two states any more, there are still differences between East and West Germany. There are structural inequalities, but there are different traditions as well, for example in celebrating. For instance, on 1 June is Children’s Day. One of the Children’s Days, to be more accurate. In fact there are two Children’s Days that are celebrated in Germany. International Children’s Day on 1 June and Universal Children’s Day on 20 September. The first of them is of greater importance in the eastern parts of the Country.

Children’s Day = Children’s Day? Celebrations in East and West Germany

John D. Rockefeller – a man with many facets

23. May 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, German-American, Germany, Knowledge, Personalities, Emigration

John D. Rockefeller, around 1875; picture [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John-D-Rockefeller-sen.jpg)

On 23 May 1937, John Davison Rockefeller Sr. died in Ormond Beach (Florida) at the age of 97. The businessman with German roots was the first billionaire of the world (in US-Dollars). If you consider not only inflation, but also his share of America’s economic strength, he was, according to Forbes, even the richest man in history. Until today, he is remembered for his ruthless business practices as well as his philanthropy.

John D. Rockefeller – a man with many facets

Germans and their beer – Part 3

02. May 2017, Heike Leiacker - Emigration, General, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities

American and Czech Budweiser, Photo: Dorisall at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABud_and_Budvar.jpg)

Without question Anheuser-Busch is one of the best known breweries worldwide. Today the American company is part of the international corporation Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABInBev), just like the German beer brands Beck’s, Franziskaner, Hasseröder, Diebels or Löwenbräu. The brewery originated in the 1850s in St. Louis (Missouri). It was acquired by Eberhard Anheuser and a partner in 1860. Anheuser died 20 years later, on 2 May 1880 in St. Louis.

Germans and their beer – Part 3

Germans and their beer – Part 2

28. April 2017, Heike Leiacker - Emigration, General, German-American, History, Knowledge, Personalities, Professions

Frederick Pabst, Picture by S.L. Stein (The Pabst Mansion) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frederick_Pabst_by_SL_Stein.jpg)

No more than Germans invented beer they were the first to brew it in the USA. Breweries are documented from the 17th century at the latest. Until the middle of the 19th century they mostly produced British-style ale. This changed with enhanced immigration from Germany and the associated higher demand for lighter lager. This was met by German brewers from about mid-century. Until the end of the 19th century lager had become the predominant beer in the USA. And especially German-American brewers like Busch, Pabst or Schlitz had made themselves known.

Germans and their beer – Part 2

Germans and their beer – Part 1

23. April 2017, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, Emigration, General, Germany, Hamburg, Knowledge

Various beer types. By Personal Creations (www.personalcreations.com) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABeer_in_glasses_and_steins.jpg)

The favorite beverage of the Germans? Beer! At least that’s the cliché. There of course is reason to that. One is certainly the “Reinheitsgebot” (German beer purity law) that supports the good reputation of German beer. It was passed on 23 April 1516, therefore every year at that day, German Beer Day is celebrated. The beer purity law is the oldest food law in the world. It states that German beer can only be made of water, hops and barley. The role of yeast that influences fermentation wasn’t understood at the time. Today adding yeast allows a constant quality of the beer. Prior to the German beer purity law, many things were mixed into the beer to for example add a special flavor, heighten the intoxicating effect or to make beer drinkable again that had turned sour. The first verifiable predecessors to this law can be found in 1156 in Augsburg.

Germans and their beer – Part 1

Spatenrecht

06. April 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, Germany, Knowledge

Dike at Beltringharder Koog in North Frisia, Germany, Foto by Goegeo (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lahnungsfelder_vorm_Beltringharder_Koog.JPG)

Dikes are characteristic for the German North Sea coast. They were used not only for flood protection but for land reclamation as well. According to this the Statement „Deus mare, Frisio litora fecit“ (God created the sea, the Frisian created the coast) can be understood. Flood protection is very important untill today. In February we referred to the storm flood in 1962. But who is and was responsible for the preservation of the dikes?

Spatenrecht

We can’t afford more!? – When you have to pay for official church acts

31. March 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, Germany, Knowledge

Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Dülmen, Kirchspiel, St.-Jakobus-Kirche -- 2015 -- 5586” (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42826497) / CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode)

Even today a wedding or a funeral may be expensive. Especially if you want to marry, there are many things that can affect the costs: the number of guests, the dress, if you get a DJ or a band… And there are many older people that save money for their own funeral to unburden their descendants. Usually those financial burdens aren’t caused by fees charged by the churches though. This was different in the past.

