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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    What Should the National Archives Digitize? Your Comments Needed By November 9 The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is inviting the public
    Message 1 of 50 , Nov 5, 2007
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      What Should the National Archives Digitize? Your Comments Needed By November 9


      The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is inviting the public to suggest documents that should be digitized. Everyone interested in wider access to NARA's records should email their suggestions to Vision@.... Deadline for public comment is November 9. This is your chance to make your wishes known. Decisions made in the planning stage will impact access to key records for years to come. You can read the draft plan at http://www.archives.gov/comment/digitizing-plan.html.



      Beginning German-Jewish Genealogy From Your Easy Chair

      Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m. , Einstein Residence Center


      Our November program -- back to the Sunday morning schedule -- will feature Carol Davidson Baird of Solana Beach, who will provide an overview of how to find, translate and comprehend German records found at home, online, by mail and in local libraries. 

      Carol will related experiences from her 35 years of      

      research  from the days before computers to today's Internet world. 

      She recently  returned from Germany and will share current research



      Carol, the only child of German Holocaust survivors, is the past president of the San Diego Jewish Genealogical Society and past president of the North San Diego County Genealogical Society.  She speaks to numerous groups and was a presenter at the 2005 international JGS conference.  Carol co-edited Stammbaum – The Journal of German-Jewish Genealogical Research, was a regular columnist for Family Tree,


      Carol specializes in German Jewish genealogy and Holocaust research.  She started to seriously research her family's roots more than 30 years ago when her first son was born, and has been collecting family heirlooms, stories and documents for more than 50 years.


      See you Sunday morning, November 18th!



      From Avotaynu's E-Zine, October 28, 2007


      Databases Added to Sephardic Genealogy Website
      Mathilde Tagger, coauthor of the book, Guidebook for Sephardic and Oriental Genealogical Sources in Israel, and recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, has placed the many Sephardic databases she has created on the SephardicGen Resources Web site at http://www.SephardicGen.com.  A special search engine was created at the site to help locate names of people and places in the many databases. The list of new databases (plus links to other databases of Sephardic Genealogy interest) can be found at http://www.SephardicGen.com/databases/databases.html. The search engine was developed with the help of Stephen P. Morse.

      U.S. Military Personnel Files Released
      National Personnel Records Center for the first time will open all of the individual Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) of those who served and were discharged, retired or died while in the service prior to 1946, more than six million records.

      These files outline all elements of military service, including assignments, evaluations, awards and decorations, education and training, demographic information, some medical information and documented disciplinary actions. Some records also contain photos of the individual and official correspondence concerning military service. These files are open only to the veteran him/herself, if living, or next of kin, which can be father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother. Interestingly a surviving spouse can gain access only if not remarried.

      To obtain copies of records, write to NPRC at
      9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132, fax a request to 314-801-9195, or submit a request through http://vetrecs.archives.gov or on a Standard Form 180.

      News from the SIGs
      SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A log in is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org.

      Galicia SIG. All back issues of The Galitzianer, the newsletter of Gesher Galicia SIG, are now available on CD with a full-word search engine. The CD, titles 14 Years of The Galitzianer, contains complete PDF files for all issues. The cost is $20 for Gesher Galicia members or $40 for non-members. Annual membership is as low as $25 (US/Canadian with electronic delivery of The Galitzianer). To order, check http://www.jewishgen.org/galicia/html/FourteenYears.html. Membership information can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/galicia/join_gg.html.

      Hungary SIG. The All-Hungarian Database (AHD) has been updated with some90,000 new vital records. It now contains nearly 700,000 records, including 100,000 birth, 35,000 death, and 12,500 marriage records. Among the new records are thosefor Bercel, Chropo, Debrecen, Galszecs, Gyor, Homonna, Kiskunfelegyhaza, Kisvarda, Mandok, Nagykallo, Nyirbator, Nyirkarasz, Szinyer-Varalji, Tarcal, Tokaj, and Tolcsva. In addition, Budapest births through 1864 and the majority of births for Miskolchave also been completed.

      Warszawa SIG. There is a database about the
      Warsaw ghetto that includes information regarding individuals. It is located at http://warszawa.getto.pl/index.php?temp=temp〈=en. Click “Find in Database” to initiate a search. You can get an English translation of the entry by clicking “Show.” The site appears to be a work in progress. Not all search results are translated into English, and the sources seem to be a wide variety of archival documents, personal memoirs, books, historical studies and others.

