Social History and Genealogy

Our ancestor’s didn’t live in a vacuum, just as we don’t live in a vacuum. Our ancestor’s lives were influenced by the happenings around them. Historical events in the world and the area of your ancestors shaped and gave context to their lives. We were fortunate to have Joanne Sher share her knowledge in a class titled “Using Social History to Put Your Ancestor in Context.” Do you have letters, journals or diaries from your ancestors? Reading those can give you a feel for the everyday life of your ancestor. Look for photographs of the time period. Look up timelines (thanks, Google!) to see what was happening in the world at large. Read books about communication and transportation in your ancestor’s life. Your ancestor may not have left a record detailing theseIMG_4818little things, but someone else from the same time period probably did. Were there personal habits that were normal in your ancestor’s life and society in general that are now frowned upon? What did housing look like? Did your ancestor’s go to school? Do yourself a favor and transport yourself back into your ancestor’s time. Chances are, you will have a new appreciation and respect for the lives of your ancestors.


German History and Migration

IMG_4817Milan Pohontsch came in his best dress to teach about German History and Migration. He is both a native German and a Wend. If you don’t know what that is, an earlier blog post will explain it. In Milan’s class, we learned that you need to know your history of Europe! Did you know that Germany didn’t exist before 1871? We also learned about German territories , main causes of emigration, ports of travel, etc. There was a strong German track this year and Milan was part of a core group that got to the heart of German research. Names, dates, and places are important, but so is learning about the culture and other aspects of our ancestor’s lives. Milan gave us a great visual peak into our ancestor’s closet.

The FEEEFHS Conference is really a great place to learn and experience all things related to your eastern European ancestors. The FEEFHS Conference for 2017 will be held July 17-22, 2017 at the Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City.



Door Prize Winners

A HUGE THANKS to this year’s sponsors for some amazing door prizes.

And congratulations to the door prize winners – drawn from banquet tickets and extra entries earned during the conference.

LegacyTree Genealogists DNA Analysis:  Beverly Bernbach

MyHeritage full year subscription:  Robert K. Hoshide

Plaza Hotel 4 nights:  June Sommer

German Census Book by Roger Minert:  Diane Caradeuc

FEEFHS full set of digital journals:  Anne Norris

FEEFHS 2017 Conference registration: Judy M. Olson


Door prize winners 2016, from left to right: Diane Caradeuc, Judy Olson, Robert Hoshide, June Sommer, Beverly Bernbach, and Anne Norris.


What is a Wend? Are You a Wend?


Milan Pohontsch is a native German and Wend at the same time.  So, what is a Wend? Trusting a Google search, I found that a Wend is any member of a group of Slavic tribes that had settled in the area between the Oder River (on the east) and the Elbe and Saale rivers (on the west) by the 5th century A.D., in what is now eastern Germany. The Wends occupied the eastern borders of the domain of the Franks and other Germanic peoples. I will need to make sure I talk to Milan to see if Google got it right!

Milan does genealogical research in both languages and has more than 10,000 hours of research experience in original records and microfilms. He is accredited in German research, and a constant guest presenter and keynote speaker at various genealogical conferences.

He was the co-author of a lineage book and is author of a monthly genealogical newsletter. Milan is also owner of European Roots Genealogy.

We are happy to have Milan speaking at the FEEFHS Conference again this year. He will be presenting six classes: German Online Sources, Intro to Slovenian Research, German Maps and Gazetteers, German Area-Specific Sources, The History of the 30 Years War and it’s Influences on the Migration Pattern and The Napoleonic Wars and it’s Influences on the Maps of Central Europe.


Thom Edlund–East European Extraordinaire

Edlund, Thomas 01 1302-02 HBLL Faculty Portraits February 5, 2013 Photo by Marcos Escalona/BYU/BYU Copyright BYU Photo 2013 All Rights Reserved (801)422-7322

Thom Edlund is the current president of the Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEHFS). He is also a specialist in East European languages and manuscripts. Thom is a  professor of family and local history at Brigham Young University,  teaching curricula in East European genealogy, micro-regional history, and paleography. He has authored many books on language and genealogy, including The Lutherans of Russia, Die Ahnenstammkartei des Deutschen Volkes, Medieval Latin for Family Historians, An Introduction and Index to the German Minority Census of 1939, and A Compendium of Nahuatl Dialectology. He served as editor of the FEEFHS Journal from 1998 to 2008.

FEEFHS was organized in 1992 as an umbrella organization for many organizations that focused their research efforts on areas of East Europe and Transcaucasia. The purpose of FEEFHS has changed over the last 20 years because of technology and other societies, but Thom Edlund remains firmly planted in FEEFHS. In fact, he was recognized in 2013 for his diligent 20 years of service with FEEFHS. Keynote-Edlund-web

This year Thom is teaching six classes. They are: Origins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Military Records of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Polish Civil Registration, Reading Russian Empire Genealogy Records, and Russo-German Research, parts 1 & 2.

We invite you to come join us next week, August 8-12, 2016 at the Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.