Aufmerksamkeit-German Summer Institute

Last week-end DGS held its annual Summer Institute, an in-depth study of German records, resources and repositories for genealogical research.  Our speaker, John Humphrey, is a nationally-recognized authority on German genealogy.

Topics included a primer on German history, German language and handwriting skills,  German-American newspapers, plus published sources and online archives.  A bonus is this list of links to web sites suggested by Mr. Humphrey in his seminar which DGS has posted to our web site:   2010 German Institute

For those who attended, DGS would like your feedback.   Did y’all enjoy the workshop?  What was the most interesting thing that you learned that you didn’t know before about German genealogy research?  Do you have any suggestions for the Society to improve future Institutes?

Thanks for talking…

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3 Responses to Aufmerksamkeit-German Summer Institute

  1. Shirley R. Sloat says:

    I enjoyed:
    the gathering of old and new friends
    the handwriting “deciphering” session
    the historical background information
    I was uncomfortable with
    the many errors on the speaker’s presentation slides
    the compressed schedule that prevented many questions and answers
    the syllabus did not include a schedule
    the syllabus did not include a critique sheet – (although this blog approach is interesting, I think you’re more likely to get honest comments about possible improvements at the time of the event being critiqued)

  2. Verne Rudebusch says:

    I will be providing the following comments to Mr. Humphrey:

    Regarding: German Summer Genealogy Institute, Dallas
    John T. Humphrey, Presenter

    I’m writing with regard to the recent institute I attended at the Dallas Public Library led by Mr. Humphrey. It was a helpful institute – I learned new approaches and materials, my memory and skills were refreshed and renewed in other areas, and my energy and desire to continue family research were revitalized. In line with the Toastmasters’ speech evaluation guidelines, I intend to praise what he did well, while giving a few suggestions for improvement in certain areas.

    The primer on German history was historically and socially accurate and the exercises on German handwriting skills were well conducted (I can read Fraktur, but German handwriting has always been difficult – his exercises were helpful). I learned quite a bit about German emigration, newspapers and research centers – I was particularly happy to learn about the Ahnentafel in the National Archives; I will visit there soon.

    However, in line with my suggestions for improvement, I noted a large number of consistent grammatical errors in Mr. Humphrey’s slide presentation. Perhaps the errors are due to the dyslexia which he described; if that’s true, I believe he should engage a proof reader for his slides. I noted at least 25-30 grammatical errors during the 12 presentations and those errors were glaringly obvious and disturbing.

    In addition, I recognized misspellings in German; a consistent error, for example, was the misspelling of the word for ‘man’ in German – he consistently spelled it as ‘der Man’. That’s one of the first words any student of German learns and it is definitely, always and consistently spelled ‘der Mann’. That error was present several times in his slides; it’s also on page 10 of his course materials binder. The problem with this degree of grammatical error is that, for me, it calls into question the quality and accuracy of his research; where else has he not paid attention to detail? – I’m not sure that the CG designation has any meaning for me.

    My own background is that of a University professor (Ph.D, Cincinnati) and of a lawyer (JD, SMU) and I’ve dabbled in genealogy over the years. But my professional published materials and legal briefs have always under scrutiny for errors of any kind for the same reason as I stated above; errors call into question the accuracy and thought processes of the presenter – there should be no lower standard for a person who will be teaching at Stanford University.

    With regard to his presentation on the German language, I’m certain I heard him say that ‘sie’ (lower case) is the informal designation for ‘you’ – no. Correctly stated, the personal pronouns ‘er’, ‘sie’ and ‘es’ (he, she, it) take the plural form of ‘sie’ (for all 3 pronouns, lower case). The formal designation for ‘you’ in German is ‘Sie’ (upper case, singular and plural). The informal designation for ‘you’ in German is ‘du’ (plural = ihr). If I did not hear or understand his presentation correctly, I offer my apologies.

    I believe that most German language teachers would also disagree with his explanation of the umlauted vowels ‘a’, ‘o’ and ‘u’ as being ‘long’ sounds (my understanding from his presentation). The umlauted vowels are dipthongs which are combinations of two sounds (a+e, o+e, u+e) and have their own unique sound which is not reached by making the first vowel ‘long’ as we understand in English.

    While I understand that his presentation was not intended as a course in German and was meant solely as a guide to understanding written texts, it is not helpful to have inaccurate information presented which must be unlearned later. Finally, while his spoken German pronunciation could be generally understood by a native (there were some really basic errors), I think intellectual and professional honesty would suggest that he advise his audience that he is approximating the German pronunciation.

    I will use Mr. Humphrey’s materials in further research; however, I will be cautious regarding their reliability.

    Verne Rudebusch

  3. webmaster says:

    This was my first opportunity to attend a DGS seminar. The thing that impressed me the most was the speaker. The DGS is fortunate to be able to attract outstanding experts like Mr. Humphrey. I also greatly enjoyed having the chance to spend time with and meet so many fellow genealogists. The food was great – really enjoyed the convenience of being able to eat in the library. The only down side was the compressed schedule. I would have liked to have had more time for questions and answers.

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