      NARA and Mormon Church Sign Agreement to Digitize Documents
      The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and FamilySearch, the genealogy acquisition arm of the Mormon Church, announced an agreement that will lead to the digitization of millions of historical documents over time. The bulk of the digital images and related indices will be freely accessible through www.FamilySearch.org and at the National Archives and its
      Regional Centers. Ultimately, the records digitized by FamilySearch will consist of court, military, land, and other government records with information important to family historians.

      The first fruit of this effort is a portion of a very large collection of Civil War records, already underway. In this pilot project, FamilySearch will digitize the first 3,150 Civil War widow pension application files (approximately 500,000 pages). After digitization, these historical documents will be indexed and posted online by Footnote.com with the indices also available free of charge on http://www.FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch intends to do all 1,280,000 of these files over the coming years.

      - - - - - - - - - - -


      See you Sunday, November 18!



      See what's new at AOL.com and Make AOL Your Homepage.
    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      January 9, 2016 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, January 17, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Ron Arons: Handwriting Analysis -- Documents and Graphology Sunday, February 21, 2016,
      Message 50 of 50 , Jan 9
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        January 9, 2016
        Upcoming Meetings:
        Sunday, January 17, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Ron Arons: Handwriting Analysis -- Documents and Graphology
        Sunday, February 21, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Marisa Louie Lee -- 20th Century Immigration and Naturalization Records
        Ron Aron's presentation on January 17:
             This presentation will cover both document examination and graphology. The former is the more accepted discipline of comparing questioned samples with known handwriting samples. For decades courts have allowed document analysis as evidence in probate cases, etc.
             Ron says graphology is the more questionable "art" of trying to determine personality characteristics and behavior based on the analysis of signatures and handwriting in general. Although a "soft science," graphology has some merit. Examples of how both document examination and graphology can be used in genealogical research will be provided. Also, various software packages and books that can help understand these two topics will be discussed.
        Ron has spoken to our group many times and is the author of "The Jews of Sing Sing." In 2005 Ron won a Hackman Research Residency Award from the New York State Archives to continue his research of New York Jewish criminals.
        In January 2008, Ron appeared on the PBS television series, The Jewish Americans, regarding Jewish criminals of New York’s Lower East Side.
        Save the Date: April 2, 2016 -- Root Cellar Spring Seminar
        The Sacramento Genealogical Society's annual day-long seminar will feature Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi's List. The event will be held once again at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church.
        November Meeting Summary
        The focus of the meetings was addressing brick walls, with several of our JGSS members participating. Panel members Tony Chakurian, Victoria Fisch and Teven Laxer shared their thoughts, some of which are noted below:
        Victoria said one of the most important things for success is to be a creative thinker. She also stressed the importance of looking at primary source documents -- civil records, immigration records, wills, probate, etc.
        Teven noted the common myth of names being changed at Ellis Island. In fact, when immigrants boarded a ship, their names were placed on a passenger manifest, and they had to have a passport and proper documentation.
        It was noted that name changes in Russia were very difficult to do.
        Tony noted that on Ancestry.com, you can put in the first name only and approximate age and perhaps find a whole family group.
        Victoria noted that in city directories, you might find the same address and profession but the "smoking gun" for a name change.
        Where do you access city directories? Ancestry (also some Canadian, German), Internet Archive  (www.internetarchive.org) scans all kinds, the digital material is free.
        Book suggestion: "The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street" by Susan Gilman -- a novel about an immigrant girl's success.
        "If you are serious, you have to have a subscription to Ancestry or go to the Mormon Library and use their subscription -- FamilySearch is a free online database.
        San Francisco Genealogy, 1849 to present -- a nonprofit site, web page lists all kinds of databases -- www.sfgenealogy.com/sf/
        Tony said Intenetarchive has original census books scanned --you can read it there if you can't read it on Ancestry.
        Victoria -- don't bother with the Ellis Island site -- if you want to use it, go through Steve Morse's portal.
        Teven talked about ViewMate on JewishGen, where you can upload a document and ask for help in translating.  He also mentioned the  "Tracing the Tribe" blog.
        For the census, people were asked what year they immigrated -- these years were often wrong, but use as a window of time.
        In putting in names to search in Ancestry, use the wild card generator -- * represents multiple characters, ? represents one character.
        ItalianGen -- good site for New York City vital records, with bride and groom index.  From about 1867 up to about 1948. Gives you a certificate number.
