Tips for Researching at the Archives
1. Go prepared - know exactly which archive has what records and be sure they are stored there. For example: Gross Raddow, Kreis Regenwalde, church records are stored at a small rural archive but could only be researched at the Szczecin (Stettin) Archive. It took
three days to get records from the town to the Szczecin Archives.
2. Have at least some knowledge of reading the old German script. The better you can read the old script, the least frustration you will have in searching the old records. You must do your own research at the archives unless you have a hired a genealogist to come with you to the archives who reads the old script. Reading script from the 1800's is different than the script and paragraph form used from 1600's to mid 1700's. Be prepared to run into several versions of old script. Time is at a premium on your trip - go prepared. Spend as much time as possible practicing reading old script before leaving home.
3. Do not expect anyone at the German or Polish Archives to speak or understand any English. When I was there in Sept. 2002, no one did at the two Greifswald Archives (Landesarchiv and Landeskirchliches) nor did anyone at the Szczecin Archives.
4. Make advance reservations at the archives and have a confirmation before leaving home. If you are hiring a translator/guide, this person could make the advance reservations for you, check on records you want to research, etc.
5. Check the archive’s web site for their hours and for any holiday closings, if possible. The hours had changed from what I had been told by friends who were there only the year before. Note: some are closed on Mondays and others close at noon on Fridays. Generally the hours I found at the archives were from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Watch out for, "special holidays."
6. Pack up and be ready to leave sharply at 3 p.m. as employee was ready to leave and watching the clock at 2:55 p.m.
7. The records you will be searching in are 100 to 200 years old. Treat them with respect. Clean hands, turn pages gently, if photography is allowed, do not use flash.
8. Have money to pay for any copies and fees - credit cards not accepted.
9. Very important! – Compare what your local LDS library has on microfilm with the archive holdings before going to the archive. Why go halfway around the world if you can see a microfilm of it locally?