Adele Marcum’s Blog

March 25, 2009, 9:06 am
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Below is a full list of publications:

5 Great Things for Beginners,” Ancestry Magazine, May/June 2008, pp. 15-16.

“German-American superhero,” Ancestry Magazine, January/February 2008, pp. XXX.

Smoldering Home Fires,” Ancestry Magazine, (November/December 2005), pp. 32-33.

“Piecing Together the Story: Nineteenth-Century German Immigration to America,” FEEFHS Journal, (January 2005), pp. 41-47.

Beginning German Research,” Ancestry Magazine, (January/February 2004), pp. 34-40.

A Noble Heritage: The German-American Experience in Milwaukee. Honors Thesis. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 2003.

Eternal Questions,” New Era, (October 2001), p. 51.


Article: “5 Great Things for Beginners”
February 13, 2009, 2:07 am
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5 Great Things for Beginners

[Originally published in Ancestry Magazine: May/June 2008, pp. 15-16.]

To view this article, please click here.

Genealogy Lecturing Experience
February 13, 2009, 2:03 am
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Mesa Family History Expo, Mesa, Arizona, 14 November 2008:

  • Immigration and Emigration Records

Highland Stakes’ Family History Fair, Highland, Utah, 22 February 2008:

  • “Beginning German Research”
  • “Using the Internet for Family History Research”

ICAPGen Annual Conference, Provo, Utah, 10 November 2007:

  • “What’s New on”

Utah Genealogical Association Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, 12 September 2007:

  • “Where Should I Start?: Effective Search on”

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. (AAHGS) National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, 28 October 2006:

West Coast Genealogy Summit, Las Vegas, Nevada, 21 October 2006:

  • “Sharing Your Story with Family Tree Maker.”

West Jordan Multi-Stake Family History Fair, West Jordan, Utah, 16 September 2006:

  • “Effective Search Strategies on”

American Fork Family History Conference, American Fork, Utah, 18 February 2006:

  • “Using”

Willard Tri-Stake Family History Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, 22 October 2005:

  • “Using”

Brigham Young University Genealogy and Family History Conference, Provo, Utah, 27-28 July 2005:

  • “Overlooked But Not Forgotten: German Collections”
  • “Deciphering German Records: Reading What They Wrote”
  • “Beginning Your German Research Online”

South Davis Regional Family History Fair, Bountiful, Utah, 12 March 2005:

  • “German Jurisdictions: Understanding the Who, Where, and What of German Records”
  • “Beginning Your German Research Online”

Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) National Conference, Detroit, Michigan, 2-3 October 2004:

  • “Effective Search Strategies on” (plenary session)
  • “German Jurisdictions: Understanding the Who, Where, and What of German Records”
  • “Beginning Your German Research Online”
  • “Where Should I Start?: Beginning Research on”

Brigham Young University Computerized Genealogy Conference, Provo, Utah, 27 March 2004:

  • “Sharing Your Family History: Utilizing Resources on”

Utah Valley PAF Users Group (UVPAFUG) Monthly Meeting, Provo, Utah, July 2003:

  • “US Federal Census Records on”

Utah Valley PAF Users Group (UVPAFUG) Monthly Meeting, Provo, Utah, 11 January 2003:

  • “Search Strategies on”

Pleasant Grove Stake Family History Fair, Pleasant Grove, Utah, October 2002:

  • “Search Strategies on”

Utah Regional Family History Center Sunday Class, Provo, Utah, 14 July 2002:

  • “Writing My Family Story”


“Finding Ferdinand: Beginning German Genealogy,”, Inc., Online classes taught July 2002 to December 2003.

“Intermediate German Genealogy,”, Inc., Online classes taught April 2003 to December 2003.

Selected classes on internet genealogy, writing personal and family histories, German research, using FamilySearch, etc. presented at the Utah Valley Regional Family History Center (UVRFHC), Provo, Utah, 2001-2003 (various dates).

