Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Online Tourism Videos as "Virtual Visits"

    Normally, I'm not a big fan of tourism videos. The Connecticut promotional ads have recently been critiqued for showing you pretty pictures of the state but not telling you where or what anything is. And the critique was accurate. However, when I haven't been to the place, I start to appreciate the "pretty pictures" a lot more.
    While I have been to my family's "ancestral village" (or at least region) in Luxembourg and the country's capital, I missed visiting most of the country. Promotional videos produced by Luxembourg's tourist office on the Luxembourg.lu site have provided me with at least a glimpse of what I missed. The videos are more than slightly eclectic, but I found the "pretty pictures" worth the look.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Matrilinear Monday: Tracing Your Family Luxembourg Ancestors?

    I've already run one of my Luxembourger lines into the end of internet based records. For my family's home village, they start in 1796... a few years after my great-great-great-grandfather was born. For that line of the family, I'm on to microfilms. Of course, that means I have to find time to do it.
    In the meantime, I'm working on a female line. This poses its own challenges: Luxembourg birth records do not list the mother's age. They only include her maiden name. That reduces you to one record to find the woman's birth record: her marriage record. In my case, it's in German. Not happening. I'm stuck with hand-searching and estimating, based on birth dates of children.
   So that leads me to ask: What are your tips for researching female Luxembourger ancestors?

My favorites are as follows:
1. If it all possible start with American records: American census documents will provide you with an approximate birth and immigration dates. You can use those to pinpoint a birth record in a village's record.
2. Look  for the marriage record: It should list the bride's age. Since couples tended not to move far, chance are high the birth record are from the same town.
3. If you get stuck, average age at birth of first child is at least 20. You can start hand-searching 20 years back.

Any better ideas?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Follow Friday: The Knowles Collection

   Why am I talking about a blog tracing the Jewish families of Europe while studying Roman Catholic Luxembourg? Because Luxembourg wasn't all Roman Catholic. While the majority of Luxembourg-American families were Roman Catholic, their lives were shaped by those living around them. One article in the Knowles Collection blog provides a nice overview of Jewish history in Luxembourg. I even could overlook the typos!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Local Research Resources

    As I proceed deeper into my "across the pond" research, I wanted to make sure that I reviewed more than just birth and death records. It turns out that many towns kept yearly  census records as well as lists of who had immigrated to the United States.  The Luxembourg American Cultural Society keeps a nice list of resources on their website.  It doesn't cover every town, but it is a nice starting point.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: the saga continues...

   I've written the last few weeks about trying to trace my great-great-grandparents' marriage record in Luxembourg. I did finally turn up their marriage record, so it's on to their birth records. I wrote a little about searching for Catherine Danckoff's birth record in Saturday's post. According to Luxembourg-American Families,she was born in April 1800. Her husband, Jean, was supposedly born in 1797. A hand-search of the Luxembourg Civil Records online has turned up nothing. It leaves me to wonder. Am I missing something or are the dates wrong?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: French Republican Calendar Explanation and Conversion

   I've started trying to back-trace my great-great-great-grandfather's family. Step 1: determine his birth year. Using his children's birth records, which state his age, I was able to make a good guess for his birth year. It's somewhere between 1794 and 1797. Step 2: where was he born? The family records are in pretty much in the same place, so I'm leaning towards that town. Of course, the search ran me head on into something I wasn't expecting - the French Republican Calendar.
    All I really knew about the French Republican Calendar was that it was used in the French Revolution. Kimberly Powell's history of the French Republican Calendar gave me a nice overview. I can use her chart to figure out what month I'm probably dealing with. But what does 6eme annee (sorry for the lack of accents!) mean? Time for a calendar converter...
   I like Steve Morse's calendar converter with a few reservations. For Luxembourg, the French Republican Calendar dates would all appear in the first century. Unless you realize this, you will end up confused quickly. Make sure that your screen is set correctly. It's on the first line. Don't touch the second line if you're converting from the French to modern calendar. The third line is the one you'll need to change. The first number is the year. If your record says 6eme annee, put in 6. The second item is the month. The last is the day. Entered properly, you'll be able to return a modern date.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Motivation Monday: Online Family Trees