        Teven recounted that the six things he thought he knew about his family history, ranging from where the ship sailed, to what year, to what port, to what name -- all turned out to be wrong.
        JRI Poland -- photographs and digitization of records.
        Where to put your family tree? Victoria says she would put your primary tree on Ancestry, but save the data once in a while.  "It's crazy to be maintaining more than one tree."
        Teven -- one of my favorite things about Ancestry is the "shaky leaves," which are hints. But Victoria says beware of the leaves if there is no source. Always look for primary sources.
        Fold3 -- a subsidiary of Ancestry, has military records (formerly Footnote). War of 1812 pensions just came online.
        Tony -- Will and probate records from just about every state just came online.
        December Meeting Summary
        Our speaker was Jeremy Frankel, on "Thirty Years. A Birthday Cake -- the Wrong Family."  Jeremy, president of the San Francisco JGS, is a professional genealogist.
        It all happened on the 9th of April, 1985, Jeremy said.  It was the second night of Passover and as he and his family were finishing the meal, his father asked him, "Did you know my brother was married before?"
        Jeremy didn't, but the information he subsequently learned led to a discovery of a new part of his family.
        It turned out that Jeremy's uncle married a woman, Sophie Ost, in 1930 but separated within a year. What his Uncle Charlie may or may not have know was that his wife was pregnant, and Leatrice Levy was born in 1931.  When the couple divorced, they all used his changed last name, changed from Levy to Leader.
        Note from Jeremy: Free BMD is a very useful website for British civil records -- http://www.freebmd.org.uk/.
        In his presentation, Jeremy described his search for this part of his previously unknown family. He discovered through research that was Leatrice living in Wales; she had married a Nigerian with the last name of Iwobi.
        "What do I do? Do I tell them about their half-sister?"
        Jeremy wrote to family members, culminating, in April 2015, with a family reunion in London with the different family branches represented.
        Jeremy said his newly found relatives were very warm people, and "you never know where genealogy is going to take you.  If my grandfather hadn't talked to me ..."
        Victoria Fisch noted several "accumulator" public record sites that are useful, including
        "Advanced Background Check"  that posts the last six addresses, along with possible relatives and ages, and also Intelius and US Search.
        The Southern California Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the 47th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. The conference will be held at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel, Burbank, California, Friday through Sunday, June 3-5, 2016. Registration is now open and available on the Jamboree website. You can either complete your registration through the online shopping cart or download the registration form and mail it in.
        Jamboree 2016 offers an exceptional educational opportunity for family historians and genealogists of all experience levels. The theme for Jamboree 2016 is "Giving to the Future by Preserving the Past." We welcome all attendees who are interested in genealogy and preserving the past for future generations. Our heritage focus is on German, Eastern European, and African-American research. Topics covered include research methods, analysis and problem solving, organization techniques, family history writing, the use of technology, and more.
        Jamboree 2016 will feature: 
        • Over 55 national, regional and local speakers
        • JamboFREE sessions Friday morning including Beginning Genealogy, Librarians' Boot  Camp, Why and How to Become a Professional Genealogist, Using Social Media for  Genealogy, and Genealogy & DNA Roundtables
        • Five specialty workshops (separate fee required) 
        • Free exhibit hall throughout the weekend
        • Research tours Thursday and Friday
        • Special activities each day
        • One-on-one research assistance provided by members of the Southern California  Chapter, Association of Professional Genealogists
        Back by popular demand, SCGS will hold its fourth Genetic Genealogy Conference,"The Future of the Past: Genetic Genealogy 2016," on Thursday, June 2, 2016. also at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel. This conference provides the opportunity to hear from some of the top leaders in the field of genetic genealogy, with topics suitable for all levels of experience with using DNA for genealogical research. Six intensive workshops will also be offered during this event that will provide an opportunity for in-depth study of genealogical research techniques of interest to a variety of experience levels (additional fee required). The Genetic Genealogy Conference is separate from Jamboree, and separate registration fees apply. 
        Early Bird registration ends April 23, 2016. Special pricing for 2016 offers a discount to those who register for both Jamboree and "The Future of the Past: Genetic Genealogy 2016" as well as discounts for SCGS members for each event.
        Don't forget to make your hotel reservations! The Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel room reservations are now open. Room rates range from $165 to $185 per night. To make your reservations online, visit http://www.tinyurl.com/jambo2016Hotel/, or call directly at 800.736.9712. Be sure to mention the group "SCGS Conference" when making your reservation to get the Jamboree rate and to guarantee your room. 
        The best way to keep in touch with Jamboree and the Genetic Genealogy Conference is to subscribe to the Jamboree blog, either through RSS feed or by updates sent directly to your email. Information on Jamboree activities and schedule details will be updated regularly on the Jamboree website.
        From the December 27, 2015 Avotaynu E-Zine:

