The 13 day 2013 Road Scholar Tour of all three Baltic countries and the subsequent 5 day Family History Tour resulted in a personal interest in what had happened to the people in the Baltic states after the three Spurgat families left between 1900 and 1908. Actually, this interest had started with the Essential Reading and Recommended Reading Lists Road Scholar provided and my own Internet search.
Links to Previous Blogs
Add to this list my Introduction to the International Tracing Service records and my meeting with Dr. Diane Afoumado in August 2014
and again in August 2015
When I learned that a research trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum would be necessary to complete my research, I scheduled it for May 2016. The next series of posts will examine the purpose and preparation for this research trip, the experiences, and the results.
My preparation consisted of 2 major steps: simultaneously mining the website and preparing printed tables for quick recording and reference.
I mined https://www.ushmm.org/, especially the second floor Holocaust Survivors and Victims Resource Center https://www.ushmm.org/remember/the-holocaust-survivors-and-victims-resource-center.
By clicking on the drop down list at the left-hand side of the page, I found the most helpful sections to be Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database (search for name and search for lists), International Tracing Service, Resources for Information, References Services, and Plan Your Visit.
I did find some names of interest in the online database, but because I already had many ITS records, I knew there was more waiting for me. https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/post-14-2012-2015-research-international-tracing-service/
Under Reference Services, I clicked on the email address, letter, fax, or telephone. Two carefully-crafted e-mails resulted in two telephone conversations with a volunteer extraordinaire, a week apart.
I also looked at the online 5th floor library information, but did think I had the time to work there. https://www.ushmm.org/research/research-in-collections/research-visit
I had done as much as I could online.
Research Log Preparation
I also made tables of all the people and places I wanted to find.
- Family members and other relevant information (birthdates and sources of information) of Spurgats who I knew were still in Lithuania in the 1930s which I had recently obtained from my Lithuanian researcher.
- Spurgat names and other relevant information in East Prussian locations.
- Spurgat names and other relevant information who had been in Essen, Germany, for more than a generation.
- Maternal names (Hutop) and other relevant information from Lithuania and of all married Spurgats in Essen.
- These lists totaled over 80 names.
- I could place Spurgats in about 25 locations which I wanted to check for any possible records.
- Blank cells and rows to add any additional names that might be in the databases.
I needed to write my comments quickly on paper and put them in the computer during the evenings. I brought my laptop and a thumb drive (which I had been told to bring to save the records on). I just had to have it all organized in my head.
I planned for three days of research. I had been told not to come during the busy season of late spring, summer, and early fall. I had been told to come on a Sunday as that was not a busy day. I planned one day to get organized, one day to do serious research, and one day for rechecks.
I also had some burning questions:
- What was the source of one particular record from Essen I had received in August 2014 in Salt Lake which had allowed to me make several unexpected connections a year later?
- What information could I expect to learn about German civilians in Essen, Germany? (With regard to ITS records, what was the status of ordinary German civilians after the war?)
- What did “turned over to the German economy” mean in the case of Anna Spurgaitis whom I described in https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/post-14-2012-2015-research-international-tracing-service/
I was lucky enough to have a close relative in the area with whom I stayed for four nights and fairly easy access to the metro so I could plan to be at the museum when they opened at 10 A. M. Also, I had a Spurgat aunt, the last surviving member of that generation, who lived in the area. She had married into the Spurgat family and been a staunch supporter ever since, and I wanted to see her again.