December 3, 2013
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
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 1700s
An Alabama-based company that provides a single source for old and new state and US maps has added new historical maps.
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
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
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
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
From the New York Times 11/17/13
Traveling to Find Your Roots
By CAREN OSTEN GERSZBERG
Published: November 15, 2013
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
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.