The Making of this book
In the early 1980s, a group of history students met once in a while in the cafeteria of the Württemberg State Library to discuss actual matters. Some of these folks afterwards went to the reading room in order to study or gather material for their works. One of them turned the pages of old newspapers and copied everything about papermaking, another one coped with military history. At that time, a complete copy of the Schwäbischer Merkur and Schwäbische Chronik newspapers (1785–1941) was placed in the reading room, on a shelf which reached up to the ceiling. While curiously turning the pages, I discovered many entries about emigrants and absent persons. It was exactly the period when many Americans wrote to Germany in order to learn the origins of their emigrant ancestors, and here in this newspapers were thousands of references for those ancestors. As it was not feasible to search through to whole papers for each inquiry, I started to copy the findings on file cards and sort them into one alphabet with my card file of searched emigrants. The success was very small. In the course of time, it seemed advisable to edit the findings in print – not just for those who were denoted as emigrants, but for all persons who appeared being absent as they may have emigrated into some direction as well. An evaluation of further years up to 1815 finally yielded a stock of 41,930 references. Many of these entries originated from the attempt of the Württemberg authorities to draw absent natives into the Württemberg army1 . It was soon intended to publish those lists in English language because this language is being understood by the majority of the readers and because books in German language were not accepted in America – at that time the main market for such a publication. And anyway, German-speaking persons can read the advertisements in the original text. A completely-corrected database in English language was finished by 1991. Due to other duties, publication was delayed until now. Other reasons of such a delay were the limited power of the personal computers at that time and the complicated compilation of the index of place names. So it took more than 30 years to finally complete the project. In the time before 1803, southwest Germany consisted of a multitude of territories of very different size. The local officials could decide if they would insert their public notifications in said two newspapers, in other papers or nowhere2. So the two evaluated papers contain many advertisements from a number of dominions for the time before 1803, but none from other dominions. In the years from 1803 to 1806, the small and medium-size territories were swallowed by the large ones, so at the end, only Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and the two Hohenzollern principalities were left. Württemberg was still in 1807 divided into 140 districts, from 1808 onwards there were only 653 . After the exchange of districts with some neighbour territories, the borders were by 1810 determined for the next 150 years.
Public announcements by district authorities in Southwest Germany
By the late eighteenth century, persons who were absent were sought via advertisements in newspapers and intelligencers in the Duchy of Württemberg4 and in other dominions. The officials in the district offices, the district courts and the community offices could decide themselves where they wanted to have their notifications published. Possible media were, besides the Schwäbischer Merkur and the Chronik, the government gazette (Regierungsblatt) established in 1807, and the local newspapers. Gathering all official emigrations would require to evaluate all those papers, all together a very extended enterprise which will fail at least from the fact that many of the local newspapers have not been completely preserved. Extracting information from all these papers would obviously yield frequent repetitions, as multiple insertions of a particular advertisement would lead to multiple abstracts. If, however, information-extraction is limited to just one type of media, such as the Schwäbischer Merkur and the Chronik, many advertisements would be missing which the authorities wanted to see appear in other localities. In the period of investigation (1785–1815), the following periodicals were available for such announcements (the list indicates the place of publication, the year of first appearance and the title of the paper)5 : A. Papers serving a larger region, such as the Duchy and later on the Kingdom of Württemberg: Stuttgart 1785 Schwäbischer Merkur, Schwäbische Chronik Stuttgart ~1700 Stuttgardische Zeitung, from 1831 Stuttgarter Zeitung Stuttgart 1807 Königlich württembergisches Staats- und Regierungsblatt; the low-echelon announcements are in an attachment by the name Intelligenz-Blatt (partially bound separately).
Friedrich R. Wollmershäuser, Auswanderungen aus dem Königreich Württemberg vor 1850.
Band 1: Auswanderer und Abwesende aus dem Königreich Württemberg und seinen Nachbarregionen, 1785-1815.
824 S., deutsch/englisch mit detailliertem Namensregister in englischer Sprache, fester Einband im Großformat.
ISBN 978-3-95505-051-1. EUR 89,90.