What is Germanic Philology?

Fritz_JuenglingWe are excited to have Fritz Juengling back with us again at the 2016 FEEFHS Conference. Fritz earned a BA in Secondary Education and a BA in International Studies German Emphasis, graduating with Honors from Western Oregon University. He attended the University of Minnesota where he received his Master’s and Ph.D. in Germanic Philology with minors in both English and Linguistics. What is Germanic Philology, you may ask?

Germanic Philology is a highly specialized field that combines languages, linguistics, paleography and history.  In completing the programs Fritz demonstrated competence in English, German, Medieval Latin, Dutch and Norwegian; and took courses in fourteen other languages, Latin and Greek philology, and both Latin and Middle English paleography.

Fritz has taught all levels of German, including Medieval German literature, and Old English (Anglo-Saxon) at the college level; German, English, and Latin at the high school level. He is an accredited genealogist for Germany through The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists. He is a European Research Specialist, specializing in German, Dutch, and Scandinavian research, at the Family History Library.

Fritz will be teaching two classes in the German Track: German Names and Practical and Social Decisions for Emigration to America: Beyond the Obvious Reasons.

Please come join us for the 2016 Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEFHS) Conference. It will be held August 8-12, 2016 at the Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Archives Anyone?

David Ouimette photo 2016David Ouimette has a great job! He works for FamilySearch and in his work, he gets to travel to archives all around the world to identify and prioritize records for digital preservation and online publication. Below is a list of the archives that David has visited in the last few years. If you notice, he even included his specific assignment for each archive.

Any questions about archives, it looks like he is the man to chat with! David is teaching two classes at the FEEFHS Conference this year. His topics are: Squeezing Every Drop Out of Polish Parish Registers and Overcoming Spelling Problems and Unlocking the Power of Names. You won’t want to miss these classes!


  • Niederösterreichisches Landesarchiv, Archivdepot Bad Pirawarth, Austria – to assess our camera operations and select additional records to digitize
  • Österreichisches Staatsarchiv – Kriegsarchiv, Vienna, Austria – to review their military records and determine whether we have acquired all those records we had targeted


  • Bulgaria State Archives, Sofia – to discuss the possibility of digitizing
  • Bulgaria City Archives – to assess whether they hold any records of genealogical value
  • National Library of Bulgaria – to see examples of Ottoman Empire census registers, tax registers, and land deeds in Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Persian
  • Various chitalishtes in small villages across the country – to investigate the breadth of coverage of local family histories created in the mid-twentieth century per government mandate
  • Varna Regional Archive – to open a dialog with the archive about digitizing their vital records
  • Bulgarian Genealogical Institute, Sofia – to gain a clearer understanding of genealogical priorities of extant records
  • Plovdiv Regional Archive – to see samples of vital records and learn about access restrictions
  • Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Sofia – to assess the level of interest in having FamilySearch digitally preserve parish registers


  • Zagreb Municipal Archive – to see examples of local records of genealogical value
  • Zagreb Catholic Archdiocese – to offer the archive a digital copy of Catholic parish registers FamilySearch had previously digitized at the national archives
  • Croatia State Archive – to scope out gaps in the materials we had already microfilmed and develop a listing of additional records to digitize


  • National Archives, Copenhagen – to tour their vault and review their archival practices


National Archives of Hungary, Budapest By József Rozsnyai (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


  • National Archives of Hungary – to gain approval to digitize death records and discuss the possibility of digitizing church parish registers
  • Csongrád County Archives – to assess the progress of existing camera operations in acquiring remaining civil registers and consider digitizing their local census records, probate registers, passports, and land transfers
  • Jewish Archives – to take sample images of Jewish censuses, tolerance tax lists, war survivors, circumcision books, and other records
  • National Széchényi Library – to scope their collections of funeral notices and marriage announcements for future digitization and online publication


  • State Historical Archive – to review the status of their digitization of church metrical books and investigate records of greatest value for FamilySearch to digitize, including revision lists, house registers, the Russian census, passports, Latvian censuses, Nazi census, and military service records
  • Riga State Archive – to review digitization and indexing projects already underway at the archive (e.g., deportation and exile registers) and determine whether to digitize passports and military death registers
  • Jelgava Regional Archive – to consider additional digital capture as in Riga, focusing on passport and military records


