Conference

Presentations

Roger P. Minert

Ph.D., Prof. em

 

 

Conference Topics

Church Records in Germany

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

This presentation is an introduction to the identification and location of church (vital) records for towns and cities in Germany (with borders as of 1871). The emphasis is on the types of records available in specific provinces during specific periods of time. The discussion features major historical events and developments associated with the keeping of vital records in Germany. Handouts include bibliographical data on church record inventories available in Family History Library. The 90-minute duration allows time for practice in reading typical church records.

Civil Records in Germany

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

This presentation is an introduction to the identification and location of civil

(vital records) for towns and cities in Germany (with borders as of 1871). The emphasis is on the types of records available in specific provinces during specific periods of time. The discussion features major historical events and developments associated with the civil registry system in Germany from the beginnings (1793) to the present. The impact of the 2009 laws and the current civil records repositories are discussed.

Introduction to German Phonetics as it Applies to the Spelling of Personal Names
(or: “How can Tiefendörfer and Diependerper be the same family?”)

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 90 minutes

Most researchers in German-language family history identify numerous variant spellings of personal names over time and in different locations. Despite the apparently helter-skelter variations, basic rules of Germanic phonetics are at work here. This presentation will offer linguistic explanations for specific spelling changes. With emphasis on problem-solving throughout, the presenter uses names supplied by the audience to illustrate the application of phonetic rules to the spelling of personal names in Germany and among German immigrants in North America.

Conducting Family History Research in Europe

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 90 minutes

Conducting family history research in an ancestral home town in Europe can be most satisfying, but also very challenging--even for the experienced professional. This presentation deals with the preparation and execution of a family history research excursion to Europe. The instructor uses a series of slides to describe various research locations and typical situations. The emphasis of this presentation is on avoiding and/or solving problems and increasing productivity in what can be a very expensive undertaking.

Cemeteries in Central Europe

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 30-60 minutes

The customs associated with funerals and burials in German-speaking regions of Europe are substantially different from corresponding rituals in the United States. The layout and maintenance of cemeteries in also quite different. In this presentation, slides are used to illustrate cemetery conditions and cultural customs associated with funerals and burials. The presenter demonstrates how the individual or family grave and its appearance are of great concern to Europeans. The question of death and burial records--often asked by North American researchers--is also discussed in detail.

Communicating With Agencies and Individuals in Europe

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 45-60 minutes

Because not all vital records are available on microfilm in North America, many researchers find it necessary to communicate with churches, civil registrars, and private individuals in Europe. There are many challenges to such communication, and this presentation will guide novices and experts alike in overcoming such problems. Emphasis is placed on the locating of names and addresses, language considerations, payment of fees, etc. Attention is also given to telephone and telefax communications--an increasingly efficient way to obtain assistance in Europe.

Surname Changes in Northwestern Germany

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

During the feudal era, hundreds of large estate farms were established in Western Hannover, Oldenburg, Westphalia, and Lippe-Detmold. On many of those estates, the surname of the owner did not change for over a thousand years, though blood lines almost always did. The conditions under which people lived on these estate farms and the patterns for surname changes and acquisition are discussed in this presentation. The focus is the effect such a widespread and complex system has on the tracing of family lines in this part of Germany.

Troubleshooting in Germanic Family History Research

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: Variable

The troubleshooting session is essentially an open forum, during which members of the audience are allowed to present--in great brevity--questions and problems specific to their own research scenarios. In suggesting solutions, the instructor expands the scope of each response to fit much broader circumstances, whereby numerous members of the audience benefit. Generally, the suggested solution of one problem leads coherently to the next problem etc. and the discussion can be terminated at any appropriate moment.

Avoiding “Self-Defeating Behaviors” in German Family History Research

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 45-60 Minutes

Novices as well as experienced family history researchers tend to commit pattern errors (Aself-defeating behaviors@) and thus hinder or stymie their own progress. Such errors include over-estimating one=s capabilities, relying without question on research done by others, fear of or over-reliance on computer technology, and believing family legends that may well be inaccurate. This presentation features examples for each of the Aself-defeating behaviors@ in an attempt to assist the audience in recognizing and overcoming these problems. This presentation also lends itself well as a banquet or luncheon speech.

A day in the life of your German ancestor

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

Most family history researchers are interested in the daily events in the lives of their ancestors. This presentation deals with the common activities of families on the farm and in the trades. The details provided represent the culmination of the presenter’s reading on the topic over the last two decades, from hard-to-find literature available only to the German audience.

