Friday, March 31, 2017

Things to Do While Waiting for the Release of Family Tree Maker 2017 on March 31, 2017

originally posted: March 31, 2017 at 4:58 p.m. ET, I fixed a couple errors
Patiently Waiting.

1. Remember there are 24 hours in each and every day including March 31, 2017.

2. Sleep in  that used up a few of those hours.

3. Do some of those non-fun aspects of genealogy.

  • Clean up your work area
  • Corral those dust bunnies and relocate them to "File 13."
  • Organize those paper files and while doing that re-read them — who knows you might learn something you forgot, or something might click with what you know now.
  • Organize your electronic files but be careful of those files linked in genealogy programs.

4. Bring up five browser windows and keep hitting refresh so you know what is going on.

  • MacKiev's Family Tree Maker FaceBook page (you don't have to be a FaceBook member to take a look)
  •'s Face Book page (ditto above)
  • MacKiev's Family Tree Maker Support Page FTM 2017 FAQ page
  •'s Blog post on the change happening just to keep an eye those comments
  • Your email where the email to the Family Tree Maker 2017 download should appear. Keep hitting refresh/check mail.

    Nope. Nothing yet.

5. If you have not updated your Research Log lately now is a great time to do so. Heck, it's a good time to start one. What have you found and where? What do you want to look for and where?

6. Have an early dinner with the family. You got to talk to them sometime, now is a good time to catch up.

7. Refresh those browser tabs. Nope nothing yet.

8. Remember patience. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. And that the first time does not always go smoothly. Remember being a kid and those party games? The first in line did not always do the best. Those who came after got to see/learn how to do the task better. So let us all exercise patience and not beat up Software MacKiev  the company saved Family Tree Maker after a whole big lot of us shouted out and expressed our feelings for the program.

9. Write a letter or email an elderly relative questions about what they remember and about themselves. We are all supposed to do this, interview our elders, but how many of us have done this?

10. Take a walk, try number 4 again. If negative then repeat from number 1.

Got to run, I am trying number 6. Wonder where we are going.

©2017 All Rights Reserved, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Belated Update 2017: How Many Ancestors Do You Know? Count Your Genealogy Numbers

For the last few years I have been Counting My Genealogy Numbers in January but as you can see it is now March  I am a little behind schedule. I have not worried about doing this task too much because my 2017 numbers did not change from last year, 2016.

I have had a few inquiries about my Genealogy Numbers Form lately. Yes this form can be shared with others but the proper way to share it is to share the URL address to this blog or to the specific blog post containing the form. (You can find the form on my 2014 numbers post.) Please do not just physically share the Genealogy Number Form file (doc file) via email or your own website or distribute it via printed copies because I have not given anyone that permission. I'm simply saying tell them about it by sharing the URL address or linking to this blog/website. And that way each person can download the file for their own personal use, and I can get an idea of how many people are using the form.

Okay back to the form. Now this is not a who has the most "cards" or people in our genealogy program scenario. But rather a look at how many direct ancestors do you know in each generation where you know a first and last name OR at least a first name AND that you have some documentation to go with that linking generation to generation.
My Genealogy Numbers Form

This is the fourth year I have counted "My Genealogy Numbers." You can find my 2014 numbers2015 numbers and 2016 numbers at their respective posts.

The reality is that very, very few -- if any of us -- will have all 100% results all the way back through the generations. Natural disasters, people, and a simple lack of recording information have a way of keeping us from the answers we seek. But still we try.

So did I learn anything or find any new direct ancestors since last year? No.

My Genealogy Numbers are still exactly where they were one year and a couple months ago. Illnesses, surgeries, and other stuff in life in 2016 made little time for researching those end of liners that usually require a research trip to a specific document-rich location, or renting of microfilm for documents that are not digitized yet and might never be digitized.

My Genealogy Numbers at the start of 2017, exactly the same as the start of 2016.
So how did I do this year with my Genealogy Numbers?

Well they did not change so let us say neutral  neither a positive or negative event. As a recap from last year "My Overall Identified Ancestors Total and Overall Percentage" stands at 229 and .70% going back to my fifteenth generation or 12th great grandparents level. Most others have been comparing their numbers at the 10th generation level and in that case my numbers are -- 193 ancestors out of 1023 total or an 18.87% standing.

I made the form I use is in Microsoft Word and it will automatically calculate the percentages with a right-click of the mouse. You can find my form and learn how to count your genealogy numbers on my 2014 Genealogy Numbers postNow I did not come up with this fun exercise, I simply made a form that will do the math for me and save me time.

I still would like the genealogy angels/fairies if they are reading this to help with a few third-great grandparents so I can fill out the sparse areas of my tree but I would not say no to more cousins testing their DNA like descendants of Vincent families of early 1800s Hastings and Prince Edward Counties in Ontario, Canada; Rider of mid-1700s and later Dutchess County, New York; and Dunham of 1700s and later in Connecticut and Dutchess County, New York. Hazzard descendants have been rolling in nicely and it is looking very promising so thank you genealogy angels/fairies. While I got your attention, maybe some of those German lines of mine too if it is not too much. DNA testers who match on any of my lines might help my numbers by perhaps giving me clues as to where to concentrate my searches.

Good results with your research everyone in the coming year!

©2017 All Rights Reserved, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Getting Digitally Organized? Be Cautious with Files Linked in your Genealogy Programs

Note: This post was inspired by a very recent email I sent to a cousin. After my initial email response to her email catch-up and questions I realized that anyone's digital files already linked in a genealogy program are going to cause problems if you decide to rename or move them. Realizing this after a big digital organization project might be classified as devastating. This is essentially the email I sent but with pictures to illustrate what I describe.