Lecture: “Where Should I Start?: Beginning Research on”
February 13, 2009, 1:43 am
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At the 2006 Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Conference, one of my lectures, “Where Should I Start?: Beginning Research on” was filmed and is available on RootsTelevision in four parts. To view part 1 of the lecture,  click here. After viewing part 1, select parts 2, 3, and 4 from the scrolling menu to the right of the player.

Poem: “Eternal Questions”
February 9, 2009, 9:51 pm
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Eternal Questions

[Originally published in the New Era magazine:  Oct 2001, p. 51.]

You ask me
What I am doing
For eternity
And I pause—

You think
I have doubts or concerns
But I don’t.
I’ve waited eternally
To hear those words
From you.

And here you are
Asking me
To spend
With you.

Of course I will!
Without you
Would just be
A long time.

Article: “Beginning German Research”
February 9, 2009, 9:44 pm
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Beginning German Research

[Originally published in Ancestry Magazine: January/February 2004, pp 34-40.]

Many Americans trace their roots back to Germany but face the challenge of finding an ancestor’s place of origin. Even when a town has been located, German records can be intimidating because of insufficient knowledge of record types, handwriting styles, jurisdictions, and language barriers. So where should you begin your German research? Begin first by reading a brief history of Germany and by studying maps to get a perspective on boundary changes over time. You’ll find that you can get much German research done in the United States before you have to move across the ocean.

Start With U.S. Records
Because there was no central repository for German records and most records were kept on a local level, locating a precise ancestral town is critical for German research. U.S. records can provide the bridge back to Germany. While no one record will contain the entire answer, by assembling the clues found in a myriad of records you can determine your ancestor’s place of origin. Census, vital records, church records, newspapers, naturalization records, and compiled genealogies are just a few of the resources available.

U.S. Federal Census. Numerous clues can be found from the federal population schedules about an ancestor’s place of origin—especially from the post-1850 census records that collected the name, age, occupation, and birthplace of each person. Beginning in 1880, census takers gathered birthplace information for a person’s parents as well. The 1900 census initialized the collection of citizenship data, including the year the individual immigrated to the United States, the number of years in the country, and the citizenship status (whether naturalized or alien).

Vital Records. Another excellent source for discovering a place of origin is vital records, which recorded major life events. Marriage and death records for an ancestor and other family members (including siblings who may have accompanied an ancestor across the ocean) may list birthplace information. Birth records for children of an ancestor born in the United States may contain similar information. Many indexes are available to help in the search for these records.

Church Records. Parish records chronicled similar life events to those found in vital records (birth, marriage, and death). However, events recorded in parish registers often supply more detail than their government-issued cousins. Priests were usually well-acquainted with the parishioners and included details about the individual within the record or as notes in the margin. Often these personal notes contained information regarding the individual’s place of origin. Church records can be among the most helpful in locating an immigrant ancestor’s place of origin.

Newspapers. Historical newspapers from an ancestor’s residence in the United States are a source not to be overlooked. In addition to providing the context of life in that locality, newspapers may also hold precious clues to a German place of origin. Obituaries, birth and marriage announcements, and news articles are among the multitude of sources to check in the newspaper. You’ll also want to check the ethnic newspapers published in the United States.

Emigration/Immigration Records. United States passenger lists, naturalization records, and other emigration/immigration records should not be overlooked when determining an ancestor’s home in Germany. Passenger lists for U.S. ports of arrival usually enumerated each passenger with information on his or her place of origin and destination in America. Naturalization records (especially those filed after 1906) contained important genealogical information, including a renouncing of citizenship from a specific locality in Germany. Naturalization indexes are available in book form as well as online.

Compiled Genealogies. In searching for an ancestor’s place of origin, do not overlook compiled genealogies. The most common type are published by individual families, copies of which may be located in the Library of Congress, Family History Library, Newberry Library in Chicago, or other large libraries. Additionally, researchers should search the area where the ancestor settled for local histories. The ancestor may be mentioned in the biographical sketches included in the town or county’s history.

