Robert P. Minert, Ph.D., A.G., Religious Education
In 2013, I was awarded a mentoring grant under the MEG program for calendar years 2014-2015. The grant was for $20,000, all money stipulated for use as student wages. Advanced students of Germanic family history and German language were hired to extract data on German immigrants from old handwritten church records in the states of Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The plan was to compile the data and have it published as a service to a very large number of Americans attempting to identify the home towns of German ancestors in the United States.
All of the funding was expended by April 2015. Eleven undergraduate students were compensated for a total of nearly 2,200 hours of study in old church records. The compilation of extracted data was published by Picton Press of Rockport, Maine in three volumes:
16: Michigan Detroit Protestant I
17: Michigan Detroit Protestant II
18: Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota Protestant
These books are hard-cover and bear the names of all student co-compilers.
Six of the eleven students paid under this grant have graduated. The five remaining are currently compiling data from the state of Missouri that will fill Volumes 19-22 in this series. Funding is being sought to keep the program in operation. (It is currently in its thirteenth year.)
All students recruited to work under this mentoring grant either (1) had successfully completed History 422 (Germanic paleography), (2) were qualified by virtue of previous experience in reading old German handwriting, or (3) were capable of speaking and reading German on an advanced level. All research assistants in this program spent significant amounts of time in training and remediation with the principal investigator.
The eleven students involved in this phase of the project performed the following functions (some doing numerous tasks, all of them doing task 5):
- Identification and location of old records of German Protestant churches in the states mentioned,
- Procurement of said records,
- Evaluation of said records (which records need to be extracted, how long and how challenging will the work be),
- Assignment of extractors and checkers (the auditing is done by the principal investigator),
- Extraction of all genealogical data for all German immigrants in those records
- Organization of all genealogical data in accordance with publication standards
- Layout of each new volume (by state, by town, and by church).
The students who participate(d) in this program (approximately 75 to date) are excellent paleographers who will aid family, friends, and perhaps clients in reading such documents for years to come.