Dear Cousin

I am glad to hear my last post made you think of organizing your digital genealogy files but I realized the next day I should warn you that once you decide on a method, you need to exercise caution with your files that are already linked in genealogy programs like Family Tree Maker. If you change a file name or the location of a file in your operating system environment where you see your documents folder and downloads folder, etc., your genealogy program’s established link to that file may be broken.
Manage your media files in
Family Tree Maker's Media Workspace.

How do you avoid that?

File Names: For those files with established links in your genealogy program (Family Tree Maker in our case) you usually need to change the file name from within the genealogy program. That way the file gets renamed and the link does not break. (Yes, you will see it does change the file name in the operating environment not just in FTM.)

Open your FTM file and go to the Media Workspace. (Workspaces are that top tool bar in the FTM interface window.) In the Media Workspace, locate the file you want to rename and select it.
Right-click a file to quickly access the Media Menu.

Right-click on that file’s image icon and a floating menu comes up. Select Rename Media File. In the small dialog box that appears, type the file’s new name and click OK to save the new name. You will see in the Media Workspace that the file name was changed.

The dialog box for renaming a file. Just type and OK.
The file name changes in FTM and your operating environment.
If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with shortcuts like the right-clicks, an alternate way is to go to Media Workspace, click on the file image icon you want to change then go to the Media Menu and select Rename Media File from that menu. Type a new file name and click OK. (The Menus are located in the upper left of the FTM window in a Menu tool bar just below the Workspaces tool bar.)
Or access the Media Menu from the Menu tool bar.

Moving Files: Now if you are simply moving a file that has an established link in FTM, be aware that it is a multi-step process. After you have moved the file in the operating environment, then you will have to open your FTM file, go to the Media Menu and select Find Missing Media.

Access Find Missing Media from the Media Menu in the menu
tool bar or by shortcut right-click in the Media Workspace.

You use Find Missing Media to tell FTM where a file was moved. You can either have FTM look for the missing files by itself (automatically) or do it manually yourself.

Two cautions to be aware of when using Finding Missing Media.

  • If you have more than one copy of a file kept in more than one place on your hard drive you will want to manually locate the missing file so ensure FTM links to the file in the correct location. Otherwise, it links for the first copy it finds which might not be the one you want.
  • Whether manually or automatically locating missing files, make sure the Attach Copy or Attach Link is set to how you want it to behave before you start finding the missing media. Attach Copy will make a copy of the file once found and put it into your FTM file's FTM Media folder and link to that copy it just made. (It leaves the file it found where it was found.) Attach Link will simply re-establish the link to the file in that location where the file was found. (Unfortunately Attach Copy is the default and there is not a quick way to change all selected missing files to Attach Link instead of Attach Copy in one step. Each missing file has to be manually switched to Attach Link before you search for missing files (automatically or manually) and that can get tedious.

Do you want to make a copy to link to OR link to the original?
File Names and Moving Files: If you want to do both to a file, I strongly suggest you do not change the name in the operating environment and move the file at the same time because doing both at the same time makes it difficult to re-do the link in FTM. (What did I call it and where did I move it?) Either change the name in FTM first and then in the operating environment move the file and go back into FTM to find that now missing media. Or move the file in operating environment, then in FTM find the missing media first to fix the link and then once found rename the media file while in FTM.

If a file is not already linked in FTM (or another program) than you can do all (rename and move at the same time) in the operating environment. It is just once it is linked by something (a genealogy program or another program that links to files) you have to be careful.

Take care and good luck in your organization effort. I'm still working on mine.

©2017 All Rights Reserved, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 Tip/Reminder for Finding Newspaper Dates and Page Numbers

One of my favorite digitized newspaper websites is the website which if you do not know is run by just one very competent man, Tom Tryniski. Though a little quirky, FultonHistory has digitized, searchable newspapers mostly for New York but there are some for Pennsylvania, a few other states and even Canada; and the site is free but you can donate to support the site. Seven years ago FultonHistory enabled me to track down an entire collateral branch of my family from the late 1700s up to the early 1900s.

At that time I guess I was more into the fun part of genealogy ... the researching and the chase for answers. I entered the names, information and some source information into my genealogy program at the time to keep track of things as I went but did not do the sourcing as we do nowadays. From just two probate ads (one of which I learned of from a mailing list post mentioning a familiar name) I ended up tracing all the descendants of ten of eleven children using the newspapers and other traditional genealogy records. Two additional probate ads found a year or so later on FultonHistory solved the eleventh child whose line I followed to modern day and all I had prior to work with was "married a southern woman and went south." (Remember always go back and re-do searches to see if something new has been added since your last visit.)

For the last year I have been slowly getting "past found" information into my current genealogy program with proper citation. One step of this process is making sure my digital files are named properly which for me means they follow a standard naming pattern  one that works for me.

And so I find myself now revisiting those hundreds of PDF files saved at the time of that great 2010 research adventure. Many of the files have most of the components of how I wish to name a newspaper page/clipping file but these components are not necessarily in the order I finally decided works best for me.
Newspapers with file names
not following my final newspaper name format of

That said, there are many that are missing the publication date and/or page number. Some of this missing information is due to me working too fast and not insuring I included it while sometimes the information is really missing from the saved page. Simply opening each file confirms each file's situation. In this case, it was about 50 percent my fault; 50 percent just not there. Honestly, I was not looking forward to figuring out publication dates and/or page numbers for those 50 percent not there files that I could not resolve just by opening the file.

If you have never taken a look at the help page for I strongly suggest you do. Besides an explanation of the site, there are a plethora of search tips to help you. One search tip in particular has helped me greatly with the task of revisiting my many PDF files to determine the publication date and page number. While Tom does have a video of how to do this, here is how I applied the tip to my task at hand.

