Today (Thursday) John said that genealogists have 3 jobs:
- To identify sources
- To find the information about your family in those sources
- Write up our findings (they are of no use in a notebook)
He made sure to give a multitude of sources for us to look for. Whether church records from the seventeenth century, compilations, maps or online databases, I now have dozens of items to look for while looking for my ancestors across the pond.
We began the day looking at maps and gazetteers. In German research, the Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs is the most important gazetteer in German research. There is a “how to” book by Wendy K. Uncapher that is very useful.
Our second session was on sources of information in Germany. Published sources from Germany are much more accessible than archives in Germany. It is important to look for civil records (especially family registers for those from Württemberg), land records, and house books, among others.
After lunch we discussed how to find your ancestors in those published records. Although there will always be transcription and translation errors, these are still great sources to use. Make sure to check the US first, both the Family History Center and WorldCat, before heading to Germany to look for them.
Our last course was on finding German ancestors on the internet. John said that the internet has revolutionized the way we go about researching. One of the most important things to remember in searching is to use German key words as well as English. You can also search through Google.de for more German language hits.
Our evening sessions began with a Q & A with the instructors. My favorite line from the entire week was when Josh Taylor was discussing Who Do You Think You Are? and mentioned that he had told producers “I don’t do southern Indian princesses.” An amusing line with an important point: every genealogist has a different area of expertise; one does not have to know everything.
Our second session was by the creator/director of the Photo Antiquities Museum in Pittsburg. He went through the history of photography complete with examples that he passed around. He was tremendously passionate about the subject, which made the presentation even better to watch. I look forward to visiting his museum in the future.
Only 1 day left!