I have been teaching myself to research using German genealogy resources for a while now. I have also been trying to learn to speak a little German and have learned to read some of the old Gothic print that was used in pre-World War II records. I have located and studied parish registers for Berwangen, the small town in Baden where my great-great-grandfather, John George (or Johan Georg) Mayer was christened in 1826. The parish registers were microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1978 and 1982, and so I have accessed them through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, by way of the New Haven Family History Center.
There are three Family History Centers in Tulsa now — two in churches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a new one at the Genealogy Center. While anyone can order genealogical records on microfilm for a reasonable price through any of the three, the Genealogy Center has also been collecting German resources in print which anyone can use to help locate small towns like Berwangen. The location of the records is closely tied to the place where your ancestor lived. I have learned to use both the multi-volume resource, Map Guide to German Parish Registers, a great new resource, and Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des Deutschen Reichs, an important resource written in German, which was first published in 1913, and I’d like to explain the process of using both of these to anyone else who is interested.
Last spring I visited Berwangen. Although I didn’t actually do any genealogy research while in Germany, we met some wonderful people. The day that my daughter and I spent in Berwangen was the best day of our two-week trip around Europe. Before the trip, I learned to use maps on Google and while there we took pictures and video. Now that I have been there, I am anxious to learn more about the history of my ancestors in this town.
The Genealogy Center is located at 2910 S. Harvard in Tulsa. The free program will be in the Harmon Foundation Meeting Room from 2:00 – 3:30. I hope to see you there.