Since I have a large number of files to go through, I opened FultonHistory in two browser tabs. The first browser tab is to re-locate the newspaper page(s) I'm working with by either searching for a single result or multiple results for a person. The second browser tab is to perform a second search to bring up all files for a specific newspaper/year(s) so that I can easily move to the page(s) earlier in an issue to locate the missing information.

A search to find back a specific search result.
For this example, in the first browser tab I did a search for "Harvey Marvin" 1845 and then looked for the result in the New York NY Tribune to find back the search result for a previously saved file. I thought of writing this post after I had worked on these files for a while so I do not have a screen capture of the file name from back in 2010. If I recall correctly the file name had a bunch of percent symbols in it but I could make out the paper name, a year and luckily I had added the person/subject to the end of the file name.

Now to do Tom's trick. He has named each newspaper page with a standardized wording and numbered each page sequentially starting with the first page of the first issue available for the year to the last page of the last issue available for each year. The standardized wording may indicate a specific year or range of years. Having done this it is possible for us to do a search for a specific paper and time period. But putting in a paper name and a specific year does not usually work on this site.
Copy the PDF file name for your search result match.

So for this example, I copy the PDF file name New York NY Tribune 1845 June - Oct Grayscale - 0085.pdf for the page result I sought.
Search 2 in the second browser window using the file name
in quotes but without the file number and file extension.
PDF files in sequential order.

Over in the second browser tab in the FultonHistory search query panel, I type a quote mark then paste the newspaper page file name just copied, delete the file number and file extension from the copied file name (0085.pdf) and then type a quote mark. Thus I end up with "New York NY Tribune 1845 June - Oct Grayscale - " in the query box. This is the standardized wording for this batch of newspaper pages. Then in the search options below the query box, I change Sort type from "hits" which I think is the default to "name" before clicking the search button. Doing this last step produces a results list in sequential order starting with the lowest number file and the newspaper pages in order of how they appeared from the beginning of the time period to the end of the time period covered.

After locating your page, easily move to earlier pages in the issue.
Now I locate the specific page file I want which if you remember was 0085. And as you can see in the image I can now easily select the prior page in that specific paper and learn the page I had saved was page two of that issue. You only have to move pages forward (or backward) far enough to where you can read the information (publication date or page number) and determine what would be your page's missing data.

If the article in your page result was continued on the next page, you simply copy the PDF file name to the search query box and change the file number to the next number, for example change 0085 to 0086 to easily get the following page.

With the missing information now found, I can then adjust my file name to include all the information I require for my newspaper page/clipping file names. Which is the publication date in numbers meaning Year Month Day so 1845 June 24 as 18450624 immediately followed by the newspaper name with an underscore p# underscore for the page number followed immediately by LastnameFirst or the subject of the article. So my revised file name is 18450625NewYorkTribune_p2_MarvinHarvey.pdf in this case and I now have details preserved for my source citation.

The revised file name with all information present.
Using the two browser tabs I think helps whether you are searching for the first time or trying to relocate previous finds. The first tab preserves your initial search results so you do not have to keep repeating the same search to move on in the results list while the second tab lets you take a moment to find that pesky missing information like page numbers.

There is an alternative method, manually finding the newspaper on a list and then scrolling thru pages of files to locate your page but I found those pages harder to read due to the type used on the graphics and on the subsequent pages with the file names. Thus this method seemed slower to use.

So do take some time to look over that help page because it can help. And do go back and repeat searches you have done in the past to see what has been added since. And, of course, try this tip.

Oh, those initial two probate ads I located that turned out to be a goldmine? I did that search again the other day and discovered a newspaper page added sometime in the last seven years which reported that probate was said to be the largest number of relatives to be cited in a single probate in the history of that county's probates. I believe it. And no there was not a great fortune to be had by those relatives. Supposedly it took just three years to get to the final settlement. Her uncle's probate (those other two probate ads I found about a year later) still was not settled at that time and he died about thirty years prior to her. And again there was no great fortune. Well, for them I mean because for me ... goldmine.

Hopefully you are not discounting those collateral relatives in your research, especially those with no direct (spouse or children) heirs, because they can be goldmines of information. 

©2017 All Rights Reserved, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

More Digitized Mecklenburg Records — Positive and Negatives for this “Hidden” Resource Mecklenburg-Schwerin & Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche Original Church Books

My View

This post is the one that goes with my prior post Online Resources for Finding & Seeing the Parish for Villages in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. As I started this post I realized I had to write the other to explain how to get to this point.

I have had to wait quite a while to talk about a resource I found back in October 2016 bedside after a family member's planned hip-replacement surgery. The wait was partly because recovery and rehab were the priority and partly because I had to figure out the resource in order to use it myself.

What did I find?

Late last year I discovered that the Family History Library microfilms of the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche original church books were digitized, indexed and online at the website.

These are not the duplicate church books (which were created starting about 1876) that were digitized and placed online at several years ago. These are the original church books created at the time of the actual events that were microfilmed by the Family History Library (FHL) many years ago for use in Salt Lake City, Utah, or for rental use at local Family History Centers.

I have been waiting years for this to happen! Over the years I have rented over one hundred reels of Mecklenburg-Schwerin church records and my numerous paper copies sit in a file cabinet. I was not looking forward to scanning all those records so I could attach record images to the information already in my genealogy program. I have done a few so I know how long this would take to do them all. (Yes, these were found before microfilm scanners were invented.)