        New York Times Cautions on European Union “Right to Be Forgotten” Rule
        In an editorial, the New York Times has cautioned European Union that the EU is “clearly motivated by a desire to protect the privacy of their citizens. But they should be careful that in trying to achieve that admirable goal they do not harm other rights, like free speech.” It expressed concern that the planned EU law “would come at a cost to free expression and leave a redacted history for Internet users.”

        The editorial can be found at
        http://tinyurl.com/NYTRTBF. It includes a good summary of the entire controversy.

        EU Privacy Regulation Specifically Excludes Holocaust-related Documents
        The problem of researchers gaining access to Holocaust-related documents about specific individuals was put to rest by a regulation drafted by the European Union. In past years, it was not uncommon for archivists to refuse access to information about Holocaust victims without proof of death. Archivists would state without proof, they would not release data until 100 years after the birth of a person.

        The European Union privacy regulation currently being formulated specifically excludes Holocaust-related data from privacy rules. EU member states are authorized to provide personal data to researchers when there is a general public interest value “for example with a view to providing specific information related to the political behavior under former totalitarian state regimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, in particular the Holocaust, or war crimes.”

        An article about the ruling can be found at

        Library and Archives Canada -- Web Pages for Genealogy Research by Ethnic Group
        Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has sections of its website devoted to researching various ethnic and cultural groups in Canada. Each page describes the Canadian history of the group, genealogical resources available at LAC, links to other sites and published material about the group. The Jewish section is located at
        http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/ history-ethnic-cultural/Pages/jewish.aspx.

        There are a total of 26 groups presented including Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. Links to these sites are shown on the Jewish site.

        Swiss Banks Release Names of Dormant Bank Accounts Holders
        Swiss banks have published the names of more than 2,600 people whose bank accounts in Switzerland have lain dormant for more than 60 years, giving them or their heirs one last chance to claim their wealth before it reverts to the state. It is believed that a number of these accounts are for Holocaust victims.

        The names can be searched at
        https://www.dormantaccounts.ch. Click on the “Publications” button at the bottom of the screen to access the search engine

        From the January 3, 2016 Avotaynu E-Zine:
        Latest Plans to Make More Government Records Available
        Note to JGSS members -- Brooke is our March 2016 speaker.

        http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/BrookeGanz.jpgBrooke Schreier Ganz, creator of the organization “Reclaim the Records,” has indicated on her website, https://www.reclaimtherecords.org, future plans to make additional government records available to the public. They include:
           • Index to all New York City marriage records, 1930–2015
           • Index to New York State Deaths (Outside of New York City), 1880–1957
           • New York City Birth Certificates, 1910–1915

        The New Jersey Birth, Marriage, and Death Indices, 1901–1903 and 1901–1914 have been acquired by Ganz. Information about this collection is at
        https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/records-request/5/. She also received from the New York City Municipal Archives the Index to New York City Marriage Applications, Affidavits, and Licenses, 1908–1929. She now has a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the New York City Clerk's Office for the New York City Marriage Index 1930–2015.

        Ganz wants other family historians to request records under their state’s Freedom of Information Law. Toward this end, she will post to MuckRock.com her filings where everyone can observe the FOIL process in real time, “and hopefully learn that it's not so scary and impenetrable after all.” Her request for the New York City marriage records, 1930–2015 can be seen at
        https://www.muckrock.com/foi/new-york-city-17/index-to-all- new-york-city-marriage-records-1930-2015-23051. She notes, “If you browse around [the MuckRock] site, you can see all kinds of FOIL requests to all kinds of agencies in every state, coming and going, accepted and not accepted and redacted and fulfilled and ignored and everything else that can happen to a request. It's fun to poke around and see what other people are doing, and how good or bad the various agencies are about their responses.”

