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16March Genealogy Notes

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Apr 10 3:05 PM
      Notes from March 20, 2005
      Jewish Genealogy Society of Sacramento

      Vice President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order. Two articles were
      distributed related to the new Yad Vashem database, including one about Teven
      Laxer's father-in-law's family, about which he spoke in January.

      Lester Smith gave a heads-up about the May 5 Yom Hashoah commemoration at
      Mosaic Law congregation. He said the program handout will include a copy of the
      page of testimony form from Yad Vashem. JGSS may be able to have a table in
      the back, with a computer, to show people how to access the database site.

      Allan Bonderoff presented the treasurer's report – there is a balance of

      It was noted that our listing on the IAGJS Web site was not updated.

      Lester Smith showed off a new book in our library, the "Genealogy Gazeteer of
      the Kingdom of Hungary."

      Burt noted that our next meeting with be on Monday, April 18 at 7 p.m. , when
      Jason Lindo will talk about the Conversos, or Hidden Jews. They are
      descendants of Spanish and Portugues Jews forced to convert to Christianity during the
      Inquisition. Jason himself is a Portuguese Converso and converted to Judaism
      eight years ago. Burt said there is an excellent historical novel about the
      Conversos, "The Last Jew," by Noah Gordon.

      Art Yates reported on attending the meeting of the Sacramento Genealogy and
      Historical Council, composed of about 20 active groups. They are making
      donations to a memorial for Lorraine Green of the Family History Center. Art also
      mentioned an upcoming LDS seminar May 7 in Rancho Cordova and a society
      workshop May 21 at the Family History Center.


      Our featured speaker was Pam Dallas, who has spoken to us on several
      occasions in the past. She provided a whirlwind tour of genealogy records in the
      United States.

      Pam provided a list of the types of records available, from adoption to wills
      with many types in between.

      Pam, who attended the February JGSS presentation by Steve Morse, said she was
      among those from the Placer County Genealogy Society who met at the National
      Archives in San Bruno to learn more about the 1930 census data. She said a
      man in the back kept asking good questions about the census ... it turned out to
      be Steve Morse (who has provided one-step access to the 1930 census on his
      Web site.)

      Pam began by discussing seven important steps for those beginning their
      research. They are:

      1) Interview all your relatives, no matter how close or distantly related.

      2) Obtain vital records (birth, marriage, death) for all relatives starting
      with yourself. "We assume too much about our family history – look at the
      records, then evaluate."

      3) Conduct research of census records for each family member, starting with
      the most recent census and working back.

      4) Consult published works at local libraries and through interlibrary loan.

      5) Contact individuals and research families through correspondence and
      e-mail to find out more information.

      6) Record your info on pedigree sheets, family group sheets and in pedigree

      7) Cite your sources – "genealogy without documentation is mythology."

      Book suggestion – "Evidence" by Elizabeth Shown Mills, about $17, which is in
      our JGSS library. "If I only had one genealogy book, this is the one I'd
      have," Pam said.

      In evaluating sources, Pam said there's no such thing as a primary source –
      there is primary information and secondary information, derivative sources, and
      direct evidence or indirect evidence.

      For example, on a death certificate, there is the name, date of death, reason
      for death –that is primary information. The rest is probably secondary
      information – where the deceased was born, parents' names, maiden name, etc. So
      the death certificate could be the original source but contain both primary and
      secondary information.

      She told the story about the enumerators from the 1910 census – they were
      asked to go to each household three times, and if they couldn't reach anybody,
      then to get what information they could from the neighbors. So you could find
      information on the 1910 census, but the accuracy may be in question.

      Collateral people – individuals related to you either by blood or marriage or
      business relationship, social relationship or geographical circumstances.
      Who did your relatives interact with – neighbors, business associates, enemies.
      They could be the key to your research questions.

      Pam said she was knew a relative was from Ireland, but didn't know more than
      that. On a census record for the family, everyone was listed as from Ireland,
      except one member who was listed as from "Galway." That gave her the clue
      she needed to find more information.

      Places to Search for Records? These includes state libraries, and each
      publishes an index of their holdings, and also state archives and state historical
      societies. Pam said she recommends that you join at least three societies:

      1) a local group, giving you educational opportunities for research and a
      library. The local group also serves as a support group, and is there to help
      you celebrate your successes.

      2) a national society that has an interest in your research

      3) a society in the geographic area where you do most of your research.
      "Nobody knows their records like they do," Pam said. She belongs to five societies
      in Indiana, where many of her relatives are from.