  • State Historical Archive – to prioritize the top records for conservation and digitization, including revision lists, conscription lists, and the Russian census
  • Kaunas County Archive – to examine revision lists, conscription lists, tax lists, passports, and passport applications – their conservation needs and digitization potential


  • Archiwum Diecezjalne w Tarnowie – to do an in-depth analysis and digitization of parish register transcripts for comparison with original parish registers
  • Parafia Wόjtowa – to meet with the priest and digitize his parish registers for my personal family history
  • Parafia Lipinki – to meet with the priest and digitize his parish registers for my personal family history, including a review of his manuscripts beyond the sacramental registers
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Rzeszowie Oddział w Skołyszynie – to identify all record books pertaining to Wόjtowa and neighboring parishes and villages
  • Urząd Stanu Cywilnego, Lipinki – to see examples of the civil registers for comparison with the parish registers and transcripts
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Rzeszowie – to see cadastral survey books and maps
  • Archiwum Diecezjalne w Rzeszowie – to learn which records are retained by a diocese upon creation of a new diocese
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Przemyślu – to examine cadastral survey books and maps as well as their government collection of parish register transcripts and originals
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Łódz – to understand how records have moved or been re-cataloged since FamilySearch microfilmed metrical books decades ago
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Poznań – to learn what has been microfilmed and what still needs to be digitized in this state archive
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Wrocław – to learn the scope of microfilming and subsequent accessioning of additional metrical books
  • Archiwum Państwowe w Katowice – to investigate their rearrangement of fonds and receipt of additional materials since FamilySearch microfilmed their collection years ago
  • Powązki Cemetery, Warszawa – to experience a huge cemetery in Poland
  • Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych, Warszawa – to discuss the scope of cataloging in PRADZIAD, SEZAM, and IZA for records held by the state archives across Poland
  • Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowich, Warszawa – to discuss a potential collaboration digitizing metrical books, including a technical review of the state of cataloging and records transfer across the state archives system



National Archives of Romania By Argenna (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

  • National Archives of Romania – to examine metrical books and census records
  • State Archives of Bucharest – to capture sample images and learn about the inventories of religious registers of all denominations
  • State Archives of Transylvania – to capture sample images and learn about the inventories of religious registers of all denominations


  • National Archives of Slovakia – to discuss digitization efforts with the twentieth-century censuses, see how FamilySearch might help, and tour the vaults to select additional records of potential value for family history such as passport files and occupation records
  • State Archives of Bratislava – to see the scope, condition, and arrangement of the Austro-Hungarian census and other records of genealogical value
  • State Archives of Banská Bystrica – to example national and regional censuses and land records
  • State Archives of Košice – to examine the various national, empire, and Jewish census schedules as well as earlier household lists
  • District Archives of Banská Bystrica – to examine civil registers and assess the scope and state of conservation of their collection
  • Košice City Archives – to learn of their holdings of genealogical worth such as the national census and citizenship registration cards


  • National Archives of Slovenia – to review record-digitization priorities and take sample images of civil registers of births, marriages, and deaths
  • Ljubljana Diocesan Archives – to learn the scope and dispersal of Catholic parish registers and transcripts in this and the other dioceses as well as the various state offices; to learn the status of digitization projects conducted at the church archives; to review inventories of original parish registers and transcripts; and to discuss interest in having FamilySearch help digitize the original parish registers
  • Ljubljana Historical Archives – to discuss the status of digitization work on census records and the potential for digitizing additional records such as probate, notarial acts, population registration cards, and school registers
  • Maribor Regional Archives – to discuss record priorities and take sample images of primary and secondary school registers, parish registers, Jewish metrical books, and citizens’ registers; and to be trained in their online catalog to better understand how to scope their collections


  • General Directorate of State Archives—Ottoman department – to see examples of Ottoman census registers and see the extent of their digitization operations

Researching in Eastern Europe Today?

VICTORIA, B.C.: JANUARY 7, 2010 New head shot of Dave Obee inVictoria, B.C. January 7, 2010. (DEBRA BRASH, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Stand Alone

This year’s plenary session will feature Dave Obee. The title of the session is “Researching in Eastern Europe Today.” Dave is a Past-President of FEEFHS and has valuable information to help us with our research. In getting to know Dave Obee, here are a few fun facts:

  • Dave has worked as a journalist since 1972.
  • In 2012, the University of Victoria awarded Dave an honorary doctorate of laws for his tireless work as a historian, genealogist, and journalist.
  • Dave has visited 17 countries in Europe, doing genealogical research in most of them.
  • Dave is Editor-in-Chief of the Times Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Dave writes the back page column for both Internet Genealogy or Your Genealogy Today magazines (formerly Family Chronicle).
  • Dave is passionate about school libraries and other literacy projects and was one of the founders of the annual Times Colonist book drive.
  • In 2014, Dave was presented with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian award for his work as a community volunteer.
  • In May 2006, Dave had the opportunity to present Shirley Douglas (Canadian film and stage actress and activist) with a published copy of her family history at the official launch of

This year, in addition to the plenary session keynote, Dave will be teaching three classes: 1) Germans of Russia Case Study, 2) The 1930’s: Stalin’s Arrest Files, and 3) The 1940’s: Forced from Their Homes.

Dave’s classes are not to be missed. Please come join us August 8-12, 2016 at the Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Interested in Researching Areas Represented by Present-Day Slovakia? Let Lisa Alzo Show You How!

alzo-photoLisa Alzo, a well-known specialist in Slovak research will be teaching two classes at the upcoming FEEFHS conference which will be held in Salt Lake City, August 8-12, 2016.

Unable to attend in person, Lisa is setting up these two classes remotely for us to broadcast into the Plaza Hotel classroom:

  • Researching in Slovakia–Online Sources (remote)
  • Researching in Slovakia–Archives and Villages (remote)

Lisa A. Alzo, MFA, is a freelance writer, instructor, and internationally recognized lecturer, specializing in Slovak/Eastern European genealogical research, writing family histories, and using the internet to trace female and immigrant ancestors. She grew up in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College, and received her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of nine books, including the award-winning Three Slovak Women.

Lisa has been actively involved in FEEFHS in years past, both as a presenter and former board member. We are excited to have her return.


Kahlile Mehr is Back at the Conference This Year!

KahlileThose of you who have attended the FEEFHS Conference for the last couple of years may have noticed that last year Kahlile Mehr was missing. Now is the time to catch up with him! Kahlile spent the last 18 months in Ukraine on an LDS mission for the Church History Library. While he was there, he established the Kyiv Records Preservation Center (RPC), which is a facility to store church records, both official and private, for permanent preservation. This facility is a mini Church History Library, without patron services. During the 18 months in Ukraine, Kahlile assisted in accomplishing an impressive list of assignments. Looking through the list of projects accomplished, we decided that it would be interesting to list them all, since at some time many of us may benefit from these projects if we have family in those areas. Here is the list:

  • Gathered 42 paper and 30 digital collections
  • Processed and cataloged this material so that it could be included in the Church History Library catalog
  • Trained a local person to maintain the center
  • Trained local church historical advisers in Ukraine, Armenia, and Bulgaria to create and process oral histories and to assist local units to submit annual histories
  • Assisted with presentations at two seminars for the advisors
  • Conducted about forty audio and video interviews with key historical persons
  • Scanned material so that the images would be available at the Church History Library.
  • Oriented mission presidents and the Kyiv Stake president on church history activities
  • Videoed many historical sites including commentary by those who know about the history of the sites, including the place of dedication and the first baptism in Ukraine
  • Gave presentations on the history of the LDS Church in Ukraine to missionaries, members, and leaders