  Most genealogists have a love-hate relationship with online family trees. Many have mistakes, some noticeable. If you've ever seen a tree with an impossible fact - such as being enumerated in a census after death - you'll know what I mean. Others don't list their sources. That can make strange facts hard to confirm. I have one ancestor whose birth date is chronically listed off by one day, simply because someone misread his original birth certificate. If I hadn't backtraced the story, I never would have figured out what happened. But there are some good trees out there, especially for Luxembourg genealogy.
    I've mentioned Bob Arens's Luxembourg American Families before and wanted to mention it again. Arens has made an effort to trace many of the Luxembourg-American families and provides good basic information on many families. If you find something wrong, he's provided a way to submit corrections.
   Why am I mentioning his trees? Because right now, it's providing motivation for my research.  He's got more information than I do, but I've found errors in the information previously submitted to his tree. End result, I'm doing what I can to confirm what he's found. And hopefully, we're both benefiting.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Postcards of old Luxembourg

   The deeper I get into research, the more interested I get in discovering how my ancestors lived and what their lives might have looked like. For one line, this process is fairly easy. I live close to their home, and it's still fairly rural. It's not too much of a jump to imagine back two centuries. That's not true for my ancestors in Luxembourg.
   That's why I was so thrilled to stumble across the Old Postcards website. Featuring a native Luxembourg photographer, the site offers a biography, as well as photographs from many of the villages across the country. J.M. Bellwald  was born in 1871 and traced the evolution of photography over the next seventy years. His postcards traced life in many different villages. I recognized one from my family tree. If you happen to be from Echternach, you're in luck!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Surname Saturday: Catherine Danckoff, Senningen, Luxembourg

   Catherine Danckoff was married to Jean Reuter 3 June 1823 in Senningen, Luxembourg and had at least two daughters. And at this point, that's all I know. I've been able to trace her husband's birth year using the children's birth records. Unfortunately Luxembourg's french language birth records list the father's age, but not that the mother's. That means I'm more or less stuck guessing her birth year based on her children's birth and the marriage date. Still looking...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Follow Friday: More Luxembourg Photo Blogs!

   Apologies everyone for the spotty posting the last few weeks. I finally am able to concentrate on my Luxembourger research after a few weeks of doing anything but! It's nice to be back on schedule.
   As part of my "return" to work, I'm enjoying spending time looking at pretty pictures of Luxembourg.  Dawn Spaulding is an American ex-pat photographer who lives part time in Luxembourg. She's been blogging about the buildings she's seen in Luxembourg, as well as her visits to surrounding countries. As a medieval studies minor, I especially loved her photographs and histories of local churches. I've been to the Cathedral Notre Dame, but I'm not sure I saw all of those details.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: French language records!

   Well, I managed to trace the family sideways a little. I found my g-g-grandmother's sister. Good old fashioned hand-searching. The younger sister was born two years later than my g-g-grandmother. And fortunately, for me, it was in period where my family's region in Luxembourg was using French, not German. I am thrilled! I love actually being able to translate my records without a dictionary and lots of help.  I didn't get much new information thanks to a quirk in the French language records that give the husband's age and not the wife's. However, it was fun to see a new family name and to learn a little more. Hopefully I'll be able to trace the parents back further shortly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: my great-great-grandmother's family... and the Luxembourg Civil Registration

   It took several hours, but I finally found what I was looking for in the Luxembourg Civil Registrations on FamilySearch.org. My great-great-grandparents married in a village in Luxembourg in June 1823. I made an assumption about location based on where my later relatives were born, including their child. Using her birth date and the age of her father, I made an estimate of the date. I used the age the father turned 21 as a starting point and worked up until the birth of the child I knew about... Turned it up three years early. Now if the record were just in French.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Still digging...