But my excitement back in October was dimmed that very night when it appeared the first parish I wanted to work with was not digitized. I say appeared because when I finally got some time a little over a month later to work with the collection holding these records I discovered the parish was there but finding it took some effort.

Family History Library Catalog entry
for Neukirchen.
For the last couple months, I have done a lot of exploring in the collection where these records sit. Because of the way handled parish location naming and the indexing, I realized that to find what I was looking for I had to compare the collection to what was recorded in the Family History Library Catalog – the keeper of the descriptive details for many years. Why? Because FHL Catalog descriptions are how most people who have used these records, know these records. And besides these are digital images of FHL microfilm. Doing this comparison allowed me to figure out exactly which microfilms reels were digitized and which parish I was looking at when dealing with some of the odd parish location names used in the collection.

So I surveyed each and every one of the 317 parishes listed for the region in the collection. I did this by looking at each digitized microfilm reel – the records type and year range listed under each parish as description. Viewing every 50 or 100 images in that online “reel” looking to see if that image was indexed and how it was indexed. Then keeping track of that information in a chart. Comparing and compiling this information has taken quite a while to do.

Here are my positive and negative thoughts regarding what I have found with this resource.

Digitized record images and a searchable index make up this resource.

The digitized record images (from Family History Library microfilm) are of the original Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche parish church books created at the time of the recorded events. This is the strongest POSITIVE I can find and say. They are digitized and online! That there is a searchable index is a POSITIVE BUT at the same time it is a NEGATIVE. Continue reading below.

An Ancestry World Explorer subscription (or whatever the all world access has been/is currently being called) or access to a library offering Ancestry Library Edition to its patrons is needed to see the actual record images.

Mecklenburg church records "hiding" in plain view.
Locating the whole Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche church book grouping is not so easy. First, it is not in its own "collection" as one would expect. It appears has decided to lump all the evangelical/protestant parish records no matter the state/province location into one massive collection. That collection is currently called Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1519-1969.

For the accessible German church records being acquired, now seems to be putting them into overall collections based on religion type rather than location/province as was previously done. This could be a POSITIVE with one stop searching BUT without the ability to limit a search’s results definitively to one specific province the idea fails and becomes a NEGATIVE for those that know which state/province the person they are seeking originated. If you know where someone is you want to focus your search just on that location instead of having to deal with extemporaneous static of where he or she is not.

The collection's organization.
Personally, I think too many inexperienced researchers will likely make bad assumptions because they are not familiar with the localities that make up Germany of the past and attach themselves to the wrong ancestor. For example, a Karl Kruger born in one province, married in a second province and having children in multiple provinces in short time-period is more likely two or more different Karl Krugers rather than one guy. I have seen trees like this out there, they are not pretty. This massive collection may likely lead to more of these types of trees.

Organization of the Online Records
The collection's organization.
The Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1519-1969 collection is organized first by the records being from protestant churches, usually Evangelische churches. Secondly, this collection is organized by “Historic Region” which are the historical states/provinces in Germany or areas of former Germany. Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche parishes are listed together under Mecklenburg. (Other historical regions in the collection are: Baden, Bayern, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Hannover, Hessen, Lübeck, Military, Not Stated, Oldenburg, OstPreussen, Pommern, Posen, Reuss Linie, Sachsen, Schlesien, Schleswig-Holstein, Schwarzburg, West Preussen, Westfalen, and Württemberg. Each region varies in completeness of parishes included.)

The third level of organization, under each Historic Region, is “City or District” which is most often the location name that is the village/city where a parish/church was located. Lastly, under each “City or District” is the “Description” which gives a general description of what type and what time frame the records cover. Those description divisions are actually based on Family History Library microfilm reels. Though no mention of the microfilm number is given you can actually see them once you click on a description to move to the image viewer. That seven digit number captured at the beginning of each description’s record images in the FHL microfilm reel number.

The FHL microfilm reel number, 0069388,
with the two leading zeros missing.
For the Mecklenburg region, “City or District” is where failed. Of the 317 parish locations listed in the Mecklenburg region, 146 of them have what I would call wrong or misleading names. A NEGATIVE in my view. This is digitized FHL microfilm and the established description of each microfilm comes from the Family History Library Catalog which clearly identifies what parish each microfilm covers and failed to follow/use it. It doesn’t look like they tried to establish a new naming system instead it looks like no one had familiarity with the records.

For example, lists a City or District of Zachow but in reality the three digitized microfilms (descriptions) for that “City or District” of Zachow are of the church books for the Evangelische Kirche Ballwitz parish. Zachow is just one of several villages that the parish of Ballwitz serves. In fact Zachow is also served by another parish in Wanzka which itself is hidden under another misleading “City or District” location labeled “Mecklenburg” which seems to contain digitized records of several separate parishes under it. In my view if they followed the FHL descriptions, Ballwitz and Wanzka would be “City or District” locations not Zachow. Yes, Zachow does have a physical church in the village but it’s church books, if it had its own set, were not microfilmed by the FHL.

A view of Zachow in my Comparison Chart which is still in progress.
Red type is wrong/misleading and orange type see this item.
Remember I said I was disappointed that night I discovered the original Mecklenburg-Schwerin church books were digitized? That parish I wanted to start with but could not initially find was Neukirchen. I eventually found it listed as “Bützow u Neukirchen” which was not what I was expecting. Bützow is just the Amtsgericht (AG) or local court jurisdiction to which Neukirchen belongs. The church that these particular microfilmed records belong to is physically in Neukirchen – I know because I have been there. A novice researcher is likely not going to figure out this misleading naming situation.

A view of Neukirchen in my Comparison Chart which is still in progress.
Red type is wrong/misleading and green type is my notes/comments.
To better aid everyone, my view is that should check the organization structure of this grouping in the Germany,Lutheran collection and then rename and reorganize where needed.

