Namenswolke / name cloud 2014 vs. 2105

Namenswolke / name cloud 2015

Namenswolke / name cloud 2015

Namenwolke / name cloud 2014

Namenwolke / name cloud 2014

Wie man sehen kann, dominieren noch immer Catharina, Johann und Hans, aber da sind so ein paar neue Namen dazu gekommen.



As you can see, Catharina, Johann and Hans are still in the lead, but I have some new names in my family tree. I love those gimmicks!

Kleines Update zum Projekt Digitalisierung

Es wird Zeit für ein kleines Update zu meinem Projekt Digitalisierung.

Nachdem meine Research Logs alle digital übertragen wurden,  habe ich mich meinen handschriftlichen Notizen aus den diversen Archiven, die ich in meiner Forscherkarriere so alle besucht habe, zugewandt.

Und auch da kann ich wieder nur sagen “Unglaublich, was sich so alles an Papier ansammelt” 

Und was noch viel schlimmer ist: einige der Abschriften habe ich schon übertragen und digitalisiert und trotzdem stapelten sich meine Notizbücher und Schulhefte, die ich gerne benutze. Es war also wieder vieles doppelt und dreifach vorhanden. Von daher war es Zeit, sich dessen anzunehmen. Ich weiss doch schon jetzt, dass ich wieder viele Anknüpfungspunkte finden werde. Und genauso viele offene Punkte und “to-do’s” für kommende Archivbesuche.

Und so wächst wieder nach und nach mein Altpapierstapel und mein Schreibtisch wird Stück für Stück wieder sichtbar.


classical example how NOT to use Social Media

The joy of social media

You know what I like about Social Media in general and twitter in particular? The speed with which topics pop up and get a momentum. Sometimes you can watch how a hashtag gets trending in your twitter feed within minutes and how it builds up power within hours.

This happened 2 days ago again on MY twitterfeed (@BarbFFM). The hashtag was #PeaceforFriedrichBrandt

Most of you will ask now “Peace for whom??” Well, I thought the same thing when I saw it coming up the first time from the first person. And then I saw it appearing more and more. And isn’t that exactly how twitter works? Well, at least for me. When I see a topic coming up in my network from more than one or two people, I will have a look although I might not be super interested in the header.

#PeaceforFriedrichBrandt is about a young soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the battle of Waterloo in 1815. His full skeleton has been discovered in June 2012 under a car park and will now be put on display as a feature in an exhibition at the battlefield of Waterloo. I won’t go into the historical details, there are lots of people out there who can do that way better and more precise than I do.

Despite the fact that I think displaying human remains as a tourist attraction is dishonourable and disgracing this young man, this blogpost is actually not about this story itself. And just as a side effect it touches the campaign that has been kicked off to provide this young soldier with a decent burial. If you want to learn more about it, please follow the hashtag on twitter or visit the following facebook page

Gaining momentum

No, what I want to talk about – using this as an example – is how NOT to use Social Media and how NOT to react to requests and criticism.

This hashtag has been taken up by German Military Historian Robin Schäfer (@GERArmyResearch) who started tweeting about the story and the disgrace to bring it to the attention of the world. Involving and mentioning those twitter accounts he thought to be best to approach about it. He used quite a couple of, but I am picking out here @WhyBelgium the account of the Belgian Tourist Office for Brussels and Wallonia or @FrancoiseScheepers, the Director of it, because their behavior and reaction is a classic example on what NOT to do when you get criticized for something you do on twitter.

Other historians from various countries took it up, retweeting and commenting on those tweets, all approaching the original audience. I read through the various conversations, deliberately not getting involved as I would have been way too emotional– which would have not helped the purpose at all.

I actually admired the involved parties on the #PeaceforFriedrichBrandt side to stay on the topic that much, I couldn’t have. So, I kept reading, liking and retweeting to keep the momentum and inform my twitter followers about what is going on in Waterloo.

What did I see that bothered me that much?

So, how NOT to react?

  • Don’t blame people on twitter to use twitter as a public medium instead of approaching you privately and more discreetly
  • Don’t lash out to criticism with a plain “your view is wrong and we are right
  • Don’t try to turn the attention from in saying “they are also doing it” – getting “they” into the discussion


  • Don’t get personal and never question the professionalism and experience of your counterparts
  • Don’t get and act miffed just because people question something you are doing? Even if they are doing it very intensely
  • Don’t get defensive
  • and last but not least: Don’t use Social Media if you are not up for the publicity it comes with

I could have embedded tweet upon tweet to show what I mean, there were quite a few examples where I thought I wouldn’t read correctly with regards to childish behaviour.

