Mecklenburg-Schwerin Occupations

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Almost all manors in Mecklenburg were involved in sheep rearing. This activity was overseen by so called Schafmeister or Schäfereipächter. They in turn hired a shepherd (Schäferknecht), a man who had learned the sheep business from his father and was able to profitably do his craft. He dealt with wool and processing of sheep’s milk. It was possible for a shepherd to lease a sheep business for 2 years or more. Leasing was not the only option, a manor lord may have hired a shepherd as a wage earner. The shepherd would have a third of a share in the herd. The Schafmeister in turn would also give a share to his hired shepherds. A shepherd was a free man, not a serf. He often changed his workplace. He also could be hired by a village. The shepherd’s profession was looked at as “unehrlich” (dishonest) because his standing as an outsider and the nature of his profession raised suspicion. He was able to work for his own interest, i.e., he was concerned about his very own sheep first. People recognized his animals by their good nutritional condition and illnesses were found less among his property.
If your ancestor was a shepherd in Mecklenburg, you may have the problem of not finding your family members in one parish only. Shepherds were also taxpayers and they went to church for confessions. Pastors in Mecklenburg had to record all persons age 14 and up coming to confession. Such lists exist for 1704 und 1751 and represent the first census records for Mecklenburg. A shepherd can be traced through documents known as Steuerlisten and Beichtkinderverzeichnisse. A list of shepherds and their status and circumstance was printed in Zeitschrift für Niederdeutsche Familienkunde, 42, Jahrgang Heft 6, November 1967, Schäfer in Mecklenburg by Ernst Ritter. The book is available through the Family History Library, Salt Lake City , Utah, call number 943.5 B2z vol. 42

Diaries of midwives[edit | edit source]

With the rise of gynecology, the traditional role of midwifery came under scrutiny. In Germany the first maternity hospital was established in 1779 in Jena. In 1818 the first regulations for midwifery were published. Midwifes were appointed to certain districts for a length of time and came under the observation of the health department. They had to report their activities yearly to the health official, who would determine their salary and their competence. Midwives had to be trained and certified in order to take up their profession.

Midwives were encouraged to keep diaries, in which they recorded the procedures of the deliveries and their observations. This was necessary because not only the employer needed to gain an insight into the activities of the accoucheuse, the midwife herself would profit from keeping notes about her work. Her duty was not only to deliver a child and look after the wellbeing of the mother, but she had to report the child birth to the priest, the civil registration or the police officer. If she had taken careful notes, she would have no problem to report, names, addresses, and dates. If a midwife had to become a witness in a court procedure, she would also be well prepared with dates and facts.

The keeping of a diary would serve the midwife well, when she writes down her observations. She would be more precise in her recordings, since she has to explain what is happening. She would have to ponder the outcome and ask herself what could be done better and how a situation should be handled in the future.
A diary would enable the midwife better to recall certain cases, especially when she assists the same woman again and therefore can recall any problems in a professional manner. For the length of her professional life a midwife was encouraged to keep a yearly log of her activities.

The diaries of midwives were evaluated for statistical purposes, which on the other hand served as a base for improving the health of women.
An excellent diary would have the following information:

Day and hour of birth
Name of mother, her age and her domicile
Name of father
Delivery number
The child’s position at birth
The gender of the child
Did the child live or was it a stillbirth?
Was it a normal birth, a premature birth or a miscarriage?
Was the assistance of a physician required?
How much carbolic acid was used?
Did the mother stay healthy, did she get sick, did she die and when?

Midwife diaries may have been kept by health administrations (Gesundheitsamt) and archived.


Ahlfeld, Dr. Ueber den Werth und den Gebrauch des Hebammen Tagebuchs in: Tagebuch der Hebamme Frau Henkel in Bruch vom 5. April 1895

Wikipedia: Hebamme

Service contract registers (Dienstbotenregister)[edit | edit source]

People who were household servants were obligated to register at the magistrate or mayor’s office, in order to make sure their work duration was properly documented. It appeared that often servants themselves or their employer acted belated or not at all registering. Household servants were obliged to contribute to their compulsory insurance. If registration was not timely, monetary fines were imposed. Only a police certificate would insure that a person actually started working at a given date.
More about servants and their employers can be found at

The Family History Libarary catalog houses a collection of servant contracts for the city of Rostock. In these records the researcher can find the following information:
Name of servant
Age of servant
Description of servant
When did he/she start employment and for how long will the person serve
What is the residence/birth place of the servant
Is the servant married
In whose service is the servant
What are his references
Information about father and mother

The films are starting with number 1676401 and cover the time frame 1823-1902.

Journeyman registers[edit | edit source]

After an apprentice had done his three to four years learning his profession he joined the ranks of journeymen. It was expected of him to not just take up employment where he had learned his craft, but go out and learn from other masters skills that would help his career. Journeymen typically would leave their location of employment at certain times of the year; Easter or Michaelis (after the harvest was in). The length of their employment varied from six months to three years. When a journeyman came to another district he could count on being greeted, registered and helped to find proper employment. This was a ritual strictly observed. The newcomer could count on lodging until he found a new master. In order to find a decent situation, a journeyman had to have an excellent reputation which included legitimate birth. Journeymen were regularly monitored and punishment was administered to those who ran away.

Source: Joachim Brügmann.Das Zunftwesen der Seestadt Wismar bis zum Beginn des 17. Jahrhunderts in Mecklenburgische Jahrbücher, Bd. 99 (1935)

The collection of the Family History Library includes a journeyman register for the city of Rostock which covers the years 1841-1902 (starting with film 1676395). In these documents the family historian finds information on persons who moved in and out of the city and other vital information such as:
Passport issued where, when, and for how long
Employment at: name of master and starting date
Employment termination and date
Later entries also give the applicant’s residence
as well as the employer’s addess