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Episode 20 - German Homeland Part 2, Freedom of Information Act, Christmas in July

Jul 25, 2007


Published July 29, 2007

Book Recommendation:  Home and Home Again by George and Helen Papashvily.

GEM:  German Homeland - Part 2

Here's a checklist of other types of records that might contain information about your ancestor's home town.

  1. Death Certificates
  2. Marriage records
  3. Church records
  4. Obituaries
  5. Tombstones & cemetery records
  6. Probate records
  7. Delayed birth certificates
  8. The Germans to America book series
  9. German passenger departure lists.

Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939
While most of the Bremen, Germany passenger departure records were destroyed -- either by German officials or during WWII -- 2,953 passenger lists for the years 1920 - 1939 have survived. The Bremen Society for Genealogical Investigation, DIE MAUS, has put transcriptions of these surviving Bremen passenger records online.

Hamburg Emigration Lists - BallinStadt â Port of Dreams

Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1872
German emigrants left through Hamburg in 1872. It's available free online HERE.

A research outline from FamilySearch for Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934

Look sideways, at brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, even friends.   If you can determine where one of them was born, you will have an EXCELLENT place to look in Germany for your ancestors!

In addition, determine if your ancestors had traveling companions on their way to America and look into their backgrounds.  Go back to the census and check out your ancestors first recorded American neighborhood.  Where were their neighbors from?  Folks often settled near family and friends from the old country.

The Freedom of Information Act

is a federal statute that allows any person the right to obtain federal agency records unless the records (or part of the records) are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions in the law. 

It can take up to six months to receive a reply.  I've obtained two ancestor files so far, and both contained information and photographs that I had never seen before.  No fees are required when you make the request.  And the first 100 pages of copying and two hours of search time are free!  

FOIA Request Process

  1. At the bottom of the page on the left is a link to the two page G-639 form.  Click on the link, and print.
  2. Fill out the information as completely as possible. 
  3. Make a copy of the form for your follow up records and keep it in a pending file in your desk
  4. Put the original form in an envelope and clearly mark on the front "Freedom of Information Request" and mail it.
  5. Mark in your calendar six months from today to follow up on the request.  Also indicate that the copy is in your pending file.

GEM:  Christmas in July

Sweet Memories Candy Bar Stocking Stuffers

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


First, you'll need the following items:

  1. A 3.67 oz size chocolate bar  
  2. A couple of sheets of high bright white printer paper. I use hp Premium Choice ink jet paper 98 brightness, 32 lb weight. 
  3. A computer & printer
  4. A publishing software program such as Microsoft Publisher
  5. Double sided tape
  6. Scissors
  7. Scanned family photos.  (I like using old Christmas Photos)

Here's how to create the label:

Scan the photos you want to include on the label

Open a new page in Microsoft Publisher

Use the Rectangle Tool to create a 7 " high x 5 " wide rectangle

Insert a background image using the INSERT IMAGE function, and then resize it to fit just over the rectangle.   Another  option is to select the rectangle, and use the FORMAT FILL COLOR function to color the box.

Use INSERT IMAGE to add your photos, and resize them to fit.   Measure down 2" from the top of the label, and that's where the top of the front side photo is placed. Set it Ââ? from the left edge.  

The backside photo should begin 5" from the top of the label, and be set Ââ? from the left edge.

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Insert the text boxes.  The  "Sweet Memories" and Ingredients text boxes are about 3" wide and 1 1/4" high.  Format with the borders and colors that you want.   Reflect your own family values in the Ingredients list.

To Print:  From the menu, click FILE then PRINT and then click the PROPERTIES button.  From this window select "high resolution paper" or "High Brightness" as the Media Type, and select HIGH for the Print Quality to get the bestlooking label.  Print the label & cut out carefully. 

Folding guidelines: The first fold line is 1 Ââ? from the top of the label, and the second fold line is 4 Ââ? from the top of the label.

Use a small piece of double sided tape to stick the label to itself on the backside snugly. 

Now you have your own custom family history themed chocolate bar ready to tuck in Christmas stockings this year.  They're guaranteed to put smiles on everyone's face on Christmas morning, and hopefully inspire a bit of curiosity about the family tree. 

August Episodes - In order to get the book finished and prepare for some exciting new episodes for Season Two I'm not going to make any promises about how often new episodes will be published in August of 2007.  However, I will be putting out a couple of new podcasts as well as doing some blogging on the website so check back often.

Music courtesy of UC Santa Barbara:  Deutschlands Ruhm performed by the Johann Strauss Orchestera for Edison Records  in 1913. Homeland, sung by the soprano Elizabeth Spencer, recorded by Edison records in 1911