04. April 2020, Emigration, Family, Genealogy, Germany, General, Historical Documents, Historical Events, Knowledge
Advertisement for the emigration to America, source: United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D.C., LC-DIG-pga-13282, Auswanderung nach Amerika. Amerika und seine Freuden. Public domain, via Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003691148/).
Those who engage in genealogical research will probably sooner or later discover that family members packed up and emigrated. Emigrants left Germany for overseas mostly from the cities Hamburg or Bremen. North and South America and Australia were common destinations. However, it was not unusual either to travel eastwards, all across the continent to reach Bessarabia (Southern Russia) for example.
Emigration from Germany
09. November 2019, Anniversary, Archives, Societies, Museums, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Historical Events, History, Knowledge
After the new travel regulations have been announced, thousands of GDR citizens cross the border at Invalidenstrasse in Berlin on 10 November 1989, Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1110-041 / Hirschberger, Ralph / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1989-1110-041,_Berlin,_Grenz%C3%BCbergang_Invalidenstra%C3%9Fe.jpg).
09 November is a special day in German history. In the year 1989 this finally meant something positive. On this day, the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) announced a new and long-desired travel regulation. People now could directly leave the GDR in the direction of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). This caused the fall of the Berlin Wall and finally led to the German reunification.
For genealogy, the division of Germany plays quite some role, too. The foundation of two separate states and especially the construction of the Berlin Wall and the closing of the inner-German border tore families apart and led to very different living environments in East and West Germany. Until today this affects the German society. On the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall we are having a look at the historic events and also discuss sources that can be useful for researching ancestors and relatives in the former GDR.
30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - Sources on the East German past
13. September 2019, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge
First page of the 1987 census questionnaire, Ramessos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Volkszaehlung.JPG).
The first census of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was conducted on 13 September 1950. However, this was not the first census on German territory. As early as during the 18th century, kingdoms and principalities occasionally took censuses of their population. From 1816 onwards, censuses became a periodical habit throughout today’s German territory. Until now, this data is an interesting source for genealogists, although civil and church registers are better accessible and preserved.
A short story of German census
20. February 2019, Archives, Societies, Museums, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Documents
The State Archive Hamburg
Archives and especially the preserved documents stored there are indispensable for genealogy. Hardly any research would be possible without them. However, they are not only relevant for family research, but function as information stores as well as places of commemorative culture.
Due to a lack of space and financial reasons, it is impossible to preserve everything. Every archive therefore has to appraise the offered collections and to make choices. Everything that is disposed leads to a loss of information. The question is how serious the loss is. Therefore, it is important to determine the archival value. In order to do so, among other things the source value and the epistemological value play a role. One problem is that appraisal might vary - due to different times and different persons/groups of persons - as perspectives and research interests are changing.
To dare more archiving
11. November 2018, Anniversary, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Historical Events, Internet, Knowledge, WW I
Soldier in World War I on the western front, Source: Bundesarchiv (Federal Archive), picture 183-R05148, unknown photographer, CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-R05148,_Westfront,_deutscher_Soldat.jpg)
Today 100 years ago, World War I ended. The armistice of 11 November 1918 ended the fighting. However, formally World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles. Signed on 28 June 1919, it became effective on 10 January 1920. On this occasion, we compiled some sources for researching German soldiers of World War I.
The End of World War I – Sources regarding German soldiers
24. October 2018, Genealogy, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Documents, Literature
„Hamburg. Ansichten von der Freien und Hansestadt“ from 1923 and „Bauer’s Neues Kochbuch“ from 1935.
Since 24 October 1995 Library Day is celebrated in Germany. It is supposed to bring attention to the countless libraries in Germany and all they have to offer. Many libraries organize special events for this day. For us as genealogists, books are important sources. This is why we would like to highlight this day by going on a little treasure hunt within our private company library.
German Library Day
02. March 2018, Archives, Societies, Museums, General, Germany, Historical Documents
Poster of the German Archive Day 2018 under the motto „Democracy and Civil Rights“, VdA (www.tagderarchive.de).
Since 2001, thanks to the initiative of the Verband deutscher Archivarinnen und Archivare e.V. (VdA, Organization of German Archivists), German Archive Day takes place every two years. It is to display the multifaceted purpose of the archives to the public and appears since 2006 under different mottos. This year Archive Day takes place on 03 and 04 Mar carrying the motto "Democracy and Civil Rights".
German Archive Day 2018
16. December 2017, Anniversary, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Documents, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, WWII
The predecessor of today’s “Stolpersteine” was installed in front of the historic town hall in Cologne on 16 December 1992. It displays the beginning of the implementation rules for the order to deport Sinti and Roma by Heinrich Himmler. Picture by Horsch, Willy (own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:K%C3%B6ln-Stolpersteiin-Rathaus-024.jpg).
It is probably one of the best known commemorative projects. By now more than 60,000 “Stolpersteine” of the artist Gunter Demnig can be found in more than 1,000 places and cities – not only in Germany but in more than 20 countries throughout Europe. The victims are commemorated in front of their last address of choice. Individual fates become visible within the cityscape. It becomes clear that deportations happened right there in the neighborhood. They are a reminder on the persecution and annihilation not only of Jews but of all victim groups of National Socialism. “Stolpersteine” are for example installed for Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, people who were persecuted on political and religious grounds as well as victims of euthanasia.
Stolpersteine to remember the victims of National Socialism
31. August 2017, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Knowledge
“Duden” from 1891 (3rd edition), picture by Merker Berlin (own book, own scan) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DUDEN_1891_0302_PAF1.jpg)
Probably every genealogist knows the problem: In old documents, the spelling of words often varies. That doesn’t make it easier to read old handwritings. For genealogy it is especially difficult, if personal data is affected, in particular names.
Today the spelling often appears to be arbitrary. The reason is, that in Germany for a very long time there were no orthographic rules. Regarding personal data an aggravating factor is that many people weren’t able to write themselves. Therefore they couldn’t verify the information for example in church books. If I think about how often my name is misspelled and in how many different ways even today (and even when I spell it), it is no wonder that there were various notations.
What does it say? Spelling in Germany
15. July 2017, 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
17. June 2017, 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!
08. June 2017, General, Historical Documents, Tips and Tricks
Reading room of Evangelisches Zentralarchiv in Berlin (Evangelical Central Archives in Berlin), photograph by Clemens Schulz (Own Work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABenutzersaal_des_Evangelischen_Zentralarchivs_in_Berlin.jpg)
Today we like to start our new series on sources of ancestry and family research. For what would we genealogists be without our sources? We start with an overview and will address the various mentioned sources at irregular intervals and provide further information. What relevance they have, were you can find them, what is to be considered…
Top 10: Sources for genealogy
12. May 2017, Archives, Societies, Museums, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Tips and Tricks
Archive file register, photo by moi (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArchives_entreprises.jpg)
Genealogy isn’t always simple. Sometimes legislative restrictions that are in themselves very reasonable can complicate our work. Today we would like to give a short overview of different periods applying to archive material in Germany. This is further complicated by German federalism. Many regulations only apply to one particular federal state.
Periods applying to archive material
28. February 2017, 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
25. January 2017, 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
19. January 2017, 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
29. December 2016, Genealogy, General, Knowledge, Historical Documents
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
15. December 2016, 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
06. July 2016, 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
22. February 2016, 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