Friday, July 27, 2012

GRIP Day 5: Back to Reality

Turquoise-banner-with-gray2-copyMy brain was pretty done after 12 hours of lectures and talking and learning yesterday.  It is amazing how much information I have learned in such a short time.  Today (Friday) I woke up ready to take in as much as possible on my last day here, which was a good thing, as the records discussed today should lead to much genealogical success. 

Our first lesson today was on the German records held at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.  These records, the Rasse und Siedlungs Hauptamt (RuSHA), were created in Germany by the SS in the 1930s and are full of Ahnentafel charts and other genealogical information.  These charts can go back to the 1600s in some cases, but always until ancestors born by 1800.  If you can find an ancestor or collateral relative, they will be tremendously useful to you.

I do not normally quote syllabus materials, as they are under copyright and one of the ways genealogists are able to make a living, but I feel that the following sentence about the SS records is important enough to break this rule; it is copyright of John T. Humphrey.  “These records, the activities associated with these records and the reasons for their creation demonstrate the role of genealogy in establishing racist policies during a tragic era in Germany and they serve as a warning for generations in other countries yet to be born.” 

I like to think that genealogists are less racist than others, as they see firsthand that everyone is connected/related, but as we can see, this is not always the case.  These records are useful for many genealogists, but when searching for them, remember why they were made and have a moment of silence for the victims of the policies that created them.

Our second lesson was on researching Germans in American repositories and libraries, particularly the Library of Congress.  The LoC has one of the largest German collections outside Germany.  By searching their catalog, you can find lineage books, information created by state societies and other books of interest to German genealogy, such as Marion Dexter Learned’s “Manuscript Materials Relating to American History in German State Archives.”  It is important to use both English and German spellings of items in order to see their full holdings.  In addition to the LoC, it is important to check the Family History Library, university libraries and public libraries.

Our day ended with certificates, goodbyes and long trips home.  Since one can never have to much genealogy, I am planning to stop in Eden, Erie, NY on my way to Buffalo to see what I can find on Joseph and Caroline Gress.

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