May Genealogy Notes
Jewish Genealogical Society
May 26, 2008
Meeting Notes from May 18, 2008
President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order. This was his last meeting as president, and we thank him for his two years of service and leadership to our organization.
Burt announced the proposed slate of officers for the coming year:
Mort Rumberg, President
Sue Miller and Victoria Reed, Co-Vice Presidents
Allan Bonderoff, Treasurer
Susanne Levitsky, Secretary
Mark Heckman, Librarian
Bob Wascou, Registrar,
The slate was unanimously elected; it was noted that there are other offices that can be filled if someone would like to serve.
Bob Wascou noted that if you are not currently a member and would like to join, you’ll receive the Mokotoff/Blatt book -- “Getting Started in Genealogy.” It can also be purchased by members at a reduced rate.
Burt thanked everyone for their service in the past and said he is willing to help where needed in the future. He thanked Mort for arranging many good speakers.
Allan Bonderoff presented the treasurer’s report -- we have $2,232 in our account.
Mort gave an update on upcoming speakers. We will switch over to our Monday evening schedule in June.
Monday, June 16, 7 p.m. -- Steve Morse -- From DNA to Genetic Genealogy
Monday, July 21, 7 p.m. -- Schelly Dardashti, “Tracing the Tribe”
Monday, August 11, 7 p.m. -- Dr. Donald McRae, “The Science of Names”
Monday, September 15, 7 p.m. -- Allan Bonderoff, “From Shtetl to Hester Street ”
May 18, 2008 Speaker -- Judy Baston
Judy came from San Francisco to speak once again to us. She is the on the executive committee of Jewish Records Indexing (JRI), Poland and a longtime Polish researcher.
Several initial questions -- how do you make sure what country your town is in? How is it spelled? How do we find which relatives survived, what archives do we go to and how do we access them? At least 95 percent of what you want is on the Internet. Judy provided a list of numerous urls to assist us.
JRI Poland is the defacto special interest group (SIG) for Poland .
Find the country your town is in -- sources include the JewishGen Communities Database, the book "Where Once We Walked," (in our library); the Routes to Routes database and the JewishGen Shtetl Seeker.
"I had my father's Polish passport from 1922, with the name of his town -- Ejszyszki --and found my mother's town -- Eisiskes--in Lithuanian," Judy said. "JewishGen tells you the name of a particular town after World War II, before World War I."
Judy noted some basics of Polish spelling to help you find your town; accented characters can change a town's pronunciation.
You can use contemporary maps, inter-war maps and Slownik Geograficzny --"my favorite," she said, "although it's not well known." It's a 14-volume gazetteer, all in Polish, that lists towns. She said Slownik may be in the State Library in Sacramento . It's in the UC Berkeley Library, Stanford Green Library, and there is a CD-ROM for members of the Polish Genealogical Society.
To find what records exist for your town -- can use the "Routes to Routes" database, JRI, the LDS Library catalogue (800 LDS microfilms are indexed, another 600 in progress), the database for the Polish State Archives.
Polish records older than 100 years have been moved to regional locations of the archives, while those less than 100 years are located in the civil records office and are covered by privacy laws.
Judy said often births are recorded as much as 10-15 years later, while marriage and death records usually are done at the time.
The JRI Poland database allows you to search multiple fields, within a radius of geographical coordinates, and by record type and dates. You can search by a gubernia, or search across gubernia lines and get search results from more than one gubernia.
The JRI database can show you is the records are online -- if it says "complete," they are searchable. If it says "in progress" it's not searchable. For every town, there are contact people. If you contribute to a specific project, you can get an Excel file of all the records for that town.
Judy says to start your search on the JRI Poland database (not on JewishGen) -- you can search multiple fields for free. JRI Poland has a research guide in six languages.
If you don’t find your family in a JRI-Poland search, there are several possibilities: the record may not have survived; it may not have been indexed yet; it may have been indexed but is not yet in the database because costs are unfunded; the name was spelled differently; they lived in a different town; your search parameter is too narrow.
"Most towns have a surname list -- check for spelling variants," Judy noted. You can also put in square brackets in the Soundex search -- focus on one letter but putting the others in square brackets.
Judy says there are two files you must search with no geographic restrictions:
-- Aliyah Passports -- 1930s, about 4,000 names
-- Monitor Polski (legal newspaper in Poland ) -- court announcements after World War II.
JRI Poland and the Polish Archives signed a historic agreement to work together on making records available, but a year and a half ago, a new director came on board who didn't like the agreement and said it was done with. When this happened, 95 percent of the records had been indexed. "We're now working to get some kind of agreement restored."
Judy said you can still order records directly through the Polish archives, doing a bank-to-bank transfer.
Other types of records that cover Polish Jews: Books of Residents (censuses), business directories, Shtetl links, Yizkor books (there's a translation project on JewishGen) and burial lists and Holocaust memorials on the Museum of Family History Web site.
Judy recounted a story from a past trip to Poland where they were looking for archival records in a particular town. It was suggested they check with the town's churches but had no luck, then returned to the first church they visited. They were directed to the priest who they hadn't talked with before -- he said they did indeed have record books -- not one but 40, that were given to the church for safekeeping during the World War II. "It was a magic day," Judy said.
