National Genealogy Society Conference Post 1

The EWZ series of posts will be interrupted to bring you four reports of conferences I have recently attended with emphasis on Suwalki Province and East Prussia.

The National Genealogical Society 2018 Family History Conference was held May 2-5, 2018. I have attended NGS conferences in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Kansas City, but this one in Grand Rapids, the city where my East-Prussian-Suwalki Province grandparents had arrived in 1905, called me to re-examine Thomas Wolfe’s belief, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Well, I did!

So what does NGS with its focus on American Genealogy offer East Prussian family researchers? There are sessions about “German Trails—Leaving European Homes and Locating across America”, “Migration Patterns of Germans within America” and “Finding a German Heimat Online.” But the prize has to be the subject of the next two posts.

”Researching Records of the Former Soviet Republics”

Greg Nelson, Content Strategy Specialist for Eastern Europe and Central Asia in the Records Division of Family Search. Although the one hour presentation included Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldava, Armenia/Georgia/Azerbaijan, the “Stan” countries, and the Baltics, this post includes information only on Lithuania.

Important Points about Lithuania
• Lithuania has more liberal laws about accessing than many other republics of the former USSR. These are released annually.
Births: 100 years (1917)
Marriages: 30 years (1987)
Deaths: 30 years 1987)
• The older organization of records was at the Gubernia, Uezd, Okrug, and Raion levels from circa 1815 to 1917. The newer organization is Oblast (region), Raion (county) from circa 1917 to 1990.

• Family Search divides records into 3 tiers. The top tier, Tier 1, includes Births, Marriages, and Deaths. Tier 2 includes school records and passports.

• Family Search has “No records from Kalinigrad (and I) don’t see us getting any.”

• Family Search lists three sources for Lithuanian records:

• The Lithuanian State Historical Archives has records from “13th century to independent Lithuania (1918) and contains civil registry and vitals to modern times.” http://www.archyvai.lt/en/archives/historicalarchives.html
• Central State Archives has “documents post 1919” to 1990. http://www.archyvai.lt/en/archives/centralarchives.html
• Epaveldas is a cultural heritage site, with many partners, who have contributed images. I have researched this site and found it to be very interesting. However, it has not helped me with my German Lutheran ancestors in southwestern Lithuania. If anyone finds anything helpful, please send a comment. http://epaveldas.lt/en/home
• Lithuania has more church records than the other Baltic countries. (Yeah!)
• Family Search has digitized 7.3% of the top tier records, but none have been indexed.
• Currently, there are two digital cameras in Lithuania, one in Vilnius (the capital) and one in Kaunas, the former capital. The camera in Kaunas may be more promising as Kaunas was at the northeastern most point of Suwalki Province on the Memel/Nemanus/Neman River. The part of Kaunas known as Prussian Kaunas lies on the west side of the river.
Revision lists are currently being filmed in Kaunas. https://www.litvaksig.org/types-of-records-in-the-ald/revision-lists-and-other-census-lists.
• A question about whether the metrical lists include Germans is often asked. The answer is yes. As Germans and Lutherans came to be synonymous, the metrical lists would include Lutheran or evangelische records. Experienced researchers know that this is about the only way to research our German Lutheran ancestors in Suwalki Province. Since Family Search has now digitized records ordered in the last five years, diligent researchers, some among the readership of this blog, would accept some thank yous from newer researchers!

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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.
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