My new book: German Immigration to America

Why did your German ancestors immigrate, when did they leave, where did they leave, how did they get here?

These are questions we all hope to find the answers.

This book discusses the history of the Germanic people and gives some insights into possible answers to the questions about your ancestors’ immigration.

The book also presents brief histories of most of the ports that were used by German immigrants for departure from Europe and the ports where they arrived. Also covered are details of life in steerage during the voyage and the process of examination of the immigrants to gain admittance to the United States.

Continuing our Genealogical Research during the Shutdown

Are you bored? Are you becoming a couch potato?

Our libraries, historical museums, and Family History Centers are closed. How can we do research?

Actually, now is a great time to do all the research we have been putting off because we did not have the time.

Before the shutdown, there are many online opportunities, and many were free.  Today, genealogy groups and companies are adapting to this new situation and trying to make many more resources available.

From home, we can do the following:

  • Officials have closed libraries, but online resources are still available from your home. An added feature is that Ancestry is allowing access to AncestryLibrary Edition from home. This database is an excellent addition to our online arsenal during the shutdown. Do not forget to scour through newspapers.com pages for your ancestors if your library has this fantastic resource in their collection. HeritageQuest and MyHeritage are two other useful resources that some libraries offer.
  • One downside to having your library closed is no access to Familysearch’s film library. So far, FamilySearch has not flipped a switch and made these digital images available from home. However, you can go to your library’s parking lot and should be able to connect to the library’s server as if you are inside the building. From the parking lot, you should have access to FamilySearch’s film library. This method is not the best-case solution but the only one available.
  • Some people have reported that they have been able to access Family History Files from the parking lot of their Family History Center. However, I believe that you may need a church sign on to do this.
  • Lastly, do not forget the free websites.

The shutdown also gives time to organize our information. This is a great time to organize and start writing your family history. The method I described in previous blogs helps you organize your information to do better research, but it also is the beginning format for your family history. Get organized now.

Now is a great time to improve your genealogical skills and knowledge. Genealogy conferences and local society meetings are canceled, but many groups are going online. Some state societies have been using online webinars, but now I see some local societies begin using this format. In fact, I gave my April program to DuPage County Genealogical Society as an online webinar. I have also seen some groups rescheduling their in-person conference to online webinars.

Other sources for online webinars on videos:

  • The Learning Center on FamilySearch.org has a vast collection of videos on most genealogical topics. This resource is free, and probably my first choice for a genealogical educational resource.
  • Another great resource is the webinar library is at com. This library is a collection of webinars that have been recorded from the live presentation. There is an excellent selection of topics, and all are well-done. The most recent webinars are free to view for a limited time after the live presentation. You will need a subscription to view the entire collection. The subscription costs $49.95 is worth it.

Stop being a couch potato. Keep going on your family history research. You have more time to do more.

Remember to have fun.

Niech Bóg Wam Błogosławi i otoczy opieką

God Bless and Stay Safe

Libraries are closed, what can we do?

Research is important but with most research facilities shutting down, it gives us some time to compile and organize our notes to begin writing our family history. Our research will never be done, so we should begin writing our family history as soon as possible. It does not have to be a finished narrative but summaries of what we have for each individual will organize our information. Putting my information in bullet points always helped me get started. The summaries will put our research in a better format that we can show to family members and doing this now will help us do better research later. If you are frustrated with research facilities closed, start your summaries and begin getting organized. Also, have fun putting life into your ancestors.

International Tracing Service (ITS) – Where can we find the stories for Post-WW II Displaced Persons?

Did your parents or grandparents immigrate to the United States shortly after WW II? If so, they probably told you stories of staying in one or more of the refugee camps at the end of the war. The Allied forces established these camps to handle the masses of displaced persons coming from the German work camps or death camps or who fled their homes to escape communist rule.

Did your ancestors tell you the details of their lives during and after the war, or were they reluctant to talk about their experiences? The International Tracing Service had the task of saving the documents of the refugees and gives us hope to complete their stories.

