Society for genealogical research in franconia

Society for genealogical research in franconia

The Society for Genealogy in Franconia (GFF) is a non-profit association, which pursues the statutory purpose "to cultivate and advance genealogy in all its branches through research, instruction and stimulation on a scientific basis". The focus is not only on genealogical topics, but also on personal, migration, cultural and social history in a broader sense. The GFF publishes regularly scientific publications in printed and electronic form; it organizes genealogical evenings, lectures, guided tours and excursions and maintains an extensive library as well as a family-historical archive. Finally, it advises its members, but also other genealogists, in their research on personal history and cooperates with institutions of similar orientation. Regionally, the GFF concentrates on the administrative districts of Upper, Middle and Lower Franconia. From case to case it also covers the neighboring Upper Palatinate, parts of Swabia, Wurttemberg-Franconia and the southern parts of Thuringia, as far as they have historically belonged to Franconia or are demographically closely linked to Franconia. The association has its seat in Nuremberg.

Table of Contents

Development and organizational structure

Founding history until 1933

The today’s society for family research in Franconia (GFF) was founded on the 8. November 1921 as "Bavarian local group Franconia of the Dresden ‘Roland’ with seat in Nuremberg" was founded and thus represents the oldest genealogical association in Bavaria. Its foundation, decisively driven by the archive secretary (later senior administrative inspector) at the Nuremberg State Archives Georg Kolbmann (1879-1960), took place at a time when decidedly middle-class and ‘folk genealogical’ associations for the first time occupied a field of work that had previously been primarily determined by aristocratic tradition and legal care.

In 1926, the Nuremberg chapter broke away from the "Roland", in order to be able to focus more strongly on regional concerns, and from then on functioned as the Society for Genealogical Research in Franconia (GFF). Soon other Franconian groups joined, which had previously belonged to the more Old Bavarian oriented Bavarian State Association for Genealogy (BLF). From the beginning, the rapidly growing association was dedicated to a wide range of topics. The BLF was not only concerned with genealogical topics in the narrower sense, but also with the study of names and sources, systematically evaluating corporate and property history or administrative sources. Early it distinguished itself in a special way in the research of Austrian and Upper Palatine exiles (in 17. and 18. The Society of Genealogy in Franconia (Gesellschaft fur Familienforschung in Franken) dealt not only with genealogical topics in the narrower sense, but also with the study of names and sources, for example, and systematically evaluated corporate and property historical or administrative sources. By systematically indexing important personal history material on index cards, the GFF made a significant contribution to making even remote sources accessible; the "Ancestor Index" that it created already comprised over 100 members in 1933.000 persons. Until the end of the Second World War, the office was housed in the private apartment of the long-time managing director Georg Kolbmann, who also ensured the connection to the State Archives.

The Society for Genealogical Research in Franconia (GFF) between 1933 and 1945

During the sog. During the Third Reich, the GFF was able to profit to some extent from the boom in genealogical interests, which already in the 1920s included the folkloristic, demographic, racial, and eugenic issues that were flourishing even in the university sciences at the time. The cooperation with the Nuremberg State Archives, which had already existed for many years, was intensified in 1934 when the GFF took over the provision of information within the framework of an "advisory office for genealogical research" It was used in particular for questions concerning the creation of the "ancestor passports" demanded by the regime (sog. Aryan records) was taken up. In the number of members, however, this was only moderately reflected (1933: 315 members, 1943: 414 members). On the other hand, from 1933 onwards, the association had submitted to the "Fuhrer principle" and the "Gleichschaltung The association was forced to subordinate itself to the "Reichsverein fur Sippenforschung und Wappenkunde" (Reich Association for Genealogy and Heraldry) for a time threatened. Like the vast majority of genealogical societies, the "Vereinsfuhrer" resisted The GFF, however, was not immune to this.

In July 1933, the Board of Directors decided, in accordance with state requirements, that non-Aryan members of the Association "should consider themselves excluded"; however, persons who did not make an explicit written declaration were automatically considered Aryan. Only new members were required to make a sworn declaration of non-Jewish descent. In the periodical of the association, the spirit of the times was hardly reflected in the articles – in contrast to many other genealogical societies; at most, in the book reviews, a specific attention to new publications in the field of racial studies and an accommodation to the contemporary diction can be perceived until about 1937, which then conspicuously diminished again. After the journalistic work of the society had been hindered by the lack of paper since 1940 and the chairman had been drafted for military service in 1943, a last, narrow issue of the society’s periodical appeared in July 1944. The association’s library, which had been compiled over a period of 20 years and had grown since 1936 with over 1.500 volumes in the care of the Nuremberg City Library, fell victim to the Allied bombs in large parts at the beginning of January 1945. The archives of the GFF deposited in the state archives, however, survived the war largely unscathed.

Reestablishment and development after the Second World War

A resumption of the association’s activities already took place in January 1946. On the initiative of the librarian at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Ludwig Rothenfelder (1884-1967), who had been rather involved in the BLF before the war, united in the following year with hitherto unorganized participants of a genealogical regulars’ table. Consolidation took place in close connection with the Nuremberg State Archives, which also housed the association’s office and book depository from that time onwards. The publication activity could be taken up however only 1949 (first volume of the "free writing sequence") and 1957 (new revival of the association periodical) again. The level of the contributions was purposefully raised in comparison to the pre-war period by editors and authors who were close to science, so that the book series and periodical developed into respected publication organs. From an initial membership of just 177, the number of members rose to over 500 by the early 1960s; after declines in the 1970s, which were probably also due to a general loss of importance of historical thinking and a questioning of traditional models of sociability, a fairly steady increase in interest has been noticeable since around 1980. In 2003 the membership exceeded the thousand mark for the first time.

This was certainly also promoted by the early participation of the association in the development of computer-aided genealogy. Already in the later 1980s, committed members worked on the conception and programming of genealogy software ("Genisys"). With the program "GFAhnen", which has been continuously developed since 1998 the GFF has its own software, which is one of the most powerful German-language genealogy programs and is used far beyond the borders of the society. The already before active publication activity of the association intensified since approximately the turn of the millennium again crucially and covers a broad topic spectrum and all Franconian administrative districts.

With the move to new premises in 2012, the working conditions could be improved significantly. Since then, members and visitors have had access to a spacious reading room with computer workstations (access to the GFF intranet), the technical infrastructure of a modern specialized library, and a room for events.

Today (2018), the GFF, which is funded by membership dues and donations, has a worldwide membership of just over 1.300 personal and institutional members to the largest genealogical regional associations in the German-speaking area. She herself is a member of several umbrella organizations: the German Working Group of Genealogical Associations (DAGV), the Association of Bavarian History Societies and the General Association of German History and Antiquities Societies.

Society for genealogical research in franconia

Ernst Wiedemann (1889-1986), founding chairman of the GFF 1921-1927. (Image: GFF)

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