Determine Jurisdictions
Once adequate evidence points to a particular locality in Germany, consult a German gazetteer such as Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-Lexikon des deutschen Reichs. Originally published in Leipzig in 1912 and reproduced in 2000 by Raymond S. Wright III (Baltimore: Genealogical Publications), Meyers includes localities found in the German Empire of 1871. Entries will provide a plethora of information, from the churches in the town to where the district and government records for that town are located.

However, there are some intimidating aspects of Meyers for those new to German research. Entries are full of abbreviations and are written in German as well as the unfamiliar Gothic print. Luckily, there are many help guides available to assist researchers in deciphering the entries. It is important to remember—especially when first using Meyers—to pick out the key words and phrases and not attempt to translate the entire entry. Consider this example for the town of Vynen:

Vynen, D., des Rheins, Pr. Rheinl., RB Düsseldorf, Kreis Mörs, AG Xanten, Bkdo Geldern, StA. Brgm. P E 3,2 Marienbaum…

The “D” indicates that Vynen is a Dorf, or town, on the Rhine River, part of Prussian Rhineland (des Rheins, Pr. Rehinl). The Regierungsbezirk (RB) or principle administrative office (like a district) is located in Düsseldorf. This is where most of the records would eventually be deposited. Vynen is part of the County or Kreis Mörs, which means emigration records could be found in Mörs. Court records (AG) for Vynen can be found in Xanten and military records (Bkdo) in Geldern. Civil registration and Bürgermeister rolls (StA. Brgm.) would be found in Marienbaum.

Proceed with Caution
Knowing the jurisdiction with which the ancestral town is associated will help you overcome one big hurdle to German research. Handwriting and language can be obstacles as well. There are several important things to remember when transcribing a document:
1. Have an idea of what the letters should look like.
2. Identify the nuances of the scribe’s handwriting.
3. Use dictionaries and other helps to translate words from German to English.

Because of varying styles of handwriting, it is helpful to create a chart to help identify how different scribes formed each letter. Take a separate sheet of paper, and write the uppercase alphabet down the length of the paper. Do the same for the lowercase letters. Search the documents for examples of the way this particular scribe writes each letter. This will need to be done for each new record. When you are familiar with each scribe’s handwriting, you won’t be thrown off by the extra strokes at the end of a letter or the missing dots over “i” or “j”. Keep a copy of the “typical” alphabet for reference.

After transcribing the record, proceed with the translation. While knowing German is certainly helpful to research, it is by no means required. In the beginning, it is enough to glean the most important information from the documents. You can return later for greater details after you have improved your language skills. Start by identifying key words and phrases in German to help comprehend what the record is about. What kind of record is it? Then look for the date and the ancestor’s name. Keep in mind spelling variations. Continue translating the remainder of the document.

There are thousands of other words or phrases that may be included in the German record. Use a regular German dictionary like the Langenscheidt German Pocket Dictionary that has German-English and English-German translations. Another German dictionary that will come in handy is Ernest Thode’s German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Because it focuses on genealogy vocabulary, almost any word you find in the German genealogy records—especially during the beginning translation stages—will be included in Thode’s.

Delve into German Records
With the data assembled from Meyers and a familiarity with handwriting and language, you will be more comfortable looking for and translating German records. Many of the principal record types can be found on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Others can be located at city, state, and regional archives in Germany.

Parish Records
Parish records are the primary source used by researchers, especially for those just beginning the research process. And it is no wonder since these records are generally more easily accessible and contain a wealth of information. Nevertheless, the quality, quantity, arrangement, and recording of information varied according to religious practices and from priest to priest. Catholic registers were usually written in Latin (by mandate of the Council of Trent in 1563) until the early nineteenth century. Protestant registers since the Reformation were written in German. Both were usually recorded in the Fraktur handwriting. Early records can be found in paragraph form, a style that continued for many years, especially in Catholic parishes.

