Experiences at the Feefhs Conference

Presentations: I was scheduled to give two presentations:


More Brick Walls in Genealogical Research: Two of the examples were the same as last year, but three were added as a result of research I have done in the last twelve months, the subjects of future blogs.

On-Site Research:

Expectations and Results of a Family History Tour(Much of the content of this presentation is on the blog as I discussed the July 2013 Family History Tour.)
I met with my professional translator, Marek Koblanski, who provided me with translations of two more Spurgat records from Suwalki Province. I shared the story of our 2010 great find in the Purwiniszki post on November 21, 2013.

I was able to meet with other researchers, librarians at the Family History Library, and speakers, many of whom have been instrumental in my success with researching Suwalki Province ancestors.

I again met with Dr. Diane Afoumado, PhD, Chief of the ITS (International Tracing Service) Research Branch at the Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D, C. https://www.its-arolsen.org/. I wanted to share with her the amazing success I had with one record she had sent me last year: Adolf Spurgat who was born in September 25, 1894, was the son of Johann Spurgat and Maria Matutat of Wylkowiszki. He died in Essen in 1944 of unknown causes. His address and burial information were also given. This was amazing to me for two reasons: First, I have this Adolf Spurgat in my Spurgat book; from extractions from the Archivum Patriae in Warsaw, the birthdate matched but the name of the mother did not. However, there are other records that confirm the mother’s name as Maria Matutat/Matutaitis along with the names, birthdates, and death of other siblings. Second, the parallels to my family were astounding: my grandfather was also named Adolf Spurgat; his father was also named Johann Spurgat; they both lived in Wylkowiszki (spelling the German way as Wilkiwischken; and my grandfather Adolf Spurgat lived in Essen from 1900 to 1905! This was just the beginning of connecting the Johann Wilhelm Spurgat to his younger brother, my grandfather Adolf Spurgat!

When I started to tell Diane about the impact of this single record on my research this year, she stopped me, phoned her colleague Ina Navazelskis, and asked her to join us. Ina is the Program Coordinator of Oral History at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and has conducted in-depth interviews with survivors and witnesses in audio and video format. Diane asked if she and Ina could tape my story of the results of the research with one ITS record to share with her staff when she returned to Washington D. C. I was fascinated as Ina went into her professional interviewing mode, made me comfortable as I proceeded, asking questions to clarify the fine points of my research.

The additional ITS records of Albert Spurgat and Anna Spurgat/Ona Spurgatiene which will be the subject of a future post.

The round of conference speakers and topics was once again exceptional. I attended sessions on the International Tracing Service, Oral Interviews, German Research in the Former Eastern Areas, a webinar on Immigrant Cluster Communities (which this blog is based on), a Polish ITS case study, and three hours about DNA by a genetic genealogist: Introduction to Genetic Genealogy, Using DNA Testing Results in Family History Research, and Eastern European Genetic Genealogy Case Studies. Everyone is a Wow!


About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
This entry was posted in Conferences, East Prussia, FEEFHS, Interviews, Research, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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