Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org April 4, 2010 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. – Daniel Horowitz, Facial RecognitionMessage 1 of 35 , Apr 4, 2010View Source
Jewish Genealogical Society
April 4, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. – Daniel Horowitz, Facial Recognition Technology for Genealogy
Sunday, May 16, 10 a.m. – Leslie Nye, Handwriting Analysis
Monday, June 21, 7 p.m. -- Marilyn Ulbricht, “Digging It, Researching Outside the Box”
Notes from March 21, 2010 Meeting
Bob Wascou called the meeting to order; President Mort Rumberg was away visiting a new grandchild.
Bob noted that Sacramento’s Central Library allows you to book a 30-minute genealogy session for free. Call 916-264-2920 or register online at www.saclibrary.org. There are upcoming programs on May 16 and 23.
The Sonoma County Genealogical Society is holding a seminar April 24 in Santa Rosa. For details go to www.scgs.org.
Family History Day at the State Archives is set for Saturday, October 9. We’ll plan to have a table once again.
In May, our JGSSS will hold an election for next year’s officers. Burt Hecht and Carl Miller are on the nominating committee and would like to hear from you if you’re interested in serving in a position.
Mark Heckman encouraged people to make use of our library. “There’s probably at least one book on almost any topic.” Members are allowed to check out books for a month at a time.
Bob said he’s working on a database for Sacramento’s Home of Peace cemetery and researching to verify that the information he has is correct. “There is no complete list of the burials in the old cemetery,” Bob said, “and we’re trying to recreate that list.”
Allan Bonderoff treasurer’s report for March 21: there is $1661.70 in our account.
March Speaker – Liz Igra
Holocaust survivor Liz Igra of Sacramento shared her fascinating personal story with us in March. Liz is a retired teacher and speaks to schools about the Holocaust. She is 75 years old but was only about four when the events of World War II began to impact her life.
“Iris Bachman (a JGSS member) urged me to keep speaking to groups, and found documents for me, “Liz says. “She gave me the energy to go ahead.”
Liz found that in talking to people about the Holocaust, they knew history, dates and places “but didn’t understand. It became my quest to help teachers and kids understand.”
“I was not aware that what I was remembering was Hitler’s strategy of deception – I just remembered that it happened.”
Liz said her father was a surgeon educated in Switzerland; both he and her mother, as well as Liz, were born in Krakow, Poland.
“I was the first and only grandchild on both sides of the family and terribly spoiled,” she says. “I had a nanny and my mother had maids.”
Liz said her parents were pretty assimilated and did not speak Yiddish.
“The first thing I remember is when the Germans came to town and my aunt was told her husband wouldn’t be coming home tonight – he was needed for the war effort. He went to the Black Forest, where he was killed – although we didn’t know it at the time.”
Soon after that, Liz says the Germans came to their house and “very politely” asked if we could share the house with a German officer, and they did,.
Then they were told they needed ID badges with a star or armband. “Within weeks or months, we were told we needed to move to a certain part of town.” Liz says one part of their apartment faced the ghetto, the other side, the town. She said they were not hungry at first, since her father often received food in payment for his medical work.
“In 1942, the commandant of the ghetto told my father that there would be a relocation of women and children. My father took me and my mother to the bus stop, and that was the last time we saw him.”
Liz said the next morning the commandant said they could return and take what they could carry into the ghetto, which was made much smaller. “I was allowed to take my buggy with my doll.”
There wasn’t much food, Liz recalls. “What I remember most is the bread ration – black bread, sometimes with straw.”
Not long after she recalls a jeep coming down the street, with a man standing on top, shouting. He made everyone come out. “A mob of people was walking down the street, and not long after we heard horrible sounds of people screaming and crying, and shots being fired, and then cheering as people were being killed in the marketplace. There was a children’s massacre. The cobblestones started to turn pink. I never saw my aunt or little cousin after that.”
Liz said her nanny who had stayed in their house overhead that the ghetto would be liquidated. She was able to smuggle Liz and her mother out after they hid under her bed.