        She is also asking people who know about historically or genealogically important public records that have limited public access—or no public access—to fill out a survey form at
        https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/ records-survey. If appropriate she will add it to her “To Do” list, which currently is quite extensive, and can be seen at https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/to-do.

        What motivated her to get involved in public access to these records, what she has accomplished to date, and her plans for the future will be the lead article in Winter issue of
        AVOTAYNU, which will be published in early February.

        Can Genetic Research Help You?
        Adam Brown, director of the Avotaynu DNA Project recently received an inquiry from a person which said, “My husband and I are exploring our families. Can genetic research help us?”

        Below is Brown’s response.

        The usefulness of DNA testing is a function of what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to ascertain whether someone is related to you or not, DNA testing is exceptionally useful. For example, if your husband is a Goldstein and he would like to know whether he and another Goldstein are descended from the same individual through their fathers, that is very easy to ascertain with a Y-Chromosome test for each of the men. If you are trying to ascertain whether you are related to a particular individual within the last four or five generations, and you and that person do not share a common male ancestor, you should be able to figure that out by having you and the other individual take an autosomal DNA test.

        If you are unfamiliar with your family history and are taking first steps to explore your family background, an autosomal DNA test can be very helpful by describing your likely ancestral origins and providing a list of individuals who match you to varying degrees. Furthermore, by comparing Y DNA and mitochondrial results to the large database maintained by the Avotaynu DNA project, you may be able to learn about your ancient and medieval origin of your specific patrilineal and matrilineal lines as well.

        If you are trying to expand your family tree by identifying specific new relatives through DNA testing, sensational results can be obtained but it requires a bit of luck (relatives need to have been tested) and possibly additional testing. This past year, for example, Avotaynu published an article by an individual who compared his Y chromosome and autosomal results to those of suspected relatives and demonstrated that Strauss families around the world were part of one and the same family torn apart during the Shoah.

        Until DNA testing becomes universal among individuals interested in Jewish genealogy (and our Jewish DNA database grows every day), there are no guarantees that DNA research will expand your existing trees, but it will most certainly expand your understanding of your family’s place in the overall Jewish family tree. Undoubtedly you will find DNA matches to numerous individuals with whom you are related. Some close relative matches may appear from out of the blue as Mark Strauss’ did, while other predicted relationships may predate records and not be readily apparent. The important lesson from the Strauss study was that many of the family members whom he matched had been previously tested; Mark had even tested himself. To quote the genetic genealogist Israel Pickholtz: “You do not just get DNA tested so you can find people; you also get tested so that others may find YOU.”

        The types of tests offered and the prices charged for them change frequently. You can stay up to date on these by participating in the Avotaynu DNA project, which offers expert advice on DNA testing and will help answer your questions. Keep abreast of the Project by enrolling for Avotaynu Online at
        http://tinyurl.com/oygl3dr and participate directly in the Avotaynu Project directly by either enrolling your existing test or by purchase a new test at http://tinyurl.com/pd8zjk2. For personal answers to your questions, feel free to email us at AvotaynuDNA@.... Additional information about the project can be found at http://www.avotaynuonline.com/2015/12/ announcing-avotaynu-dna-project.

        USCIS Announces Two Genealogy Webinars
        The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced two webinars to be conducted by USCIS historian Marian Smith as part of its “History and Genealogy ‘Your Questions’” webinar series. The first, “The Curious Case of Albert Miller,” will be held on January 22 at 10 a.m., Sacramento time. This presentation will discuss the search for answers in the case of an immigrant who arrived at Philadelphia in 1908. Questions raised by Albert Miller’s naturalization documents lead to additional information in a variety of places and some very surprising results. At the time of the event, go to
        https://connect16.uc.att.com/EventEntry/ Websites/?VaccId=uscis&ExEventID=82058965&CT=M&oldee=1 to log on. This session will not be recorded.

        The second webinar will be held on March 25, again at 10 a.m. This will be the more usual USCIS genealogy webinar, a question and answer session. Submit questions to Ms. Smith by March 11 via e-mail to
        cishistory.library@... with the subject line “Your Questions Webinar.” If your question relates to a document, attach a copy of the document to the e-mail. Documents submitted with questions may be shared and discussed during the live webinar. To ensure the hour is of interest to the widest audience, questions answered will be those most commonly asked or that generate the most useful answers.

        Information about USCIS webinars can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/HGWebinars.

        See you on the 17th, 10 a.m.
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