Wednesday 12 October 2022


An introduction to Family History

Why trace our Family History?

Curiosity? Medical reasons? Religious reasons? It is a good way to keep the brain working – use it or lose it!

Getting started

We must work from the known to the unknown.

Speak with other relatives (especially the older ones). Are any of your relatives already researching the family? Who might have inherited the family papers? Request permission to copy photographs and documents.

Assemble your information. Check out those bundles of papers.

Use a Family History program to record the family details. Enter women under their maiden names!

Australian resources

Birth, marriage and death certificates

In the eastern Australian mainland states, a person’s birth place is recorded on the person’s death certificate and marriage certificate; and the birth certificate of the children. In other states there may be more or less information, especially in earlier years. See Graham Jaunay’s excellent website for a detailed table:

Wills and probates

Someone may leave items in a will to family “back home” in Germany (especially someone without close family in Australia). It is always worthwhile looking for wills, probates and intestacies from your ancestors and their relatives.

Immigration files

Detail varied according to place and time. Records for early free settlers in New South Wales often listed the names of the immigrant’s parents and religion. Records in Queensland in the 19th century usually just listed the name and age of the immigrant along with the details of the ship. Records will usually be in the relevant state archive.

After federation, immigration progressively became a commonwealth responsibility with post WWII records particularly being quite detailed. Immigration files can be found at one or more offices of the National Archives of Australia (NAA), and may be viewed for free at the relevant reading room or digitized for online access on payment of a fee. (The record may be accessed for free if it has already been digitized.)

Search the holdings of the NAA at the website but be aware that there is much that is not indexed.

Naturalisation documents

As with immigration files, the content of naturalisation documents varies greatly according to place and time. Documents are mostly stored at the relevant state archive although those from South Australia and Victoria have been transferred to the National Archives of Australia (NAA).

Following federation, the commonwealth assumed the responsibility for naturalisation and documents are stored at the NAA. Once again, the documents can be viewed at one of the NAA reading rooms or be digitised to allow online access.

Other resources

·      Obituaries

·      Biographies

·      Newspapers, for Australian newspapers, for New Zealand newspapers

·      Directories

·      Official gazettes

Accessing records

FamilySearch is a free site. They microfilmed and digitised records from around the world. Many of the records have been indexed.

Ancestry and MyHeritage have indexes to many overseas records and images of many of them. Both are subscription sites. There is some overlap with FamilySearch.

Findmypast and TheGenealogist have indexed records from the British Isles.

Some Family History computer programs

Family Tree Maker                            W M

Family Historian                                W

Reunion                                                  M

Legacy Family Tree                           W

Roots Magic                                      W M

TreeView                                           W M

Family Tree Builder (MyHeritage)   W M

Gramps                                              W M

Some useful websites and resources

FamilySearch (free):




General Register Office (England and Wales):


General Register Office (Republic of Ireland):

General Register Office (N. Ireland):

Ancestry ($):

MyHeritage ($):

Findmypast ($): or

TheGenealogist ($):

Genes Reunited ($):

Queensland BDM:

Graham Jaunay’s civil registration summary:

National Archives of Australia:

Queensland State Archives:

Queensland State Archives ArchivesSearch:

Wednesday 26 January 2022

 A Breakthrough in Pommern!

One thing leads to another

I was approached by the Pomeranian Special Interest Group (based in California) to do a presentation via Zoom on Pomeranians in Australia on Saturday afternoon January 22 their time or Sunday morning 23 January Brisbane time.

After a quick introduction to the history of European settlement in Australia and the arrival of significant groups of Germans from 1838 onwards, I spoke about a number of "sample families" from the former Kreis Lauenburg in Pomerania who had settled in Queensland: Kopittke and Rehbein who migrated to Maryborough but settled in Bundaberg and intermarried; Paradies who migrated to Bowen and moved to Charters Towers; and my own great-grandparents Daniel and Charlotte Kopittke, their son Gustav and daughter Auguste who migrated to Brisbane and settled at Geebung, now a Brisbane suburb.

To my utter surprise, Uwe Kerntopf from Germany posted a comment in the Chat section "Daniel KOPITTKE and Charlotte born JESCHKE married 1838 in Garzigar, County Lauenburg." Now these were indeed my great-grandparents! But why did I not already have the details of their marriage?

When Daniel died in 1880 in Brisbane, my grandfather Gustav was the informant for the death certificate and gave Daniel's age as 70, that he was born in “Poman, Prussia”, and that he had married Charlotte at Lauenburg. When Charlotte died in 1884, Gustav was again the informant and gave her age as 73, that she was born in “Gotzlow, Pommern, Prussia”, and that she had married Daniel at “Masson, Pommern, Prussia”. I thought that “Masson” might be a corruption of Klein Massow, but with Gotzlow being near Stettin, I thought that to be an error.