Search Field Setup
I hope everyone realizes that if you perform a search from the homepage or main Search All Collections page that the search fields are just generic meaning they are the ones you will likely find in most of the database collections. But if you search each specific database collection individually you gain access to search fields specific to, or specialized for, that database collection.
Search from the home page.

The database specific search.
For the Germany, Lutheran collection the specialized search fields available are: Parish as it Appears, Page Number, Legitimacy, Event Type (Beerdigung, Geburt, Heirat, Sterbefall, Taufe), and Author. At least a few of the specialized fields should help you narrow your search results.

Of the choices, Parish as it Appears, Author and the generic Location search fields have a chance to usefully narrow your search results to a specific parish/location.

As I pointed out above, one specialized search field that should be there, is not there. With a massive collection like Germany, Lutheran collection, a “Historic Region” search field should really be there to help you focus your search to just one region like Mecklenburg. Without it the “static” can weaken your search results and just waste your time.

Another specialized search field that would have been helpful is FHL microfilm reel number. The vast majority of FHL microfilm containing the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche church records only contain record images from one parish. There may be multiple books on that microfilm but they are all from the same parish. This would have been a pretty helpful search field option, especially for experienced researchers of German ancestors.

For more about the usability of these specialized search fields read more below.

Image Quality
One POSITIVE is that I failed to find a poorly digitized record image. I know some of these actual FHL microfilms had film exposures that were very dark or very light (at least the ones rented out to local Family History Centers) so I am happy to see that someone was paying attention to how the film scanners were performing. If you are downloading record images to your computer/device be aware that most church books were microfilmed two pages up (left/right) in one image so you will get a downloaded image containing both the left and right pages. If you want only the page where your record sits, then you will have to use image editing software to crop the record image.

Searchable Index
So what about the usability of the searchable index? This is where the NEGATIVE comes into play that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. You need to be aware of several caveats when you are using the searchable index. Here are my caveats:

1. Not every record is indexed. If you are unaware of this, then you will assume your people are not in the collection when they actually might be there – just not indexed. I am not sure what were the indexing guidelines for this historical region of Mecklenburg. Most of what was skipped seems to be confirmation records but then I have seen some indexed. Also, more very, early records are indexed than what I expected to find considering the penmanship at the time. And as you can guess if the Schrift/handwriting was really bad that section was not indexed.

2. The records are not indexed the same way from parish to parish. For example, there is a search field called “Parish as it Appears” which one would think would be an excellent field to use to limit search results to just one specific parish. But nothing was indexed into this field for a lot of parishes even when there could have been. In some cases, this field is filled in for only some of a specific parish’s indexed records. Also for those parishes that do have entries in Parish as it Appears, what was entered can vary for a specific parish eliminating the ability to use the field to narrow your search to a specific parish. But some of the entries just do not make sense because they refer to the book type or something else altogether rather than which parish it is. For example, for the Badendiek parish the following various entries were made in the “Parish as it Appears” field: “Badendiecker” or “Sippenkanzlei” or “Kirch” or “Band” or “Bndendiek.” Thus there is no way to use the field for narrowing to a specific parish in one search. Some other oddities to be found in this particular field are: “Register,” “Evangelical Lutheran,” “Salt Lake,” and “Auffgerinptet von Gabrid Brand” none of which describe which parish.
A view of Badendiek in my Comparison Chart which is still in progress.

3. The quality of the index is of grade C or B- grade work in my opinion. The indexers either did not know the language or were for a large part unfamiliar with the old style of German writing called Schrift. (It is a very angular writing because it was done with a cut quill or fountain pen on rough paper/vellum.) Some of this might have been smoothed out with a quality check by those experienced with the language and the Schrift but that apparently was not done. (I know it is hard to find persons who can read Schrift.) Some record entries have no name entered or just a first name. Some records were not read correctly by indexers so I have seen capital O read as capital D, the long s read as an f, a capital P read as a capital G, etc.

Some recorded surnames have an extra –in ending which actually just means this is a female. That extra -in was indexed when that part of the name should have been ignored. For example, if you see Anna Sophia Zimmermannin in a record, it should be indexed or transcribed as Anna Sophia Zimmermann. The -in at the end is not part of the surname it just points out this is a female. Yes, sometimes a surname does end with -in but an experienced or informed person has learned about this ending possibility and knows to keep an eye out for it.

Additionally, Schrift handwriting has a other shorthand features. It appears many indexers were unaware of this. So if the surname you seek ends with –er, such has Schumacher, you are also going to want to search for Schumach to catch those entries that were written with shorthand that indexers failed to catch. Or perform a wild card search – Schumach* – to catch both at the same time. A similar search process will have to be done for surnames ending with -en.

4. The location search field is problematic. As far as locations, this collection was not indexed using’s “standardized” location wordings. So the exact search on an event location seems to not work every time. (Even when you know the specific wording that was used.) For example, in this collection one location is indexed as “Behren u Lübchin, Mecklenburg, Deutschland (Germany)” while the standardized form is “Behren-Lubchin, Rostock, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany” so entering the one with exact search won’t find the other. That can be frustrating. At least in this case, Lubchin is unique and can be used to narrow results.

Also with locations, some indexers must have got lost, confused or bored. There are numerous parishes that have “Salt Lake, Mecklenburg, Deutschland” entered as the event location instead of the correct event location. For a few parishes this Salt Lake location is the only location given while other parishes have a mixture of the proper location and this made-up location. Other location oddities I have seen are: “Mecklenburg, Mecklenburg, Deutschland” for locations that are not the village of Mecklenburg; and “Landeskirche, Mecklenburg, Deutschland.” If a researcher does a search using the expected parish location those records in that parish with the mis-identified event locations are not going to show up in the results.

