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.