Friday, August 20, 2010

German Reserach 1 2 3

No, this is not a post claiming that German Research is as easy as 1, 2, 3. What this post is about is that researching our German ancestors is:

1.  Intimidating
2.  Confusing
3.  Scary

However, it is not an impossible task with the right information and knowing which research tools are available to you.

I spent last weekend at the MoSGA annual conference, listening to Roger Minert share his expertise in German Research. I was at the point in my research, on my father's line, that I felt I was ready to look at German records. I was unsure where to start as I was not familiar with what records are available and where I could find them. Roger's expertise was just what I needed for this undertaking. One of the sources available for German research, that Roger's presentation covered, is the Meyers Orts Gazetteer.

To make this overly simple, Meyers Orts is a finding aid for villages located in the German Empire between 1871 and 1918.  This gazetteer provides key information you need in order to request documents, such as which parish the village belongs to as well as what civil district.  This is a wonderfully, beautiful aid that is written in German Fraktur, a Gothic script.  While I enjoyed looking at it, reading it is another story and a challenge in itself.  Luckily, there are several guides to help you through this process.

Once I found the town I believed my Baudermann's came from, Klepsau, Baden, I was ready to begin the translation process.  Translating the information is actually a two-step process.  The listings are filled with abbreviations in order to conserve space.  First you must use a key to determine what the abbreviations stand for, then secondly translate the wording.  I spent some time trying to figure this out on my own, before I contacted someone who was familiar with German script and could help me out.

The details of the listing for Klepsau are as follows:

"Klepsau is a village in Baden.  The governmental district and military office are in Mosbach.  The district government office and lower court is in Borberg.  Post office is in Krautheim, 398 residents; postal & telegraph and train station in Mockmuhl-Dorzbach.  Civil records are also in Mockmuhl-Dorzbach.  Steuereinn has something to do with taxes or revenue; Catholic parish church is in Klepsau.  Occupations are wine growing, dairy and woven goods."

If anyone has any corrections or a better translation, please let me know.

Armed with this information, I know which parish I need to look to for church records.  If necessary, I can also request civil records from the proper location.  This is a lesson in continuing the education process then locating and reading the finding aids and research guides that are provided with record sets.