5. Actual birth and death locations were not extracted. We have all hopefully learned the importance of finding an ancestor’s village of origin. Unfortunately with this collection that is not going to help find your ancestor if you already know the village. When indexing the baptism (Taufe) records where birth location can be found (the parent’s place of residence) in the record that information was skipped in most cases. What was indexed, besides the names of the child, mother and father, is the birth date if given, baptism date, and baptism location which is usually is the location of the church. (See caveat number 4.) Because there are no search fields for baptism date and location, you will have to try using the date and location for Any Event or the Keyword search field. I can tell you I have had problems using both Any Event Location and Keyword because the standardized location wordings were not used.
Bottom of image: What is indexed for the first baptism
on the left-hand page. (Left side of extracted text.)

Bottom of image: What is indexed for the first baptism
on the left-hand page. (Right side of extracted text.)
A related item to point out is that the Sterbefall (death) events also are recorded with the parish location rather than the place of residence which was skipped in indexing. I really think people are more likely to have died in the village of residence not the church location unless they lived there.

Just to review the type of events: Beerdigung (burial) events have the burial date and location indexed but not usually the death information. The Sterbefall (death) events have the death date and location indexed but usually not the burial information. The Geburt (birth) events that are in the searchable index have the birth date and location indexed but usually not the baptism information. The Taufe (baptism) have the baptism date and location but usually not the birth location information. The Heirat (marriage) have the marriage date and location indexed. Remember these locations given are still usually the parish location not the place of residence.

6. The Author search field is problematic. Despite having numerous wrong or misleading parish locations for the “City or District” hierarchy, the entries for the Author search field were usually entered correctly meaning they match the FHL catalog entry names for the parishes. So for that “City or District” misleadingly labeled “Bützow u Neukirchen” when you look at a search result detail from there you find the Author is given as “Evangelische Kirche Neukirchen (AG Bützow)” in the field which does match the FHL Catalog entry.

While exact search works on “Evangelische Kirche Neukirchen (AG Bützow) bringing back 35,358 matches, if you to simply put in “Neukirchen” or “Evangelische Kirche Neukirchen” and do exact search these entries bring back 51,705 matches. Why? There is a parish of that name in Schleswig-Holstein but it’s AG carries a different name. (And remember these matches are only to records that have been indexed and not all records have been indexed yet.)

In another case putting in the Author entry exactly how it appears when viewing details of a match, “Evangelische Kirche. Stiftskirche Bützow (Mecklenburg-Schwerin)” and using exact search actually brings back zero matches. Doing an exact search on just “Evangelische Kirche. Stiftskirche Bützow” results in 51,525 matches. Go figure.

If the parish location name is unique you may be able to do an exact match just on that location name in either the Author field or appropriate Location field. But if that location name is also in the name of an Amtsgericht (AG) the search results will come back with all parishes in the AG not just the single parish you sought.

As you can probably see, it is going to take some finagling to get the search results you desire to appear.

Source Citations
While having the Mecklenburg church records grouped into a larger collection might benefit a few researchers while searching, one NEGATIVE trade-off is that the source citation created during web search records merge in Family Tree Maker is very, very generic. Yes it cites the specific database collection but source citations for other database collections (like the U.S. Federal Census) also go on to cite (… citing …) the record collection that the database was created from thereby recording for the researcher and future researchers a more thorough source citation.

Result: a generic source citation.

No citation specifics given.
To rectify the automatic source citation, you will have to go into each source citation detail and manually enter additional information (citing …) using the information in the FHL catalog for the particular parish a record originated. Of course, for those records that are not indexed yet you will have to manually add all the source citation information. (Hopefully you can find one record that is indexed and then build the citations for your manually added records off of the one source automatically made by Family Tree Maker.)

Manually added citation details.

U.S. Federal Census source info.

A detailed web search merge citation.

In Summary …
Searching for your ancestor in this Germany, Lutheran collection is going to be problematic with the limitations of the search fields themselves and the incomplete and not so great indexing. If you are not finding your ancestor but you know which parish they should be in (see my earlier post on finding and seeing the village and parish) then manually browse the digitized records for that parish. And do compare what is currently digitized and listed in the description level with the FHL’s catalog entry for that parish to confirm if all available microfilm reels for that parish are currently digitized or not.

Though I have pointed out there are a lot of negatives to deal with, I really am very happy these records were finally digitized from the FHL microfilm. The only thing better would have been full-color digital images of the actual original church books which sit in the Evangelische Archives.

POSITIVES: the Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz Evangelische Kirche parish church records have been digitized and are online!

NEGATIVES: Researcher beware of the faulty organization and incomplete/not so good searchable index.

Good Luck finding your ancestors!

©2017 All Rights Reserved, goneresearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Online Resources for Finding & Seeing the Parish for Villages in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany

Amazingly I have not written much of anything about German research on this blog despite a conservative estimate that over 75 percent of my ancestry is made up of ancestors from the old province of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. This post and the next post (which prompted this post) will resolve that omission.

We descendants of ancestors from Mecklenburg-Schwerin, and to some extent Mecklenburg-Strelitz, have had it pretty easy when it comes to researching German ancestors. The key genealogy resource for German research — church records — are pretty much complete with little record loss for this area compared to other provinces/states of Germany. These wonderful records were also microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS/Mormons) and have been available for rental at local LDS Family History Centers for many, many years. Another key genealogy resource — census — also exists for Mecklenburg-Schwerin (numerous years) and has been available through Family History Library (FHL) microfilm rental too.

