Teaching a Friend to Find Records on FamilySearch

Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey writes about her Jewish ancestors documenting their descendants’ lines to the present time. By reading her blog for the past several years, I’ve learned about Jewish families, customs, and traditions.

During the Thanksgiving weekend, Amy reached out to me for help. She’d been researching her relative Falk Goldschmidt using the Ancestry collection Mannheim, Germany, Family Registers, 1760-1900 (available in the World subscription). The original source is digital images of Polizeipräsidium Mannheim Familienbögen, 1800-1900 at the Mannheim State Archive.

From the description of the collection on Ancestry: When a family moved into their home, they registered at the local police station. Anytime a child was born or a household member married, died, or moved out, it was recorded on the family register with the civil authorities.

While looking into Falk, she came across two entries in the family registers for his marriage on the same date, 18 October 1868, to Clara “Babetta” Carlebach, the daughter of David, and to Pauline “Babetta” Carlebach, the daughter of Julius.

Ancestry image (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7575/images/41680_b155960-00489?pId=160805 : accessed 6 January 2021)
Ancestry image (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7575/images/41680_b155960-00472?pId=160763 : accessed 6 January 2021)

Was Babetta the daughter of David or Julius?

Amy posted both images on the GerSIG: German Jewish Genealogy Special Interest Group on Facebook. Michael, a member of the group, amazingly (to her) almost immediately found both a birth and marriage record on FamilySearch for Clara/Babetta/Pauline.

Amy wrote, “I can’t read either, and I tried to retrace his steps to find them myself, but couldn’t begin to do so because (1) I can’t read the script and (2) I have no idea how he narrowed down the search to find the right pages or even the right matrikel.”

In reaching out to me, Amy had three questions:

  • First, can you translate all of these for me? I know that’s a lot, and Michael gave me the essentials, but I want to be sure I haven’t missed anything.
  • How do you explain the conflict in the Family Registers? A clerical error? It sure seems that Babetta was the daughter of Julius/Juda, not David.
  • And finally—how in the world did Michael locate the birth and marriage records so quickly? I know being able to read the script is a huge step, but how did he narrow down which matrikel and then locate the page?

She also wrote, “I figured I would ask the third question. I’d much rather be able to do this myself at some point—assuming I can also put in the time and effort to learn how to read that awful script.”

Locating Records on FamilySearch

After this lengthy introduction, I’ll now come to the point of this post. How the birth and marriage records were found so quickly by Michael.

If the geographical location (in this case, Mannheim) and the time period (in this case, 1844-1845) can be narrowed down then FamilySearch‘s catalog is the key to finding records. It is important to read through the description of the collection found in the catalog as well as any further information included under NOTES.

These are the steps I shared with Amy for finding the birth records of the young women associated with the marriage of Falk Goldschmidt.

Go to the Catalog on FamilySearch. The catalog is in the dropdown menu Search. I’ve bookmarked it as it is the first place I go to search. https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog

Type Mannheim in the search box for Place. For this search, it automatically brought up Germany, Baden, Mannheim at the top of the list. I usually leave the Availability selection on Any so that I can see all collections available. Click Search.

On the list of Mannheim collections that comes up, you can open each category. I chose Germany, Baden, Mannheim – Jewish records ( 6 ) as your research is for Jewish families. My second choice would have been Civil Registrations which contains Familienstandsbogen, 1807-1900. This is the collection that you found to be indexed on Ancestry. [A collection on Ancestry that requires a World subscription but is FREE on FamilySearch.]

Open up the Jewish Records to view the 6 collections. The first two are for Matrikel, 1805-1870 for Mannheim. The next two are for Feudenheim. The last two are for records outside of the period you wanted to search. We are only interested in the first two.

Open the first two in new windows. [I use The Genealogy Girl, Amberly Beck’s tip: Ctrl+left mouse click.] This brings up the catalog information for each.

While trying to figure out the easiest way to explain to you how I found the records on FamilySearch, I discovered that the two collections were actually the same but filmed at different times. This is where reading the notes on a collection comes in handy. [There is an advantage to having duplicates as images were filmed or digitized under different conditions and may be easier to decipher in one collection than in the other.]

Note: The collections appear to be duplicated from the Mannheim birth register. I cannot be sure but it looks like they extracted all Jewish records from the main register of births to make this Jewish collection.

One of the collections was filmed by the Reichssippenamt, Berlin, in 1937. The left-side pages were filmed separately from right-side pages and sometimes in reverse order. The other collection is of microfilm recordings of duplicates in the Badisches Generallandesarchiv, Karlsruhe. The images are the same only that in the second the left and right pages are on one image – making them much easier to search through.

Before we go into browsing, you need to be able to recognize title pages in the collections so that you can navigate (browse) them. For each year, the records are arranged by births, marriages, and deaths (normally, in this order). If they are out of order, it is helpful to know how the German words are written in the old script.

Browsing the FamilySearch collection

In the Matrikel, 1805-1870 for Mannheim we want to find the 1844 birth record of Clara and the 1845 birth record of Pauline.

You will want to use the “3 microfilms collection” and the film for the years up to 1859. The 3rd microfilm in this collection is restricted. You can use the search feature but the images aren’t available online. You can, however, view them in the “9 microfilms collection” in the 8th and 9th microfilm (not restricted).