To obtain a copy of a parish register, check the Family History Library Catalog at for the specific locality. Large cities had many churches, and each served a different part of the city. Rural churches served many different towns and hamlets. If the parish cannot be located in an ancestor’s town, check the towns close to it. If there are several possible parishes in the ancestral city—and the search cannot be narrowed down any further—the best thing to do is start with one parish and move to the next until all of them have been searched.

Civil Registration
Civil registration records include birth, marriage, and death records and were kept by the local government. The practice of registering these life events with the government did not gain widespread acceptance until the last part of the nineteenth century. Originally, the parish was the primary source for recording life events; however, Napoleon influenced the keeping of civil registration in Germany when his armies occupied portions of the country. Before 1876, areas occupied by France were primarily the only provinces to mandate civil registration. These areas included most of the land west of the Rhine. Thus, civil registration can be found as early as 1798 in these areas. Prussia mandated civil registration for its provinces starting 1 October 1874, with the entire German Empire following suit beginning 1 January 1876.

Passenger Lists
The most popular ports of departure in Germany were Bremen and Hamburg, although many Germans left through other European ports such as Antwerp, Le Havre, and Liverpool. For each departure, the passenger list generally included the name of the ship, the captain’s name, the port and date of each ship’s departure, and the port and date of its arrival in America. Beneath all of this, a roster of all the passengers aboard was given. The specific biographical information varied from list to list, but most included more personal information than simply a person’s name.

Unfortunately, many passenger lists from Bremen and other ports did not survive. City archivists in Bremen destroyed some lists between 1875 and 1909 due to lack of storage space. Other lists were destroyed from Allied bombing during World War II. Portions of the Bremen passenger lists that survived are found in List of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York, 1847–67, a four-volume work by Gary Zimmerman and Marion Wolfert (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985–88). Many Germans from Russia, Poles, and others from the Slavic group selected Bremen as their port of departure. A new series by Ira Glazier, Germans from Russia: Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of New York (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995) focuses on the Germans from Russia.

A popular compilation of passenger lists is Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filby’s Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving in U.S. Ports (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1988). Arranged in volumes according to arrival date in America from January 1850 to June 1897, you can search the index in the back of the pertinent volume (or volumes). Entries generally list the name of the ship, the date of arrival in America, the port name, the name of passenger, age, and departure information. However, a word of caution before using these lists: when names were extracted from the original passenger lists, many persons were missed. Use these lists cautiously.

German research is not as daunting when taken piece by piece. Begin with U.S. records to discover clues about an ancestor’s place of origin. Use a German gazetteer to determine the jurisdictions to which a particular locality belongs (where records would be kept). Become familiar with the handwriting and language used in genealogical documents. Then you can start searching German records for information about your ancestors.

Suggested Reading
Hans Bahlow with Edda Gentry, trans. Dictionary of German Names. Madison, Wis: Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, 2002.Edward R. Brandt, Mary Bellingham, et al, eds. Germanic Genealogy: A Guide to Worldwide Sources and Migration Patterns. St. Paul, Minn: Germanic Genealogy Society, 1995.

Family History Library. Research Outline: Germany. Salt Lake City: Family History Library, 2000.

Larry O. Jensen. A Genealogical Handbook of German Research. Pleasant Grove, Utah: Jensen Publications, 1980.

Shirley J. Riemer. The German Research Companion. Sacramento, Calif: Lorelei, 1997.

Kenneth L. Smith. Genealogical Dates: A User-Friendly Guide. Camden, Maine: Picton, 1994.

——. German Church Books: Beyond the Basics. Camden, Maine: Picton, 1993.

Ernest Thode. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992.

Wendy K. Uncapher. Lands of the German Empire and Before. Janesville, Wis.: Origins, 2000.

