Josiah Schmidt, Professional Genealogist: Specializing in Iowan, Midwestern, & German Immigrant Ancestry Association of Professional Genealogists
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Podcast | Josiah Schmidt, Professional Genealogist | Iowan, Midwestern, and German Immigrant Ancestry
Podcast Archive - The German American Genealogist Podcast


Episode 8: Happy Dankegiving

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Published 24 November 2014
Did you know that the "First Thanksgiving" was not actually the first Thanksgiving? Or that some of the Native Americans who greeted the Pilgrims already spoke English? Or that the Thanksgiving feast of 1621 was actually a three day celebration, and that turkey was probably not on the menu? Join us as we explore the truth about Thanksgiving, and familiarize ourselves with the German version of Thanksgiving, Erntedankfest, and its own unique customs. Our special guest is historian and genealogist Joan Shurtliff, who has studied the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving celebration and will take us beyond the traditional story.
    Guest:
    • Joan Shurtliff – Joan Shurtliff is an accomplished genealogist and history writer. She is a member of the South Dakota Genealogy Society, where she received the Outstanding Member Award for 2011. Joan writes for the South Dakota Genealogy Society's quarterly journal, and has in the past served as the editor of that publication. Joan writes fascinating articles on a variety of different historical topics for RecordClick.com.


Episode 7: It's Alive!

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Published 17 November 2014
Put away that Ouija Board. You may not need to summon the dead to get your genealogical quandaries solved. You might find the answers you seek by locating and connecting with your living relatives. There are many reasons for wanting to find living relatives--whether it's to locate an heir to an estate, to create a descendancy chart, to get memories or photographs of a shared ancestor, or to host a family reunion. In this episode, we'll tell you the best way to find them. We'll also talk to genealogist and podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke about her secrets to hunting down living cousins, how to deal with uncooperative relatives, and how to get your extended family interested in their roots.

Episode 6: Family History Interview Strategies

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Published 10 November 2014
Your loved ones aren't going to be around forever. Have you ever wanted to sit down and ask your dad about his experience in the war, or interview your grandma to get her life story, but haven't been sure how to conduct the interview and how to ask the right questions? This episode of The German-American Genealogist Podcast offers pro tips on family history interviewing from Josiah Schmidt's new book, 2000 Questions for Grandparents: Unlocking Your Family's Hidden History.

Episode 5: Birthplace Hunting Made Easy

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Published 3 November 2014
Have you ever pulled your hair out trying to find the birth place of your immigrant ancestor? Well, save your hair line, because this whole episode is devoted to that very topic. In this episode, we talk about how an examination of the first household your immigrant ancestor inhabited in America can give clues to their origins, how you can trace chain-migration, how you can find an elusive passenger arrival record, how to tell if your ancestor was a stowaway, how to use the NARA's "Germans to America" database, how to use local county history books, how marriage affected where a German couple lived, and how to use the modern-day German telephone book to help you find your immigrant ancestor's hometown.

Episode 4: What's in a Word?

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Published 27 October 2014
What's in a word? When doing German genealogy, it pays to recognize that the way German words are used can have profound meaning for locating and understanding your German ancestors. In this episode, find out how and why German towns changed their names over the centuries, and how you can use this to your advantage to find your German immigrant ancestor's birth town in the old country. Join us as we learn about the unique handwriting that old German documents were written in, and about how German surnames could be spelled differently depending on the gender of the individual. In the latter half of the interview, we are joined by author Ernest Thode, writer of The German-English Genealogical Dictionary, who shares "tricks of the trade" regarding how to navigate German word structure to help you with your genealogy.

Episode 3: All About Death

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Published 20 October 2014
Happy Halloween! To celebrate the spooky and the macabre, this episode of the podcast is dedicated to exploring the records left behind by our ancestors after their deaths. How to find a death certificate, how to find a newspaper obituary, how to find cemetery burial records, and how to use probate records. Then, we speak with genealogist Janita (Barringer) Beals, who tells the amazing story of how she discovered that the remains of her grandfather, who had died 71 years earlier, had never been buried. Special featured music in this episode is Bach's "Fantasy in C Minor".
    Guest:
    • Janita (Barringer) Beals – Janita (Barringer) Beals is a family researcher who has done extensive research on Northwest Iowan history, and the German-American "Barringer" family of New York and the Midwest. Janita discovered the remains of her grandfather, Cleborn Barringer, which had been sitting at a funeral home in Spokane, Washington for 71 years waiting to be claimed. She took charge of the remains and helped ensure that they received a proper memorial service and burial with the rest of his family.


Episode 2: The Average Johann

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Published 13 October 2014
You've traced your family as far back in Germany as you can. You've gotten all the birth, marriage, and death dates. Now you want to know: What was real life like for your German peasant ancestors? Sure, there's plenty of books on German politics, religion, and geography, but what was a day in the life of the average Johann? In this episode, I talk to historian Dr. Teva Scheer, author of Our Daily Bread, a book that reveals village life in early modern Germany.
    Guest:
    • Dr. Teva J. Scheer – Teva Scheer earned a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 2000. Our Daily Bread is her second book of historical non-fiction. The first, Governor Lady, is the biography of the first woman elected a state governor. Governor Lady was nominated for best biography in 2001 by the Colorado Book Awards (Colorado Endowment for the Humanities). Teva and her husband live outside Victoria, British Columbia, where she writes, teaches, and gardens.


Episode 1: German-American Day

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Published 6 October 2014
The very first episode of The German-American Genealogist Podcast! In this episode, we discuss the history of German-American Day, October 6th, and the struggle of German-Americans to find their place in the national fabric. We also discuss tips for researching German ancestors: things you need to know about your German ancestors' names, and two important (and free) databases you can use to research your German roots. Finally, we speak with genealogy professional Thomas MacEntee, who shares some of his secrets to using the latest technology to research your roots.