The only down side we have had is that they are not universally indexed and they were written in chicken-scratch … er, I mean, Schrift which is that angular writing form done by quill and ink.

Because of this availability I am blessed to say I have most of my Mecklenburg-Schwerin lines back to the early 1700s or 1600s when the Evangelisch church books begin.

But how did I get to that point?

Well back then the internet was just a baby and nothing like it is now so the steps I took had to be done at a library with a good genealogy collection or onsite at a needed location like a church. Flash forward to today and quite a few of these steps can now be done online but not necessarily all of them.

Before you begin researching a new-to-you area/topic, read up on that area/topic. You can learn quite a bit online but sometimes a book on the subject helps too. With German research you have to understand a few things. Germany did not exist as Germany until 1871; before getting together it was a bunch of localities operating in a variety of ways. The Germany of today is much smaller so much of yesterday’s Germany is now part of neighboring countries. Because of all this I think you can guess that records are not centralized. Most records are kept locally or regionally not nationally so that is what makes the first step so important.

1. Determine the village from which your ancestor originated.

Because records are not centralized and not every village has a church, you need to know the village and the province/state of Germany/former Germany to find the church parish your ancestor attended — I call this The Gold Key Information.

Where do you find the Gold Key? It may be in your or your extended family’s papers/photos, in an older relative’s memory, in the church records your ancestor attended, in later naturalization records, on a tombstone, in an obituary or anniversary item in the newspaper, in civil vital records, in published genealogies/local histories, in military records, in homestead papers, in club/organization memberships, etc. Do not just search your direct ancestor. Sometimes the collateral relatives are the ones with the answer you seek rather than your direct ancestors. And don't forget to check out those "family friends" because a lot of times they turn out to be some sort of relatives.

But sometimes you don’t find the Gold Key on this side of the ocean. In that case gather up what I call The Silver Key Information. It is the very least you need to know to find your ancestor in emigration/immigration records which may lead to the Gold Key.

The Silver Key Information is:
  • Original name(s) of ancestor(s)
    • As much as possible even nicknames
  • Approximate age at arrival/departure
    • As much of the birth date possible
  • State/Province of "Germany"
    • It’s a big place and it helps to be looking in the right state; and sometimes there is more than one place with the same name
  • Approximate date of arrival
    • A year or range of years from your clues

This Silver Key Information will help you identify your ancestor(s) in the passenger ship lists. With the passenger lists you work backwards starting with the arrival list and ending with the departure list if one still exists. And in most cases you are going to want to cross your fingers that your ancestor departed Germany using the port of Hamburg. Why? It is the port where the most records have survived and the Hamburg Passenger Departure Lists asked where did you last reside. While this isn’t always the birth place, it more often than not leads you in that direction.

This is the step that can sometimes be done online but not always. Not everything is digitized and not everything is on the internet. You may still need to visit a location in person or write a letter requesting information if you can not visit in person.

If you don't find the Gold key directly or by using the Silver Key information in passenger lists, depending on the area and time frame you are dealing with you might be able to use the Silver Key information (and the family dynamics you have figured out) to find your ancestors in other types of records from Germany/former Germany that have been digitized and indexed. (For example census or permission to emigrate documents.)

So assuming you have your Gold Key — the village and state/province your ancestor came from — it is time to move to the next step.

2. Use a parish/church guide to determine the correct location of the parish for your ancestor's village.

Mecklenburg Parish Guide

This step involves using a church parish guide or gazetteer that lists the parish locations for the village in the province/state your ancestor originated. I’m going to use Mecklenburg-Schwerin for the following examples. For other areas of Germany/former Germany the resources will be similar but carry different names.

Mecklenburg Parish Guide Detail
Belitz, Groß
 — Neukirchen
Back before the internet, the resource to use for Mecklenburg-Schwerin was on FHL microfiche # 60000834 which contains The Mecklenburgs familiengeschichtliche Quellen, by C.A. Engler and Edm. Albrecht, (Hamburg: 1936.) It is part of the grouping of microfiche that all Family History Centers start with so the plus was that you did not have to rent it. But the book is printed in Blackletter font/type making it a challenge to read for some and you have to visit a local FHC to view the microfiche. Essentially you would look up the name of your village and the parish location for that village was listed after the dash. If there was no dash and other location then that village had the church. So for Gross Belitz you would find it listed as "Belitz, Gross" and the Quellen indicates that the parish for the village is Neukirchen.

For many years now, that same information has been on the internet in various forms on various websites. The one place it has not disappeared from is the website of the Verein fur mecklenburgische Familien- und Personen-geschichte e. V. which is the association for Mecklenburg family and personal history. The group has taken the information from the Mecklenburgs Quellen, made additions and corrections to it and then put the information into a free searchable database called Orte in Mecklenburg or Ortsdatenback. While the site is in German there is a translate button for the pages but I suggest switching back to German so when you do a search you see the location name untranslated rather than translated into English. For example “Gross Belitz” which appears as “Belitz, Gross” in the database will appear as “Belitz, United” when the page is viewed with the English translation on.

To find similar guides for other areas of Germany look in the FamilySearch catalog for that state/province under the “church records — Inventories, registers, catalogs.”

Sometimes the guides will simply tell you the parish, like above, but other times the book will be more of a gazetteer. For the various provinces making up the Kingdom of Prussia, the main resource to find the parish is a gazetteer called Gemeindelexikon für das Königreich Preußen, 1905. The multi-volume set is on FHL microfilm but has since been digitized and can be viewed at the website. The latest Ancestry title for the collection is Prussia, Municipality Gazetteer, 1905. While you can perform a search, I find it easier to manually view the volume you need. About five pages/images in is a Contents page listing the various Kreis (like a county) for that volume's province/state with the page number that Kreis starts on. At the back of each volume is an alphabetical listing of the villages which refer you to a Kreis number and location list number rather than a page number. The volumes are printed in Blackletter font/type as is the usual case with German printed material.

