On Jan. 23, 1943, my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, (photo in uniform, above) reported to the draft board in Chicago to start his training for WWII. So began the correspondence between him and family & friends, comprising almost 300 letters going both ways. I’m posting many of these World War II letters, each on or near the 70th anniversary of its writing. To start with his induction, click HERE.

This blog began in Nov., 2010, when I posted a century-old love note from Josef Gärtz, my paternal grandfather, to Lisi (Elisabetha) Ebner, my paternal grandmother, and follows their bold decision to strike out for America.

My mom and dad were writers too, recording their lives in diaries and letters from the 1920s-the 1990s. Historical, sweet, joyful, and sad, all that life promises-- and takes away--are recorded here as it happened. It's an ongoing saga of the 20th century. To start at the very beginning, please click HERE.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When a resumé worked as passport

Lisi's "Passport" 
Traveling sure was different 100 years ago. My grandmother, Lisi Ebner had to get all her papers in order to travel to America. I found her “passport” among the artifacts she left behind. She had actually written on it “My Pass von [from] 1911.”

I can't read most of the lines in the "pass" because all is in Hungarian (In 1911, Siebenbürgen/Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), but things like her town (Nagy-Apold -- Hungarian for Grosspold) and dates can be made out.

Her name seemed to be misspelled  -- as Erzsébet, instead of Elisabetha. That wouldn’t fly today (literally!). But I was told by my "Rosetta Stone," Meta, who deciphers the old German letters for me that Erzsébet was the Hungarian name for Elisabetha. (And thanks to Nick at Nick Gombash's Genealogy Blog, for providing the correct spelling. See his comment below that translates the details of Lisi's town, district, county, and country--from the Hungarian)

I always assumed (because of her note) it was a true blue passport, but I've learned it was actually a “Dienstbuch,” literally a “service book.” We can consider it a kind of “resume.” In it are listed her various employers, when she started working for them, her job, and even salary. Because of its official nature, (the first page is stamped by the local police!),  it appears to have also been used as her passport, per her own note. 

Lisi's employment history with the Jickeli family, with
whom she corresponded for sixty years.
This method of keeping track of employers seemed to be pretty common (See my post of May 4th, Happy 125th Birthday). My maternal grandmother, had the same type of book, but in Austria it was called: Arbeitsbuch, literally her "Work-book").

The first entry listed In Elisabetha Ebner's "Work-book" is from January 1, 1903-December 31, 1904, when Lisi was ages 15-17. 

The next two pages have been filled out by Dr. Carl F[riedrich] Jickeli, (left) Eisenhändler (hardware store owner). I recently learned this was far more than a hardware story, however. It was a kind of department store in the center of Hermannstadt (Sibiu) where you could buy everything from kitchenware to tools and nails to clothing.  Lisi actually worked for Carl Jickeli's wife, Berta, from January 8, 1906, to August 15, 1911, (ages 18-24) as a Stubenmädchen (parlor-maid--a good position). Monthly salary:  12 Kronen. She must have also been given room and board, as she was eighteen miles from her home in Grosspold, but it still doesn't sound like much. The left page is stamped with the final date of her employment: 1911, Aug. 15.  On the right page is hand-written:  [Wishing you] complete satisfaction in every path.

For more than five years Lisi was Mrs. Jickeli's right-hand gal. Her role evolved far beyond that of just a maid, as future letters, revealed. Mrs. Jickeli entrusted her with the running of the household when she had to be away on business, and most importantly, entrusted her young daughter, Lisbeth, to Lisi's  care. 

As she prepared to leave the woman she considered a second mother, Lisi would turn to Mrs. Jickeli for a very important document to help her find work in the far-away land of America. Coming up --"The Recommendation."

I’m curious as to what sort of passports any of my readers may have from their ancestors. Do they seem to be uniquely a passport -- or did you find an "employment book" as well -- that might have been used as a passport?


Lynn Palermo said...

What an amazing document to be in possession of, wish I had anything that measured up. I'm afraid my family did not find value in keeping such documents. Which is truly a shame. However I'm living vicariously through your treasures.

Margel said...

I continue to be amazed at the wonderful documents and photos you have. Also, a little jealous if I am honest, but thankful to generous relatives for what I have. Have you met new cousins because of your blog/family story?

Adrienne said...

I love the way you expand the information by explaining various things, such as the hardware store and the spelling variations. For those of us whose ancestors left few documents, your work helps us more fully imagine their pre-American lives.

Linda Gartz said...

Ooh, I'm so thrilled to hear from all of you. I guess I just come from a family of savers. Nothing seemed too unimportant to keep. I saw a business card for a restaurant that I somewhat dismissed -- maybe they ate there. But there was that indecipherable writing on the back -- so off it went to my Rosetta Stone, Meta. Well, the reason it was kept was then clear. That little tidbit will be coming up as Lisi trip to America gets ever-closer. I'm so glad you're enjoying these little treasures and the explanations.

Carol said...

OK, I join the ranks of document envy. Amazing, so interesting, thanks for the great post and sharing. Gasping, on the way to the mecca library, hoping for such a fab find. WOW!

Linda Gartz said...

Carol and all,
sometimes I'm overwhelmed. Figuring out how to keep track of it all. I've ordered a bunch of organizational tools from Hollinger. Hope it will help. it's that so much is on little scraps as well. An then there's the indecipherable part. Thank God for Meta. More on my visit to her in Stuttgart -- coming up!

NickMGombash said...

The information under her name (Ebner Erzsébet) is her birthplace information:
Nagy Apold town
Szerdahely district
Szeben county
Hungary country

You can find the town here on this 1877 gazetteer: http://www.radixhub.com/radixhub/gazetteers/1877/szeben.htm#093420

Kathy Reed said...

I was going to suggest you share your document with Nick Gombash to translate, only to discover he already made his way here. What a precious artifact!

Anonymous said...

The historical detail you are able to find in your grandmother's passport is a window into her youth.

Linda Gartz said...

Thanks, Nick for the translation of those details under my grandmother's name -- and the proper Hungarian spelling of Elisabetha. The difficult handwriting cropped up as a problem on the ship manifest as well -- coming up. And thanks to Kathy for your comment-- and thinking of Nick!

Gini said...

Beautiful documents, Linda ~ I have several of my Oma and Opa's documents also . . . all in old German style handwriting, I love to hold them and look at them. They truly are a treasure for us to have. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment . . . Ron and Kieth's deaths were so very senseless . . . very sad. Love reading your blog, Linda.

Gini said...

BTW - I have my grandfather's "workbook" from Augsburg, Germany, in my possession - you have inspired me to perhaps blog about it! Thank you, Linda. I too have been very blessed to have some rare and wonderful documents as these.

Linda Gartz said...

I hope you do publish your grandfather's "workbook." Lots of interesting info in there. I lived in Munich as a student many moons ago -- and one of my best friends in my dorm was from Augsburg. I visited him there with my family in 1995. It's a gorgeous medieval city- also university town - so very fun to visit. I just met up with him (and his fiancee) again last month -- in Stuttgart. A 40 year friendship!

Tonia said...

Wow! Great document and so interesting that is served as a passport.