The information from the marriage record now told me that at the time of marriage (6 April 1838), Daniel was described as Knecht in Zelasen (servant in Zelasen) aged 27, Charlotte as Magd in Belgardt (maid in Belgard) aged 24, daughter of George Jeschke verstorbener Tagelöhner in Chotzlow (deceased day-labourer in Chotzlow). 

This would seem to solve the issue of Charlotte's birth place - apparently Chotzlow had been wrongly heard as Gotzlow - Chotzlow is now known by its Polish name Chocielewko and lies about 12 km by road to the south-west of Garzigar which is now known as Garczegorze. Belgard, now known as Bialogarda, lies about 9 km north-north-west of Garzigar; and Zelasen, now known as Żelazna, lies about 18 km to the north-east of Garzigar. I wonder how they met!

Uwe directed my attention to the database at Stolper Heimatkreise e.V. which contained the details of my great-grandparents marriage.

With some 4½ million records in the database, this site is well worth a visit. With the use of wildcards, _ replacing any one character and % replacing any number of characters, the string "K_p%t%k_" entered in the surname field produced 1562 hits which could be variants of the surname "Kopittke".

So a big thank you to Uwe Kerntopf for reminding me of the Stolper Heimatkreise site, and for the record of the marriage of my great-grandparents. And another big thank you to the numbers of volunteers who have contributed to the Stolper Heimatkreise site!

Thursday 12 August 2021

 Eric Kopittke's presentations

Contact Eric at for further details

·       19th Century emigration from Germany to Australia– During the 19thcentury, Germans migrated to most of the Australian colonies. This presentation looks at the patterns of migration in the different colonies.

·       A 19th century German’s voyage to the other side of the world– Most of us have some immigrant ancestors. For those who came from the German states or surrounding areas, what would their voyage to the other side of the world during the mid 19thcentury have been like? This presentation is based on the writings of two German emigrants who told their families of their travels and experiences.

·       An introduction to Danish genealogy– Tracing your family history in Denmark can be problematic because of the patronymic surnames, but there are some excellent records that are available. This presentation gives a brief overview of some of the problems and some of the resources associated with Danish research.

·       Church Archives and Records for German Research - Prior to the introduction of civil registration, church records provide details of baptisms, marriages and burials. German records often give far more detail than their English equivalents. A variety of examples illustrate the use of these records.

·       Civil Records in Germany - Unlike Australian and British records, German civil registration is not centrally located nor did all regions begin at the same time. Discover how to locate and use these records.

·       Danish Census and Emigration - The earliest census in Denmark predates those in the British Isles - an overview of this valuable resource for Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. Also covers the Copenhagen Police Records of Emigration.

·       Early Germans in Brisbane - That the first free settlers in Brisbane were a group of German missionaries is not as widely known as it should be. Some insights into their contributions and influence on the young city are described.

·       Emigrant Lists for European Ancestors - An overview of the Hamburg Emigration lists – direct and indirect – why these are useful for researching your European ancestors.

·       German family history in the "Information Age" - An increasing amount of material is available about people and places on the internet. This talk explores a range of resources available for places in the former German Empire.

·       Getting started in German Research- An overview of key German sources to get you started researching your German ancestors.

·       In the steps of my ancestor– what might I learn? – Visiting those places at which your ancestor lived and worked can give us insights into his/her life, whether these be in our local area, elsewhere in our own country, or on the other side of the earth. What resources are useful, and what might we find?

·       Locating your German immigrant ancestor’s place of origin - Knowing where our ancestors came from is important no matter from where that was, but for those of us with family origins in Germanic areas it is especially important since records were recorded and stored locally, not centrally. This presentation looks at resources that can help you identify your immigrant ancestor’s place of origin.

·       Maps and Gazetteers for German Research - Maps and gazetteers are essential for family historians. Knowing where our Central European families came from and locating that place in a gazetteer and on a map is extremely important as we search for records that reference them..

·       Milestones in German history that impacted my ancestors– A brief overview of one thousand years of German history and how this might have impacted my ancestors’ lives.

·       Overview of History of Poland - A brief overview of one thousand years of Polish history and how this might have impacted my ancestors’ lives.

·       Reading German Handwriting and understanding the records - Reading the old German writing is initially daunting. Hints to help decipher the letters are given along with the opportunity to practice. As well there is an introduction to the German language. 

Friday 26 March 2021


The Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna, the Pommerscher Greif and the International German Genealogy Partnership are hosting the


in English, via Zoom

Saturday, 27 March 2021

from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm CET (Germany)

Sunday, 28 March 2021

4:00 am - 6:00 am (Brisbane)

Topic: "1000 Years of Pomerania"
Speaker: Dr. Klaus-D. Kohrt

As is true of most of Europe, Pommern has a long and fascinating history of changing borders and political jurisdictions that can affect where civil records are kept today. In his talk, Dr. Kohrt will take us through a timeline of Pommern’s administrative boundaries from the Middle Ages to the present day

The ONLINE POMMERN CONNECTION SESSION provides a casual opportunity to meet others who are researching in Pommern and offers an open forum for questions and discussion about any topics related to research in the region. Members of the Pommerscher Greif will be available to answer your questions about research methods and resources.