“We got on a train for Krakow and went to a safe house. Within days, there was a knock at the door, two uniformed and two non-uniformed men. The woman getting money from us was also getting money by denouncing us.”
Her mother asked to get a glass of water, and they were able to run downstairs to the street and escape. They got new papers and her mother got a job, putting Liz with a family while she worked.
“One day at lunch, someone told my mother, ‘I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but someone told me you were Jewish.’ That night, my mother and I got on the train and got off finally somewhere near the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Then we started walking.”
Liz says they walked at night and hid during the day in the forest. “Our food was snow, sugar cubes and alcohol drops.”
Her mother recited children’s poetry, family stories and started teaching the multiplication tables. And then Liz got the chicken pox. Her mother had two choices – to risk being caught to get help for Liz, or to bury her in the forest. She picked the first and went to a forester’s hut.
The pair ended up joining a family with a guide – “my mother bribed everybody, she was prepared” – and they went from Czechoslovakia to Hungary. The guide told them at 6 o’clock that evening they should cross the road and would be in Hungary. Except that they were intercepted by border police and taken to jail.
“I thought I was in heaven,” Liz says, “with a shower and soup.”
A few days later Liz, her mother and others were marched down the street to a convent school. They heard terrible sounds from the room where people were taken, and they didn’t come back out. Liz’ mother was interviewed and told her husband looked Jewish. She slapped the officer’s face and they escaped the fate of the others.
Not longer after Liz and her mother ended up in the Budapest jail which wasn’t pleasant. They spent several months there but were released in fall 1943, probably due to lack of space. The next challenge? Liz contracted scarlet fever. She was placed in an isolation ward in a hospital.
The two remained in Hungary and were there when Budapest was liberated, which took six months, street by street.
“I was hungry a lot of the time during the war but this time we were starving,” Liz says. “My mother found a bag of horsefeed, wet it and put pieces on the stove and we had one meal a day. I remember asking my mother to remember, after the war, how to make these.”
The two were put on a cattle truck to go back to Krakow, still using their false names after the war. One day her mother finds her brother --Liz’ uncle. Aside from Liz, they were the only two from both sides of the family who survived the war. The uncle would not let them pretend any longer they weren’t Jewish.
Liz’ nanny, who had stayed in their house, had saved a lot of their possessions. They set her up with an apartment in Krakow and decided to go to France. They had tried to go to the United States but couldn’t get in. Eventually they made their way to Australia, where Liz went to school and later met her husband.
Liz talked about the deception of the Nazis. She learned that her father was taken to the Belzec camp, but not before he and the others got off the train at a building the Germans had made to look like a real station. They gave people tokens for their luggage and escorted them to the showers, where they received another token for their clothes. “600,000 people were murdered, and they were deceived until the last minute,” Liz says.
She says the Belzec camp existed only about nine months, and was one of only three camps set up explicitly for killing people, no labor.
Since she retired, Liz started organizing training for teachers about the Holocaust and created the
Central Valley Holocaust Educators’ Network, working with the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The Network offers model curricula, teacher lesson plans, reference material, fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, and video and audio tapes. She also stresses the importance of studying the roots of anti-Semitism.
The network is totally non-profit and can be reached at info@.... It worked with 60 teachers in February.
“Has my experience stopped me from living a full life? No,” Liz says.
Root Cellar Annual Seminar
This year’s Sacramento Root Cellar conference March 27 featured Daniel Lynch, author of “Google Your Family Tree” (and a book we have in our library.) Lynch spoke to several hundred local genealogy buffs and shared tips on how to narrow your Google searches, use Google books for genealogy research, use Google news archives, Google alerts, video and images.
Among Lynch’s tips for filtering Google searches:
Use the minus sign to exclude terms
Use the tilde sign (~) followed by your search term (for example, ~genealogy --no space between the tilde and the word --) to get words with similar meetings. (In the case of the word genealogy, the search also pulled up items with the words “family history, family tree, vital records” and other terms in them.)
The tilde in front of the word vintage -- ~vintage + postcards + a town name – in Google images will bring up old photos and postcards.
Use the wild card asterisk in between two words to capture anything that might show up in between in your search -- for example – “Patrick * Lynch” where it could be a middle initial or a full middle name.
