Wednesday means we are halfway through the Institute, which is pretty hard to believe. Our morning session was on the Pennsylvania Germans. Although I do not have Pennsylvania ancestry, many of the records discussed would be useful to any research. In the end, it is all about the research strategies and methodologies you use. The second session continued this theme with case studies of immigrants to the area.
After some excellent discussion at lunch (where I met Karen of Karen’s Genealogy Oasis blog), we came back to “Finding Places of Origin in Germany.” Although I have a few ancestral villages, I do not have them for most of my German immigrant ancestors. John reiterated that whole family genealogy (aka cluster genealogy or FAN research) is tremendously important in these cases. Newspapers, particularly German language newspapers, can be very useful in this. Even if you have the obituary from an English language newspaper, which is often just a short death notice, find the obituary in the newspaper of their native language for more information.
Continuing to the last session of the day, we learned about “Typefaces: Published Sources and German-American Newspapers.” Finding those newspapers mentioned above takes work, as does being able to read them. After learning German Gothic script yesterday, learning Fraktur, which is the typeface German newspapers use, was much easier. Since it is typed, it is always the same, plus, you can cheat with it using a word program with the typeface installed. Newspapers can also be used to bring your family history to life through items such as society notices, weather and passenger ship advertisements. The advertisements shown were fantastic. Check out the Library of Congress Chronicling America site.
After class we went to work on our “homework” deciphering an obituary typed in Fraktur. It is much easier to decipher with 4 sets of eyes and a little help from a paper dictionary and the Leo online dictionary. Then came dinner with more lively discussion, followed by reading the BCG certification examples. I know I can get to that level someday, but I am definitely not anywhere close yet!
A few of us then went to explore the grounds of the college. First we hiked to the cemetery, which is lovely. I will post on that Tuesday. From there we went to the labyrinth, which according to the brochure is part of the Keams Spirituality Center. Although I have always wanted to, I have never walked a labyrinth before. What an amazing experience! One which I plan to repeat in the future. The image above is of the center of the labyrinth. I have to say that I am much more a fan of this than corn mazes. There is a distinct path; it may be long and winding, but eventually you reach the center. You can then take that relaxation/reflection/knowledge and head out, onto other paths. In many ways GRIP is like that path. We are given a roadmap toward the knowledge, rather than having to wander around aimlessly. We stay in the center of knowledge for a while and then head out on our own following the recommendations given.
Tomorrow we look at maps and gazetteers, explore sources of information in Germany, learn about published sources in the US and then find our German ancestors on the internet. I see lots of note taking in my future!