October Genealogy Notes
Jewish Genealogical Society
October 23, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m. -- German/Jewish Research -- Carol Baird
Sunday, December 16, 10 a.m. -- Western Jewish History Center -- Aaron Kornblum
Ancestry. Com Sold
From Sacramento RootsWeb: The genealogy blogs have been buzzing this week with the announcement that The Generations Network, parent company of Ancestry.com and the sponsor of Rootsweb.com and producer of Family Tree Maker software, has been sold to a private investment firm. There have been many many announcements about the sale; the best article I've seen appears on Dick Eastman's blog. You can read the entire article, which summarizes a call Dick had with Tim Sullivan, the CEO of The Generations Network. http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/10/a-talk-with-the.html . The URL is long; Use this TinyURL if the link is broken: http://tinyurl.com/25pbkz
Notes from October 15, 2007 Meeting
President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and asked those attending to introduce themselves and mention their genealogy interests. Allan Bonderoff presented the treasurer's report -- we have $1,900.15 in our account. Dues bills will be mailed out in the near future, but if you join now, you will be paid up through the end of 2008.
Vice President Mort Rumberg talked about upcoming programs. In November, back on our Sunday morning schedule, we will hear from Carol Baird and her husband on German Jewish research. That meeting will be held Sunday, November 18 at 10 a.m. The Bairds are former presidents of the genealogy society in the Los Angeles area.
On Sunday, December 16 at 10 a.m., we'll hear from Aaron Kornblum of the Western Jewish History Center at the Magnes Museum in Berkeley.
Mort said we're starting to put together the programs for 2008 and he and Burt would welcome any ideas members might have. The March meeting will include an innovative "Genealogy Jeopardy" game with a chance to stump the experts.
Burt said last Saturday's Family History Day at the State Archives was a success, with lots of visitors. Thanks to all those members who participated.
Susanne Levitsky distributed a handout featuring the www.findagrave.com Web site, which has a search capability for 18 million grave sites as well as burial sites for famous people.
Pam Dallas, popular speaker and longtime genealogist, was our October speaker. She also thanked the group for participating in the Family History Day event.
Pam's focus was "Back to Basics," with tips for those beginning their genealogical research. First, write down everything you think you know, Pam said, looking for home sources of information, including things in the attic, the basement, or wherever they might be. "It's amazing the things you find in people's closets," she said. This can include photos, school records, newspaper clippings, obituaries, insurance papers, military records, recipe books, and legal papers.
Pam said recently her mother produced some old insurance papers of her grandparents, that had information on what relatives died from or what illnesses they might have currently had. "Almost everything has a clue for us," Pam said.
Interview Your Relatives
Interview your oldest relative first. If possible, video or audiotape them (this allows you to have a conversation with them and not worry about writing it all down). Ask about specific events. It doesn't matter how closely or distantly you're related.
"My brother and I are four years apart -- it's amazing how our memories differ," Pam said. "He'll remember things that I don't, and once we get talking, good information comes out."
Don't just look for relatives you can e-mail. "I have found treasures by finding relatives not on the Internet."
Obtain Vital Records
Obtain a copy of the original birth, marriage and death certificates for your relatives, starting with your own records. You'll find you can't go that far back before run out of vital records, Pam said.
"Any record can be wrong, "she said. "My mother's birth certificate is wrong. Just because it's 'official" doesn't mean it's accurate."
Conduct Census Research
Conduct a census search for each family member, starting with the most recent census and work back in time. Go back through every single census without skipping any. Pam recounted the case of a woman who was in one census but gone in the next, so it was assumed she had died. It turned out she went into a mental institution and did not die until seven years later.
"Look at every single column" on the census page, Pam said. What records does the information send you to? With a street name, you can then go to land, mortgage and tax records. Children from a previous marriage can be listed with the present husband's surname.
The age can change, but maybe not by 10-year increments. Pam knows of one woman who got younger while her husband got older. "I wouldn't have realized this if I hadn't looked at her age in every census," she said.
Pay attention to where people are born, where their children are born. This might show a migration path, from New York to Philadelphia to Chicago. What about the language listed? Does that match the country they came from?
And be aware of important abbreviations:
PA -- applied for citizenship
NA -- naturalized
AL -- alien.
These can lead you to applications or registration forms, depending on their status.
Consult Published Works At Local Libraries and Through Interlibrary Loans
Check out county histories, the vital records index, city directories, land records, tax records, military records. Look from before you think they lived until after you think they're gone.
