ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > ROOTS > 2010-04 > 1271187100
From: Shirley Hornbeck <>
Subject: [ROOTS-L] This and That German Research
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 12:31:40 -0700
A "double dot over a letter". The double-dot (called a diuresis; the
letter-symbol combination is called an umlaut) is the correct, German
way of writing the word; the ue, oe or ae letter combinations are a
way of representing the umlaut in non-germanic alphabets which lack
The English equivalent of the character that looks like "B" embedded
in names is actually a separate character in German that stands for a
double s as "ss".
GERMAN SURNAME SUFFIXES FOR FEMALES- From Carla Heller-
A special suffix comprised of the letters "-in" is often seen in
old German records, added to the surnames of females, and is simply a
German language grammatical practice which feminizes the name in
question. When you see the "-in" suffix added to a German surname,
it is intended to demonstrate that the surname was borne by a female.
When the "-in" suffix is added in this way, it DOES NOT MATERIALLY
CHANGE the existing surname itself. If you see your female ancestor
denoted as "Katharina SCHNEIDERIN," for example, Katharina's actual
surname would still be SCHNEIDER for all intents and purposes in your
research. It is also important to note that the use of the feminine
suffix on a surname in German DOES NOT INDICATE whether the female
was unmarried or married. It was used for BOTH single and married
This is a standard, centuries-old German grammar practice, more
common to old records than current ones. Since, unlike English,
every noun has a GENDER in German, the use of the feminizing suffix
for surnames of females was in keeping with the structure of that
language. Even today, German grammar still adds the letters "-in" to
the end of feminine NOUNS, such as "Freundin," meaning "female
friend" ("Freund" being "male friend"), and "Lehrerin," meaning
"female teacher" ("Lehrer" being "male teacher.")
Note that while this suffix commonly occurred in earlier centuries,
it was NOT used UNIVERSALLY throughout Germany---you may find German
records which completely OMIT the use of the suffix for feminine
surnames. Some researchers will never encounter this form. The use
in German of the feminizing "-in" suffix on surnames of females has
greatly diminished in modern times.
EVANGELISCHE in Germany means virtually the same as "Lutheran"
(followers of Martin Luther), but in Switzerland "Evangelische" means
virtually the same as "Reformed" (followers of Zwingly and
Calvin). Historically, in both of these areas "Evangelische" was a
term adopted by by the Reformers to distinguish their "Protestant"
positions from that of the Roman Catholic Church which they were opposing.
Landkreis, short just "Kreis" is the administrative body one notch
above "village" or "town".
From the top to the bottom:
(a) Country, like "Kingdom of Prussia"
(b) State or Province, like "Provinz Posen" or older "Departement Posen" .
(c) Gubernatorial (or: Administrative) District (This has no
equivalent in the USA administrative organization), like
(d) County, like "Landkreis Meseritz" or just "Kreis Meseritz"
(e) Town, Township or Village, like "Stadt Betsche"
A 'Kreis' is, in essence, a county. It literally is a 'circle or
ring' and refers to 'sphere' of influence. It is usually translated
very generically as 'district', but with Prussian 'administrative
districts' being comprised of several Kreise, it gets confusing to
refer to them as districts.
More German Research Tips at my This and That Genealogy page under Germany.
Shirley Hornbeck <http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~hornbeck>
Order THIS AND THAT GENEALOGY TIPS from:
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