Don’t hesitate to click on “cached” pages – which may be a capture of the last Web page, even if it isn’t currently available.
Root Cellar’s 2011 seminar will feature Geoff Rasmussen of the Legacy-Millennia Corporation on Saturday, April 9, 2011 in Sacramento. Rasmussen has spoken twice before and was invited back by popular demand.
From Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zine, April 4:
Footnote.com Makes U.S. Census Available at No Charge
Footnote.com is making its U.S. census index and images available at no charge. That is the good news. The bad news is that they have available only 6% of the 1900 census, 4% of the 1910 census, 3% of the 1920 census, 98% of the 1930 census and 100% of the 1860 census. The good news is that the 3% of the 1920 census includes much, if not all, of New York City. The 1910 census data includes Pittsburgh, and the 1900 census includes Chicago.
I use the Ancestry.com collection, but the value of another index is that it may not include the errors that exist in the first index. For example, I found a Mokotoff family in the Footnote database that was misspelled in the Ancestry index as Bokotoff.
Footnote still provides Holocaust-related records from the National Archives and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at no charge. Both the Holocaust and census databases can be accessed from the home page at http://www.footnote.com.
Online Education Courses by Family History Library
The Mormon Family History Library is now offering online education courses at no charge. The initial offerings are:
• England Beginning Research (5 courses)
• Germany Research (3 courses)
• Ireland Research (5 courses)
• Italy Research (1 course)
• Principios básicos para la investigación genealógica en Hispanoamérica (México) (3 courses)
• Research Principles and Tools (6 courses)
• Russia Research (2 courses)
• U.S. Research (4 courses)
I (Gary Mokotoff) listened to the first Russian course, given by Daniel Schlyter, and it was a good overview of the history and geography of Russia. The second course, also given by Schlyter, is about records and resources. The Library is reaching out to the professional genealogy community asking for people to volunteer to provide additional lectures for the collection.
The list of courses can be accessed from the home page by clicking “Free Online Classes.” The exact URL is http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/education/frameset_education.asp?PAGE=education_research_series_
From the JGS of the Conejo Valley newsletter:
Ancestry.com has listed its new or improved collections (both US and International) in one handy place: http://tinyurl.com/ye9ppt4.
Who Do You Think You Are?” the NBC prime-time show depicting celebrities searching their family history, is attracting more viewers. The March 12 episode that followed NFL star Emmitt Smith’s efforts was seen by 13% more adults than the previous episode (Sarah Jessica Parker, right) according to Media Life Magazine. It also represents an increase of 50% over NBC’s previous offering on Friday night at 8 p.m .an indication of the growing interest in genealogy.
If you missed the episode where Lisa Kudrow traces her Jewish roots to eastern Europe and the Holocaust you may view it at http://tinyurl.com/cfp55h.
It appears Sarah Jessica Parker’s show will repeat April 9, followed by profiles on Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee on succeeding Friday evenings.
Turner Publishing buys Ancestry.com's books division
Turner, which has produced more than 800 genealogy titles since 1984, adds more than 100 titles to its roster, including bestsellers “The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,” “Ancestry’s Red Book,” and “1-2-3 Family Tree.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ancestry.com actually grew out of Ancestry Publishing, which was founded in 1983.
December 3, 2013 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, December 15, 2013, 10 a.m., Sacramento -- Lynn Brown : Preparing Your Eastern European Research Sunday, JanuaryMessage 35 of 35 , Dec 3 7:06 AMView SourceDecember 3, 2013Upcoming Meetings:
Sunday, December 15, 2013, 10 a.m., Sacramento -- Lynn Brown :"Preparing Your Eastern European Research"Sunday, January 19, 2014, 10 a.m., Sacramento -- Sasha Abramsky:Stories From My Family: From Siberian Labor Camps to London's Beth Din; From the Yeshiva to the Communist Party to Social Democracy.Notes for November 17, 2013 Meeting
President Victoria Fisch welcomed members and guests.
