Next Monday, August 20, 2012, 7 p.m.
"Searching for Living People" -- Ron Arons
Bay Area genealogist Ron Arons is back to talk to us about the value of finding people who might know more about your family than can be found in any document. His presentation will include scores of websites to find almost any living person, whether you know their correct surnames or not.
In 2005, Ron won a New York State Archives grant for his historical criminal research of Jews in New York City. In 2008, he published "The Jews of Sing Sing" about Jewish criminals who served time "up the river" at the famous prison in New York. Ron appeared on the PBS special, "The Jewish Americans," talking about famous Jewish criminals.
From Avotaynu's recent e-zines, edited by Gary Mokotoff -- a few articles that may be of interest:
Virtual Shtetl Expands into Belarus
A growing, major source of information about the history of the Jews of “Poland” is the Virtual Shtetl site at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/
. The word “Poland” is placed in quotes because this site has just announced it is expanding their interest into Belarus. Perhaps the motivation is that between the two World Wars, a portion of western Belarus and Ukraine was in Poland.
The organization has created an 18-minute film, Virtual Shtetl Is Discovering Belarus
—one version with English subtitles—that describes the efforts to recover the memory of the Jewish presence in Belarus by a number of organizations. These efforts include:
• Restoration of remaining buildings, primarily synagogues
• Restoration and documentation of Jewish cemeteries
• Recording interviews with elderly witnesses to the murder of the Jewish townspeople
When viewing the film, keep you mouse over the stop button. Sometimes the film does not allow sufficient time to read the subtitles. More important, as they interview officials, stop the recording to read the title of the person being interviewed. It demonstrates that the Belarusian effort is not the act of a few individuals or groups, but many are participating in the effort. The film is located at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/cms/news/2616,virtual-shtetl-discovers-belarus/
Virtual Shtetl is generating news releases at a rate in excess of one a day. They can be read at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/cms/news/
. For the two days of August 8–9, they posted the following:
• Cleaning the Jewish cemetery in Lodz
• A festival in Tykocin
• The 70th anniversary of the Allgemeine Gehsperre (General Curfew)
• The anniversary of the liquidation of the Minsk Mazowiecki ghetto
• The Polish town of Chojnice desires to commemorate the Jewish cemetery
• The Polish edition of Avrom Bendavid-Val’s book called The Heavens Are Empty
• The fifth edition of the days of memory of the Rymanow Jewish community
The site claims to have 71,965 photos, 903 videos, 115 audio recordings and information about 2269 towns.
Annual Report Shows Growth of LitvakSIG
The All-Lithuanian Database grew by more than 110,000 entries during 2011 according to the LitvakSIG president, Eden Joachim. Earlier this year, LitvakSIG became affiliated with Maceva, the Lithuanian Cemetery Restoration project. During Maceva’s short 1½ year existence, they have restored, digitally photographed, translated inscriptions and/or begun work in 61 cemeteries in Lithuania.
Joachim reported that many District Research Groups, especially those within the former Kaunas guberniya, have translated all known lists in the Kaunas Regional Archives and Lithuania Historical Archives. LitvakSIG is now translating lists discovered in the Central State Archives. Many of these lists are country wide, rather than for a specific district.
The LitvakSIG website is at http://litvaksig.org/
Digitized Collection of Jewish Records
A site called “Digitized Collection of Jewish Records” at http://dcjr.org
has a “searchable database of about 5000 digital copies of Jewish vital, communal, organizational, legal, immigration, school and other categories of records of genealogical, historical and memorial value, most of them handwritten. They stem from the area of the former Austrian province of Eastern Galicia (subsequently Poland), including Lvov, Stanislawow, and Tarnopol provinces.” The site covers from the mid-19th century to the late 1930s and originates from Moscow.
They include Jewish vital records, non-vital records such as census lists and hospital records, Polish aliyah passports, Holocaust related records, Jewish organizations, school records and Jewish lawyers of Czernowitz.
