Indiana Chapter of Palatines to America
State of Indiana

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December 1, 2020 By: Karen Zimmerman
2020: Annus Horribilis?
Wikipedia explains that "annus horribilis is a Latin phrase meaning 'horrible year.' It is complementary to annus mirabilis, which means 'wonderful year.'" It has been used throughout the years by religious and political figures to describe what were considered as extremely difficult years.
There is no question that 2020 has indeed been an extremely difficult year. And yet:
  • Covid-19 gave me a context for considering the reality of my ancestors' lives in Ebingen (Schwarzwaldkreis, Württemberg), several of whom died of "Pest" (plague) in the 16th and 17th centuries. Ebingen church records for some years contain page after page of long lists of the deaths and burials, day after day. These were people, not just names on pages.
  • I have had more time to concentrate on organizing my genealogical data rather than going here and there to do research. The research I have accomplished made me more familiar with online resources that I hadn't used before.
  • Zoom conferences are certainly different from in-person meetings, but as people began using some of the breakout rooms and other features, it became more useful as a convenient substitute. Virtual meetings certainly eliminated the need for time and expense of travel. At risk of webinar fatigue, I have viewed more interesting topics than I would have travelled to in person.
I don't mean to make light of the personal suffering many people have endured this year, or the fact that our problems are not over yet. As genealogists, we have seen how our ancestors struggled through some very difficult historical times, and yet here we are now. Perhaps relatively speaking (an unplanned double mean-ing), we're not in such a bad place as we might think.
May we all continue to be safe and carry on the best we can as did our forebears. May we have a more pleasant 2021 on the way to our next annus mirabilis!

November 15, 2020 By: Karen Zimmerman
Our New Website is Live!
I'm pleased to announce the Grand Opening of our very own chapter website at At the moment, there is very little content, but it will be expanded in the coming weeks, especially with your help.
This is your website! It is meant as a gathering place to share resources relating to German genealogy and our chapter business. You are encouraged to help provide content!
Here are a few highlights of the new site:
Home Page: You will notice at the bottom of the home page there is a feature titled "Ancestral Village of the Month." Any member of our chapter can suggest one of their ancestral villages to be featured for a month by emailing the name of the village to You can include an image, or we can find one to use.
Surname Research: I have populated this area with a few of my ancestral surnames with locations. Feel free to add your surnames. It is then possible for visitors to the site to click on the icon in front of your name and send you a form-based email if they see a surname of interest. (Your email address is kept private.)
Research Links: This is another area with a few sample items, but it will grow fast. Send suggested links with summary descriptions to! Adopt a research category to develop in your area of specialty!
Members Only: Here is where your member profile is stored and where you can download our newsletters. We will be putting more of the past newsletters up as we add to the site. We will probably be adding other chapter documents and resources here as time passes. There are various experimental forums set up in the Members Only area where we can all share questions and answers, suggest resources, and discuss German genealogy. You can volunteer to be a forum moderator if there's a topic you're especially interested in. Please suggest other forum categories and participate in a few for practice.
You will soon receive an email with your personal login and password to the Members Only area to get you started. This will NOT be the same as your login and password for the Members Only on the national website. The email you receive will include more details about your options.
Visit the site often to see what's new as we add additional content and refine our settings. We might change our mind about settings as we learn what works best for our purposes.
We are very pleased with our site host, and owner Tom Ryder. Kent and I watched (and rewatched) four training videos [a total of 12 hours in length] and have a fat notebook of instructions.
Thanks to our generous donors who have made this website possible.
Visit often and send your ideas and content to!
June 3, 2020 By: Karen Zimmerman
Genealogy in the Time of COVID-19
It is regrettable that COVID-19 has had such a devastating effect on so many aspects of our lives. For us as an organization, one of our greatest challenges is to keep offering educational opportunities for our members and non-members. Our spring and fall meetings and other workshops have also been great opportunities for socializing with people of like interests—to network and build connections that sustain us as we move on in our genealogical endeavors. So, what happens now as we join the growing number of organizations who are going "virtual" rather than "in person?"
We have decided to hold our fall meeting October 3 online as an effort to keep everyone safe. We are trying to out-guess the virus without really knowing what the status will be a few months from now. Making the decision now rather than later makes it easier for everyone to know exactly what to plan for. Teresa Steinkamp McMillin has already had experience presenting via electronic media and is willing to provide us with this resolution to the dilemma. I think we can look at this as a positive solution. As much as we don't like change, there are some benefits to holding the conference in this manner.
We can more easily reach people who live at a distance. This might broaden our base, and it certainly saves our distant attendees some travel expenses. We are not as closely bound to time restraints. Those who could not attend in person during our normal hours on October 3 will have an opportunity to "attend" by viewing recorded sessions. Teresa has agreed to make the recorded video of the presentations available for some time after that date.

For those who might feel intimidated by technology, we will be offering several test sessions and you can contact us for more assistance. My family members are doing an amazing job keeping their social life active, all online. We might be surprised how much socializing we might be able to do, even if it's virtual.
This experience will also give us more options for future presentations. We hope to be able to hold our regular conferences in person again as soon as possible, but we will be better prepared to offer additional learning opportunities using technology. Through our new chapter website (more about this later!), we hope to offer more ways to share our successes and enthusiasm for German genealogy through an online venue.
Thank you all for your understanding and stay safe!