Thursday, August 3, 2017

The International German Genealogy Conference--Report.



International German Genealogy Conference
(the IGGP icon is on the left)

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the first ever International German Genealogy Conference, hosted by the Germanic Genealogy Society of St. Paul, MN and the International Germanic Genealogy Partnership (a collective of German genealogy societies). The nearly 700 attendees came from 41 US states, Australia, Brazil, and Germany.

Among the 28 speakers were Kim Ashford (one of the conference organizers), Kent Cutcomp (another organizer), Werner Esser, Debra Hoffman, Benjamin Hollister (from Australia), Baerbel Johnson (born in Germany and works in Salt Lake City), Ursula Krause (from Berlin), Michael Lacopo, Roger Minert, Jill Morelli, Stephen Morse, Paula Stuart-Warren, Ernest Thode, Toni Perrone, and Dirk Weissleder.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dirk Weissleder a few months back at the Southern California Genealogy Society library. He lives in Germany, but travels frequently promoting the International Germanic Genealogy Partnership (IGGP). Organizing this conference has been a dream of his for several years. As I write this, he is on his way to Australia.
One of my genealogy dreams came true on Thursday. For years I have been a member of the Minnesota Historical Society, and I have wanted to visit and do research in their library. It only took 4 trips to Minnesota to finally walk in!! (The previous visits was occupied by driving up to Duluth to meet with cousins who live in Duluth and Proctor). I was hoping to find my great-grandmother and her daughters listed in the microfilmed files of the Minnesota Women's Suffragette Association. Alas, they were not found, but I did find some early 1900's birth certificates that I wanted to obtain.
The opening event was a beirgarten social at the Germanic-American Institute in St. Paul on Thursday night. Lots of beer and sauerkraut and socializing. Although I'm not a beer drinker, I did enjoy the socializing.
Lots of great workshops to attend--and it was hard to decide which ones to sit in on. One that I chose to sit in on a talk about German directories--and no, it's not your typical phone book! In fact, these directories were published for decades before phone were invented! It's a great resource, as it gives family names, addresses, and even occupations. It was in these directories that I found that two of my great-great grandmothers listed as midwives. Yes, midwives are listed!
Speakers also presented on using parish records, DNA, region-specific (Pommerania, Palatine, etc.), using, using newspapers, surnames, guilds and other organizations, and social history.
My verdict: it was a great conference. The organizers did a great job, with no snafus at all. The conference was at the Minneapolis Marriott Northeast hotel, and I had a very nice small suite in that hotel. I was able to hook up--in person!--with some of my favorite genealogy people--including Jill Morelli, Baerbel Johnson, Warren Bittner, Gordon Seyfurst, and Pat Richley-Erickson (aka Dear Myrtle).
And the weekend came with an unexpected bonus--I got to meet one of my second cousins, Dan Wombacher and his wife Erin and son John. Dan's grandfather Elmer and my grandfather Clarence (aka Dutch) are brothers. They took me out to a lake-side dinner on Friday. What a treat it was!! BTW--I also have a 1st cousin named Dan Wombacher. His dad Patrick is one of my mother's brothers. What are the odds??
And finally--the 2nd conference is scheduled for 2019 in Sacramento, California. Details to follow. I can't wait to register!!
And now I'm back in Los Angeles "enjoying" hot, humid, triple-digit weather.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Family History Center Microfilm Distribution Information

Family History Center Microfilm Distribution:
to be discontinued!

One of my favorite reasons to go to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City are the 2.5 million microfilms housed at the library. Because of these microfilms, I found census records, marriage records, church records probate and will records. These microfilms include records dating back to the late 1500's. For those who cannot make the trip to Salt Lake City, the library offered a great benefit--the ability to order the microfilms online and have them sent to the local genealogy library. Saves a lot on airfare to Salt Lake City.

Bottom line--I love ordering the films, and I love using those films!

Now, the Family History Library has announced that on September 1st, the library will no longer distribute (mail out) the microfilms. This should come as no surprise, since the microfilms are being digitalized for online use. Many are already online. Below is the link to their announcement.

Undoubtedly, this will also change how genealogists and family historians will use the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Their first floor has already changed dramatically to become an interactive experience for families, but does little for the more experienced genealogists who are committed to doing serious research. Hopefully, the other four floors of the library will still be one of our genealogy Meccas!

My, how times can change....

Saturday, March 4, 2017

How to Order Birth, Marriage, and Death Records from Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County recently rolled out a new system for obtaining birth, death, and marriage records. It’s no longer as simple and easy as before, especially if you are ordering older copies of your ancestors’ records. Previously, all it took was to submit an application with a check or money order to cover the costs of copying the record. The county now requires more than just an application and money. But first, let’s look at what records are available.

Records dated after 1964, and are available immediately (same day service from the county).  

·         Birth records are available for births occurring in Los Angeles County since 1964. If the birth occurred from 1972 to 1977, the copy is not available the same day.
·         Death records are available for deaths occurring in Los Angeles County since 1995.
·         Marriage records are available for marriages where the license was issued in Los Angeles County since 1995.

 For older certificates, and will be mailed to you:

·         Birth records are available for births occurring in Los Angeles County since 1866.
·         Death records are available for deaths occurring in Los Angeles County since 1877.
·         Marriage records are available for marriages where the license was issued in Los Angeles County since 1852.
Fees and Payments: (Payments are non-refundable).

·         Authorized Certified Copy Birth: $28 per copy
·         Death: $21 per copy
·         Marriage: $15 per copy

But here’s the hitch—getting these older copies is what’s complicated. Here are the steps:

1.      You must fill out an online application. Once done, you will receive a receipt with a barcode that you must print out. The receipt will include a deadline of 15 days. If you do not follow the 15-day deadline and the next 2 steps, you will have to re-apply.
2.      Along with the receipt, you must have a valid photo ID and fee payment available to bring to the Registrar locations.
3.      Your next step is to walk into one of the Registrar offices and to show your ID, submit your payment, and the receipt you printed out.  Cash, checks, money orders and credit cards are accepted.
4.      However, you will not get your document when you visit the Registrar’s office. Instead, your requested records are mailed out within 20 working days of your order. Yes, you make the trip into the offices, and leave empty-handed waiting the postal service to deliver your certificate.
5.      Here’s the website for Los Angeles County records:
6.      Where are the locations? See the chart, below.


Not very easy nor convenient, especially if you do not live in or near Los Angeles County. So, what do you when you do not live nearby? You will have to order through VitalChek. Yes, VitalChek can be very convenient, but it is not known for being inexpensive.

In addition to filling out the VitalChek application and if you want a certified copy, you have to complete and send in the notarized Certificate of Identity.  If you do not live in California, you must have the notary strike out "California" on the Certificate of Identity and put the state in which the form is notarized. It will be accepted with the change. Helpful hint: request an Informational Certified Copy and you will not need notarization!  
Another option is to order the birth and death certificates from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), located in Sacramento, the state capital. You can mail in the application and a check or money order. No ID required, and no notarization. And the office does not take walk-ins, as they do not have any customer service counters. Only mail-in applications are accepted. It will take 4-6 weeks to receive the certificates—a huge improvement from years ago when it took up to six months or longer. Their website:

 I have used the CDPH, and I found it to be much more convenient than walking into the Los Angeles County offices, which are known to be quite busy with long lines and long wait times. But in their defense, we do live in a world where identity theft is all too common. At least, it seems to me that the County of Los Angeles is making an effort to minimize identity theft.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

SCGS Jamboree Time!!

The Southern California Genealogy Society's 48th Annual Jamboree Conference is coming soon!
When: June 9-11, 2017
Where: Marriott Burbank
 (across the street from the Burbank Airport)
Why? Because it's genealogy time!
And there's LOTS of classes for all genealogists
and family historians.
No previous experience required.
Early bird deadline is in April, so don't wait.