Dave Reingold talked about the Philippines typhoon, called "Yolanda" there, and said his wife's family were all okay. He said there is a small Jewish community in the Philippines, and donations may be made through the Jewish Federation with a notation for "Typhoon Yolanda" relief.
Treasurer Bob Wascou said that 2014 dues can be paid now -- $25 for the upcoming year or $300 for a life membership. Checks should be made out to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento and can be mailed to the JGSS care of the Einstein Center, #220, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento, CA 95816.November Program -- Steve Morse: One-Step Web Pages and a Case Study of Renee Kaufman
San Francisco genealogist Steve Morse returned to give a brief overview of the one-step pages on his website (www.stevemorse.org). ; He has 16 categories, more than 200 different tools on the site, and showed how you can do free research knowing very little, even with the wrong spelling of names.
He showed information he found for Israel Baline (later Irving Berlin), born in Mohilev, Russia. He showed a one-step took for ships' photos, where you can specify the name of the ship and have a wide range of sites to look at for photos, some free, some not.
He asked whether anyone recalls the ship "Carpathia"? Yes, it picked up survivors of the Titanic in April 1912, but "also brought my grandmother to the United States in 1913."
"My website has no charge, no required email address, no registration." He says he indicates if he links to a commercial site, and paid sites are just a small part of those he features.
His site includes one-step pages to census records, vital records, a birth database site and much more, including Montreal city directories, for example. For death records, he said, the Social Security Death Index is the best tool, "and I have a one-step tool on my site."
"I have a record of being blocked by most sites," he said, "so I only allow you to do two lookups per day."He said you previously could get someone's original Social Security application, but now they are blacked out if you don't tell them the parents' names in advance. It costs $27.
NYC birth and death records (through the Italian Genealogical Society site) are also available on his site.He said about a year ago the LDS Family History Library began emailing images to people, when you tell them the certificate number and roll number. "Email to Family Search photo duplication and it's free -- you can get something back as soon as a week later." See his website for how to get the FHL roll number.
"Never put down everything you know -- the record might be wrong, and if you put down what you think it is, you might get nothing."
He showed a search for details on Donald Duck, which turned up quite a bit, including nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Steve's website also includes a relationship calculator, to show you how you're related to that cousin. He also has a Hebrew calendar, a site for finding sunrise and sunset times, for maps, and more. There is also a way to translate alphabet character sets.
For those without a paid subscription to Ancestry.com, he urged them to check their local libraries, as most subscribe.
In answer to a question about outbound ship records, for those going from the U.S. to other countries, Steve said the records didn't exist and don't exist today.
Steve then presented a Case Study of Renee Kaufman. He was asked to be a presenter in a memorial lecture series honoring Renee Kaufman, the sister of someone he went to school with.
Steve wanted to find out about Renee Kaufman, without asking the family. "What do I know? I know there's a lecture series in her name in Manhattan. I know the name of her brother, but when I started, I didn't even know her first name.""Google is your friend," Steve says. He googled the lecture series, found Renee's first name. "I put in her whole name, and up came a family tree."
So Steve learned her parents' names, found the father's visa to work in Mexico, and got birthdates through the Social Security Death Index. He learned more information through the 1940 census, found that her maiden name "Levkov" was recorded as "Revkov," and learned Renee's age at her first marriage.
In looking the 1940 census, Steve put in just three letters of people's first names. He found an entry for Leakos (instead of Levkov). He also thought his friend Jerome would not be listed in the census, as Steve was born after it, but in fact Jerome was 9 months old.
"I got Renee's parents' marriage date through the New York City Bride and Groom Index. There was a roll number, and from that, I could order a free photo duplication."
Renee's father's naturalization records were available (search NYC Naturalizations in One-Step on Steve's website), although not the date of his declaration.
For Renee's mother, he found her in the 1925 New York state census, and learned that she and her siblings had come to the U.S. first, and their parents followed later.
Steve learned additional family details from the 1910 and 1920 censuses, including a marriage between first cousins.
In the 1915 census, Steve found a record for a woman with Renee's mother's name, Ruth, listed as a prisoner at the State Training School For Girls, a reform school.