We can’t afford more!? – When you have to pay for official church acts

Street names: Circle the square and start a new life!

11. March 2017, Heike Leiacker - General, Germany, History, Knowledge

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/MannheimQuadrat-D4-1-6.jpg

As genealogists we often come across addresses. We have written about the topic in this blog before and will do so again. Addresses people had years or centuries ago have often changed names over time. Sometimes it’s important to find out, how streets are called today. Mannheim, Germany, is a good example for even current street names that pose us riddles.

Street names: Circle the square and start a new life!

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 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

History set in stone

22. November 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Germany, Hamburg, History, Knowledge

In the urban region of Hamburg there are for example several granite steles that are unimposing at first glance. But these steles are evidence of the history of Hamburg and Holstein. One of the granit steles is located in the Tarpenbekstraße in the Hamburg district Eppendorf. On it several letters and numbers are written, they might appear cryptic at the moment.

Before riddling the stone’s and its inscription’s meaning, let’s talk about the history of Hamburg and Holstein.

History set in stone

Changing times

22. October 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Hamburg, Historical Events, Knowledge

It's happening again: this weekend in the night to 30thOctober the clocks will be switched to standard time. Since 1996, the EU has uniform regulations for the summer time; hence daylight saving time starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October. With the beginning of standard time in fall, the clocks are set back by one hour.

Changing times

The Low-German Dollar

13. June 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, German-American, Knowledge

Not only 50 Million Americans have German ancestors – the Dollar has German roots as well!

This is due to the fact that mining in Germany made a lot of progress in the 15th century and that through the “discovery” of the new world more and more silver made its way to Europe. When gold became rare and more expensive, silver was the choice for coinage. Gold had a higher worth than silver though and as the silver gulden was to be of the same value as the golden one, it had to be nine times as heavy as the gold gulden. A silver gulden weighed 30 grams and was called “Guldiner”, a word close to “Gulden”.

The Low-German Dollar

70 Years Concentration Camp Neuengamme Main Trial / Curiohaus Trial 1946

18. April 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, Historical Events, Knowledge, WWII

It is the anniversary of one of the lesser-known war crime trials after the end of World War II, which were first initiated by the Allied Forces (such as the Nuremberg Trials 1945-49) and later also brought before German courts (Auschwitz Trials in the 1960s and -70s): The “Neuengamme Main Trial”.

70 Years Concentration Camp Neuengamme Main Trial / Curiohaus Trial 1946

“Anyone looking for a beautiful woman, good and intelligent, ...“

08. March 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

„ [...] do not try one but three.” (Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900)

Although there is a lot yet to be done in the area of gender equality, a lot has changed in the last one hundred years: While today a woman, Angela Merkel, is the head of Germany’s government, women did not even have the right to participate in political elections until far into the 20th century. Much less did they pursue a career: When, in our genealogical research, we work with documents from the 19th century or earlier we very rarely encounter women who carried on a profession. Responsibilities were clearly divided back then.

“Anyone looking for a beautiful woman, good and intelligent, ...“

Leap Year

28. February 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, General, Historical Events, Knowledge

What we experience as one year is exactly the amount of time it takes the earth to circle the sun. In fact, this does not take exactly 365 days but 365 days and 6 hours. For our calendar year to nevertheless remain synchronized with the so-called tropical (or solar) year, the leap year exists: every couple of years February 29 is added to the calendar year; a leap year therefore consists of 366 days. Such as 2016 has been.

Leap Year

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

International Mother Language Day

17. February 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, General, Historical Events, Knowledge, Traditions

According to the German dictionary, the term "first language", or "mother tongue" describes "a language that a child learns (from its parents) [and that it uses primarily]". Hence language is a cultural good that is part of us from an early age on and that makes us part of a family or community.

But all languages are not created equal: while doing genealogical research you discover that language and scripture change over time, new meanings develop for certain terms or they disappear from the language usage completely. While doing genealogical research, we often come across terms which are dated: In case our ancestors got married in the 19th century, they arranged a “copulation” [marriage]. At a christening feast there were „Gevatter“ [godparents] standing at your side.

