POST 4: EWZ GOALS: Comments, Questions, and Hypotheses

After I studied the articles by Obee, Blodgett, and Stroud listed in the first post, I composed a list of comments, questions and hypotheses into three goals.
Goal 1: After I was introduced to the International Tracing Service Records, I developed a case study of the Albert and Anna Spurgat family, relationship unknown.

Albert and Anna Spurgat
Albert and Anna Spurgat had been the subject of a case study in 2013 and 2014 when I was introduced to the ITS collection.
1. Would Anna and Albert Spurgat have had EWZ files? If so, why weren’t they in the ITS records?

Albert and Anna Spurgat left Lithuania in March or May 1939. The EWZ program did not begin until after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in September 1939, and processing began a month later in October.

Naturalization application papers are part of the EWZ collection (EWZ 53, Antrage).
Anna Spurgat was trying to prove she was not a German citizen, yet she was declared a naturalized German citizen so there must have been some papers. Where were they?

There would be probably be nothing on the children because they were under 15.

Later some of these things turned out to be wrong. See below.

Goal 2: Benjamin Hutop and I have been doing research on this family since August 2014.
We were especially interested in a man called Emil Hutop.
Emil and Johann Hutop
1. Emil Hutop’s Health Card and citizenship papers are part of his ITS/EWZ file which included the ever-important case number aka, control number.

2. The Stammblätter (NARA II EWZ 58) contains the family forms. (Obee, page 56.)
This must be the part of Emil Hutop’s ITS/EWZ file. Both NARA II and FHL have this collection. Using the Family Search catalogue, I recorded the film number for the six-digit case number I had for Emil Hutop from the 750 microfilms in the FHL Stamblätter collection.

And I began to wonder,” What might I find on records like these on others?

Goal 3: Spurgats
1. The Antrage collection, EWZ53, included 73,00 files from the Baltics on 507 microfilms available at NARA II only, not FHL. (Obee, page 55.)

Therefore, there should be information on the families of August and Ludwig Spurgat who stayed there and any other Spurgats in East Prussia.

2. Would EWZ files have generations of data on Spurgats?

That turned out to be a resounding yes. See Post forthcoming 8.

3. The E/G Kartei file (NARA II EWZ 57) is a basic card index composed of immigrant records in phonetic order on 964 microfilms at NARA II and FHL. (Obee, page 55.)

4. Dead people were sometimes registered.
Would I find records on three Spurgats who disappeared or died between 1940 and 1944, according to a member of the Spurgat family who stayed in Lithuania? See forthcoming Post 8.