"It was not our Ruth -- this one came from England. I was unable to find our Ruth's 1915 census record."Steve encouraged those looking at census records to look at the preceding and following pages. He said families tended to live together, and you might find a relative close by.
Death notices and tombstones -- Steve found "Aunt Laura" as part of his case study, although there was no new information. He also noted that the birthdatabase.com site (one of his one-step sites), does not take people out when they die, and thus offers another source of information.
Steve's conclusion on the Renee Kaufman Case Study: "All of these records were found online -- it took me about four hours over two days to find this information. It's not magic."
He also cautions that names are never spelling correctly. Never trust a woman's age. And confirm records -- "or you could put your mother in reform school!"
Member Iris Bachman asked Steve -- "Why are we worried about the NSA when we've got you?!"
Following his presentation, Steve noted that he was recently contacted by Zeke Emanuel, brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and a major architect of Obamacare, about possibly assisting with the government's health care website.
MapOfUs.org Adds Historic Maps Dating Back To the 1700sAn Alabama-based company that provides a single source for old and new state and US maps has added new historical maps.Representatives with MapOfUs.org announced today that it now has historic maps from as early as the 1700s in its database.“This will allow us to be able to serve and help more people who need to have old and new state maps and maps of the United States as a whole,” said Brian Nichols, spokesman for Genealogy Inc., the parent company of MapofUs.org.“Starting in 1776, all of our atlases are scanned copies of the originals, with the original spelling of town names and counties allowing historians and genealogists to find the answers that they are seeking,” Nichols said, before adding, “For example, for 1776 the US map of Massachusetts shows the original names of many of the islands in the area, before they were shortened or modernized.”Nichols went on to note that that all of its maps are free for personal use only, and may not be reproduced for resale or distribution.Currently, MapofUs.org features maps from each state such as Washington showing interactive county formation map, Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) Roads and Highway maps, old Atlas maps, and map links.In addition each state page contains rotating animated maps showing all of the county boundary changes and all of the county boundaries for each census year for each year.Past and present maps of US, according to Nichols, are overlaid so that visitors to the website can see the changes in county boundaries, downloadable County D.O.T. Maps, and state Atlas maps.About MapofUS.org -- MapofUS.org provides a single source for old and new state and US maps.From recent Avotaynu E-Zines by Gary Mokotoff:
Ancestry.com and Associated Press Bring AP Archives Online
Ancestry.com has collaborated with the Associated Press to make 50 years of news stories—in their original wire copy format—available online. There are five collections. All can be found at http://ancestry.com/AP.
Associated Press, Name Card Index to AP Stories, 1905–1990. This is an index of every person who appeared in an AP report during that time period. The cards were updated when additional references were made for the person rather than creating a separate index card for every mention. For example, there were AP reports about the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in 1981. Persons mentioned in the reports are in the index.
Associated Press, Service Bulletin, 1904–1927. The Service Bulletin was an internal AP publication with the purpose of communicating the “General Orders” of AP’s General Manager. It is unindexed.
Associated Press, Stories and Newsfeatures, 1937–1985. This collection includes AP news stories (1937–1985), which were selected by news librarians for microfilming to create an internal news archive of more than 700 reels. The set was not meant to be complete but to include only those stories of national or international importance. I had trouble using the database. For the keyword field, the site stated “e.g., pilot or Flying Tigers.” Using either of these search parameters produced no results. Apparently the Subject field is mandatory. Searching for “Flying Tigers” with a subject field of “Aviation” produced results. Similarly “Guadalcanal” produced no results but “Guadalcanal” and the Subject “Navy” produced 2,627 hits.
Associated Press, Subject Card Index to AP Stories, 1937–1985. Similar to the Name Card index, except it is by subject. A single card may contain multiple reports on the subject. “Flying Tigers” produced reports of the famous American volunteer group as well as the airline with that name. Placing the two words in quotes produced results only for the volunteer group.