What to keep in mind when using Social Media

  • when you have an account, be prepared that you get contacted
  • if you have a public role, be prepared that you get contacted on your “private” account
  • there is no privacy
  • the internet doesn’t forgive nor forget – what you post will stick to your name forever
  • shitstorms are coming fast if users think you behave inappropriate

Conclusion: twitter and co. are great channels to interact with your audience. But just because you might be a great PR person, doesn’t mean that you are ready for Social Media. And worse than not being visible on twitter or another channel? Not knowing how to use it.


How I re-discovered my own history via a podcast

It was back in November last year when I was living in London when an advertising for an exhibition in the British Museum caught my eye: Germany – memories of a nation

I don’t know why I was so struck by it. Maybe because there was no reference at all to the World War II on the poster. Normally, when there are exhibitions or documentaries about my country it is all about the Third Reich. As if we don’t have a 1000 year old history to offer! And I was totally interested how “outsiders” would define our memories and how they would put them on display.

It took me a couple of weeks till I finally made it to the British Museum. What I found super annoying was that I had to pre-register for a timeslot online. You can’t just walk in there. Something to get accostumed to.

And what shall I say? The exhibition was great! Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum totally outdid himself. It was professionally done (of course it was!!) with the right amount of “Fingerspitzengefühl” – the sense for sensitivity and really showed the  memories of a nation – very touching. And it was great to see “my” history in a different perspective.

But unfortunately, the exhibition only ran til January 25, 2015. Here you can find some background information on it including interviews with Mr. MacGregor, trailers and the most important: THE POCAST!

The British Museum: Germany – memories of a nation

This exhibition was accompanied by a podcast from BBC 4. And I totally love it. Not only because of the voice of Neil MacGregor or because he really can pronounce German names and words :) No, but because he tells so many stories which you would normally not hear or see when people talk about German history.

It all starts with Episode 1 – The view from the Gate: in which he starts his journey through 600 years of German history at the Brandenburg Gate – 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The series covers topics like Käthe Kollwitz, The Bauhaus, Gutenberg, the 1848 revolution bringing us our black-red-gold flag, Holbein and the Hanse, The Walhalla or Luther – just to name a few.

The podcast series contains 30 single episodes which run about 15 minutes each:

I cannot really decide which one is my most favourite episode, I love them all. I learnt so many new things about my own history, was moved to tears at some points, proud or ashamed at others.

If you are interested in German history at all, listen to the podcast series. You will be amazed what new things you learn about it.

#52ancestors No. 13 – different spelling all over the place!


Challenge for week 13 (I am way behind again ;)) was “DIFFERENT”.

I think we all have this name in our family tree which gets a different spelling on every document. In my family tree I have more than just one of those.

On of the names is OHRT. That is the first spelling I saw and it is also how I see the name being spelled today.

But I also have ORT, ORTH, OORT, OHRTH in my records.

One of the OHRTs in my family is my paternal great grandmother Emma Catharina OHRT. She was born in Schlutup a little fisherman’s village in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany on June 6, 1877. Today, Schlutup belongs to Lübeck, the city my family still lives in. Emma Ohrt blog

This picture shows her at an unknown age. When I made contact to a cousin of my Dad’s I saw it hanging on the wall in the living room and immediately asked if I could take a photo of it. What really hit me from the first moment was the resemblance I see there to her daughter, my grandmother Margarethe Katharina Emma SCHMIDT. It was like looking into her face. I mean, I just knew my grandmother at “this” age.

The 1880 census of Lübeck shows her living with her parents, two older sisters and a younger brother in Schlutup. Emma’s entry is the second last.

Emma OHrt VZ 1880 blog

I still have quite a few uncertainties about her. I don’t have the exact date when she married my great grandfather Carl August Joachim SCHMIDT and I am also missing birthdates for her two oldest children. What I know is that she and Carl had 6 children, of which my grandma was the youngest.

Great Grandma Emma Catharina Schmidt née Ohrt and children

Great Grandma Emma Catharina Schmidt née Ohrt and children

  • Gertrud * unknown
  • Luise * unknown
  • Else * 1901
  • Wilhelm Hermann Heinrich Karl (called Kalli) * 1904
  • Albert Paul Wilhelm (called Willi) * 1911
  • Margarethe Katharina Emma (called Grete) * 1912

There is a family rumour that there have been two more children who died at a very young age, but I couldn’t verify that rumour either yet.

Emma died on March 24, 1949 in Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany