for one's own roots and origins ... In my
impression, this is one of the core needs of
humanity. People have been, and still are, always
on the move. Looking back the way we came, we want
to know where we came from - but then we usually
hit a roadblock at some stage. We may know a bit
of our grandparents's history, we may even have
heard some fancy family stories about having come
from this place or that region.
But what if we want to know more? What if we
earnestly want to trace our ancestors in the
historic documents, follow them further back,
maybe as far as possible? What if we want to "put
flesh on the bones", to know not only the names
and dates, but more about how they lived, which
soil they tilled, what they made their living of?
Genealogical research is always dependent upon the
historical structures of a region. The political,
religious and administrational history determines
what to find in which archive. Economic, cultural
and legal patterns, for example those regarding
naming, marriage or inheritance rules, determine
the types of documents to be found there. Profound
historical knowledge is, therefore, a necessary
prerequisite for genealogical research.
Yet one does not only need to know what to look
for, one also needs to know how to read it. Old
German script does not only look very different
from the modern one, it also changed considerably
over the centuries. A 16th century text looks
completely different from one written around 1900.
And apart from German, documents may also be
written in Latin or French.
Starting in 1994, I have been working as a
professional genealogist in South Germany ever
since. Based on this experience, I offer to help
you in your quest, for your ancestors, your
origins, for your elusive emigrant ... I cannot
promise to find anything specific. But I promise
to try, and to do my best.
A genealogist, and a historian in general, is
riding on the hedge - in this case, between past
and present. Yet there is, indeed, another part of
my life that does not have to do anything with
genealogy, but with riding on
the hedge between two other realms,
and with searching for one's roots a different way
- and so the wheel is come full circle.