In more recent years, a new series of books has come out called Map Guide to German Parish Registers. There is a volume (sometimes more than one) for each province in Germany. There is an index in each book which tells you what page to look at for Evangelical and Catholic parishes for each village/location. This information is presented by Amtsgericht with an outline area map (no location dots) and the beginning/first FHL microfilm number for the parish if the church books were microfilmed by the LDS. There are currently 56 volumes published so far with more planned covering the free cities. You may find this book series at libraries with large/good genealogy collections, more likely in areas that had a lot of early German immigrants settle there.

3. View your village and parish location on a map.

The Mecklenburg
Genealogical Handbook

Usually once you know the village and the parish you want to see these places on a map. That was not so easy a while back. One printed resource, The Mecklenburg Genealogical Handbook by Charles Hall, contains detailed maps and a list of parishes on FHL microfilm. Hall wrote similar guides for other provinces of Germany under the Bridge Across the Atlantic series. The format of the volumes varied. Some listed Family History Library microfilm available for parishes, some just the villages in the provinces and some had detailed maps but not all.

List of microfilmed Parishes
in Mecklenburg Handbook
Detailed map in Mecklenburg Handbook
for area around Gross Belitz

Detailed Road Atlases of Germany
Finding a detailed map (the older the better) took some effort. For a very detailed modern map there is the ADAC driving atlas for Germany or a similar driving atlas by Hammond, or Michelen folded-maps covering Germany by regions. For areas of former Germany you would seek a map for the present-day country but the map will list locations in the country's current language.
Detail of ADAC road atlas
for area aroundGross Belitz
Detail of Hammond road atlas
for area around Gross Belitz

Google Map of same example area.
Note: Gross Belitz does not appear.

In this internet age, we are more likely to turn to Google Maps or similar website with detailed maps. A lot of times this may work but not all very small villages will show up. And since these are modern maps, locations may have altered their names. A lot of communities in Germany are coming together to share services and sometimes the communities are altering their names a bit so they may show up differently on a map now.

My favorite maps are still my ADAC driving atlas picked up in Schwerin in 2000 and a Hammond Atlas of Germany from 2010 picked up by chance at Barnes and Noble bookstore.

But I really like seeing the topographical and extremely detailed, older maps of Germany – the ones where you can see and count the buildings in a village.

German Maps at BYU Library
My favorite place to locate these is the Brigham Young University Library’s digitized German Maps (Togographische Karte 1:25,000) collection. The 3,000 plus maps cover all of Germany with some of Poland and were printed between the 1930s and 1950s. Though you can do an online search for a location only the locations used to label each map sheet are indexed. So there is a four volume gazetteer (actually located on Internet Archive) divided by former West Germany and East Germany which will help you locate on which map sheet your village/parish sits. Then take that map sheet number and do a search for that sheet number in the German Maps collection. Some maps are color and some are black and white but all are detailed … and free.
Topographical detailed map of same example area

4. Knowing the parish location, see if church records are available.

After you know the parish for your village then you have to figure out if the church books were microfilmed; microfilmed and now digitized online; or just digitized and online.

Years ago that meant visiting a local Family History Center to view the Family History Library catalog and then renting microfilm when available for a parish. (When I began there was a computer database catalog but it originally was on microfiche I believe.) Now you just have to search a few places online to learn if records are accessible. Some may be digitized and accessed for free or for a fee. Some may still need to be rented on microfilm.

Look for German parish church books at the:

  • website
    free online, cost to rent microfilm/microfiche
    Under Records, search the catalog using your found parish location and look under church records to see if any were microfilmed. If the microfilm has been digitized by the LDS, the catalog should tell you and have a link to the digitized film. If the microfilm is not digitized at FamilySearch you might have to rent it if it is not digitized on another website. You can also look under Records, browse the record collection by location to see for yourself if church records for your parish location have been digitized
  • website
    pay subscription website, many libraries have Ancestry Library Edition subscriptions for patrons to use
    Search the various collections under Germany overall and under the province you need to see if any church records were digitized. has other agreements besides the one with FamilySearch to digitize records. If your location is in former Germany, also search under the modern-day country for your location. (Keep an eye out for my next post. It is about something I found on back in October 2016.)
  • (the Evangelical Church Book portal website)
    pay/subscription site started in 2015 which went live in 2016
    Browse by participating church archive to see if any church books have been digitized or will be digitized for your location. The website is mainly in German with some English translated pages. Parish locations (or individual books) that are currently digitized are shaded in green. They are not necessarily all indexed yet. 

For areas of former Germany that are now Poland, some Polish Archives are digitizing the church records they hold and are putting them on their websites.

If the church books for your location are not available, you will likely have to write a letter (or sometimes an email) in German to the pastor of that parish asking if your ancestor appears in the church books, or you may have to hire a local researcher in Germany. Depending on the area of Germany, the church books could still be with the church or at a regional archive. But there is a chance the records may be lost/destroyed.

There are so many other details that I could cover but my goal with this post was to cover how to find a church parish and see it on a map so that I could simply cover the topic I wanted to write in the first place.  And that will be the next blog post.

©2017 All Rights Reserved, GoneResearching. All text and photos in this post are copyrighted & owned by me (goneresearching) unless indicated otherwise. No republication (commercial or non-commercial) without prior permission. You may share (tell others) of this blog as long as you give credit and link to this site (not by downloading or copying any post). Thank you.