POST FEEFHS: What I Learned


Being overprepared to research at the FHL can bring great rewards.

I don’t know as much as I think I know.

Sometimes I am wrong (and glad of it).

One can still be successful even if one does not reach his/her research goals.

Look carefully at every detail, especially those you don’t understand. Then find someone to ask.

If you look at a document that you don’t understand, look at a similar document from another record to help understand the purpose of the record and compare information.

Working with others pays off.

Being prepared to ask the right question at the right time to the right person requires careful prep.

Asking the right question to the right person at the right time can lead to a major breakthrough.

Remember to search everywhere.


The Feefhs Conference and two pre-conference workshops are still the best place to learn the intricacies of Eastern European research.

The young have the advantage of Internet research, but have to learn the “old” ways to research as well.

Researching 20th and 21st century records may not be easier just because of the Internet.

The more experienced (i. e. the “old”) know the thought processes behind onsite research and microfilm, but also have to learn the research techniques of productive Internet research.

The handouts provided by the young, highly-trained researchers contain listings and descriptions of websites, the first and highly recommended way to begin. The older publications in print are generally considered Tier II or even Tier III. They are to be used, but only after Internet research.

East European researchers have a special bond of knowing that their research is especially difficult because their heritage is one of hardship and poverty, sacrifice and courage. Every attendee has a story to tell of difficulty and pain, hope and determination. Those factors unite us in our search, and we rejoice when one finds a clue or major record. Others may call our history rich or colorful. Yet we know that our ancestors did not always discuss and rarely celebrated their family history.


My search criteria for East Prussia still exists.

I am already partially prepared for my next trip to Salt Lake (the East Prussian research I did not get to this time) with an emphasis, perhaps, on the maternal lines of Ber/Bersz and Cering/Zering.

I have a new location to search for. The Lithuanian Gazetteer and the Lithuanian Postal Guide, both in the FHL, did not provide a listing for Janofka, but three researchers have shared their thoughts on the location, changed by temporary boundaries in a short period of time and spelled most likely in the German way.

I have a new book to read, Lithuanian DPs: Immigration to Canada after the Second Word War.

I used an incredible website and database, Blog posts on this topic will follow.

Find-A Grave can help as well.  Thanks to all the volunteers who have submitted information from their local cemeteries.

I have a whole new family to trace in Winnipeg, Manitoba.







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 Books, Conferences, FEEFHS, Research, Resources, Uncategorized, Web Sites and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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