The work of ITS began in 1943 when the Headquarters of the Allied Forces asked the British Red Cross to set up a registration and tracing service for missing persons. ITS grew out of the Central Tracing Bureau, which was approved on February 15, 1944. The bureau initially worked out of London but was moved from there to Versailles, then to Frankfort am Main, and then to its current location in Bad Arolsen, Germany. On July 1, 1947, the International Refugee Organization (ICRC) took over administration of the bureau on July 1, 1947, and changed the name of the bureau to International Tracing Service on January 1, 1948.

ITS collects and controls the documents, information, and research on Nazi persecution, forced labor, and displaced persons. The archive in Bad Arolsen contains about 30 million records from concentration camps, details of forced labor, and files on displaced persons. The archives have been accessible to researchers since 2007. Requests for information from individuals or descendants can be made by mail or on the ITS website (Home Page – https://arolsen-archives.org/en/). In 2015, ITS began adding records to an online database and today has over two million records in an online searchable collection of documents. Family historians should search the online archive at https://arolsen-archives.org/en/search-explore/ to confirm their ancestors are in the archive. However, the results will show one or two documents but not the complete file. Use the inquiry page (arolsen-archives.org/en/search-explore/inquiries/) to request the entire file. Be patient because the average delivery time for the files is about four months and can take as long as eleven months.

Just published my latest Book: “Czech and Slovak Immigration to America.”

When did your Czech or Slovak ancestors immigrate, where did they leave, why did they leave, how did they get here? This book is a wonderful resource. The author hopes you find the answer to some of these questions in this book. This book discusses the history of their homeland and gives some insights into possible answers to the questions about your ancestors’ immigration.

The book also presents brief histories of most of the ports that were used by your immigrants for departure from Europe and the ports where they arrived. Also covered are details of life in steerage during the voyage and the process of examination of the immigrants to gain admittance to the United States.

Available on Amazon.com

Viewing Film Images on Familysearch.org

In 2017, Familysearch.org changed our access to their film catalog that they have for genealogical records. They made digital images for the records on most of their films and allowed us to view them on computers from various locations.

We can determine where we can view the digital image by finding the film in the film catalog, and looking at the icon on the far right will tell us where to view the film. If there is a roll of film, we can view the film only at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. If there is a small camera-shaped icon on the far right, we can view the film online. If there is a key over the camera, we cannot view the image at our present location. Clicking on the camera icon will tell us where to view the digital images of the records. If the key is missing above the camera, we can click on the key icon, and the digital images of the records will appear. If the key is above the icon, one of three error messages will appear when we click on the camera icon:

  1. To view these images, do one of the following: Access the site at a family history center or Affiliated Library.
  2. To view these images, do one of the following: Access the site at a family history center.
  3. You may be able to view this image by visiting one of our partners’ sites or the legal record custodian (fees may apply). Note this replaces an earlier error message that indicated that the image could be viewed at a Family History Center but only to Church Members. (Basically, this option means that you can view the images only on the films in Salt Lake City.)

My strategy is first to try to view the film from home. If available from home, my research will progress faster because this is the most convenient option.  If the key is above the camera icon, click on the icon to see where you need to go to view the digital images for the film and plan your trip.

I try to visit affiliated libraries because they usually have hours and locations that are more convenient. Before visiting a Family History Center, I review their hours and site instructions very carefully because some are open only by appointment. I also have the phone number for the Family Center with me, because entry to the building may be a challenge.

My New Book – DNA and Genealogy Research: Simplified

My new book, “DNA and Genealogy Research: Simplified,” is now available. If you want to unlock your DNA results, my book will be a great starting point.

Even though I am not a genetic scientist or an M.D., I felt I had to write about the method I used to solve some of the mysteries in my family tree. I am one of the many who find it challenging to educate myself with the science of DNA and just wanted to work on our family history. The book explains my methods using non-scientific terms and does not discuss Chromosome browsers, haplogroups, or SNPs.

I had a brick wall, and I used my genealogical skills and traditional sources with my DNA results to solve the mystery. DNA is a powerful tool, and I learned to combine it with other genealogical sources without becoming a genetic scientist.