      University libraries are another source of information, often underused.

      The Family History Library has a resource guide for every state, which you
      can download from their Web site.

      Another book recommendation: "America's Best Genealogical Resource Centers"
      by William Dollarback.

      Pam mentioned the Godfrey Memorial Library – www.godfrey.org which has
      access to a lot of databases. The cost for the site is $35/year, and Pam says the
      image quality is better than that of Ancestry. Among the databases is one
      that includes those who've appeared in "Who's Who" editions.

      Cemetery records – Pam urges researches to "see the tombstone, if you can."
      She said it sometimes differs from the written record at the cemetery office.
      "Just because it's written in stone doesn't make it true."

      She mentioned the case of a man whose name is on the tombstone with his wife,
      but his body isn't there. "Wife number 2 wanted him buried with her in a
      neighboring state."

      Pam had a great tip for those cemeteries you may not be able to visit – she
      sends a disposable camera, a postage-paid envelope and a small donation to the
      cemetery office, giving as much information about the person and grave
      location as possible. "I've never not had a camera returned to me."

      And Pam says get a copy of everything you can from the cemetery office. She
      says when she writes to cemeteries and funeral homes, she says she's
      researching her family medical history (not genealogy).

      Pam says on visits to cemeteries, she transcribes not only her relative's
      tombstone, but those in the immediate area around her family.

      Cemetery records are also held at the county, Pam says, including the
      courthouse, coroner's office and county health department. Don't think just in terms
      of the cemetery – she showed a copy of receipt for the transportation of a

      Census records:
      The National Archives books on the 1920 and 1930 censuses has a list of the
      countries the census enumerators had to choose from – the books are available
      for $4.00 from the archives
      (1930 Federal Population Census).

      The later the census, the more information, Pam says. They have been taking
      place evey 10 years since 1790, except 1890. There is a 72-year privacy law on
      releasing of census information.

      City directories:
      The Family History Center has microfilmed many of them. They listed head of
      household, spouse. If it was not acceptable to be divorced, women may have
      listed themselves as widows. Some directories list deaths for the year. Along
      with listing businesses, many have maps. Information on whether property was
      rented or owned may also be of interest to you as a researcher – the owner may
      be a relative.

      Coroner's records:
      These can be excellent, and may tell what was on the body, who claimed it,
      etc. When requesting death records, always request a photocopy of the original
      record (rather than just the information). In the midwest and midatlantic
      states, there is usually a data sheet on the deceased.

      For Illinois records, there is a 1916-1950 Illinois Death Index, available

      Sanborn maps – these were fire insurance maps – more and more are online.
      Pam says UC Berkeley has an incredible collection that can be valuable to you
      if you have the address of an ancestor.

      Marriage records – get a photocopy of the original record. Most states after
      1900 required a marriage application, which would have information of

      World War I military applications – all males had to register, whether they
      served or not. The Georgia office of the National Archives has an order form
      on its Web site. If the person lived in a major city, you would want to know
      the address.

      List of dead or missing from all branches of service are online; in
      California there is a Web page listing all those who served in World War II.

      Naturalization records – married women were not required to file these on
      their own until after 1922. Minor children were not required to submit if they
      were under 21 when their parents were naturalized.

      Obituaries – find as many as you can. Some may be longer than others because
      more space available. Often can find names of married children.

      Death records are filed in the geographic area of the death. If you die in
      Seattle, the record would be in Washington state.

      New York prison records – many are online.

      PERSI— this is the Periodical Source Index. You can find it on Ancestry and
      Allen County Public Library indexing program of worldwide periodicals. You
      can search by title of article or surnames.

      WPA – Work Progress Administration – workers transcribed "everything out
      there," Pam says, doing inventories of county records, indexes and more. They
      can be found at state libraries, state historical societies and the Library of
      Congress. John Heisey did a book on the WPA's work, published by Heritage

      NUCMC –This is a catalogue of manuscript collections by the Library of
      Congress. www.loc.gov. There is an index of all names in the collections; you
      can also search businesses and locations. You can find obscure collections in
      places you'd never expect to find them.

      Book recommendation: Ann Lainhart, "State Census Records," which is in our

      Courthouse research: "Archival and Manuscript Repositories in California," by
      Christine Rose.

      Pam provided a handout with Web sites and a list of dozens of types of
      records that can provide data for your genealogy research.

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