Contact Research Facilities
These include courthouses, university libraries, libraries with special collections, genealogical societies, local and state archives, libraries, historical societies. Pam stressed the importance of getting to know archivists and others who can assist you on a first-name basis. "I do not go to Indianapolis (where her family is from) without gifts. One (archivist) who assists me likes sourdough bread, so I fly out by way of San Francisco, buy the bread there to take with me, and go directly to see her." She said people need to be willing to do you a favor, so you have to make them your best friend.
Another useful tool -- NUCMUC- www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/ - the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections -- takes records inventoried by the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) and indexes them online. Sometimes records are not located where you'd expect.
Correspond With Other Researchers
By e-mail, it's easy to communicate with people researching the same family or same geographic area, especially in the same time period. They can provide help that's not limited to the same surname.
Well-known sites that can help you:
HeritageQuest ("By the way, if you have a Roseville library card, this is free to you and can be accessed from home, not just the library. You just have to be a California resident to get a library card"
Family History Center
Footnote --- www.footnote.com -- they have a partnership with the National Archives, incredible records online, with more and more being added. You have so many days to try it out for free. Pam mentioned obtaining naturalization records from Southern California, also federal court records.
Burt mentioned the Godfrey Memorial Library -- www.godfrey.org, with a quick search capability of material/
Bob Wascou added www.JewishGen.org and www.stevemorse.org as to other helpful sites. ("Don't even go to the Ellis Island site.)
Always Work from the Known to the Unknown
One of the biggest mistakes researchers make, Pam said, is that we want to jump over and skip a generation -- "that always gets us in trouble."
She stressed the importance of learning as much as you can about each generation. "You've got to set the groundwork to get to the next generation."
Record Your Information
You can use charts or computer software, whatever you prefer. When recording a location, start with the smallest jurisdiction and work your way up.
Recording dates: "I always write them out by date-month-year" -- 19 December 1899
Recording names: "I record all the names, including nicknames."
Genealogy Without Documentation is Mythology
You need to document the date and source of your information. "If Aunt Louise told you, put down the date and the source."
A Few Books Pam Can't Live Without
Pam recommended the following books:
"Evidence," by Elizabeth Shown Mills
"Quick Sheet for Citing Historical Sources," by Elizabeth Shown Mills
"Evidence Explained," the latest version of her book, with both focusing on how to evaluate your sources.
A good rule of thumb: if you're researching information, check the sources. People make different interpretations, Pam said.
What Have I Missed?
For example, the best way to get different spellings of names is to ask a 7-year-old, Pam said.
There's "search" and there's "research," Pam said, and they're not the same. Research involves strategy, a game plan, and is methodical.
Find as many obituaries as you can, don't just be happy with one. Another paper might have printed the full version as submitted, versus the one you saw.
Collateral research -- This means everybody who might have touched a person's life -- who did they work with, neighbors, social organizations they were involved with, enemies (lawsuits?).
Inheritance -- If a person died without a will and no children, "that's the best thing that can happen to you," Pam said. That means other family members would want to stake a claim.
Join the Societies -- "I highly recommend you join at least two genealogical societies," Pam said, one local and one in the area where you don't live but do a lot of research.
Subscribe to Publications --- They can help you, as well as "how to" books.
Black's Law Dictionary -- "I like the fourth edition." It talks about what words meant in 1900 , which are not necessarily the same as today. She mentioned the word "infant," which previously meant not a baby but a child under the age of 21.
If you get stumped -- have a friend look at it.
One trick to get information out of family members who don't want to provide any -- give them a draft that's wrong. They'll correct it. "Sometimes you have to be a little devious," Pam said.
Keep in mind that our memories are faulty. Did something really happen, or did someone think it happened? Also keep in mind customs/culture of the time. At a time when divorce was frowned upon, some women told the census takers they were widows, but there was no dead husband.
Keep your original documents in a very safe place, such as a safety deposit box. Also, it's a good idea to provide copies to someone else.
Pam's handouts included a pedigree chart, timeline form, guidelines for building a personal genealogy library and information related to medical and genetic history.
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From the Avotaynu E-Zine:
New Ukrainian Research Service Launched
The Alberta (Canada) Community Development has announced they have received funding for an Alberta-Ukraine Genealogical Project that will provide research services in much of western Ukraine. The service is not limited to persons in Alberta but is available to anyone, worldwide.
