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FAQS

Which microfilms should you order?
According to Fred H Held "I would suggest the family registers first. They are usually the only place notes about where the family went are put. Besides, they also give you a head start on the family, because 3 generations are listed on one page.Please note that there are church records for 5 villages mixed together on those microfilms. In the area where my family came from in southern Baden, it was common for the families to intermarry between villages. However, in my case it was a island of Evangelische villages in the middle of a Catholic region."

According to Pam "Evangelisch is the church not a town. Your best bet is to rent the church records for Grafenhausen yourself from a local Family History Center and try to locate your family. There are 6 films and depending on dates of birth, you'd probably want Taufen (baptisms) 1808-1888, Film 1340119. The records go back to 1558 so if your ancestors had been in the town for a long time, you should be able to go back quite a few generations."

 

How do I read German documents?
According to Fred H Held "As far as reading German, the language will not be a problem on the family registers, but the script will. The hand written script was somewhat
different from what is used today, to the point that the modern Germans cannot read it. These webpages give examples of two old German script alphabets: 1. or 2. or 3.

However, the script was regional and may even be different than these examples. The book by the late Edna Bentz shows as many as 20 regional variations for each letter and helps to identify the letters. (Note: It also has other useful information. Well worth the $20.)

According to Pam "Hopefully you'll get ones that are in good shape and the recorder has good handwriting. :) I've seen all sorts myself. They WILL be in German but don't let that shock you too much. When I started I know no German (except maybe gesundheit or however it's spelled). I bought a pocket sized German/English dictionary which was a little help but not much. The familysearch.org site has a nice German help which I used quite a bit in the beginning. You can find by first going to their homepage then clicking on the Family History Library System link. Click on the Education link at the top then on the "research guidance" link. Choose "research outlines" and then go to Germany Research Outline. The handwriting link gives you a good chart of the old German handwriting which you can print and keep with you. The language and languages has a link for the German Genealogical Word List which you can print. It has a lot of common words used in genealogy records."

Which genealogy software is right for me?
According to Pam "that's a personal preference but FWIW, I use The Master Genealogist. It is probably used by more professionals and is designed to be more a research tool rather than just storage. The current version is 5.05 but it is still lacking some reports which hopefully will be out soon. It is put out by WhollyGenes and they have the best tech support I've ever seen as well as a mailing list which
is very helpful (and very active). I've used PAF, Family Tree Maker, Brother's Keeper, Legacy, Family Origins and a couple of other old DOS programs and I find TMG better than them all. It may not make as many fancy charts as some, but it is by far the most powerful and flexible
program I've used. I do keep copies of Family Origin and Family Tree Maker (for reading CDs) on my computer but don't use them for data entering or reports unless I happen to want a fancy chart. TMG has a 90 day money back
guarantee so you can buy it and try it out. The 5.05 version is by download only right now but will have a CD and manual when the rest of the reports are ready. PAF is available for a free download at the familysearch.org site and there is a free version of Legacy available for
download, too. I'm not sure of the site."
Should I make a copy of any records I find on film/microfiche?
According to Pam "I find--partly because you'll want a copy but mainly because it's a lot easier to try to translate at home with a magnifying glass at times and all your word and letter charts handy. You'll just have to be able to
recognize your surnames in the records and quite often (especially when not in chart form) they're underlined. Very helpful.
Where do I find a translator?
According to Pam "One good source--there is a Yahoo group called the Transcribe Group. It is made up of volunteers who will help you decipher the old records. You'll
have to get a Yahoo ID but you can scan a copy of the church record and upload it and someone will transcribe and/or translate it. It is very helpful. I've used it for some particularly hard to read records."
Did Germans keep good family history records?
According to Pam "Germans kept the best records of any country I've researched. In the marriage entries they will usually give both sets of parents (and if one is not listed, I've found generally it is a second marriage or both parties
are newcomers to the town and have no relatives there). Usually if one is not originally from a town, they will state that in the record usually under the father's name such as Anna Maria, Johann Adam Keller burger von Otterberg (which would be Anna Maria, daughter of Johann Adam Keller citizen from Otterberg). A lot of the baptisms will even have the mother's maiden name, something I've never found in English records.
Do you recommend any books?
According to Pam "The best investment I made was in a German/English Genealogical Dictionary by Ernest Thode. There are few words in the old records I've not be able to find in this. It has been very helpful. As you go along
you'll begin to recognize a lot of words. A lot of the 1800s baptisms were kept in chart form which makes them much easier to figure out. A lot depends, though, on whoever the pastor was who kept the records.
What does Heiraten & Toten mean?
According to Pam "Heiraten is marriages and Toten is deaths. There's also a Familienbücher which is a family book. It was done by the church and arranged by families. It is a secondary source since it was copied from the regular church records and there could be some errors but it is very helpful in finding families. A page in the book generally has the parents at the top with their birthdates
and marriage dates (and death dates, too), under them are the names of each set of parents and at the bottom is a list of the couple's children. It's kind of like a family group sheet
How does on elook up the regional association of a village,
town, or city?

According to Fred H Held "One is GeoServ located on the Germany genealogy website
to get the following email answer:
Mannheim
GKZ : 08 2 22 000
County : | | +---- Mannheim {MA} (kreisfrei/independent)
RegBez : | +------- Karlsruhe
Land : +--------- Baden-Württemberg
ZIP : 68159-68309
Popul : 302725
Locat : 49d29m N 8d28m E
Maps : TK25 6516 Mannheim Südwest
TK50 L6516 Mannheim
Euro Ic52

The LDS FHL catalog gives the following heading and lists all the microfilms available for rent at your local LDS Family History Center. "Germany, Baden, Mannheim"

 

 

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Updated 04/25/03 by SAB