A Genealogist’s Outline of German History since 1517

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-120 minutes

This presentation examines the major events of German history from the time of Martin Luther to the early 20th century. The relationship between historical events and developments and the emigration of our ancestors from Germany is the focus of the presentation.

The Feudal Order

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

Essentially everybody in the Germanic territories of Europe was affected to some degree by the feudal system that ended in the early 19th century. This presentation deals with the basis aspects of life under a feudal overlord and the effects of the feudal system in the daily lives of our Germanic ancestors.

Marriage and Courtship in Germany 1500 to 1800

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

Perhaps the most important event in the life of our German ancestor was his marriage. Social and religious customs associated with courtship and marriage in German-language territories of Europe are discussed in detail in this presentation. Related issues such as illegitimate children, inheritance, and property acquisition at the time of the wedding are an integral part of this presentation.

Status in German Society 1500 to 1800: Where Did Your Ancestors Fit in?

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

Thanks to a great extent to the very well-developed and rather inflexible feudal system in Germanic territories in Europe, our ancestors were quite stable in their social and economic status. The structure of classes (from the highest to the lowest) is described in this presentation, with an emphasis on correctly placing our ancestors on that social scale continuum. Advantages and disadvantages for our ancestors are discussed, as well as the advantages for modern historians searching for their ancestors in that world.

Surnames in German-language Regions of Europe

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

One of the most fascinating topics among family history researchers in the German-language realm is that of names—especially surnames. This presentation features a description of the chronological and geographical introduction of surnames in Central Europe, the relationship between surnames and place names, and the tricky question of surname meanings and translations.

Research in Other German-language Regions of Europe

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60 minutes

This presentation will prepare researchers for the adventure of a lifetime: a visit to the hometown of the German ancestor. Important aspects of the planning include record repositories and procedures, local researchers, language challenges, lodging, travel, finances, meals, computer problems, and communications. The two presenters have made a total of 82 trips to Europe and are well aware of the latest conditions for traveling family historians.

Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

German-language church and civil records are only of value to those who can read the old German handwriting (commonly called “Gothic”). This presentation takes the novice reader from the initial process of identifying and recognizing the document to the point where a meaningful evaluation of the document’s content can be accomplished. Actual texts from many European sources are presented for analysis.

German Immigrants in American Protestant Church Records

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

This presentation highlights the superb detail found in the records of German Protestant congregations in the United States (especially in the Midwest beginning in the 1830s). The contents of such records and their availability are demonstrated using the state of Indiana as an example. Interest in this topic is growing among German family history societies.

Form and Content in German Church Records

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

This presentation includes a short history of the keeping of church records in the German-language countries in Europe, as well as in specific German provinces since 1490. Church and state regulations regarding the keeping of church records are discussed. A case study is demonstrated based on a typical parish in Württemberg with records from 1562 to 1876.

Gazetteers in Germany

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60 minutes

This new presentation (2013) is designed to help researchers understand the role and value of gazetteers and the methods used to locate and use this literature. How one moves from a gazetteer to a church record is demonstrated. Many examples are shown and websites are identified.

Census Records in Germany 1816-1916

 

Level: All                                                                                  Duration: 60-90 minutes

This new (2016) presentation is based on the results of my sabbatical stay of six months in Europe in 2015. The traditional mystery of German census records can now be explained: they are in many ways unlike their counterparts in the U.S. Frequency, content, methodology, and accessibility of these records in the thirty-eight states of the German Empire will be explained and illustrated.

Residential Registration in Germany

 

Level: All                                                                                   Duration: 60 minutes

This brand new (2017) presentation is based on a kind of record that is essentially unknown among Germanic researchers. From the sixteenth century on, local authorities monitored the comings and goings of strangers and foreigners, keeping ever more detailed records of newcomers—primarily for the safety of local residents. The personal details contained in such records make them a valuable resource for family history research. This presentation exhibits the form and content of residential registration and traces the historical development up to the late nineteenth century; by then, in most states every man, woman, and child was registered—whether local or from elsewhere.

 

CONTACT

Email: 
rogerpminert@gmail.com
or
Telephone:  
801-374-2587
Send inquiries regarding speaking schedules, fees and payments to:
Created by: Susan E. Sirrine