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The 20th Anniversary conference of the Society for Germanic Genealogy in Eastern Europe which “focuses on the genealogy of Germans from Russian Poland and Volhynia with help for related regions” was held July 27-29, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta. is a link to an earlier G-SLISP post about one of their databases.
I was asked to present a session on Genealogical Research in East Prussia. The southern half of East Prussia was located in what is now Poland, and some ancestors of SGGEE members may have lived in East Prussia at some point. I decided to forego FEEFHS this year in favor of establishing a relationship with a new Eastern European genealogical group.
I came prepared as a presenter and a researcher.
First, I developed a presentation on Migrations, Political History, and Researching Family History with print and online sources in East Prussia. Previous G-GLISP posts have not included information on East Prussian migrations or the ever-changing borders of East Prussia, but they have included strategies and experiences on how to use print and online as well as primary and secondary sources to deepen family history research. Perhaps a future post will include parts of the four-page handout that might benefit blog readers.
The conference schedule included sessions about Canadian research, beginning research, DNA, EWZ records, Black Sea Germans, East Prussia, translating Polish and Cyrillic records, moving beyond Ships’ Lists, Stalin’s Arrest Records, Navigating Online Polish records, and submitting data for the SGGEE Master Pedigree File. Dave Obee provided a twenty year look back of changes in genealogical research.
Some of the major points that stood out for me included:
The future of genealogical research includes testing with multiple DNA tests with large numbers of participants. (I have used both FTDNA and Ancestry but for different people. I must upload my recent Ancestry results to FTDNA.)
Including both print and online sources in your research. (My presentation included both.) A recent comment was that only 10% of available genealogical material is online.
Studying the history and geography of the area of your search before you begin to search for records was emphasized by more than one speaker. (This point was precisely the focus of the first half of my presentation.)
Other speakers urged researcher to check all sources. (In my case, it was use more than one browser as I provided an example of different results between using Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome in one German website.)
Step back to get perspective and think. (I did this by reading two excerpts from historical fiction that were set in East Prussia at the time of Napoleon and one excerpt by a WWII soldier.
Explore footnotes and endnotes for additional sources. (Gee, I actually do this!)
I also came prepared as a researcher as I knew that Karl Krueger was an expert on the EWZ records. See I brought the records of three Hutops to try to ferret out the details of three Gesundheitskartei (Health Summary) cards. I was not disappointed in our results. Thank you, Karl.
I also brought a Polish death record and a Cyrillic birth record so I could work during Sigrid Pohl Perry’s hands-on translating workshop. She convinced me that one letter was a /k/ rather than an /r/ so I knew I had the wrong record. She referred us to Steve Morse’s website: which allows the user to convert English letters to upper and lower case Russian print and cursive letters! Scroll down to “Converting between Russian Print and Cursive in One Step.“ I tried it and it seemed to work with Auguste Spurgat. I recommend trying your last name first.
The volunteers who work on behalf of SGGEE are to be commended for the high quality and volume of online resources they have provided in the last 20 years. Check out their website and Facebook pages and consider joining. The 2019 conference is in Winnipeg, Manitoba where my new Canadian cousins live.
The next blog will return to the EWZ records.

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GOV in

The Germanic Genealogy Society 2018 Spring Conference featured Timo Kracke from Gandetkesee, Germany, (near Bremen). He is a board member of the Computer Genealogy Society, often referred to as CompGen, the host of the website known as I had heard a one- hour lecture by Timo at the International Germanic Genealogy Conference in July 2017 and was eager to hear more, His topics were

Start Your Research for German Ancestors with
Research Former German Territories with the AgoFF
Historical Geo Information System GOV and Historic Address Books
Ortsfamilienbucher, User Family Trees, and Metasearch on

This post examines only one part of this super website, the Historical Geo Information System, known as GOV. (Do not think of GOV as government or GOVT.) It is an information system for finding places, geographically and historically.
GOV provides “a unique worldwide place ID” and “includes the geographical location of a place (coordinates…on a map); key properties such as the postal code, previous or other names, and past administrative, legal, and religious affiliations. It also contains information about churches, parishes, towns, counties, and regions, etc.”
For East Prussia researchers, go toßen/Kirchenbücher

You can search “ostpreussen kirchenbucher” Select a Kreis from alphabetical list left of map; select on Kreis name; for that Kreis, select “Kirchenbuchbestände”; select a parish from alphabetical list left of map; select the parish name.

Across the yellow tool bar on the top you see the downward arrow pointing to GOV.
On the left you see an alphabetical listing of the kreis.
When I selected the one I was interested in, Kreis Insterberg, this is what came up.
The historic gazetteer:

I entered the name of a location in East Prussia I have been researching for family in Willuhnen. This is what appears, a map with locations of that place. I know it is not in northeast Poland. The one I want is in the Kalinigrad Oblast of Russia, formerly Gumbinnen Administrative District, East Prussia. (But if I did not know that, this map would help me determine where to look.)

And when you see the entire table, you see how much information is there.

Name, Typ (type), Ubergeordnete Objekte, Postleitzahl, GOV- Kennung.
Below that you see the legend.
Left arrow: I selected the cross, church records.

