Last week’s OGS Conference in Cincinnati was in my opinion one of their very best. There was a good variety of topics and lectures presented by excellent speakers. I came home armed with new ideas and information, re-energized and ready to try out some new research plans and techniques. I started a Things-To-Do-When-I-Get-Home list and added to it as I sat in lectures and talked with other genealogists. That’s right. Not all research ideas and information come from lectures. Many come from networking with other genealogists.
Below are half a dozen things I want to investigate and try out:
1. Search on-line for ortsfamilienbüchers. These are wonderful compiled books that consist of vital and genealogical information for a certain time period in a specific area or town in Germany. I have already used one of these books in my German Müller research and know how helpful they can be. My great-grandfather Jacob Müller/Miller was from Bierbach and I copied the book Einwohner von Bierbach bis 1830 by Hans Cappel from a Family History Library microfilm. This compilation gives genealogical information about the families in the town of Bierbach from 1304-1974. That’s a pretty good span of years and books like these could be great sources of information for my other lines.
I learned from Ernest Thode that there are many of these books out there. I think my best chance at research in the ortsfamilienbücher will be through the Family History Library. Maybe they have microfilmed and digitized the ortsfamilienbücher for the specific town I am researching. If one has been microfilmed I can always order the film. I found it helpful to do a search for familienbuch on FamilySearch.org or to search by the town name. Another good website for ortsfamilienbücher is http://www.online-ofb.de/ . For this type of research you really need to know the name of your German ancestor’s home town.
2. Try my hand at on-line German newspaper research. I am hooked on American newspaper research but I did not realize that many German and German-language newspapers are also on-line.
Using my Ernest Thode lecture handouts as a guide, I spent several hours this week checking out German newspaper websites. I found quite a few German newspapers but the language is a problem. I know very little German but I can read just enough Gothic German script to recognize names in church records and what event was going on in the church. Basically I can read the vital information–birth/baptisms, marriages and death/burials. I have problems with the translation if the minister elaborated on the event.
3. Map my German ancestors’ towns on maps of various years. Germany is a complicated place to research because before 1871 it consisted of separate kingdoms whose boundaries changed a lot. That means that your ancestor’s town may have been in several governing districts over the years. To research your German ancestor it is vital to know what governing district and parish the records were kept in.
Warren Bittner pointed out that by determining what governing districts your ancestor’s town was in over the years and knowing the boundary changes can lead you to the correct places to research. I have collected a few copies of old German maps and marking the exact locations of towns on them should help determine what governing districts they were in various years. Warren has gathered an amazing amount of information about his German ancestors, although he said it took him seven trips to Germany to gather the information. What is amazing is that his ancestors were almost neighbors to my Müllers in Bavaria.
I do believe that with a little work I will be able to figure this German research out.
4. Add information to the Mercer County page on the Family Search Wiki. Yes there is a Mercer County page on FamilySearch.org and they are asking volunteers to add information to it. These county pages are to be research guides and I plan to add some research information as well as information about Mercer County churches.
5. Create timelines for my brick walls. One of my friends created a great timeline for his problem ancestor, with hopes of solving some research problems. It looks like a good way to organize information and view the details at a glance. He created his timeline in Word. I work with Word a lot but I must say that I have been missing their table feature. Some of my genealogy software may also be able to create a timeline.
Genealogical conferences are worthwhile and fun and I am excited that I get to attend two conferences this year. The second conference is the 2013 FGS Conference to be held in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 21-24 August. The Federation of Genealogical Societies sponsors a national conference annually and this year’s theme is Journey Through Generations. The 2013 FGS conference is also within driving distance, actually close enough that I can drive back and forth each day. Fortunately both conferences fit into my work schedule.
There is always something new to learn at a genealogy conference–new methodology, new resources, new technology or maybe a new and different way to look at an old problem. I know there will be knowledgeable speakers, a wide variety of session topics, workshops, and a large exhibit area at FGS 2013. Plus there are many opportunities to ask questions of other researchers and sometimes the speakers. People from all over the country will be in Fort Wayne for the conference, giving attendees the opportunity to ask research questions about other areas of the country. Maybe I’ll see you there!