Vilnius Vital Records
Litvak-SIG has reported they have translated 110,824 records for the city of Vilnius and posted them to the All Lithuania Database at http://www.litvaksig.org/index.php/component/litvaksearch/?view=ald. Another 17,573 records have been translated and are available to qualified donors on the Vilnius DRG Shutterfly site. There are about 78,000 additional records to translate. You can make a contribution to the Vilnius District Research Group on the LitvakSIG website's contributions page at http://litvaksig.org/contribute. A list of surnames in the most recent batch of birth records (1901–1915) is at https://vilnius.shutterfly.com/surnames.
Another Collection of Holocaust Oral Interviews
The Oral History Division of the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has 900 Holocaust audio interviews and transcripts in their archives. They include interviews conducted in the early 1960s when the reservoir of survivors—especially those who were adults during the war—was much larger and for many survivors these interviews were the first time they had given an account of their experiences. The website is at
New Towns Added to KehilaLinks Project
One of the valuable resources located on JewishGen is the KehilaLinks Project which contains information about individual towns throughout the world where Jews live or once lived. These sites were created by individuals who wanted to share with other family historians information about the town. The entrance to the site is at http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org. If you do not find your town listed and wish to create a site, contact the KahilaLinks volunteers as described at the site.
New towns added during October include (most from the Czech Republic):
Boskovice (Boskowitz), Czech Republic; Dresden, Germany; Hostice (Hoschtitz bei Wolin), Czech Republic; Kasejovice (Kasejowitz), Czech Republic; Kbel, Czech Republic; Kuzova (Wallisgrun), Czech Republic; Humpolec (Gumpolds, Humpoltz), Czech Republic; Liberec (Reichenberg), Czech Republic; Lomnice (Lomnitz), Czech Republic; Naseldowice, Czech Republic; Malinec, Czech Republic; Podivín (Kostel), Czhech Republic; Prcice (Pertschitz), Czech Republic; Prestice (Pschestitz), Czech Republic; Rousínov (Okres Rakovník), Czech Republic; Safov (Schaffa), Czech Republic; Stod (Staab), Czech Republic; Unicov (Mährisch Neustadt), Czech Republic; Usov (Märisch Aussee), Czech Republic; Vlci, Czech Republic; Vseruby (Neumark), Czech Republic; Vysoka Libyne (Hochlibin), Czech Republic; Wroclaw (Breslau), Poland
Group Trip to Lithuania -- June 17 to June 27, 2014.
For the 21st year, Howard Margol and Peggy Mosinger Freedman are organizing a group trip to Lithuania from June 17 to June 27, 2014. Included are visits to the various archives, synagogues, ghettos, Holocaust sites, meetings with Jewish leaders, sightseeing, guide/interpreters, and two days to visit and spend time in your shtetl, or shtetlach of interest. All meals are included (except for one dinner and two lunches), the finest hotels (new and modern), modern buses, and much more. This year the group size will be limited to 25.
Details and a full itinerary of the trip can be found at http://www.litvaktrip.peggyspage.org or contact the tour leaders at litvaktrip@....
