Review by Jim Gessele, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Ehrman, Harold M. Glückstal Colonies, Births, and Marriages: 1833-1900. Redondo Beach, California: Glückstal Colonies Research Association and North Dakota State University Libraries, Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, Fargo, North Dakota, 1997.
Birth and marriage extraction compilations make a great research tool for the genealogist hunting down Germans from Russia ancestors. More and more of these compilations are appearing on the scene and are a godsend to the seasoned snoop and rank amateur alike. The professional is able to find a missing link off in an unlikely new area, the novice is able to finally get a family tree effort off the ground.
Harold Ehrman's Glückstal Colonies Births and Marriages: 1833 - 1900 came to light this past summer as the latest entry in extraction efforts. Ehrman has done an admirable job of compiling and editing basic birth and marriage data as it relates to the Black Sea area Glückstal enclave: Glückstal, Kassel, Bergdorf, Hoffnungstal and Neudorf. Sources for the raw data has been microfilms of Lutheran Church parish records in St. Petersburg Consistory - the St. Pete films as they have become affectionately known. Although the focus feature of this work is the birth and marriage database, there is a skillfully abbreviated but informative preface contributed by Margaret Freeman. It sketches a history of this unique colony cluster. Other features include a female name to male surname cross reference as well as Tom Stangl's translations of 1818 and 1822 colony census data.
As stated before, the thrust of this work lies in the database and its organization. And how it is organized! If ever dull data have been compiled into something clear and compelling, this work has done it. To begin, there is a sorting of the father or groom surname (e.g. first all the "Dockters" then all the "Flemmers", etc.). There follows a sorting of the mother or bride surname under each male subgroup, a feature so elementary but quite often overlooked. This second sorting is where families begin to fall together by virtue of the bride's unique name. (How many Johann Schmidts can you keep track of without turning to the wife's surname as an anchor to your sanity?) Within the bride surname sorting fall any children that are issue from the coupling. Serving as a capstone to most families arising from the sorting process is the couple's marriage record itself. The database concludes with date and place information, LDS film and item numbers, as well as microfilm page numbers. It is all there. One only needs to look it up and verify.
This work appears to have been a mammoth undertaking. Harold Ehrman, his contributors and cohorts within the Glückstal Colonies Research Association are to be congratulated on a wonderfully crafted work. This collection is one any Glückstaler can be proud of and one that could well set the standard for future extractions of records that deal with "uns're Leut."
Reprinted with permission of the North Star Chapter Newsletter, October, 1997, Volume 22, Number 4, American Historical Society of Germans from Russia.