At the bottom of this page, under superordinate objects, is a listing of nearby locations.
The columns give me the names, the type, the GOV ID, and the time span.
Now I know that there was a church, but I have no dates…yet. I know it was a village from 1621 to 1945. I know there was a manor there from 1839 to 1945.

Not only was I interested in Willuhnen, but I was also interested in Wingern, a location I found on the microfilmed Willuhnen records. I now know that it was a rural municipality settlement in existence to 1907, but the dates of my records tell me it was there in the 1820s. So when I write up my research, I can include these details with the correct source, of course.

There is also a link for images, but there are none on this village, but sometimes you can find some by googling the name of your location under Google Images.

Once I had an understanding with print and online maps and gazetteers, I could continue.

On the left it gives me the GOV ID: the name, type, denomination, an article about this place in, and the geographic position.

On the right it shows me a regional map of its location and an outline of the object, as the location is called. I consider it an exact map.
Below that are links to other online maps like Bing, Google Earth, Google Maps, Wikimapia, etc.

The purple diagram, called the Superordinate object, shows a diagram of exactly what records are available and for what years.

The Historical Gazetteer is for other locations, not just East Prussia.

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2018 NGS POST 2

”Accessing and Acquiring the Records of Eastern Europe: Family Search Efforts 2012-2017”

Greg Nelson, Content Strategy Specialist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Records Division of Family Search. Although the one hour presentation included Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldava, Armenia/Georgia/Azerbaijan, the Stan countries, and the Baltics, this post includes information only on Lithuania.

Currently, there are 20+ digital cameras preserving the records in the archives of Central and Eastern Europe.

Fall of the Soviet Empire: December 25,1991, is often used as the end date. Filming began in Lithuania in 1994. (When I started looking at microfilmed civil registers in Vilkaviskis and Marijampole in 1995, I began to realize how fortunate I was.)

Record Strategy: Family Search uses the Tier I criteria (Birth, Marriages, Deaths) because they are preserving records for the first time. Another important Eastern European criteria is the preservation of records “before they reach a state where it is harmful to handle them.” Family Search may have “the only surviving digital copy of records from an area that has been hit by fire, natural disasters, or political instability.”

Central and Eastern European Countries: Lithuania
The Tier 1 filming (Births, Marriage, and Deaths) in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives has been completed for quite some time. My first request for FHL films for Wylkowiszki was October 27, 1994.

The Lithuanian Central Archives is not filmed.

Current filming in Kaunas, the only regional archives in Lithuania, includes Revision Lists in Russian See

We viewed (1) images of document preparation work, including ironing each page prior to filming and (2) the camera set up for operators.

Reminders about digitization in the Family Search Catalogue:
The cost of silver to produce the microfilm, the fact that Kodak sold their business, and the buyer increased the price, resulted in the decision to cease microfilming.
The FHL Microfilm number is usually different from the DGS number if the film has been digitized.
If there the FHL microfilm record is the same as the digitized number (DGS), it means that it is an original digitalized record.
Digitized records are in color.
If the catalogue shows a DGS number but a microfilm icon, it means that the entire film cannot be released because of privacy reasons. The privacy part of the film will be blurred so that the rest of the film can be released.

• One way to teach yourself the Cyrillic alphabet is to index the annual registries of birth, marriage, and death records. The Family Search wiki includes a list of the Cyrillic alphabet. Doing this is a great way to teach yourself Cyrillic and contribute to the Family Search indexing Project.

I met Greg Nelson after the session and posed three specific questions which I have  e-mailed him. They had to deal with current filming in Vilnius, variations in the quality of records (question from another researcher), and the status of very old unfilmed records in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives. The answers may be in a future post.




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National Genealogy Society Conference Post 1

The EWZ series of posts will be interrupted to bring you four reports of conferences I have recently attended with emphasis on Suwalki Province and East Prussia.