One of the main purposes serving in Ukraine on a Church History mission was to preserve records that have historic value. While there, Kahlile had a most inspiring event happen. In October 2014, Kahlile and his wife, Marolyn were taking a picture in front of the monument to the sister and three brothers in downtown Kiev. Kahlile & Marolyn Mehr
Let’s pick up the story in Kahlile’s own words. “A stranger approached and offered to take a photo of us together. We consented. She was going to depart saying she did not speak English when I engaged her with my Russian. She was pleasantly surprised and confessed that she was a member of the church. Her name is Anna Bigun. She had seen our name tags and thought that we just spoke English because of our age. She added that she was the historian of the Mariupol branch, which is still in Ukraine and that she is returning home tomorrow. More important, she said that they had three photo albums and two books of historical narrative. She added that she had lots to do and Desktopmust get it all done before tomorrow when she leaves and wondered what she was doing downtown. She concluded that now she knew; it was to meet us and share her information. How is it that in a city of millions that we would meet at the precise moment and place when we both were about to depart in different directions in pursuit of our own purposes? But God manifested his purpose and we met. In 2015, we received the records of Mariupol to keep safe in the Kyiv Records Preservation Center. We have also scanned them and printed copies for the use of the Saints in Mariupol.” Isn’t that amazing?

We asked Kahlile for some words of wisdom for research in eastern Europe. Here are his comments: “Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic have provided free access to their genealogical collections online. The whole civil registration of Hungary has been indexed and can be searched by name on FamilySearch. There are tens of thousands of microfilm rolls and millions of digital images online at FamilySearch. Language and scripts are a challenge but the possibilities of finding your ancestors are there for those who really want to pursue it.”

He further gives us a great example and some hope. Again, Kahlile’s own words. “Even if you do not have skill you can have success. We were able to identify a researcher to assist a person in Utah find her ancestor’s names in the tax censuses. She obtained hundreds of names for minimal expense.”

“Some documents were restored from the fire in Kamianets-Podilsky (Kamianets-Podilskyi is a city on the Smotrych River in western Ukraine) in 2003. An American initiated an effort to preserve some of the burned documents. In 2014, a researcher found names of ancestors for a Utahan that had been restored by the miracle of modern technology.” There is hope for all of us in our search efforts.

How in the world did Kahlile’s life come to this point of expertise in eastern European research? Kahlile served an LDS mission in Brazil from 1967-1969. He wrote in his journal on June 29, 1969: “I conversed with the son of the branch president. I told him I was desirous to learn Russian. His father is a Russian, born in Siberia, captive of the German army in Lithuania, immigrant to Brazil after the war.” After returning from his mission, Kahlile wrote on March 29, 1970: “If I learn Russian that would prepare me for a particular calling, a mission to Russia. The idea has recurred to me for about the last two years.” In April 1973 Kahlile graduated with a degree in Russian. He pursued his interests concurrently in History and Genealogy. On November 11, 1976, he wrote: “I contemplated the future and felt strongly that I should prepare myself to be an expert of Russian bibliography and records.” Kahlile wrote a paper on genealogical sources in the Russian Archives at a time when little was known about that subject. More of his own journal entries; “On March 10, 1977, I wrote: “Today was very significant. One of my dreams materialized. This afternoon I talked with Dennis Neuenschwander of the Genealogical Society of Utah and we discussed my involvement in a research project to determine the genealogical value of materials in Russian archives. The pattern of my life’s work now begins to focus. I have often pondered why I took Russian. Perhaps this is why.” Then on June 24, 1979 I recorded: “I will be called to forward the collection of genealogical records in the Soviet Union.”

It took twelve years for this opportunity to materialize. In 1992 Kahlile first visited Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. The collections for Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal, and the Pacific were developed from 1992-2002 and 2007-2012. There have been twelve separate acquisition trips to archives in Eastern Europe. Kahlile has been to every country in Eastern Europe at least once, and some of them on multiple occasions. He speaks Russain and Portuguese, and reads various Germanic, Romance, and Slavic languages.

Professionally, Kahlile has written for a variety of genealogical publications such as the FEEFHS Journal, Avotaynu, and the Genealogical Helper. He has also delivered papers at many different conferences, including the Federation of Genealogical Socities, Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEFHS), the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

Please take the opportunity to attend Kahlile’s classes this year at the 2016 FEEFHS Conference (August 8-12, 2016). See you there!