FamilySearch Next Big Initiative: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Records
With the 1940 Census project nearing completion and its tremendous success in acquiring tens of thousands of volunteers, FamilySearch has announced its next big genealogy initiative is the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Community Project. Most of the record sets in the project involve passenger lists and naturalization records.
The new project contains a substantially larger number of records than the 1940 U.S. Census does, so FamilySearch expects it will take more time and volunteers.
FamilySearch has already identified six record collections for the project now available for indexing. They are:
• California, Northern—Naturalization Index, 1860–1989
• Card Index to Passenger Lists at Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, 1820–1874
• Louisiana—New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1903–1945
• Massachusetts, Boston—Passenger Lists, 1820–1891
• New York—Passenger Lists, 1875–1891
• Pennsylvania, Philadelphia—Passenger Lists, 1800–1882
More details can be found at https://familysearch.org/us-immigration-naturalization
Gesher Galicia Creates Map Room
Gesher Galicia, the Special Interest Group for researchers with Galician ancestry, has created a map room that primarily includes cadastral maps of 24 cities in Galicia but also includes maps of the area as early as 1799. It is located at http://maps.GesherGalicia.org.
A cadastral map is a map that shows the boundaries and ownership of land parcels. Cities displayed—with more planned—are Belz, Bohorodczany, Brody, Bukaczowce, Chodorow, Dobromil, Grzymalow, Korolowka, Kazimierz, Krakow, Lancut, Lwow (Lviv, Lemberg), Nienadowa, Podhajce, Polupanowka, Przemysl, Rohatyn, Romanowe Siolo, Ropczyce, Skala, Usciedzko, Nowy Wisnicz, Zborow, and Zurawno.
Specialty maps include a detailed 1799 map of the third partition of Poland, 1941 map of the Lwow Jewish ghetto, and Cram's Railway System Atlas map of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy from 1901.
IGRA Search Engine Now Allows Hebrew or Latin Letters
The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) search engine for its All Israel Database can now search names using Hebrew or Latin letters. At present, the search engine supports only exact spelling. Results show the person’s name in both Hebrew and English. The rest of the information is in the language of the database. Plans call for having the option to provide the document that created the index entry.
If possible, search using the correct Hebrew spelling of a surname to retrieve records originally in Hebrew. Hebrew documents are transliterated into the Latin alphabet according to a scheme developed by IGRA. Searching for Mokotowski produced no results because the Hebrew document was transliterated into Mukotovsky. This problem will be greatly alleviated if a soundex/phonetic search is added.
The search engine, which now has more than 40,000 entries, is located at http://genealogy.org.il/aidsearch/. A list of databases included can be found at http://genealogy.org.il/databases/.
Morse Site Now Includes 1915 and 1925 New York Census Portal
The 1905 New York State Census portal at Steve Morse's site has been extended to include the 1915 and 1925 censuses. A person’s given or last name can be searched exactly, starts with, contains, ends with or is close to. Results can be limited to a range of birth years, city or borough. The search engine is at http://www.stevemorse.org/nyc/1905search.html.
JewishGen Offers Class in New York City Research
Many Jewish Americans have their earliest New World roots in New York City. Many Jews throughout the world have relatives that came to the U.S. through the Port of New York (Ellis Island) and stayed in New York City for some period of time. JewishGen is now offering an online course on what they call the “more esoteric” documents generated in New York such as naturalization, probate, landsmanshaftn, voters registration, newspapers and court records. This is an intermediate level genealogy class with seven text lessons that are downloaded. There are no specific times for the class.
Ancestry.com's new image viewer enhances the 1940 census
With the release of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Ancestry.com highlights its new interactive image viewer to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. Since the 1940 index and images are freely accessible at Ancestry.com, everyone can check out how technology really improves how we view old documents. Still in its beta release, the viewer covers the basics—click-and-drag, rotate, flip, contrast, magnify, pan, share, save—and takes a giant leap forward with new features.