From the New York Times 11/17/13The GetawayTraveling to Find Your RootsJosh CochranBy CAREN OSTEN GERSZBERGPublished: November 15, 2013 Comment·It was lunchtime at the Outlaws’ Shack in Poiana Brasov, a mountain resort in Transylvania, and we were washing down chunks of kashkaval cheese and peasant bread with sips of tsuica, a Romanian plum brandy. At a neighboring table, a man picked up a red onion and bit into it as if it were an apple — something I had seen only my father do.Traveling to Romania a few years ago was a chance to see, firsthand, where my father, who had died two years earlier, spent his childhood. Armed with addresses I’d collected from my father’s sister, and accompanied by my three children, I felt the trip was a chance to experience my father’s heritage: to see his home and school, the local synagogue, the mountain resort where he learned to ski, and to eat the foods he spoke of longingly (though I refrained from biting into a raw onion).Prompted by TV shows, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” (whose new series started on TLC in July) and the new PBS series “Genealogy Roadshow,” a spinoff of the Irish hit, a growing number of people are traveling with their family tree in tow.While these shows bring heritage travel into your living room, the quick access to information offered by genealogical websites, like FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com is prodding many to research their family tree and then travel to wherever the branches may lead. Hubs of databases that include historical records, census lists, immigration directories and military histories, these sites provide a wealth of digitized information to help jump-start such journeys.Long-lost relatives are also getting together via social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter. For example, in preparation for their trip to Cyprus, Irene Lane’s family used Facebook to network and make introductions to long-lost Greek family members. Ms. Lane’s mother told them, “ ‘We are coming and we’d like to see you,’ and they welcomed us warmly,” said Ms. Lane, the president of Greenloons, an eco-travel company in Vienna, Va.Tourism offices and governments have caught on to the interest in heritage-seeking travel. Ireland is now organizing gatherings (thegatheringireland.com) for people with Irish backgrounds. And after a successful run in 2009, Scotland is planning a Year of Homecoming in 2014 (visitscotland.com), inviting all those with Scottish roots to explore and celebrate their ancestry.People setting out to find their roots are often motivated by a desire for personal connection, said Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist who, in conjunction with Hagers Journeys (Hagersjourneys.com), will research and create ancestry adventures. “We’ve become this mobile churning society and there’s a hunger for this belonging,” she said. “Whether I go to the Ukraine or Slovakia, I get treated like family because of my name.”If you’re interested in making such a trip, you’ll need to gather as much information as possible. “Start with what you know, and that’s you,” said Diana McCain, head of the research center at the Connecticut Historical Society. She suggested noting dates — birth, marriage and, in some instances, death — for you, your parents and close relatives, as well as searching your attic for newspaper clippings, obituaries and diplomas. Glean as much information as possible from living relatives. Ask them to relate old family stories, and if they know of any distant relatives who may still live in your family’s native country.If searching for roots in the United States, you’ll need to determine where to find the records of births, marriages, deaths and property transfers, among others. Depending on the state and time period, it may be the county, town or state government or a combination of them that has the records. “Each state has unique resources,” Ms. McCain said, “and while there’s a tremendous amount of information online, there are vast collections of records that are available only on microfilm or in their original paper form in a government office.” Once gathered, the documents can provide an array of information about ancestors.If your travels take you to a non-English-speaking country, consider enlisting the help of a local bilingual guide who can do some groundwork before your arrival. Travel agents and tour operators can help find someone for hire; the Association of Professional Genealogists (Apgen.org) is another source for finding researchers.If you’re lucky, one of your relatives may have already done the research. For Tom Kosanda of Chicago, a financial consultant, it was his father who hired a researcher four years before Tom Kosanda’s trip to the Czech Republic to gather information about their lineage, rooted near the city of Ceske Budejovice. After learning that Austin-Lehman Adventures (Austinlehman.com) offered a bicycling trip in the Czech Republic, with a two-day stay in Ceske Budejovice, Mr. Kosanda contacted the company about visiting his relatives nearby. With some routing assistance from the trip’s guide, the Kosandas rode their bicycles about 20 miles to his family’s village, met with Mr. Kosanda’s Czech cousins and together they cycled to the villages where various relatives lived. They visited churches where kinfolk had married and finished the day at a castle. “It was a rare, bonding experience to meet people that are related to you, and be able to say that I came from there,” Mr. Kosanda said.Even if there are no direct family members to meet, travelers can still gain from strolling by former family homes and visiting local places of worship, cemeteries and living history museums.Last summer, I traveled with my two teenage daughters to Grenade-sur-Garonne, a village in southwestern France where my mother’s family lived before my grandparents were deported to concentration camps. Because my mother had taken me to the village previously, I was able to share specific stories and locations with my daughters, deepening their connection to their grandmother’s history.As we stood outside the home where my mother’s family had lived, I showed Nicole and Emily the trellised courtyard across the street where my mother played hide-and-seek. We walked to the village square, and stood on the corner in the spot where my mother stood as a 7-year-old child, watching as her parents boarded a truck that would transport them to the camps.Since my mother’s childhood stories had led us across the Atlantic Ocean to this tiny village, her granddaughters were able to experience a deep sense of connection to their past — something they never would have found on Facebook.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at our next meeting, Sunday, December 15, 10 a.m.