16March Genealogy Notes
- Apr 10 3:05 PMNotes 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.
MARCH PRESENTATION: PAMELA DALLAS
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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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