How It Works
The 1940 census search page looks much like any other search on Ancestry.com. For this example, I searched for Clarence Almon Torrey, born 1869 in Iowa, died 1962 in Massachusetts. A well-respected genealogist of the Jacobus school, he spent decades creating what would become the seminal New England Marriages Prior to 1700. After clicking his entry on the results page, something special happens. His row on the 1940 census is highlighted in yellow, and his family group (head of household Etta Quilty and lodger Anna Huntley) appears in green.
© 2012 Microsoft Corporation© 2012 NAVTEQ
Location: Clarence Torrey house, 94 Thetford Ave, Boston, Massachusetts
42.358631134033 ; -71.056701660156
At the top of the screen it says “1940 United States Federal Census for Clarence A Torrey” (our highlighted name). Below that, “Massachusetts > Suffolk > Boston > 15-605 > Page 24 of 40,” followed by triangles to page up or down. At the top of the census page, you see Torrey is in ward 17, block 17. But if you click on the green tab on the far right, you’ll see more details for the ED number that do not appear on the actual page: “BOSTON CITY WARD 17 (TRACT X-5C - PART), ST. MATTHEW´S CONVENT.” Below that, the overlay adds source information and a blurb about the 1940 census. Although it includes the series number (T627), data on this screen does not include the specific roll number. You need to return to the previous screen for the rest of the citation: “Roll T627_1676; Page 12B; Enumeration District 15-605.”
On the bottom of the screen, click on the green Index tab. Here you’ll find a partial transcription of each row, including line number, house number, street name, surname, given name, relation to head of household, gender, race, age, estimated birth year, marital status, birthplace, residence in 1935 (city, state), live on farm, and citizenship. All of these fields are editable except estimated birth year and 1935 residence. That means you can make changes to the actual index, give a reason (transcription error, incorrect in image, nickname, name change, variation, maiden name), and “explain or source your alternate (optional).”
Since I didn’t find any problems with Torrey’s entry, let’s use my uncle’s family as an example for the 1940 census. Since no correct hits appeared on the results screen, I tried searching by first name and place only, with the addition of parents and siblings to narrow the results. As expected, his uncommon surname was misspelled and I fixed it in the index overlay with a notation that it was a transcription error. (I could read the census taker’s handwriting better than the indexer did because I am very familiar with this specific family.) In the index, his mother’s name was listed as “Lilly.” Perhaps that’s a D and the census taker really wrote “Tildy”? I don’t know, but I used the editing feature to say her name was really Matilda. Later, Ancestry.com will review the alternate data users provide, and if the arbiter agrees, you’ll see both the original and alternate spellings in the index. You’ll also get a nice email from Ancestry.com saying thank you, your changes have been added to the index.
Rows and Columns
As you pan to the right of the census page, on the left-hand side appears an overlay of the indexed names for each row. That way you never lose sight of Torrey’s row (still highlighted in yellow) and you have a list of his neighbors.
At the top of the census page, there’s a drop-down overlay for the column headings. Even better, as you select an individual data field in a row, it is outlined in orange and above that, you’ll see a balloon of either the transcribed data or a tip for what type of information should appear in the field. For example, for line number 67, column 7, “Name: Clarence A Torrey” pops up in an orange-outlined balloon. Column 28 is blank, though the balloon tip tells me “Occupation” should be written there. Column 32, “Income,” is blank as well, but “yes” is written under “Other Income” for column 33. If you want to find out more about question 33, pan to the top of the census page and click on that field. Up pops another balloon with the details: “Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary? (Yes or No.)” This feature also works well with the information at the bottom of the census page.
Overall, I am pleased with Ancestry.com’s interactive viewer. If you have volunteered for FamilySearch Indexing projects, you’ll find Ancestry.com’s interactive viewer is somewhat similar to what indexers see while doing data entry. But Ancestry.com’s viewer is the next step; without the indexing, there could be no interactivity.
Learn more from Ancestry.com about the interactive viewer. Since it's still in beta, you can send comments to help improve features in the viewer.
See you Monday evening, August 20!