The 20th Anniversary conference of the Society for Germanic Genealogy in Eastern Europe https://www.sggee.org/ which “focuses on the genealogy of Germans from Russian Poland and Volhynia with help for related regions” was held July 27-29, 2018 in Calgary, Alberta. https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/sggee-org/ is a link to an earlier G-SLISP post about one of their databases.
I was asked to present a session on Genealogical Research in East Prussia. The southern half of East Prussia was located in what is now Poland, and some ancestors of SGGEE members may have lived in East Prussia at some point. I decided to forego FEEFHS this year in favor of establishing a relationship with a new Eastern European genealogical group.
I came prepared as a presenter and a researcher.
First, I developed a presentation on Migrations, Political History, and Researching Family History with print and online sources in East Prussia. Previous G-GLISP posts have not included information on East Prussian migrations or the ever-changing borders of East Prussia, but they have included strategies and experiences on how to use print and online as well as primary and secondary sources to deepen family history research. Perhaps a future post will include parts of the four-page handout that might benefit blog readers.
The conference schedule https://www.sggee.org/convention/2018%20Convention%20Speakers.pdf included sessions about Canadian research, beginning research, DNA, EWZ records, Black Sea Germans, East Prussia, translating Polish and Cyrillic records, moving beyond Ships’ Lists, Stalin’s Arrest Records, Navigating Online Polish records, and submitting data for the SGGEE Master Pedigree File. Dave Obee provided a twenty year look back of changes in genealogical research.
Some of the major points that stood out for me included:
The future of genealogical research includes testing with multiple DNA tests with large numbers of participants. (I have used both FTDNA and Ancestry but for different people. I must upload my recent Ancestry results to FTDNA.)
Including both print and online sources in your research. (My presentation included both.) A recent comment was that only 10% of available genealogical material is online.
Studying the history and geography of the area of your search before you begin to search for records was emphasized by more than one speaker. (This point was precisely the focus of the first half of my presentation.)
Other speakers urged researcher to check all sources. (In my case, it was use more than one browser as I provided an example of different results between using Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome in one German website.)
Step back to get perspective and think. (I did this by reading two excerpts from historical fiction that were set in East Prussia at the time of Napoleon and one excerpt by a WWII soldier.
Explore footnotes and endnotes for additional sources. (Gee, I actually do this!)
I also came prepared as a researcher as I knew that Karl Krueger was an expert on the EWZ records. See https://suwalkigermans.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/post-1-introduction-to-the-ewz-records/ I brought the records of three Hutops to try to ferret out the details of three Gesundheitskartei (Health Summary) cards. I was not disappointed in our results. Thank you, Karl.
I also brought a Polish death record and a Cyrillic birth record so I could work during Sigrid Pohl Perry’s hands-on translating workshop. She convinced me that one letter was a /k/ rather than an /r/ so I knew I had the wrong record. She referred us to Steve Morse’s website: https://www.stevemorse.org/ which allows the user to convert English letters to upper and lower case Russian print and cursive letters! Scroll down to “Converting between Russian Print and Cursive in One Step.“ https://www.stevemorse.org/russian/cyrprintcurs.html. I tried it and it seemed to work with Auguste Spurgat. I recommend trying your last name first.
The volunteers who work on behalf of SGGEE are to be commended for the high quality and volume of online resources they have provided in the last 20 years. Check out their website and Facebook pages and consider joining. The 2019 conference is in Winnipeg, Manitoba where my new Canadian cousins live.
The next blog will return to the EWZ records.