Help needed ! -- Victoria Fisch is looking for volunteers for this Sunday's Jewish food festival in Davis, to staff our booth. Please contact her if you can spare an hour or two to help out: victoriajgss@...
Jewish Genealogical Society
September 28, 2012
Sunday, October 21, 10 a.m. -- What Happens to Your Research After You're Gone? Patricia Burrow
Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m. -- An Introduction to ViewMate, Gary Sandler
Sunday, December 16, 10 a.m. – Immigration Online, Lyn Brown
Notes from the September 10, 2012 Meeting
President Victoria Fisch welcomed everyone and introduced new member Jim Loorya.
She then mentioned upcoming meetings for October, November and December (see above).
Victoria said we’re seeking volunteers for our booths at two upcoming events – the September 30 Jewish Food Festival sponsored by Bet Haverim in Davis, and the October 13 Family History Day at the State Archives. There will be a keynote speaker from Family Search at Family History Day.
The Sutro Library has now reopened at a new location, near San Francisco State. The hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September Speaker -- Maria Sakovich, "Jewish Immigration Through Angel Island"
Maria said family history is a splendid way to get people interested in a bigger story.
She asked, “What do Jascha Heifetz, Tolstoy’s youngest child and Sergey Prokofiev all have in common? They all came to the United States through Angel Island.
Why has Ellis Island been the dominant focal point for immigration? The sheer numbers of those coming through – from 1892 to 1924, about 71 percent of arriving immigrants came through there, more than 14 million people.
Angel Island – 1910 to 1940 – a total of about one million.
Along with processing immigrants, Angel Island was also a place of detention for resident aliens, those involved with prostitution, those termed radicals, and later communists and German alien enemies.
1915-1924 were the peak years of operation for Angel Island, with the civil war in Mexico, Russia, World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution.
With the 1921 quota law, immigration policies became more and more stringent.
Maria said the Chinese spent the longest time on Angel Island because of the Exclusion laws.
While their time there is most well known, Maria says “I was the first one to do the research on the non-Asians at Angel Island.”
During World War I, more people came through. It was hazardous to cross the Atlantic at that time and the numbers of those arriving in Seattle and San Francisco went out. As Maria notes, “I might have entitled this ‘Going East to Go West.’”
Jewish soldiers in Russia were often being blamed for Russian military losses; also Germans who were living there. When some Russians heard Yiddish, they thought the Jews were Germans, and spies.
About 7300 crossed Siberia to Manchuria, Japan, Yokohama and then on to Seattle from 1915-18. It was an arduous journey, and at first there were mainly deserters or those who refused to be conscripted. They were followed by women, children, and older people, most of whom had a connection to someone in the United States.
In Russia, there were two different kinds of passports: internal documents and if you wanted to leave, a different kind.
Immigrants from Russia might have started out with enough money but in 1917, the ruble was devalued. It could be a very costly trip to the United States and if you have no money you couldn’t go any further in the U.s., although most immigrants actually headed for the east coast.
If you were traveling third class, you were taken off your ship to a ferry and then to a hospital on the island.
Russian Jewish young men sometimes had an alias, Maria says, and most of the time the indexes give you both names.
On Ancestry.com, according to Maria, there is whole second page of manifests that are missing.
Immigration files – these include correspondence between Angel Island and the Washington office. Maria handed out copies of some of this correspondence and cases for various immigrants wishing to be approved at Angel Island. If you were excluded initially, you had a chance to appeal your case.
During World War I, there was a lot of overcrowding on Angel Island. Immigration staff was not very concerned about people with false passports or deserters, but more those who arrived with little money. It was feared they would likely become public charges.
About 2 percent of the Russians were denied admission; the Chinese had a much higher rate. The Japanese had the lowest rate.
In the hospital, where there were cases of hookworm and other diseases, you the passenger had to pay for treatment. Maria notes that the hospital building is still there.
If you knew rich people or an organization such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), they could post a bond for you. If you were 60 or older, you had to appear to be fine on board, no senility, etc.
From 1915-1916, there was a small recession in San Francisco and a lot of people were out of work, not encouraging for immigrants.
For single women or married traveling alone, women with children -- immigration staff would check with the east coast to see if the husband had enough money to support them.
Along with the correspondence files, Maria handed out copies of list of detainees and ships manifests relating to Angel Island immigration.
Some articles that may be of interest:
Scott Phillips -- Genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services
Are You a Genealogy Geek and Proud of It?
