Tips for researching your Berlin relatives #germany
In recent months, with some creative searching, I have found about 100 more
relatives, using the Berlin civil records now available on Ancestry.com, the
Berlin newspapers available on the European Library website at
http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/newspapers, and some other sites. I
thought I would share my method with you!
1. On Ancestry.com enter "Berlin" under Keyword. This will limit the
results to Berlin records and records that contain the word "Berlin".
2. If your surname is common, such as LEVY, or not especially Jewish (I have
several, such as BRAUN, NATHAN, WEISS, SCHWARZ, MICHAELIS, etc.) you may be
able to skip through hundreds of hits for marriage records by skipping over
those entries with several first names. Jews generally had one or maybe two
first names only.
3. Marriages required two witnesses, who were usually relatives. Even if
the witness is not known, research them. Their age and address will be
given on the marriage certificate. They may turn out to be the husband of
another relative you have yet to find! Always keep note of these witnesses
for possible later identification, if you cannot immediately identify them.
4. The marriage and death records will give the parents' names too, as well
as where they lived - and died, if applicable. They will give divorce
details, if any, and sometimes death details, and if they had to assume the
name "Israel" or "Sara. If you are entering your records on a public site
such as Ancestry or Geni, then enter your relative's spouse's relatives
(parents, witness) too, to facilitate other researchers linking their tree
to yours. They may have additional information on your relatives too that
you didn't know about, or their own trees which will then appear as a
5. Use wildcard searches (*) as much as possible, especially for surnames
that can easily be misspelled. If the first name ends in "a" or "e" always
use the * to search (for example Johann*), as transcribers will use both
randomly, even though the name probably ends with an "e".
6. Let's say you have found a marriage record for your relative and now you
want to know if the marriage produced children. Let's assume they were
married in 1890. Then do a search using just the surname and enter the
search year as 1896 with a 5 year +/-. This will pull up all Berlin BMD
records for anyone born 1891 - 1901, which should cover all children, unless
it was a large family! You can also use the 2 or 10 year +/- option.
7. If you cannot find the death record for your female relative, also search
using her maiden name. She may have remarried.
8. Once you have exhausted Ancestry.com, then use
http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/tel4/newspapers. Of particular interest
are the death notices, usually published in the Berliner Tageblatt. In
addition to the description of "long and painful suffering" which seems to
appear on all these notices, you may find "new" family members. The best
way to search is to use "+", for example "Ottilie+SCHWARZ" (my
gg-grandmother) This will yield 55 hits. Then click on the 4
Staatsbibliothek (for the Berlin newspapers) hits. The last 2 refer to my
Ottilie. The last is her death notice. Click on it and you will see the
relevant part in blue on the left side. Click on it to bring that section
of the newspaper up. Even if you have found the death certificate on
Ancestry, still search for the death notice on this site, in the hopes of
finding more relatives. Then you can contact Weissensee cemetery for the
burial records. email@example.com. These can also yield
9. If you can't find your married female relative on this site, then try
just using "geb+maiden name", which, for some reason, will bring up
10. If you search just using the surname you may get thousands of hits, if
it is a common surname. You can then narrow down your search by using
"Decades of Publication" on the right side. Click on the desired decade.
Then click on the Year, if applicable. You can then sort in ascending or
descending time. This will considerably narrow down the hits.
11. This newspaper site also has newspapers >from Hamburg and other
countries too, such as Austria. It is also useful for finding engagement
notices, marriage notices and birth notices, as well as business details and
addresses. A birth notice will typically say a son or daughter was born,
often citing the birth date (but no first name), and then you can continue
your search back on Ancestry using the surname and the birth year. If your
relative lived during the Holocaust years, then also search on
http://tracingthepast.org/minority-census/census-database. To find all those
living at the same address, just put in the surname and street name. This
database is for all of Germany. You can also use
Judith E. Elam, Kihei, HI firstname.lastname@example.org