Danzig microfilm indexing #poland #danzig #gdansk #germany


Logan J. Kleinwaks
 

I am very excited to announce that we are ready to begin indexing Danzig
microfilms >from the Family History Library (FHL). Please read below details
about the contents of these microfilms and how you can participate >from home
(or wherever your computer is).

1) Which microfilms will be indexed, and their contents.

We will begin with microfilms 1184407, 1184408, 1184409, 1184410. The
approximate total number of Danzig records/entries on these microfilms is
9232, ranging in date >from at least 1752 until 1940! I have seen on them
many instances of surnames SIG members are researching. The descriptions of
their contents on www.familysearch.org are not completely accurate, and my
impression of their contents is as follows.

1184407: birth records 1905-1936; birth records for Weinberg 1839-1847;
marriage records for Weinberg 1837-1845, often with places of origin; burial
records for Weinberg 1847-1883; burial records >from at least 1765 to 1883

1184408: death and burial records 1889-1940, often with father's name, and,
from 1934, place and date of birth
1184409: burial records for Altschottland and unified Danzig 1848-1920,
cross-referenced to burial plot purchase records for Altschottland
1848-1883, which are also indexed alphabetically; burial records 1883-1929,
cross-referenced to burial plot purchase records 1883-1900, which are also
indexed alphabetically

1184410: typed transcription of the 1814 surname adoption list already
online, with essay about surname adoption >from 1936; handwritten
citizenship? list (missing first two pages, covering surnames beginning with
"A") sharing much in common with the 1814 surname adoption list, but
differing in substantive ways; burial records >from at least 1752 until at
least 1871

Additional details about these contents appear at the end of this message.

2) How the indexing will proceed.

The indexing will be performed by SIG volunteers, meaning no fundraising
will be required. Volunteers will receive >from me by email batches of
images produced by scanning the microfilms, plus data entry Excel
spreadsheets with instructions about what to transcribe and how. Volunteers
will send me completed spreadsheets before receiving additional images to
index. I will prepare the indices for submission to JewishGen for online
presentation.

In order to volunteer, you must be comfortable entering data into an
existing Excel spreadsheet. The ability to read German, Hebrew print, or
Hebrew cursive is required for some (but not all) parts of the microfilms.
You will also need to know how to zoom in and out of jpeg images.

IF YOU WANT TO VOLUNTEER, please send me an email containing the following
information:

Have you ever worked on a project to index Jewish records? If so, which?
How well can you read 19th century German?
How well can you read Hebrew print?
How well can you read Hebrew cursive?
Of the items mentioned in the description of the contents above, which would
you prefer to work on first?
What version of Excel do you have? (You can determine this >from within
Excel by clicking on Help, then About Microsoft Excel, and reading the top
line.)

I will then send you additional information needed by volunteers. There is
no minimum committment, nor any deadline for indexing. You can work at your
own pace.

All volunteers will need to submit a JewishGen Volunteer Agreement
(http://www.jewishgen.org/jewishgen/agree/volunteer.html) in order to
participate in this project. Please contact me before doing this, though.

3) What will happen to the data produced by indexing.

The indices will be added to the All-Poland and Germany Databases on
JewishGen, freely available to all, and copies will be made available to
JRI-Poland. Burial records will be submitted to the JewishGen Online
Worldwide Burial Registry. So, this information should be accessible to a
very large audience.

4) Further details about the contents of the microfilms.

The ranges of dates I observed are significantly larger, in some cases, than
those indicated in the online FHL catalog. There seem to be two reasons for
this: some entries have dates written only in Hebrew, which the FHL seems to
have ignored, and these are generally the earliest; and some of the records
of burials in family plots list burials over many decades, while the FHL
seems to have used only the earliest burial dates. I did not examine all of
the Hebrew-only dates, so it is possible I missed an earlier or later date.

Many of the records associated with burials (there are several different
formats for burial records) identify the locations of graves according to
section and grave number (and some even by physical dimensions in feet).
There is so much of this information that it might be possible to
reconstruct maps of the two cemeteries, especially if aided by what (little)
survives >from them. In some cases, cross-referencing records by grave
location will also be genealogically useful.

The burial plot purchase records on microfilm 1184409 often include not only
the name of the purchaser and the location of the plot, but also the names
of the people intended to be buried in the plots, and/or their relationships
to the purchaser. This information can be very useful genealogically when
combined with the burial records on this microfilm, which indicate the names
and dates of the people actually buried in these plots (but, often, not
their relationships to the purchaser).

The precise meaning of the burial records on microfilm 1184410 is not clear
to me. Because they are arranged primarily alphabetically by given name and
grouped by section number, and because of the consistency of the handwriting
over many decades of burial dates, perhaps they were not made
contemporaneously with the burials, but are either an inventory of burials,
with the information having been read >from gravestones (which might indicate
why some is only in German, some only in Hebrew, some lacking dates --
perhaps illegible), or an indexing of other burial records.

The citizenship? list on microfilm 1184410 contains many names not on the
surname adoption list (especially people who are not heads of households), a
numbering possibly suggesting location of residency, and some information
that seems to have been accidentally dropped by the compilers of the 1817
printing of the surname adoption list (seemingly, due to the similarity in
appearance of ditto marks " and spacers ..).

Many of the records, especially those >from after the First World War, but
also some of the earliest, indicate places of origin far away >from Danzig.
There are probably many researchers whose relatives are listed in these
records, while they are not aware of any connection to Danzig or even the
surroundings.

5) Relation to other Danzig records.

This material is separate >from and different than what is in the Archives of
the Jewish Community of Danzig at the Central Archives for the History of
the Jewish People (CAHJP), Jerusalem (a link to the CAHJP inventory can be
found in the Resources section of our SIG website). The process involved in
indexing is also different -- for the CAHJP material, fundraising is
necessary to purchase microfilm and xerox copies, and for digitization of
the microfilms. Additional details about the first part of the CAHJP
project, for which we are fundraising, will soon be announced (to proceed
with other parts of the CAHJP's Danzig collection, we need volunteers to
visit CAHJP). Donations can be earmarked for the CAHJP project through our
JewishGen-erosity page
http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen-erosity/v_projectslist.asp?project_cat=31
.

Combining these and other (smaller) sources will provide an expansive and
in-depth genealogical picture of the Danzig Jewish community. Depending on
your particular interests (especially, which of the five "precursor"
communities), you might find information in only some or in all of the
sources. I hope that a high degree of collaboration among SIG members will
enable us to proceed on all fronts.

While there is no requirement that you volunteer in order to make use of the
indices, I hope that you will seriously consider whether you can help with
the indexing even a little, if you expect to benefit >from this project.
Besides, it will give you the opportunities to view original records from
Danzig on your own computer and to help in a major way to preserve the
memory of our destroyed community. If you are unable to participate in the
indexing, please consider instead making a donation to the CAHJP project
above, or contact me to learn about other ways you might be able to help in
this group effort.

Best regards and thank you in advance to all volunteers,

Logan Kleinwaks
Coordinator, JewishGen Danzig/Gdansk SIG
kleinwaks@alumni.princeton.edu
near Washington, D.C.

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