The Atlantic Bridge to Germany series
This article refers to the orginal series of books. It is being reprinted, with many revisions, by another publisher.
By Charles M. Hall
Twenty one years ago, I left the State of Washington with my wife and four children (soon to be five), bound for Utah, with little or no idea of what my new profession would be.
Declining foreign language enrollments, nationwide, had forced me out of the teaching profession at a community college where I had taught French, German, Russian, and History of the English Language.
While staying at the home of my parents, H. Vernon and Eleanor M. Hall, in Salt Lake City, I investigated the possibility of using my foreign language training as a professional genealogist. While experimenting with this option, I became aware that, while there was available in English, genealogical atlases of Sweden and Denmark, there was none for Germany. I was further surprised to learn that in spite of having only a master's thesis published in triplicate, I was as well qualified for the job of authoring such an atlas as anyone I asked about.
Since I had made it a goal to more directly involve my wife and children in my new profession, I was pleased to learn that this goal could be reached very well by working together on a publication project to produce genealogical atlases of Germany.
It was also gratifying to have Mrs. Gay Kowallis and others at Everton Publishers encourage me by offering to publish what we produced.
Volume 1 Thus it was, that in 1974, we produced our first volume, on the state of Baden-W�rttemberg. Although I personally wrote the Historical and Biographical Orientations, my wife, Frankie and our children did much of the work of setting up the maps, indexing all of the towns, including writing grid and page numbers of each town, and using egg cartons and Elmer's glue to prepare the indexed pages. We chose Baden-W�rttemberg as our first volume, because that was the area of highest emigration to America during the big waves of German Emigrations in the 1700's.
Volumes 2 and 3: We learned that the second and third states of high emigrations to America in the 1700's were Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz, so we devoted our Volume 2 to those states. We chose Bavaria as our third volume for three reasons: it was the largest state in West Germany, 2) that volume completed our coverage of southern Germany, and 3) it related to the "Bavarian Pfalz" which we had already covered in volume 2.
Volume 4: Our Volume 4 covers some areas not currently in Germany; namely, Alsace-Lorraine and Switzerland. We included these states, with the others, because of the many German speakers coming from them, who emigrated to America, also in the 1700's. Many of these emigrants stopped along their route, some for several years, in the states of Baden, Rheinland or Pfalz (The Palatinate). We also included the adjacent German state of Saarland in Volume 4.
Volume 5: Our volume on Schleswig-Holstein, (#5) including the "Hanse" (or commercial port) cities of Hamburg and Bremen, is as important to the emigrations of the 1800's as the southern German states are to the 1700's. In fact, from an East European point of view, this volume is much more important than volumes 1-4.
One should be particularly aware of a well- indexed source, listed on page XVIII in Volume 5, which is referred to as "Civil Records of Male Transients." This source is also listed on page XII of volume 7, as "Hamburg Civil Registers of Non-residents." Although one may not always find one's own ancestor in a source of this nature, one often finds valuable clues to the origin of the desired surname.
Volume 6: Our sixth volume was designated by the former state that it comprises, which is Mecklenburg. This is also an important state from an emigration point of view, since 25% of the emigrants going through the port of Hamburg, in the last half of the 19th century, were from Mecklenburg. Although Mecklenburg was not reinstated as a political entity during the recent reunification of Germany, the borders of the new area in northeastern Germany are much closer to the historical Mecklenburg than were the borders during the Communist period. Note particularly that this volume does not bear the name "Atlantic Bridge to Germany" or "Volume 6," but is entitled "The Mecklenburg Genealogical Handbook."
Volume 7: This volume covers an area of Germany which is densely populated, namely the Ruhr Valley (Gebiet). The records of this area are excellent, and include many civil records which have 10-year indexes of surnames adjacent to them. It is valuable to know that most of the church and civil records of this state have been microfilmed by the LDS Church, and hence are available in the LDS branch library system.
At the time our family compiled this volume, we had begun our move from the "egg cartons and Elmer's glue" stage to the "computer stage." My "having-become-an-accountant" daughter, Kathy, typed this whole town index on her lap-top computer.
Volume 8: As many others, like ourselves, have experienced, moving into the "computer age" has had its problems and frustrations. We had the manuscript to Volume 8, Prussia, on our Commodore computer several years before we were able to find a way to transfer the data to an MS-DOS format in preparation for printing. However, our efforts were rewarded, because once we got the data in that format we were able to learn how to do our own typesetting, and thus we were able become "desktop publishers." As all of our current FEEFHS members are aware, because of the flyers you have received, our Prussia book is now on the market, and our publishing company has a name, which is; "Monda Genealoga Ligo." The title, Monda Genealoga Ligo is in the International Language, Esperanto.
This language happens to be very popular in Eastern Europe, especially in areas covered by the former state of Prussia. Currently, it is having a very unifying affect among people in nations historically hostile to each other.
I will now say a few words about the future publications of our Atlantic Bridge series.
Volume 9 - Saxony We anticipate that our volume 9 will cover the current German states of Sachsen (former Kingdom of Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt (former Prussian Province of Saxony) and Th�ringen. Within this area were the following duchies, to which we will also devote some geographical explanation:
Volume 10: Our volume 10 will cover the current state of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). A major portion of this state consisted of the former Kingdom of Hannover. However, there are some other areas in this state that we will devote some geographical explanation to, as follows;
- Ost (East)-Friesland
- Braunschweig (Brunswick).
After we have successfully completed the above volumes, we expect to co-author a series on the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. From there, we expect to work with some of our colleagues on the Baltic Republics, Belarus, the Ukraine, and the Balkans. We even hope to do updates on some of our earlier volumes.