Still love that mouse!
Just a couple of days ago, a Facebook post asked if genealogists belonged to local genealogical societies any more.
The Legal Genealogist sure does.
Local societies support records access and preservation efforts in just about all of the areas where I research — including many to which I can’t easily travel.
Including — sigh — one where I was going to travel, this year, until a certain virus decided to spread across the globe and close borders…
Yes, this was finally going to be the year when I would make that month-long trip to my father’s homeland of Germany, to walk the streets where my ancestors walked, stand in the churches where they were baptized and married, meander through the graveyards, and hold those records in my hands.
And — sigh — that sure isn’t happening any time soon.
Which just makes membership in those local societies all the more valuable.
And one in particular has just proved, again, for about the eighty-‘leventh time, that it’s worth its weight in gold.
My father and his mother were born in Bremen — Germany’s 10th largest city, with roughly 681,000 residents in 2019.1 And although Bremen had the stuffing bombed out of it during World War II2 and many records were lost to the bombing,3 much survived for modern researchers to use.
And there’s a local genealogical society there in Bremen that’s doing its best to make easy access a reality for as many of the surviving records as possible. It’s Die Maus — die Gesellschaft für Familienforschung e. V. Bremen — the Bremen Genealogical Society. And of course “die Maus” translates as “the mouse.”
This local society with its 1100 or so members has a terrific website with databases of passenger lists and emigration registers and civil registration data and and and… it’s chock full of goodies, mostly in German, available to anyone, member or not. (There is a language switch option at the bottom of the home page if you need help…)
The information that’s most useful is generally in the online databases, accessed through the menu tab labeled Datensammlungen. That’s where you’ll find, for example, the Leichenbücher — these are the burial books for three major Bremen city cemeteries that operated after December of 1874: Walle, Riensberg and Buntentor Friedhöfe (cemeteries). Each entry records the book and page of the entry, together with the number of the death record at the City Registrar’s office, the person’s last name, maiden name if any, first name, the name of the person who arranged the burial, the date and place of death, the date of burial, which cemetery, what gravesite and what class of burial (how fancy a burial, which dictated how much it cost), the age at death and relationship to the person arranging the burial. Anyone can access the index for 1875-1939; members can access records through 1975.
It was in those records that I found the entry for my great grandmother, Juliane Margarethe (Smidt) Nuckel, wife of Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel, who died 27 January 1907 at 15 Hardenbergstrasse in Bremen, at the age of 42 years and two months. She was buried on the 30th of January at the Buntentor Cemetery in grave site 1952. Her fourth class funeral meant that her body was brought to the cemetery in a hearse drawn by two black horses and driven by a driver dressed in black with white cravat and cornered hat, with eight black-clad attendants wearing cornered hats. It cost on average 35 marks.4
It was in those records that I found the entry for my father’s only sister, Marie Emma Geissler, who died at the age of four months and 10 days in January of 1920.5
I was poking around in these records just this past week and realized that I hadn’t gotten a membership renewal notice, so I popped off a note asking about my membership status. Yes, I was overdue. And in making arrangements to renew, it occurred to me to ask whether there was any good source for obituaries, giving the names and death dates for two of my father’s relatives.
Back came the death notices for each of them. And more. The notice of the remarriage of the widower of one cousin. His eventual death notice. Death notices of some of the in-laws. And a newspaper clipping of an interview with one cousin talking about the industry the family had been involved in for generations: many of them were cigar box makers.
Do I belong to local genealogical societies any more?
Oh yes I do. Because there is such value in supporting the work they do.
Those local values are worth the usually small price of membership — in the case of Die Maus, 35 euros a year (and yes they take PayPal).
Though the Bremen Genealogical Society swears it chose the name because, like mice, genealogists are always busy,6 the fact is that St. Peter’s Cathedral — St. Petri Dom — has at least two Dom-Maus figures that were carved into columns in the 11th and 12th centuries as protections from evil.7
Yeah, I’m always busy, but — hey — I don’t know about you, but I’m sure not turning down any protection from evil I can get…
Just one of the local values from belonging to local societies.
Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Those local values,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 18 July 2020).
- See generally the 2019 population estimate at City Population – Germany (https://www.citypopulation.de/en/germany/ : accessed 18 Jul 2020). ↩
- Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Bombing of Bremen in World War II,” rev. 13 June 2020. ↩
- See Peter Marschalck, Inventar der Quellen zur Geschichte der Wanderungen, Besonders der Auswanderung, in Bremer Archiven (Bremen: Staatsarchiv, 1986), 10. ↩
- “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1939” (Funerary Records 1875-1939), entry for Juliane Margarethe (Smidt) Nuckel, Buch (Book) 1907, Seite (Page) 99, citing Bremen Neustad Standesamt 1907, Nr. 346, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen (https://die-maus-bremen.info/ : accessed 18 July 2020). ↩
- Ibid., entry for Marie Emma Geißler, Buch 1920 Seite 67, citing Bremen Standesamt 1920, Seite (page) 226, Nr. 2635. ↩
- See “Woher kommt der Name “Die Maus”?,” Die Maus (http://www.die-maus-bremen.de/index.php : accessed 13 Jul 2012). I can’t find that explanation on the site now, but… ↩
- “Dom-Maus,” St Petri Dom, Bremen (http://www.stpetridom.de/ : accessed 18 Jul 2020). ↩