Unlock The Past will be at

Unlock the Past Cruises

Eric Kopittke

Eric has been researching his family history in Australia, Germany, England and Wales since 1985. In the same year he joined the Queensland Family History Society where he has been convenor of the Central European Group for over 20 years. He is also President of the Baptist Historical Society of Queensland.

Academically, he studied at the University of Queensland where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science (Physics and Mathematics), a Bachelor of Arts (Geography and Computer Science) and a Diploma of Education. He has recently retired from teaching Physics and Mathematics at St Peters Lutheran College, Indooroopilly.

He regularly speaks at family history societies and at other events as his teaching commitments allow. In June 2012 he spoke on German research at the New Zealand Society of Genealogists Conference.

He has authored / co-authored a number of publications including A century of the Taringa Baptist Church: celebrating the centenary of the formation of the Taringa Baptist Church 1897-1997 (1997), The Benfer story: The Benfer family in Germany and Australia from 1650 to 1988 (1988), Electronics for physics students (1994), So your ancestor was a Baptist in Queensland! (1995) and, of more general family history interest – indexes to government publications, transcriptions of many cemeteries, Locating your German ancestor’s place of origin and the Emigrants from Hamburg to Australasia 1850-1879 series.

Eric has received the Queensland FHS Award for Services to Family History (1990); was made a Fellow of the Queensland FHS (2000); and in 2006 was awarded the AFFHO Award for Meritorious Services to Family History.

Research interests: Queensland; Sussex, England; Monmouthshire, Wales; Westfalen, Schleswig, Pommern and West Preussen – all in Preussen (Prussia) – the last two are part of present day Poland.


  • Church Archives and Records for German Research - Prior to the introduction of civil registration, church records provide details of baptisms, marriages and burials. German records often give far more detail than their English equivalents. A variety of examples illustrate the use of these records.
  • Civil Records in Germany - Unlike Australian and British records, German civil registration is not centrally located nor did all regions begin at the same time. Discover how to locate and use these records.
  • Danish Census and Emigration - The earliest census in Denmark predates those in the British Isles - an overview of this valuable resource for Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. Also covers the Copenhagen Police Records of Emigration.
  • Early Germans in Brisbane - That the first free settlers in Brisbane were a group of German missionaries is not as widely known as it should be. Some insights into their contributions and influence on the young city are described.
  • Emigrant Lists for European Ancestors - An overview of the Hamburg Emigration lists – direct and indirect – why these are useful for researching your European ancestors.
  • German family history in the "Information Age" - An increasing amount of material is available about people and places on the internet. This talk explores a range of resources available for places in the former German Empire.
  • Locating Your Ancestor’s Place of Origin in Germany - How to use records from Australia and elsewhere to determine your German ancestor’s place of origin
  • Maps and Gazetteers for German Research - Maps and gazetteers can give us valuable insights into the lives of our ancestors. A variety of different resources will be explored.
  • Overview of History of Poland - A brief overview of one thousand years of Polish history.
  • Reading German Handwriting - Reading the old German writing is initially daunting. Hints to help decipher the letters are given along with some practice.