For those with questions on Polish research, Judy is willing to field e-mail questions at JRBaston@....
Some updates from the May 18 Avotaynu E-zine, written by Gary Mokotoff:
IAJGS Announces 2010 Conference To Be in Los Angeles
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles have announced that the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Los Angeles from July 11–16, 2010.
The conference hotel will be the newly constructed Marriott at L.A. LIVE, located in downtown Los Angeles. The last time the conference was held in Los Angeles was 1998.
The schedule for IAJGS conferences is:
2008 Chicago August 17–22
2009 Philadelphia August 2–7.
2010 Los Angeles July 11–16
2011 Washington, DC. Date to be determined
2012 Paris (tentative)
2013 Not determined
2014 Jerusalem (tentative)
Ancestry.com Divulges Planned Databases
Ancestry.com claims it now has 7 billion names in more than 25,000 databases. They have announced plans for future databases to be available in the next few months. A partial list includes.
* Historical newspapers – 20 million additional images and more than 1 billion names.
* Cook County (Chicago), Illinois Birth, Marriage, and Death Records (1871–1988).
* Florida State Census (update) – 4 million names added to the Florida State Censuses representing the years 1867, 1875, 1935, and 1945.
* Drouin Collection of French-Canadian Vital and Church Records (1621–1967) – 37 million names
* British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards (1914–1920) – 4.8 million names
* German City Directories (1797–1945) – 32 million names
* Ontario, Canada Births, Marriages, and Deaths – 10.7 million names
* Swedish Emigration Records (1783–1951) – 1.7 million names
A partial list of several other international collections to be released within the year includes:
* Bremen Ships Content (1815–1917) – More than 20,000 birth, death, desertions, and passenger registrations, which complements the existing Bremen content in the U.S. passenger list collection.
* British Army Service Records (1914–1920) – Service records for more than 1.2 million British soldiers who fought in WWI.
* Canadian Passenger Lists (1865–1935) – 8 million names of immigrants and other travelers arriving in Quebec and other major ports during that time frame.
* Paris Vital Records (1798–1902) – 12 million names found in original parish and civil records dating from the 1700s through the early 20th century.
* Inbound UK Passenger Lists (1878–1960) – 20 million names of passengers traveling to the UK.
British Jewish Marriage Authorisation Certificates Available
It is now possible to order online copies of Marriage Authorisation Certificates for marriages that took place under the Office of the Chief Rabbi of England from 1880–1886. Plans call for including the years 1845–1907. The project is a collaborative effort between the United Synagogue and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain.
Information of the Marriage Authorisation gives among other information:
- The proposed place and date of marriage
- The Hebrew and English names of the bride and groom
- Their addresses
- Their country of origin
- The Hebrew names of the bride's father and groom's father
- The Hebrew names of the groom's unmarried brothers and which ones intend to attend the marriage ceremony
The first batch of records (3,900) within this database are those from 17th February 1880 - 30th December 1886. Records cost £15 for United Synagogue and JGSGB members and £20 for non-members. The site is located at http://www.theus.org.uk/support_services/find_your_family/marriage_records
Index to Jews of Kreis Altenkirchen and Westerwaldkreis
Georg Stockschlaeder of Gebhardshain, Germany, is attempting to reconstruct the population of the German Rhineland from 1750 to the present. To date, he has indexed more than 200,000 persons from Kreis Altenkirchen and Westerwaldkreis. The Kreis Altenkirchen database, a work in progress, contains about 125,000 persons for the period 1600–1900. The aim is a total reconstruction of the population of 350,000 using church registers and archives. The list includes Jews.
A second database is of the Jews in the Westerwald. The database includes about 2,000 persons; more than 500 were victims of the Holocaust.
The home page of the site is http://www.ahnenreich.de/index_en-168.html. An index to the Jews can be found at http://www.ahnenreich.de/retrospect/juden. Portions of the site are in English; the majority is in German.
Fee-for-Service Program at USCIS Will Start in August
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS), formerly called the INS, will begin its planned fee-for-service program on August 13, 2008. It addresses a complaint of the genealogical community regarding very slow turnaround time for requests of immigration and naturalization documents. Its pricing conforms to the Office of Management and Budget requirement that all government offices charges fees that will recover the full cost of services provided.
Costs will be $20 for a copy of a microfilm document and $35 for a textual record.
The types of historical records available under the new program are:
* Naturalization certificate files(C-files) from September 27, 1906-April 1, 1956 (from all federal, state, municipal courts and more)
* Microfilmed alien registration forms from August 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944
* Visa files from July 1, 1924 to March 31, 1944
* Registry files from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944
* Alien files numbered below 8 million and dated prior to May 1,1951
You may view/download a complete description of the program at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-10651.pdf.
Database of Jewish Soldiers, Partisans and Workers Killed in Action During the Nazi Era
The Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. (JGSNY) has made available on its Internet site a searchable “Memorial Database of Jewish Soldiers, Partisans and Workers Killed in Action During the Nazi Era.” Information supplied is name (including patronymic), birth and death year and source. The database can be accessed at http://www.jgsny.org/russianintro.htm. Read the FAQ section first to gain an understanding of the source column on the results page.