The announcement stated “It will...strengthen affiliations between Alberta and archival institutions and record depositories in Western Ukraine, particularly in the oblasts of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ternopil, Chernivtsi and Lviv.” Their application form shows a CAN$30 charge for “Assessment of Resources” in Ukraine and CAN$20 for copies of each record found. (At present the Canadian and U.S. dollars are approximately equivalent.)
For details, contact the Alberta genealogical research office by e-mail, at AB-Ukraine.Genealogy@.... More information can be found at http://tapor.ualberta.ca/heritagevillage/gene/Alberta-UkraineLaunch.php
Family History Department Develops Wiki-Like Web Site
The Mormon Family History Department has developed a new research tool along the lines of Wikipedia. It is at http://www.FamilySearchWiki.org. There's a lot of good material, some based on printed pamphlets that have existed at the Family History Library for years. Unlike Wikipedia, this site does not have a search engine. You can make Google work as a search engine for the site by doing the following: Go to Google.com and click the Advanced Search feature. On the Advanced Search page, enter “www.FamilySearchWiki.org” in the “Domain” field. In the “Find Results” field, place the word “Jewish,” and then click “Google Search.” This provides a list of 106 pages at the FamilySearchWiki site with the word Jewish. Be sure to search the FamilySearchWiki site for general information. They have a section describing resources by country that can be linked to from the home page.
Latvian Cemetery Database Now Online
Alexandrs Feigmanis, a professional genealogist in Latvia, has posted to his Web site, http://www.balticgen.com, a Latvian cemetery database. It includes about 70 percent of Latvian Jewish tombstones from 1760 to 1950. The database includes more than 4,200 Jewish tombstones from Aizpute, Auce, Balvi, Bauska, Cesis (Wenden), Daugavpils (Dvinsk), Demene, Jaunjelgava (Friedrichstadt), Gostini (Dankere), Griva, Grobin, Ikskile, Jekabpils (Jakobstadt), Karsava, Kraslava, Krustpils, Kuldiga, Piltene, Limbazi (Lemsal), Livani, Ludza (Lutzin), Piltene, Preili, Rezekne, Riebini, Riga, Rujena, Sabile, Saldus, Skaistkalne (Schoenberg), Smiltene, Subate, Talsi, Tukums, Valdemarpils (Sassmaken), Valka, Valmiera, Varaklani, Ventspils (Windau), Vilani and Zilupe. The tombstones from the large Liepaja (Libau) Jewish cemetery are not included in this list, but available at http://www.liepajajews.org.
Lodz Ghetto Work ID Cards to Be Indexed
JewishGen is looking for volunteers to help index an estimated 23,000 Work Identification Cards from the Lodz ghetto. These cards are on microfilm at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. When completed it will become a part of the JewishGen Holocaust database at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust which currently has more than 1.8 million entries from more than 100 data sets. If you can volunteer, contact Roni Seibel Liebowitz at roni19@.... Additional information about the project can be found at http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Lodz/workID_project.htm
Gravestone Inscriptions for Frankfurt and Prague
Logan Kleinwaks reports that two books showing gravestone inscriptions of Frankfurt-am-Main and Prague are available on Google books. The 1901 work Die Inschriften des alten Friedhofs der israelitischen Gemeinde zu Frankfurt a. M., contains thousands of gravestone inscriptions from Frankfurt. It can be seen at http://books.google.com/books?id=PkUOAAAAIAAJ. An 1856 work Grabsteininschriften des prager isr. alten Friedhofs mit biographischen Notizen, is viewable at http://books.google.com/books?id=vWALAAAAIAAJ. Kleinwaks notes that if you do not see a button to "Read this book" or "Download PDF," it is probably because Google is blocking you due to country-specific copyright concerns.
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See you Sunday, November 18!
Jewish Genealogical Society
Sunday, November 9, 10 a.m. Steve Morse on the Ellis Island Web Site
Sunday, December 14, 10 a.m. Treasures From Our Attics
Notes from October 12, 2008 Meeting
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and mentioned upcoming seminars, including one hosted by the Family History Center in Sacramento on Saturday, November 1, from 8 a.m to 3:30 p.m. For more details, go to www.familyhistorycenter.info
Mort noted that the 2nd annual Chico conference sponsored by the LDS will be held next Saturday, October 18, and the Belle Cooledge Library in Sacramento will host a genealogy program on October 15.