The National Genealogical Society 2018 Family History Conference was held May 2-5, 2018. I have attended NGS conferences in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Kansas City, but this one in Grand Rapids, the city where my East-Prussian-Suwalki Province grandparents had arrived in 1905, called me to re-examine Thomas Wolfe’s belief, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Well, I did!

So what does NGS with its focus on American Genealogy offer East Prussian family researchers? There are sessions about “German Trails—Leaving European Homes and Locating across America”, “Migration Patterns of Germans within America” and “Finding a German Heimat Online.” But the prize has to be the subject of the next two posts.

”Researching Records of the Former Soviet Republics”

Greg Nelson, Content Strategy Specialist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Records Division of Family Search. Although the one hour presentation included Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldava, Armenia/Georgia/Azerbaijan, the “Stan” countries, and the Baltics, this post includes information only on Lithuania.

Important Points about Lithuania
• Lithuania has more liberal laws about accessing than many other republics of the former USSR. These are released annually.
Births: 100 years (1917)
Marriages: 30 years (1987)
Deaths: 30 years 1987)
• The older organization of records was at the Gubernia, Uezd, Okrug, and Raion levels from circa 1815 to 1917. The newer organization is Oblast (region), Raion (county) from circa 1917 to 1990.

• Family Search divides records into 3 tiers. The top tier, Tier 1, includes Births, Marriages, and Deaths. Tier 2 includes school records and passports.

• Family Search has “No records from Kalinigrad (and I) don’t see us getting any.”

• Family Search lists three sources for Lithuanian records:

• The Lithuanian State Historical Archives has records from “13th century to independent Lithuania (1918) and contains civil registry and vitals to modern times.”
• Central State Archives has “documents post 1919” to 1990.
• Epaveldas is a cultural heritage site, with many partners, who have contributed images. I have researched this site and found it to be very interesting. However, it has not helped me with my German Lutheran ancestors in southwestern Lithuania. If anyone finds anything helpful, please send a comment.
• Lithuania has more church records than the other Baltic countries. (Yeah!)
• Family Search has digitized 7.3% of the top tier records, but none have been indexed.
• Currently, there are two digital cameras in Lithuania, one in Vilnius (the capital) and one in Kaunas, the former capital. The camera in Kaunas may be more promising as Kaunas was at the northeastern most point of Suwalki Province on the Memel/Nemanus/Neman River. The part of Kaunas known as Prussian Kaunas lies on the west side of the river.
Revision lists are currently being filmed in Kaunas.
• A question about whether the metrical lists include Germans is often asked. The answer is yes. As Germans and Lutherans came to be synonymous, the metrical lists would include Lutheran or evangelische records. Experienced researchers know that this is about the only way to research our German Lutheran ancestors in Suwalki Province. Since Family Search has now digitized records ordered in the last five years, diligent researchers, some among the readership of this blog, would accept some thank yous from newer researchers!

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6th Anniversary

Can it be six years already? Over 225 Posts!

GOALS: Did I meet my Year 6 Goals? 6 out of 7!

The map has a few entries of ancestral villages, names, and events: births, confirmations, marriages, and deaths.

Three posts centered on Feefhs in Salt Lake, UT July 16 to 21

One post detailed the International German Genealogical Partnership July 28-30 in Minneapolis, MN, with special attention to East Prussia.

A recent post told about helping a researcher who follows this blog find a record on FHL microfilm. It was not the birth record she sought, but a marriage record that gave her new information about a collateral line.

Three posts in a long series about the results of researching the EWZ records has begun with exciting results.

The Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius became accessible in the fall of 2017. Starting in February, at least one researcher who follows this blog is making progress with the Archives.

There was no specific post on the Autosomal DNA as not all first cousins responded to my request.

GOALS for Year 7:

Continue to post in the middle and end of each month. This change has worked well as it allows me to answer the best I can the comments and to continue my own research (so I have something to write about!).

