Some historic regions in northwest Germany have a custom of surname changes. If you research in the historical regions of Hanover, Westphalia, Oldenburg, or Lippe it will be helpful to be aware of this custom. Farms of a certain status carried a surname and people who managed those farms used that surname. The right to… Continue reading German Surname Changes
The third session of my Newberry class “Discover Your German Ancestors’ Origins,” focused on finding German church records. Why are church records so important, you might ask? Church records are the main category of records that document our German ancestors’ vital events. Depending in the specific town, these records may date to the 1500s. Civil… Continue reading Finding German Church Records
In the second session of my Newberry class “Discover Your German Ancestors’ Origins,” I talked about historical gazetteers for finding the jurisdictions that define the ancestral home town. What is a gazetteer? It’s “a geographical dictionary” according to Merriam-Webster. As genealogists, we use gazetteers to determine the jurisdictions to which a town belonged historically. Why… Continue reading Gazetteers for German Research
This weekend, I began teaching a four-session course at the Newberry in Chicago. The title of the course is “Discover Your German Ancestors’ Origins.” This first week, I focused on best practices for finding an immigrant ancestor’s town of birth. Without this piece of information, the ancestral line cannot be extended further back in time.… Continue reading Where Did They Come From?
This past week I presented a hands-on workshop for using Ancestry and FamilySearch, two of the genealogy mega sites. I didn’t want to dive right into best search practices for these websites without giving the students a foundation based on planning. People newer to genealogy tend to see search fields on these websites and immediately… Continue reading Polar Bear Principle