In preparation for the ONLINE POMMERN CONNECTION SESSION, please eMail any questions and/or topics that you would especially like to cover during the meeting to

Online recordings of online connection sessions

Online recordings of online connection sessions


Over the past months, member organisations of the International German Genealogy Partnership ( in Germany and Austria have conducted free Online Connection Sessions in English to assist English speakers in their genealogical research in different areas in Germany. Unfortunately, the tyranny of different time zones has meant that these presentations have been held in the early morning hours here in Australia. However the presentations have been recorded and are available on YouTube.

Westfalen (Westphalia)

The recording of the Online Connection Session about Westfalen by the Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna, the Westfälische Gesellschaft für Genealogie und Familienforschung (WGGF) and the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) in English language from Saturday, 5 December 2020 is available at

Pommern (Pomerania)

The Online Connection Session about Pommern, hosted by the International German Genealogy Partnership, the Pommerscher Greif and the Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna on 19 December 2020 is available at


The Online Connection Session about Schleswig-Holstein, hosted by the International German Genealogy Partnership, the SHFam and the Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna on 20th January 2021 is available at

Hessen (Hesse)

The Online Connection Session about Hessen hosted by the Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna, the Hessische familiengeschichtliche Vereinigung (HfV) and the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) on February 20th, 2021 is available at


The recording of the Online Connection Session about Austria hosted by the Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna in cooperation with Familia Austria and the International German Genealogy Partnership (IGGP) on Saturday, 13 March 2021 is available at


.The sessions provided excellent information about the areas covered and are well worthwhile viewing.

Thursday 4 March 2021

Hello Friends and Partners,

The Ahnenforscher Stammtisch Unna,  Familia-Austria, and the IGGP are hosting an 
Saturday, March 13, 2021 19:00-21:00 in Germany
BUT in Australia on Sunday morning 14 March at 
2:00-4:00 AM in Perth
3:30-5:30 AM in Darwin
4:00-6:00 AM in Brisbane
4:30-6:30 AM in Adelaide
5:00-7:00 AM in Sydney
in English via Zoom
The Austria Connection Session is a casual opportunity to meet others who are researching in Austria and offers an open forum for questions and discussion about any topics related to research in the region. Members of Familia-Austria will give an introduction to doing research in Austria and will be available to answer your questions about research methods and resources.
Familia-Austria is the Austrian Society for Genealogy and History. Its research focus is the entire Habsburg/Danubian Austria-Hungary Monarchy, including Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary. Society members have created large databases including about 12 million persons in old Austria. The society maintains a library in Vienna and produces a series of publications. Visitors to their extensive homepage ( will find 1400 pages filled with information about Austria-Hungary.
In preparation for the Online Connection Session, we invite you to email questions and/or topics that you would especially like to cover during the Connection Session to
Please share with members of your organization who may be interested in connecting with researchers in the region. 
Click here to download a flyer and to share as a link, as an email, or to social media: 

We look forward to connecting with you! 







Thursday 11 February 2021

International Conference on German genealogy and family history

 Here is a great opportunity to attend an international conference on German genealogy and family history from the comfort of your home. Although running in America from July 17 to July 24 it will be presented online with speakers from Germany and America.

And early bird pricing runs through March 31, 2021!
When registering, choose which package suits your German genealogy needs best:
  • LIVE: access to watch our eight marquee speakers (Ute Brandenburg, Wolfgang Grams, Timo Kracke, Roger Minert, Judy Russell, Katherine Schober, Diahan Southard, and Michael Strauss)
    present live on July 17 and July 24. Three will be presenting in German! Also included are access to the virtual exhibition hall, recorded sponsor demos and Connections sessions for live networking with fellow researchers. $119 USD until March 31 (afterwards $169 USD)

  • ON DEMAND: access for 1 year to view more than 50 recorded presentations from German genealogy experts around the world. Also included are the recorded sponsor demos. $179 USD until March 31 (afterwards $229 USD)

  • COMBO: Watch the marquee speakers live on July 17 and 24, and then take up to 12 months to view any or all the recorded speaker presentations as well as sponsor demos. Also participate in the virtual exhibition hall and Connections sessions live. $229 USD until March 31 (afterwards $279 USD)

  • USB WORKS: Everything is included! Live and recorded presentations, sponsor demos, virtual exhibitions and Connections sessions. Plus, a preloaded USB drive that gives you lifetime access to the speaker presentations. $249 USD until March 31 (afterwards $295 USD)
To stay up-to-date on conference news, 
visit the IGGP 2021 Official Blog and sign up for the IGGP Conference Newsletter