Posted: 25/09/2012 10:31
Scott Phillips -- Genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services
Just how do you know when you are a 'Genealogy Geek'? Since it takes one to know one .... here are my symptoms:
• You know exactly how far back you have traced your family tree -- to the year.
• You watched the countdown to the release of the 1940 United States Census and then happily searched using enumeration districts.
• You curse 1890 and know why.
• You want to have one more child or grandchild since you have discovered several historic family names that you really want to see carried on in the family.
• You recognize 'the look' at cocktail parties when someone sees you, you see them, and they hightail it across the room so as not to have to hear about your newest discoveries.
• You have come to know well the very best stifled yawn when telling your dearest story of discovery and quickly end it, but not without some serious personal pain at having to have missed telling that unlucky soul some of the finer 'key points'.
• You have been at your desk, immersed in family history, only to find that the clock says 2 am when you figured it was only about 2 pm.
• You read genealogy articles and actually focus on, and enjoy reading, the footnotes, end notes, and then look them up for more reading.
• You have a special 'Brick Wall' playlist on your iPod for that extra juice you need when you need a little something extra!
• You understand the concept of 'once removed' and 'third cousins'.
• You use agnate, enate, palaeograhy, and matrilineal in sentences and know the difference.
• You can talk about haplogroups, snips, strands, markers, Y and Mt DNA and not bat an eyelash.
• You know exactly which port each of your ancestors came through on their way to the shores of the United States.
• You belong to at least two genealogical societies, three historical societies, a museum or two, and a professional organization all for genealogy and you KNOW there are several more you really 'need' to join.
• Speaking of 'need', you also know that genealogy is a 'need' and not an option.
• You have certain key subscription sites set to 'auto-renew' because you would freak out if you lost access even for a few minutes.
• The content of your bookshelf has taken on a distinctly new flavor with titles that reflect your passion for genealogy and family history and are now crowding out the 'best seller' titles.
• You have tramped through countless cemeteries and find them quite enjoyable rather than 'creepy.'
• You know that SSDI is not the same as the Strategic Defense Initiative.
• You have helped someone out with a genealogy/family history problem 'just for the fun of it'.
• and vice-versa.
• You know that roots is far more than a TV series.
• You read the pictured 'thought-for-the-day' and simply said 'YEP'!
Are we blessed to be "Genealogy Geeks' or what?
I respond with a resounding YES!
Onward To Our Past®
Posted: Thu, Sep. 27, 2012, 3:01 AM
Apptitude: Use smartphone to research genealogy, post family shots
September 27, 2012|By Reid Kanaley, Philadelphia INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Here's a look at smartphone applications to foliate a family tree, digitize and post old family snapshots, and probe for family connections among obituaries published around the world.
Ancestry, by Ancestry.com, for Android and Apple, is free - at the start. When you load Ancestry, it asks you to sign up. You'll have to decide if the family tree you'll build is public or private. Going public makes it a bit easier for possible distant relatives to find you and get in touch.
To start building your tree, tap on the icons marked with your name, "Add Father," and "Add Mother" to fill in details and add photos. As you do so, and the family tree grows, the app dips into the Ancestry.com database and begins to notify you (with the appearance of little green leaves on your family tree) that information may be available about you or others that you've named.
This is where the app can begin to get pricey. You have to purchase access to the records, and they start at 99 cents each. An alternative is to sign up for a month's access - at $22.99 for a "U.S. Discovery" collection of records that include census records going back to 1790.
For $34.99 for a month, you get access to a "World Explorer" international collection of what is billed as 10 billion records that include 16th-century birth, marriage, and death records from the United Kingdom.
Alternatively, an "Evidence" button on the bottom of the app screen takes you to the Ancestry.com website, where you'll see a list of records that may be associated with your name. Here, an invitation to sign up for records access noted a free-trial period of 14 days, and reduced monthly rates for a six-month subscription.
When it comes to posting those pictures of parents and grandparents, ShoeBox, by 1000memories, is a free app for Android and Apple that customizes the smartphone camera for digitizing old printed photographs. Yes, dig out the shoe boxes full of snapshots and get scanning.
The app detects the edges of a printed photo and helps you cleverly square it off. Then you can add identifying information such as date, names, and location. Finished photos get uploaded to the 1000memories.com site, where you can sort them into digital "shoe boxes." If you choose, photos can also go to Ancestry.com, described above, where you specify who on your family tree to associate the photo with.
