At the end of May I was one of about 125 people who witnessed the signing of the Proclamation of St. Paul and which “describes the goal to create a closer German-American genealogical relationship between all interested societies.” This ceremony fell within the German tradition of dignitaries opening important occasions with proclamations, high spirits, and good cheer.
The Germanic Genealogy Society was the host organization for this event. The publicity release below explains the formation, goals, structures, and policies to “further the researching of our ancestors.”Dirk Weissleder of Laatzan, Germany, introduced as the German president of the equivalent of our Federated Genealogical Societies (FGS), was the German representative of this partnership. Three genealogical groups on both sides of the ocean were named as Founding Partner Societies. Four additional societies were named as Additional Partners and more interest is being expressed daily.
The ultimate goal could be one or more national and international Germanic conferences.
To see the Press Release, go to http://www.ggsmn.org/cpage.php?pt=68.
For researchers it was an incredible opportunity to hear four lectures from the German point of view:
• Understanding Germany Yesterday and Today (History, Politics, Culture)
• The Structure of Organized Genealogy in Germany
• Primary and Secondary Sources for Genealogy in Germany
• Archives, Libraries, and Institutions for Genealogical Researchers in Germany
As with the last post from the GGS annual conference, what was in it for the East Prussian/Suwalki Province serious researcher?
A few thoughts:
• Understanding Germany Yesterday and Today (History, Politics, Culture): I was impressed by the speaker’s understanding of the American character contrasted with the modern German. In America we tend to think of 100 years as a long time, but Germans have a much longer history. Family names are very important in Germany. Germany lies in the heart of Europe and is surrounded by more countries than any other nation in Europe. Germany varies from region to region by culture, geography, food, and traditions. (My interpretation is that East Prussia is not Bavaria.) Germans work hard to succeed. Germans have an emotional tie to nature; they love the forests and the trees so a German connection to a family tree seems natural.
• The Structure of Organized Genealogy in Germany: There are 22,000 individuals and 63 genealogical societies in Germany that are affiliated with the DAVG (Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft genealogischer Verbände) (German Association of genealogical associations). See http://dagv.org. My strategy for accessing all German websites is to do a Google search and then click on “Translate this page” to get an English version.
The Computer Genealogy Society (Verein fur Computergenealogie) is a good example of a specialized website. http://compgen.de/ The portal page gives information and databases. I have used many parts of this website for the research I am presently doing. Specific examples of this research will be the subject of posts later this year and next.
• Primary and Secondary Sources for Genealogy in Germany: Because the regions of Germany remain so different, you must know the specialized resources of the area you are interested in. In addition to the usual descriptions of church registers and civil registration, there are other sources like publications of Family surname organizations (Familienverbaende) and church book portal websites, http://www.kirchenbuchportal.de/
Archion is an effort to digitize the parish books of the evangelical church in Germany. You can read about the progress of this project at https://ahnenfunde.wordpress.com/tag/archion/.
• Archives, Libraries, and institutions for Genealogical Researchers in Germany: In addition to the state, church, and private archives, there are family surname archives in Germany. Because of the 50 year division of Germany, many families are seeking to be reunited and family reunion societies are popular. American researchers whose families were in the former eastern area like East Prussia may find these family societies helpful.
Remember with all these German websites, my strategy is to do a Google search and then click on “Translate this page” to get an English version.
One example is Institut fuer Personengeschichte. http://www.personengeschichte.de/.
Another source is the Personen –und Familiengeschichte (Central Office for German Family History). http://www.genealogie-institut.de/. You can send an e-mail.
Another source for Germans from the eastern provinces: Refugees and dispossessed peopled from the former German provinces in the east have an organization and museum about them.
http://www.forum-familiengeschichte.deis is the website of Dirk Weissleder, the president of the German genealogical societies.
Last, http://www.genealogy.net/genealogy.html is a portal for in English German genealogy. Some of its contents include a digital library, family announcements, historic address books, online village family books, contacts with other researchers, and mailing lists.
As the German-American Genealogical Partnership continues, easier access to more German websites will be forthcoming.