Click on the camera of the microfilm for Geburten, Heiraten, Tote 1815-1859. This is where browsing comes into play. It isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as you might think. The records are in chronological order. For each year you will find a title page for births, marriages, and deaths. There are 44 years of records. The years 1844-1845 are about 2/3 of the way timewise but there are usually more records in later years than in early years so I would suggest jumping in at the middle with image 400.

The first title page with the type of record following image 400 is on image 403 and is for the year 1841 Trauungs-Register (marriages).

Click on Browse Multiple Images (tile button) to see the small images. Notice that microfilm item 3 ends and item 4 starts in the row of images after image 403. This is where the year 1842 begins. Count over three title pages per year to get to the year 1844.

If you check the title pages for 1844 you will find two for births. For some reason, the births for this year were extracted twice. As you know from the image of Clara’s birth record you received from your help angel, her entry was the last for 1844 and followed by the index.

The index gives you the page number but not the date of birth. The indexes for births for 1844 are on images 451 and 458. The script used in this collection can be difficult to decipher. To help you find the Carlebach child’s name in the index, you need to become familiar with the letters.

As you can see the capital B and L are very similar. Since this is in alphabetical order, it is a good example to use for comparison. The capital C is similar to our E which is confusing until you get used to the script. In the list, the surnames beginning with C are for Cohn Ferdinand, Carlebach Heinrich, and Carlebach Clara (später Babetta). I only figured out the word später (later) after I did the screenshot annotations. [This indicates a later change in name.]

Clara’s record of birth is on page 8, the left page on this image. It is the last birth to be recorded. Labeled 35 in the margin at the bottom of page 8, it continues on page 9 at the top. Hirsch Traub, the scribe who made the entries, used the # sign to indicate missing words that he added in the margin. He made quite a few corrections including some on both records found for Clara (1844).

The Carlebach child born in 1845 was named Paulina. In Browse Multiple Images view, skip past the title page for 1844 marriages and 1844 deaths to 1845 births. Go to the last birth image with the index. Carlebach Paulina is on page 6. Go back to page 6. Her record is #26.

Rabbit holes

There were a lot of emails flying back and forth between Amy and me. She had many questions and quickly learned to browse the images even though her biggest handicap was not being able to read the script. We both went down rabbit holes trying to find answers to the questions we had concerning the fact that the two young girls were born close together to parents who shared the same surname – not only the fathers’ surname but also the mothers’ maiden name – and they both had their birth name changed to Babetta. Amy amazed me (and herself) by finding a death record which put much in perspective.

Is it Kurrent or Sutterlin? 

Amy had one remaining question she asked me early on in our email exchange about the script. Is it Kurrent or Sutterlin?

I really don’t bother thinking about which script it is. It’s like being multi-lingual. You switch between languages without thinking about the language you are using.

I had to actually look up what the difference is between the two. Kurrent was used from about 1865 and Sutterlin earlier. I’d say these records are in Sutterlin. I find Kurrent harder to read than Sutterlin. Kurrent looks to me like half the letters are m’s.

My father-in-law helped me in my early days and I learned to recognize letters that usually go together. When I’m really stuck on a word, I try to trace over the lines so that the letters will stand out for me. The more you work with the records the easier (yeah) it gets. After taking a break, it takes me a while to get back to my reading level. [Transcripts of the German text and translations of the records found were sent to Amy.]

Was Babetta the daughter of David or Julius?

Amy learned how to find the records on FamilySearch. Did they help her resolve her research question concerning the two ladies named Babetta? Her post for Falk Goldschmidt with the answer to this question and this post will be published simultaneously. To read about Falk and the two women associated with his marriage date, please visit her article The Mystery of Falk Goldschmidt’s Wife: A Lesson in German Vital Records on her blog Brotmanblog: A Family Journey.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

13 thoughts on “Teaching a Friend to Find Records on FamilySearch”

  1. Fantastic post! I’m bookmarking it for sure. I am used to browsing at FS as well, though at least much of the time the language is in English, but I haven’t taken the time to write up a methodology. You have saved me that step – I will direct people here. Even if they’re searching in a different language, the concept is the same.

    For the Polish and Russian records records I access, I too have learned to recognize patterns in the script that help me know to what and who the document refers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Teresa. That‘s how I‘ve been sharing the post: location and language are not a hurdle when you use the catalog. Paying attention to what is in a collection also helps make browsing easier AND slowing down. 😉

      Like

  2. Thank you for a timely post. I am just this week, by trial and error, finally, getting the hang of using Family Search. For years I simply filled in the search feature with an ancestors name, dates, and location and hoped something would pop up! By using the catalog first I have been able to find many local Minnesota records I’ve been looking for for years. Next maybe I’ll try the Luxembourg or German records. I appreciate your step by step directions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For all those that are followers of Cathy, including myself, I believe I can say without hesitation that Cathy is the FamilySearch “Whisperer”. I have learned so much from you Cathy and I am continuing to be amazed by you. Just when I think there can’t be anything else to learn about the FamilySearch website, you pull something out of hiding for the rest of us to be able utilize in finding our ancestors. Thank you! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

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