Article: “Smoldering Home Fires”
February 9, 2009, 9:36 pm
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Smoldering Home Fires
By Adele Maurine Marcum

[Originally printed in Ancestry Magazine: November/December 2005 issue, pages 32-33.]

When United States President Woodrow Wilson declared war, essentially two American battles broke out against Germany: one militarily in Europe and the other culturally in the United States.By the onset of the United States’s entrance into World War I, millions of Germans had made their way to America—estimates range from 2 million to 8 million immigrants, even more if the children and grandch ildren born on American soil to these immigrants are counted. But, while the vast majority of these immigrants stood by their fellow Americans to support the war effort, overall, American sentiment remained suspicious of anyone (and anything) with German ancestry.

Historian Carl Wittke noted in his book The German-Language Press in America that “misunderstanding, suspicion, slander, emotional conflict, bewildered readjustment, and tragedy” were easily identifiable during the years surrounding World War I. That attitude, said Wittke, was played out nationwide as suspicious Americans declared that “everything of German origin must be treasonable.”

The most obvious target for this suspicion? The German language.

Twenty-six states passed laws against the use of German on the streets, via telephone, or in public meetings. Libraries eliminated German materials. Public schools removed all German language instruction from their curriculum. Segregated German-language church congregations merged with other, English-speaking congregations. German-language parochial schools either changed their curriculum or closed.

Buildings, towns, streets, foods—anything considered German was stripped of its ties to the fatherland and renamed to denounce Germany. Sauerkraut became Liberty Cabbage, and frankfurters were anglicized as hot dogs. Chicago’s Bismarck Hotel changed its name to the Hotel Randolph as a demonstration of patriotism (the Bismarck name resurfaced following the war, in 1918).

Even surnames were changed to reflect the growing tide of anti-German sentiment. Some German-Americans assumed new, more American surnames. In 1917, for example, George Washington Ochs, journalist and former mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, legally changed his family’s surname to Oakes. Other German-Americans anglicized the pronunciation of their German surnames—Kaufmann, once prono unced kowfmon, became caughmin.

The United States government also employed its own methods of taking care of the “German problem” by investigating anyone suspected of exhibiting too much German sympathy. Records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) known as the Old German Files enumerate case after case of reports (usually by next-door neighbors) of suspected enemy aliens, German sympathizers, and other people thought to be disloyal to the United States during the war. Interestingly enough, many of these alleged enemy aliens turned out to be born in the United States to parents who were also born in the United States. Other federal records delineated passport and visa matters. A separate Alien Enemy Index was even maintained by the U.S. government for the years 1917 though 1919.

Additionally, the U.S. government required all resident aliens who had not been naturalized, for whatever reason, to register with the U.S. Marshal nearest their place of residence; a failure to register risked internment and possible deportation. This mass alien registration occurred between November 1917 and April 1918 and generally collected the following data:

* Full name (including maiden name for females)
* Current residence and length of residence there
* Birth location of registrant
* Spouse’s name and residence, if applicable
* Children’s names, sex, and years of birth, if applicable
* Parents’ names (including maiden name for mother), birthdates, and birthplaces
* Names, dates of birth, and current residence of all siblings
* Whether any male relatives were serving in the military for or against the United States
* Whether registered for selective draft
* Account of all previous military or government service
* Date of immigration
* Name of vessel of emigration and port of arrival
* Whether reported to or registered with a consul since 1 June 1914
* Whether applied for naturalization or took out first papers; if yes, when and where
* Whether naturalized in another country
* Whether ever taken an oath of allegiance other than to the United States
* Whether ever arrested or detained on any charge
* Whether held a permit to enter a forbidden area
* Signature
* Photograph
* Description of registrant
* Full set of fingerprints

Unfortunately for family historians, the majority of these applications were destroyed. Only the applications for German Aliens who lived in the state of Kansas or the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota, survived.