We attended the annual spring conference of the Germanic Genealogy Society in Minnesota. See http://www.ggsmn.org/. It has been an annual, much anticipated, pilgrimage for over twenty years, known for its excellent speakers and delicious German food. This conference has not been the subject of a blog post before but this year I approached it with the question, “What can be of help here for East Prussian researchers?”
Family Search Wiki: Revisit the FamilySearch Wiki at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/Main_Page for a review of Germanic, Lithuanian, and Polish Genealogy online sources. Remember the large number of lessons and handouts now digitized. For example, there is https://stage.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Prussia-Ostpreu%C3%9Fen_Evangelical_Church_Parish_Records which lists all the parishes and identifies the kreis. A page for each of the 16 kreise in the East Prussian Gumbinnen Administrative District is still under development, but the Konigsberg Funeral Sermons might be helpful to some researchers.
Control+F. On most computers, CTL and F will search a page for a word you wish to find. For example, if you can read only part of a German word in a record and you can find those letters in the German Word List in the FamilySearch wiki, you can press Control and F at the same time. A pop up box will give you all the instances of this letter combination. It will take you through each word, and you may find the word you need. For example, if the only letters you could read from a record were “ochter”, press Control and F, and then hit the up or down key in the lower left of your computer screen, and all the words that contain the letters ”ochter” will appear, in this case, seven matches, one of which will lead you to the word “tochter” which means “daughter.” Control and F works on any on any web page or any document. On some computers the pop window up may appear on the upper left or lower left or upper right.
Family Search Learning Center: https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/home.html lists online genealogical courses. There are over 20 classes for Germany, some in German and 8 for Poland. None are listed for Lithuania at the present time.
German Names: Our speaker lectured on German names. At the end I asked a question about Prussian names. As a follow-up, he invited me to send him an e-mail with my specific question. That question comes from an addendum to my family history book I hope to publish in December 2015. A future post with his answer may be required.
German Emigration Sources—Online at Ancestry: Databases that appear to be identical may not provide the same information because different people have done the transcriptions. Check multiple online possibilities at various databases like http://www.Ancestry.com, http://www.familysearch.org, etc.
Prussian and Non-Prussian Gazetteers: To locate places in East Prussia, use Meyers Gazetteer of the German Empire (Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs) free at http://www.search.ancestry.com › Search › Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers. Kartenmeister (below) is based on Meyers.
Kartenmeister: Revisit Kartenmeister at kartenmeister.com. If you have an ancestor’s specific location in East Prussia and have used kartenmeister.com to locate it, be sure to add the surname to that location and add your own e-mail so you can be contacted by other researchers. Wouldn’t it be cool to post some of these success stories on G-GLISP, with your permission, of course.
If you type in a kreis in kartenmeister.com, an alphabetical (long) list of all the towns in that kreis will come up! You can compare spellings and check possibilities.
Ortsfamilienbucher: These “family heritage books” are derivative sources. Most of the information has been extracted from church registers. Some from Memelland have been specifically designed to be online. See http://www.online-ofb.de/memelland/?lang=en.
Also, http://ofb.genealogy.net/ shows a map of all the online books and a list of 12 in East Prussia.
Guild Records: A lecture on the Importance of guilds was very informative for current research I am involved in. In addition to the commercial value of guilds, they also provided protection for their members. In some instances guild records contain baptism records which may pre date parish records. Hmmm.