International Mother Language Day

Sending children with parcel service

09. February 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Historical Events, Knowledge

Source: Smithsonian Institution Collection: National Postal Museum, Curatorial Photographic Collection. Photographer: unknown. Image number: A.2006-22.

Yes, sending children with parcel service was actually a possibility in the land of opportunity, the USA! And it is another example for how genealogy can lead you towards bizarre and unbelievable stories from the past. 

In 1913 and 1914 it was apparently possible - or not explicitly forbidden - to send human beings via parcel service. This was right after the postal service in the US started its parcel service on January 1st 1913. The service was received well. Within the first six months 300 million parcels have been sent. 

Sending children with parcel service

A little peace: Anniversary of contracting the Treaty of Versailles

21. January 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, General, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge

The year 1919 represents one of the most important caesuras in our history: After the First World War had claimed millions of lives it was officially brought to an end by signing the Treaty of Versailles. In 2016 the days in which that historical contract was closed have their 97th anniversary.

A little peace: Anniversary of contracting the Treaty of Versailles

Series: Street names and their stories

12. January 2016, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Hamburg, Knowledge, Personalities, Professions

First part

The Troplowitz street in Hamburg

Big company – tragic story!

Whether the cream “Nivea”, the adhesive film “Tesa” or a care lipstick called “Labello” – everyone knows the products, also the producer is known all over the world: the Beiersdorf AG. The persons behind those brands are known much less.

In 1880, Paul Carl Beiersdorf born in Neuruppin in 1836 settles down as a pharmacist in Hamburg and fiddles with the dermatologist Paul Gerson Unna (1850-1929) about an adhesive bandage for wounds – the patch as we know it nowadays is invented!

Series: Street names and their stories

Death penalty in Hesse

01. December 2015, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Germany, Knowledge

If you are about to commit a capital crime in Wiesbaden, Frankfurt or Kassel: Think again! Of course, we do not suspect you of criminal energy but it would be important to know that in Wiesbaden and the whole state of Hesse the death penalty is still in effect. At least since the state constitution was adopted on the 1st December 1946. Article 21(1) states that for extreme offences the death penalty can be given. Hesse is therefore not only the first state that passed its constitution, but the last that has not come around to delete the passage in question. So much for the last shall be the first.

Death penalty in Hesse

Daylight Savings and Time Zones

03. November 2015, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Historical Events, Knowledge

When Daylight Savings make you reconsider time, questions arise. How did today’s time zones get defined?
The sun takes 24 hours to circle around the 360 degrees of the circumference of the earth, that is 15 degrees an hour, one degree of longitude in four minutes. Each line of longitude therefore has its own timezone that bases on the position of the sun. And this is exactly how it worked until less than 140 years ago: The result was that every location had their own time, and the time difference between Cologne and Berlin for example was 26 minutes. Today, this seems unthinkable!

Daylight Savings and Time Zones

Our Ancestors’ Hunger

16. October 2015, Andrea Bentschneider - Genealogy, General, Knowledge, Recipes, WWII

Today, on World Food Day, the media focus especially on the food situation in areas of crisis all over the world, informing the public and appeal for donations. Here in genealogy research, our thoughts immediately go to our ancestors that, especially in Germany, these problems were a big issue not very long ago. It has been only one or two generations since World War II led to a catastrophe for the German civil population and the food shortage took a lot of imagination and cunning to be able to feed a family. Our parents or grandparents tell us so many stories about the creativity that was needed to get something to eat and of the trauma the hunger caused.

Our Ancestors’ Hunger

Cemetery 2.0

21. September 2015, Andrea Bentschneider - Family, Genealogy, General, Knowledge

For genealogists, cemeteries can play an important role when searching for some ancestor’s life dates. A photograph of a grave stone may even render a complicated research in an archive unnecessary! Some graves also tell stories about the family of the deceased, his or her occupation or other unique features that are able to bring us closer to the lives of our ancestors.

Cemetery 2.0

„We are hungry!“ – 3200 years of strike

23. June 2015, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, General, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

The trains were late, kindergartens were closed and now mail services are slow: The year 2015 seems to be the year of strikes in Germany. While strikes always are a pain for everyone relying on public transport, childcare and the like, they seem to be crucial when it comes to negotiations over fair working conditions.

„We are hungry!“ – 3200 years of strike