Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS)
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the annual workshop presented by The Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS). It was the first workshop that I have attended specifically tailored to my area of interest. All I can say is "why did I wait so long?" This workshop was amazing and for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by enthusiastic genealogy buffs who had surnames as weird as mine! That in itself was a revelation! The workshop had classes in the morning and then we were free to research at the Family History Library until we were kicked out when they closed! As part of the workshop, each participant met with a consultant who could help them search their particular country of interest. I was so excited to have a consultant who used to live in Lithuania, understood my challenges AND happened to live in the same town as me! The same town thing was a huge bonus! I now have two Lithuanians (there may be more, I don't know about) living in my town who can help me with translation whenever I happen to find something that won't translate in Google Translate!
Since Lithuania and much of Europe's boundaries have changed over and over during the last century, we had some great history lessons. It was amazing to watch as countries changed, dissolved, renamed themselves something else, got conquered, etc. I quickly learned that the way to work on genealogy in eastern Europe is to know the history. I also learned that real estate and eastern European history have something in common... "Location, Location, Location! For real estate you want to buy in a good location. For eastern European genealogy, you have to know the location of your ancestors. Unfortunately, I only have Lithuania listed on records that I have found. So, I need to search deeper and cover everyone associated with the family. Sooner or later, someone is bound to list where they are from on a record (at least that is the hope!).
I also learned that I need to learn a little Russian, at least enough to recognize main record titles. There are some great Russian language tutorials on line at FamilySearch.org. You can also Google Russian language, Russian alphabet, Russian genealogy, etc. You get the idea.
All in all, I had a blast at this workshop and am already planning for next year! Hopefully, I will be able to impress Professor Thom Edlund with my Russian skills! Actually, he is the master so I probably won't impress, but I can at least make a brave attempt at it this year!