Mort noted that every year we make a donation of some kind to the Einstein Center as a Chanukah gift, to thank them for letting us meet and maintain our library at the Center. Past donations have included a screen and monetary gifts. This year, learning that they were interested in having a Wii for their residents, we purchased a Wii Sports. It was presented to Einstein activities director Kelly Duncan.
In photo below, left to right, JGSS members Bob Wascou, President Mort Rumberg and Art Yates, with Kelly Duncan of the Einstein Center.
Bob Wascou noted that one of the benefits of JGSS membership is the ability to check books out of our ever-expanding library, now computerized.
Mort noted that next month, November 9, our speaker will be Steve Morse, who will discuss the Ellis Island Web site and the various forms he’s created on his Web site (www.stevemorse.org) to aid in searching the database.
Our program for October focused on Unbricking the Brick Walls. Taking advantage of the collective wisdom of our members, several people brought up problems they have run into in searching for relatives.
Translating Marriage Certificate:
Julie Lavine has a friend who is trying to find someone to translate a marriage certificate that apparently is written in Russian but using the Polish alphabet. Some suggestions: it may be cursive Cyrillic (rather than Polish); contact language experts at Sac State, UC Davis, UOP; contact the School of Religion at UC Berkeley; contact Eastern Orthodox churches to find a priest who might be helpful. First, do a high resolution scan of the document, if possible, so it can be e-mailed to people. Post on JewishGen, Viewmate (http://data.jewishgen.org/viewmate/)), see if there’s an Einstein resident who might be helpful. Someone mentioned that Polish towns were required to use Russian at some point, and that might be the reason for the language used on the document.
Locating Relative Who May Still Be Alive:
Art Yates has been seeking the whereabouts of his wife’s relative, Lawrence Rosenblum, who acted under the stage name of Alan Carter. Rosenblum’s parents were uncle and niece ( a marriage legal in Rhode Island but not elsewhere), and he was present at a family event in 1966.. Art showed a 1944 news article he found on the Internet mentioning Rosenblum but has been unable to dig up anything else. Art has tried various actor’s unions (SAG, Actors Equity), white pages listings, Social Security Death Index and more.
Some suggestions for Art: military records (ancestry.com). Did he join a union? Gay and lesbian groups. The Library for Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in New York. Some high school yearbooks are online. Post something on genealogy bulletin board sites.
Gary Sandler is seeking information on his wife’s great-grandmother’s early days and where she was from. At age 15, she married an Italian Catholic and her family disowned her. Gary found her in the 1910 census (listed with both families) and the 1920 census with her husband and children --she died in 1921. He knows where she is buried.
Some suggestions: Check Catholic records, records of conversion; could be named after ancestor; try to find school records, application to Social Security; if naturalized after 1906, duplicate records are in Washington, D.C. CIS, Form G-639, photos of applicants on some.
Where Was Grandfather Actually From:
Mort Rumberg said his grandfather on his mother’s side said he was from Vilnius in Lithuania and on his father’s side, from Galicia. But he knows they were likely from smaller towns in the area... how to proceed?
Some suggestions: Join the Litvak SIG (Special Interest Group). There are researchers and coordinators for specific areas who translate records and check databases (need to provide a contribution). Also Belarus SIG, to cover the bases. Tax records, voter records.
How to Plan a Family Reunion
Bob Wascou asked if anyone had planned a family reunion (no one present had); he is putting one together for next August after the conference, being held in 2009 in Philadelphia. He wants to have copies of all the ship manifests -- will use Steve Morse’s site, Family Tree Maker, Ancestry. Suggests people play around with spelling of names, since a name he was looking for was spelled differently on each of three sites.
From Avotaynu's October 14 e-zine:
Google Translate Now Includes Hebrew
Google Translate, located at http://translate.google.com, now includes the ability to translate Hebrew. Like most online translators, the results are only fair. The Google dictionary does not include the word for “genealogy” and it was transliterated into English as “ganelogy.” Interestingl y, if you translate “genealogy” into Hebrew, the result is “yichus” which more accurately means “pedigree.”
Hebrew is a language written without showing vowels, creating numerous ambiguities that are usually resolved contextually. “I gave my wife a melon” written in Hebrew translated into English using Google Translate as “I gave my wife a hotel.”
The languages Google claims it translates are Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.