Photos can go out as well to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Family searches often mean hunting for obituaries, and ObitFinder, free from Legacy.com for iPhone, is one good way of doing that. The app searches obituaries from 975 U.S. and foreign newspapers, going back for a decade or more in many cases. You can also browse specific newspapers. If the death was recent, you may be able to leave a word of condolence, or send flowers.
Obituary, free for Android, but $1.99 in the App Store, by CWIC Technologies L.L.C., lets you browse recent obituaries from hundreds of newspapers, but doesn't have a search function. The app has a dedicated button for celebrity obituaries and a poignant section of "Military Heroes" obits.
Grave Dowsing Piques Interest in Genealogy
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 4:16 pm
By Lionel Green | lgreen@... Sand Mountain Reporter (Alabama)
A group of people stood among the gravestones in Red Apple Cemetery on Tuesday watching a man hold two L-shaped metal wire rods over the sites of buried bodies.
A mixture of the curious and the interested, the people were attending a meeting of the Boaz Chapter of the NorthEast Alabama Genealogical Society (NEAGS).
The man holding the slender rods was Rodentown resident Wayne Gregg in the midst of a demonstration on the art of grave dowsing.
Gregg used the rods to effectively identify the gender, positioning and even the height of bodies buried in the cemetery as he showed how grave dowsing is a useful tool in the study of family lineages, also called genealogy.
The rods started out parallel to each other, one in each of Gregg’s hands. As Gregg slowly approached a gravesite, the rods crossed in front of him. They uncrossed when he stepped away from the grave.
To determine the gender, Gregg used one rod, staying as close to the center of the grave as possible. The rod would point to the foot of a man or the head of a woman, apparently attracted to the different polarization of carbon in the two genders.
The experiment works on a living person who is lying down as well.
More than 40 people attended Tuesday’s meeting at Boaz Public Library before driving over to Red Apple Cemetery, which is across from Red Apple Baptist Church on Summerville Road, just west of Boaz.
Boaz Public Library Director Lynn Burgess expected a high level of interest in grave dowsing.
“It is the unknown that interests people,” she said.
Gregg said his interest in dowsing started in 1963 when he worked for a telephone company.
“The old cable guys knew how to locate cable using dowsing rods,” said Gregg, the recording secretary for NEAGS. “What I hope to do is kindle an interest in genealogy and the use of grave dowsing in genealogy.”
Grave dowsing has a practical use in genealogy, Gregg said, and can be helpful in identifying or locating unmarked graves or sorting out questions about where relatives are buried.
Gregg said most people in the United States are buried in a Christian manner, meaning the bodies are laid on the back with the head pointing west and the feet pointing east. The belief is when the body rises up, it is facing east for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Gregg said about 70 percent of people can effectively use the metal wire rods for grave dowsing. In fact, a few people Tuesday appeared to successfully dowse graves when using the rods for the first time.
Gregg said less than 4 percent are adept at dowsing with forked sticks.
Grave dowsing can be learned but requires practice to hone the skill, he said.
Boaz Mayor Tim Walker attended the meeting with his son Zeb, and he said they successfully experimented with the rods on each other when they returned home. The mayor said the experience was almost spiritual to him.
“One lady walked up to me and said, ‘I can see you have that dowsing grin.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘you were a skeptic and now you’re a believer,’” Walker said.
Denise Willis, a teacher at Boaz High School, said the demonstration fed her already burgeoning interest in genealogy.
“I’ll share all this with my kids tomorrow,” Willis said. “I didn’t know anything about grave dowsing. I only heard about water dowsing before. So I was just very curious as to what this was all about and could somebody actually do this. I did a little research on the Internet, and the more I read, the more it piqued my curiosity. I had to absolutely come out and see this actually work in somebody’s hands out in the field.”
Larry Cochran, a retired teacher of chemistry and physics from Boaz High School, knows about science. His conclusion: the science works.
“The organization of molecules and the polarization of carbon molecules … it makes sense,” he said. “And I’ve learned something here about the difference in male and female remains and the carbon deposits. It’s been educational and fun.”
Cochran, a member of NEAGS, is fairly new to genealogy.
“I just got interested in genealogy the last couple of years,” he said. “It is fantastic. I wish I hadn’t waited till I got so old to learn about my forebears, but when mortality closes in, I guess that’s when we start thinking about those who have gone before.”
The next meeting of the Boaz Chapter of NEAGS is Oct. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mastin Conference Center at Boaz Public Library. Meetings are open to the public. Membership in the group is $20 per year.
See you at our next meeting, Sunday, October 21st.