Encourage everyone to keep reading of the blog by checking the Categories and Tags list which has been updated through January 2018. Several new followers have emerged: some are beginners just learning to use FHL microfilmed/digitized records for Suwalki Province. Many answers to their questions are already posted on the blog. Other followers include those who ask the most astute questions. Those lead me to think carefully before responding and provide ideas for future posts.

If I receive a question about a topic that has not yet been published, but I have a reasonable draft started, I have been known to send that to a researcher rather than make him/her wait for the answer to their question.

Provide a report on conferences attended or expect to attend: Germanic Genealogy Society, National Genealogical Society, and The Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe.

Continue the EWZ series with explanatory steps.

Share books of interest.

Include results of FHL microfilm/digitized records.

Discuss “Lithuanian” DNA and the results of another DNA “cousin.”

Provide an update on the future availability of records.

A new Facebook group, Lietuvos Liuteronų Genealogija, specific to this area, has recently started.

Also check out Owen the genealogist gave me the Facebook group link. It is exciting to connect with new, young researchers!

Thank you for your comments. They provide encouragement to reach the ten-year anniversary!

If a reader has made a comment that I have not responded to, please send another comment so we can communicate further by e-mail.

I am excited to continue!


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POST 3 Another EWZ Collection

One statement in the article “Immigration Records of the EWZ” by Steven W. Blodgett, A. G., copyrighted. Feefhs Quarterly Volume VI, Numbers 1-4 caught my attention as I had not read it anywhere else. It describes “An incomplete set of pedigree files dealing mainly with emigrants from Wartheland-Poland and Lithuania (69 rolls of film)” and are listed in the Family Search catalogue under Einwandererzentralstelle 1940-1941, FHL 1364501-1364568.
I thought that there might be additional information Germans in Lithuania so I used the Family Search catalogue

The catalogue listed 1961 as the acquisition date. (EWZ Einwanderer and Stammblätter state the acquisition date as 1992!) The key words are “resettled in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria.”
At the bottom of the page I found the three films listed under “Umsiedler aus Litauen.”
Considering the disclaimer at the top, I was amazed to have them available on my own laptop.
There were almost 3500 images on the third film. The two case numbers I was interested in were listed in the Family Search catalogue toward the end of the film, the last 1000 images. In a quick perusal I noted: the many -at names, the evangelische religion, and the place of birth or residence. Many were from Taureggen, a long time evangelische parish; several had been born in Kovno, now Kaunas, where evangelische had settled during the 1795 to 1807 Prussia Era at the northeast corner, where the Memel River turns west, of what would become known as the northern border of Suwalki Province. Others were from Mariampol and Pilwischki, (near Vilkaviskis). Some were born in Kreis Traki farther east, some in Riga. Some were very young, a girl born in 1925, barely 15, in December 1941. One was a boy born in 1927, a student. So young.
This film also may help the researcher understand the processing of some of these 2.1 million people. It seems as if the people in this collection declared in some official way that they desired to be re-settled in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Austria. That decision meant their EWZ registrations fell into a different category than many others. The 1998 Blodgett article referred to in the earlier post states that the FHL acquired these records “some time ago.”
Although the above information is not a scientific overview, this lesser known resource may help some researchers who cannot find their Lithuanian ancestors in the two more widely known FHL EWZ records.
I put in the case number of first person.
For example, I was looking for someone whose case number was 502510.
The film description went from 502487 to 502517, but there was no 502 510 on this film.
Then I looked for someone whose case number was 516540. These files went from 516398 to 516552, but there was no 516 540 on this film.]
Perhaps the reason that this partial collection came to the FHL 31 years earlier than the more widely known EWZ collection follows: the resettlement pattern for this group of people, the majority of them from Taureggen, was an early, cohesive decision to remain together, just as their ancestors had for generations.
If you are searching for Germans in Lithuania and are reasonably sure that there were some relatives there at the beginning of WWII and did not find them in the previous EWZ collections, this often-overlooked collection might be worth a look.

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