Last evening I finished up on work begun last February while in Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2012. Together with my son, I had spent a few extra days in the FHL researching German church records — particularly those for the Evangelisch Kirchen of Adelshofen, Sulzfeld, Kuernbach, Ittlingen (all in Baden) and Waiblingen (in Wuerttemberg).
I had found and made copies of 100 baptisms, marriages, and deaths for ancestors of my 3g-grandmother, Johanna Catarina Venninger. (An interesting sidenote: I seem to be finding more records for matrilineal ancestors than patrilineal. Johanna’s husband, Georg Friedrich Brenner, is one of my brick walls.)
I was rather well organized before I went to the FHL: lists for each of the churches (names, dates, events) and cards for each of the potential microfilms (including citation information). I had CamScanner loaded on my DroidX phone and my new Asus Transformer tablet. My facility with German and the old script is limited, but has tended to improve each day that I have worked with the records.
The examination of my first microfilm did not yield many results. Soon, however I began to get the hang of it and was finding the records for which I sought. A second viewing of the first microfilm yielded much better results.
All that was preliminary, however, to the work waiting for me when I got home. I had to review each image I had secured, crop and enhance it where necessary, and re-name it. I had made a record of each image on the original lists I had produced before going to the FHL. More sorting and organizing was necessary. Because of medical procedures I was undergoing, my energy was reduced for a couple of months, meaning I didn’t work on the records much until recently. The big task awaiting me was entering the data into my RootMagic 5 database, complete with citations.
My original lists came from the research of a new-found cousin. He had drawn the information from FHL lists and microfilms, but had provided only a general indication of sources (not providing source citation for individual records). I have his data in my RootsMagic 5 research database (that is, the “unprovens”). Of the 228 person-events in my research database, I now have a copy of the records for 100 of them. And, I had cards for 38 reels of microfilm which contained church records for the 5 churches. My process for accomplishing the task was:
- I renamed all the files according to my file system [e.g., "KNOBBLIN, Anna Maria (Venninger) (death - 29 December 1680)"] and filed them in the appropriate folder on my external hard-drive [e.g., "Knobblin, Anna Maria (Venninger) 2081.13"]. When the individual was a collateral ancestor, I filed their record in the surname folder [e.g., "1@VENNINGER Storage Stuff"]. These folders and files are all backed-up to my Box and Dropbox accounts.
- Using the “QuickCheck Models” in ESM’s Evidence Explained, I set up a spreadsheet for calculating the source citations for each of the 38 microfilms. While I actually needed only a few of the microfilms, it was just as easy to calculate all 38 citations for possible future use.
- I used RootsMagic’s “Master Source List” to enter all 38 as master sources, recognizing that there are multiple microfilm reels for each church [e.g., "Adelshofen Kirchenbuch (1655-1963) - III"].
- I then found the corresponding record for each of the data in my RM5 research database, changed appropriate record types from “Birth” to “Baptism,” and added a source citation using the already entered data.
- Find the source records for the remaining 128 people-events and enter them into my RM5 database. Unfortunately, 50 of those records have no dates attached to them. These will be harder to find.
- Transfer the direct line ancestors of Johanna Catarina Venninger from my research database to my primary database.
- Transfer the digital copies to my online Research Wiki.
- Take a trip to Deter’s frozen custard stand and get me a Butter Pecan Sundae and celebrate this minor victory.
- Cousin-work can be exceptionally helpful, even if it needs to be re-worked to find original documents (or copies thereof) and source citations.
- The greater the pre-work (pre-organizing), the better the chance of discovering the intended records.
- Because of the organizing I did in advance, I was able to let the raw data (digital images on my tablet and hand-written notes on the pre-printed lists) sit for a couple of months before picking the task up again without much of a lapse.
- Even with my limited facility for German and old Germanic script, I have been increasingly able to extract enough data to make the original records useful. [See my previous posts: German Church Records, Part 1 and Part 2.]
- The FHL in Salt Lake City is AWESOME!