A New Database Is Under Construction

  Adler has started to build a private emigration database for Thuringia. The aim of this database is to record Thuringia's emigrants and to determine their exact origin.

  Currently almost 7,000 emigrants are registered in her database, and the search continues. Ultimately approximately 60,000 to 100,000 Thuringian emigrants will be recorded.

But what is so special about this database?

  There are numerous genealogical databases that genealogists can use for their research. These mainly include transcripts of ship lists, censuses and other sources. Often these documents contain errors. Personal names were not always properly recorded because immigrants often spoke with a dialect and were misheard. Orthographic errors or abbreviations in personal and place names can also invalidate the documents. In many sources, the information regarding origin is very inaccurate. Often not the true origin, but the name of the nearest town or duchy was given. For instance, Adler found a number of emigrants who came from either Thuringia, Eisenach, Weimar, Sachsen-Weimar, Sachsen-Meiningen or just Sachsen (Saxony); all were all listed as having come from Thuringia. Where the origin given is simply “Germany,” an exact determination of origin is only possible by referring to other sources.

This is where the database comes in.

  Emigrants mostly traveled in groups, with family members or acquaintances from the same place or from neighboring places. Adler’s local knowledge helps to assign the emigrants to ship lists: she compares typical family names of the region with the ship lists to help determine the emigrant’s origin. In this way other emigrants who were previously unknown can be identified.

  What separates Adler’s database from conventional ones is the fact that Adler matches her finds with church records. As a result, she is able to determine the exact origin, the date of birth and baptism, the names of the parents and godparents plus other pertinent facts. In her database, entries matched with church records are marked with a code that includes the year of the birth or baptism and the sequence number from the register. For instance, a code of B-1832-16 directs the researcher back to the Birth Register entry for the 16th child born in the year 1832. In the event that Thuringian church records are ever made available online, descendants will be able to use this code to easily find the entries they are looking for.

  By examining the database, people of the same origin can be assigned to the same ship lists. When Germany is indicated as their point of origin, in particular, one can gain astonishing insights into their precise origin. If the emigration was announced in the daily press, conclusions can be drawn about people traveling together, and together they can be assigned to the ship lists.

  In some cases, the database can be made to produce a sheet containing the “Intent to Emigrate” announcements from a given time period, or a list of emigrants from a particular town. Because Adler can often connect family names to specific villages and towns, when she finds names in the ship lists whose point of origin have yet to be determined she can then look into the appropriate church records and ascertain whether the person was born there and if there is a relationship to other emigrants.