Back Issues of Stammbaum Online
Back issues of Stammbaum, the “Newsletter of German-Jewish Genealogical Research,” are available at http://www.lbi.org/Stammbaum.html. The first issue was published in 1992. These were 31 issues; the last in 2007. An index is available in alphabetical order by author.
Annual Trip to Lithuania
Howard Margol and Peggy Freedman are organizing their 16th annual group trip to Lithuania, June 30 to July 10, 2009. If you’re interested in tracing your roots in Lithuania, Latvia, Eastern Poland close to Lithuania, or Belarus, now is the time to sign up. This year the group will be limited to 25 persons. The trip includes stops at various archives, synagogues, ghettos, Holocaust sites, meetings with Jewish leaders, sightseeing, guide/interpreters, and two days to visit your shtetls of interest. Margol and Freedman are very familiar with the archives, are on a first-name basis with the archivists, and know all the main places of Jewish interest.
The trip is sponsored by the American Fund For Lithuanian-Latvian Jews, a non-profit organization, and is not a commercial venture. Any profit made will go to support the Jewish community in Vilnius. For details and a full itinerary, contact litvaktrip@...
Favourite genealogy websites -- Roots to the Past (a Canadian perspective)
Published Tuesday October 14th, 2008
by Diana Lynn Tibert, New Brunswick, Canada
Each week, I spend hours visiting genealogy-related websites. Many are visited only once, but I've worn an electronic path to the front door of many others. Below are my top 10 favourite places on the Internet.
Like many genealogists, my research takes me all over Atlantic Canada, so some websites contain information for specific provinces while others cover the entire country.
1. Library and Archives of Canada (www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/index-e.html) which also includes the Soldiers of the First World War database (www.collectionscanada.ca/archivianet/cef) with digital images of attestation papers, and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=collections/virtualmem) containing details on Commonwealth soldiers killed in action in past wars.
2. Archives: A vast amount of information can be found on each provincial archives website. Often, data overlaps provincial boundaries, so regardless of which province you are researching, take a look at the archives in the nearby provinces: a. Provincial Archives of NB (including Daniel F. Johnson's NB Newspaper Vital Statistics database): http://archives.gnb.ca/Archives/Default.aspx?culture=en-CA.;b. NS Archives and Records Management (including the NS Historical Vital Statistics): www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm.;c. The Rooms, NL: www.therooms.ca.;d. Public Archives and Records Office of PEI: www.edu.pe.ca/paro.
3. Canada GenWeb site (www.canadagenweb.org): Contains genealogy information on Canada, as well as, links to each province and territory.
4. Automatic Genealogy (www.automatedgenealogy.com/index.html): Contains free access to transcribed census pages and digital images of the original forms for the 1911, 1906 (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), 1901 and 1851 (Upper and Lower Canada) Canada Censuses.
5. Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (http://immigrantships.net): The best website I found for finding ships' lists. Literally thousands of passenger lists have been transcribed and posted.
6. Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogy Site (http://ngb.chebucto.org): Contains extensive genealogy information for Newfoundland and Labrador and is a must visit for anyone researching family connected to this province.
7. Lost at Sea: Fishing? It Was a Way of Life (http://web.archive.org/web/20011125174009/www.lostatsea.ca): Contains information on the many who went to sea, but did not return home. This includes information on seaman and ships of various industries from locations all along the Eastern Seaboard.
8. Cyndi's List (www.cyndislist.com): If it's on the Internet and genealogy related, you'll probably find it on this massive website.
9. The Perpetual Calendar (www.wiskit.com/calendar.html) is handy when looking for a particular day. For example, if an obituary published Oct. 5, 1879, states the person died last Friday, the calendar will tell you it was Oct. 3. Herb's Calendar Wizard page does calendar calculations for you, taking into consideration the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar.
10. Google.ca (www.google.ca) is the first search engine I use when trying to locate any information I can't find on my book-marked websites.
All these websites and many others can be found on my Family Attic website: www.thefamilyattic.info/Roots.html.
Producer Burnett reincarnates "This Is Your Life"
Thu Oct 9, 2008 8:31pm EDT
By James Hibberd
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett is developing a remake of the classic TV show "This Is Your Life."
The show, which surprises celebrity guests with people from their past, launched as a radio program in 1948. It aired as a TV series on NBC from 1952-61, and then had a brief revival in 1972.
NBC and Fox also are developing genealogy reality shows, where researchers discover secrets about participants' ancestral history.
See you Sunday, November 9!