   I mentioned earlier that I was intending to search for my g-g-g-parents' marriage record. I'm still digging... Thus far I've started with when the husband would have been of legal age (21). I've followed through the next seven years and still have five to go.  I keep hoping. On the upside, I know I have an outside limit. Their daughter was listed as legitimate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tech Tuesday: CIA World Factbook, Luxembourg

   Continuing this week's overview of basic resources... If you need basic information to start resourcing Luxembourg, a good place to start is the CIA World Factbook. The Factbook covers a variety of different topics related to Luxembourg history and culture, including languages spoken and more. The site provides a nice map, a recording of the national anthem and photos. If you're starting from scratch, this is the perfect point.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Motivation Monday: Educational Goals for Luxembourger research

   I know I'm not the only one going through this process, so I thought I'd share my next steps for learning more about my Luxembourger genealogy.
    1. Try to learn some basic phrases in Luxembourgish. There are some good fact sheets online... In the meantime, at least I've managed "hello."
   2. Trace my great-great-grandmother's family. My male line in Luxembourg has hit a temporary dead-end until I start sorting some additional paperwork. That's not true for the female line. I have a birth date and name for her father, so I'm hoping to find his marriage certificate. At least I know what town I'm looking for... The date's a guess.
   3. Figure out my next steps for learning more...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Genealogy Blogging for Fun or Profit?

   This week, many genealogy bloggers are discussing why they blog - for fun or for profit. I figured it was time to chime in with my two cents. This blog is definitely not a "for-profit" blog. As far as Luxembourg genealogy goes, I am an amateur. I actually started blogging because I realized that the little I know was more than was easily accessible on the internet.
  And that mentality explains a lot about how this blog functions. I blog to learn. Some weeks I know that I want to learn next. Others I don't. You'll see pauses and mistakes. Please feel free to correct me when you see a mistake or share information. Even add what you think I should cover next. I'm creating my own course as I go!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Surname Saturday: A Useful Publication List

  I just discovered another wonderful resource for researchers studying Luxembourg. The Institut Grand-ducal provides a list of publications on its website that can be purchased within the United States. Many of these publications are complete genealogies for a specific region or city. If you are trying to make the jump back to Luxembourg, these will prove priceless. Even if you just have an interest in the region, you can find some great reading!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Follow Friday: Dani's Blog

  The blog of a freelance photographer, Dani's Blog traces her travels throughout Europe. While the content in words is limited, the images are incredible. I'm hoping she posts more from Luxembourg!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

In honor of Independence Day, I'm taking today off... Hope you're enjoying the fireworks like our ancestors would have!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium provides unusual Luxembourg publications

  I've spent far too much time recently sorting through lists of Luxembourg resources. Researching in the United States, this becomes a necessity. Many of those websites are dead-ends, no longer actives or contain links to common sites. I stumbled across one that was different.
   Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium links to a variety of digital publications. Some are wide ranging databases. Others are simple but may prove helpful if you know your family. A list of teachers from 1856 was one of my favorite options. Take a look...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Military Monday: Luxembourg-American Cemetery

 When I mention to someone that I have an interest in Luxembourg genealogy, the Luxembourg-American Cemetery almost always comes up in conversation. It doesn't relate directly to what I do, but with family members  who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, I do find it important.
  There are a few good resources online to help you research family members buried in the Luxembourg-American Cemetery. The American Battle Monuments Commission has a searchable database designed to help locate burial sites. To search, you enter the name in the blank. You also have the option of searching by unit or cemetery. Visitor information is also available on their website.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Luzembourgish

   I finally decided to start embracing my Luxembourgish heritage and trying to learn a few words using Let'z Learn: Luxembourgish Lessons. I'll be practicing for a long time into the future, but I can already some challenges. How do people learn French, German, Luxembourgish, and English without mixing the four up? I can barely keep my English and French straight! I'll have a hard time not using "Avoir" instead of "Awar." Nothing like new challenges... :)