The project is an outgrowth of work done by Alexander Zaslavsky of Israel, who has undertaken a project to pull together the information from a variety of sources, including memorial books published in Moscow, Kiev, Zhitomir and other cities and regions of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Khazakhstan and elsewhere, that contain the names of soldiers and officers killed or missing in action. The names of partisans and workers who fell during the Nazi era are also included.
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. There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/Member-Index.htm.
Jewish Records Indexing-Poland has added more than 160,000 new entries from 80 towns to the its database. The entries include data from 43 towns in the database for the first time as well as new data for later years from previously indexed towns. There were 8,700 additions to the Warsaw Cemetery database, which now has more than 65,000 entries. JRI-Poland now has indices to nearly 3.4 million records. Its site is located at http://www.jewishgen.org/JRI-PL/. There are more than 100 towns for which JRI-Poland has data that cannot be uploaded because of the lack of funding. To determine the status of indexing your town, go to http://www.jewishgen.org/JRI-PL/town/index.htm.
LitvakSIG vital records translation project has added more than 15,000 vital records: births, marriage, divorce and death records to the All Lithuania Database (ALD). The towns include Seredzius, Jonava, Panevezys, Pumpenai, Obeliai, Pasvalys, Birzai, Vandziogala, Telsiai, Plunge and more. The Rabbinate records for Rokiskis and Birzai are also included.
See you Monday evening, June 16.
Get trade secrets for amazing burgers. Watch "Cooking with Tyler Florence" on AOL Food.
Jewish Genealogical Society
May 28, 2009
Upcoming Meetings: Back to Monday Evening Schedule
Monday, June 15, 7 p.m. – Anna Fechter: Using Ancestry.Com to Enhance Your Family History Research
Monday, July 20, 7 p.m. – Joel Weintraub: Preparing Search Tools for the 1940 Census
Monday, August 17, 7 p.m. – Ron Young: Converting 35mm Slides to Electronic Format
May 17, 2009 Meeting Notes
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and talked about our recent participation at the Jewish Heritage Festival at the Capitol. “We had a lot of visibility,” with a booth under the main tent and long lines in front for people interested in searching for relatives on the Ellis Island database.
Mort said about 3,000 people attended the festival and it was a great opportunity for us. Thanks to those who staffed the table -- Mort, Bob Wascou, Mark Heckman, Burt Hecht, Carl and Sue Miller, and Victoria Fisch. Gerry Ross said she heard ours was the most successful table there.
Our T-shirts -- “We Dig Our Ancestors” drew enthusiastic comments at the festival. If you’re interested in purchasing one or more, let Mort know.
The Nevada County Genealogical Society is holding its 16th annual seminar on August 22 -- “Dig for Your Roots.” On the program is our August speaker, Ron Young. Cost is $15 for non-members; for details, call Marcia Brower at 530-272-2119.
Mort talked about our upcoming speakers -- Anne Fechter of Ancestry. com will speak on June 15; Joel Weintraub will talk about the 1940 census on July 20; and Ron Young will be here August 15 to focus on scanning slides for digital copies.
Dave Reingold mentioned that the Florin Community Strawberry Picnic will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 20. For more information, call 916-230-2360. Gerry Ross handed out information on the upcoming Sacramento Jazz Festival, Memorial Day weekend, including a pre-festival concert by the Count Basie Orchestra.
Teven Laxer, who is on the IAJGSS committee focusing on public access for public records, distributed a “White Paper” overview of their activities to our members. Details can also be found on their Web site, www.iajgs.org.
A Root Cellar member in attendance gave us a preview of its 2011 seminar speaker: Dan Lynch, the author of the new book we have in our library, “Google Your Family Tree.”
JewishGen is looking to add digital photos for its international cemetery database; several people volunteered to take photos at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Sacramento . (There were 1,954 burials there in the list we have which goes through 1999.)
From Treasurer Allan Bonderoff: Our bank account balance is $1.454.94.
All of our JGSS officers agreed to serve for another year, and were unanimously re-elected at the May meeting. Mort Rumberg will continue as president; Sue Miller as vice president in charge of programs; Allan Bonderoff as treasurer; and Susanne Levitsky as secretary.
Our featured speaker was Ron Arons, who returned to speak this time on “The Musical ‘Chicago’ and All That Genealogical Jazz.”
Ron’s presentation was modified from one presented with Mike Carson at the Chicago conference, which focused on two women of “ Chicago ” fame. One, Beulah Anna, was researched by Mike; Ron focused on Belva Gaertner, whose story he shared.
Ron compared the musical to real-life events, and researched Belva’s life before Chicago and after.
In 1926, the play opens on Broadway focusing on Beulah (Roxie Hart) and Belva (the role model for Velma Kelly).
To find out about Belva, Ron started went online and did much of his initial research in just one evening. He started with a Google Books search www.books.google.com . He also looked at the California Death Index -- Belva died in California in 1965.
A name came up, but it was misspelled. He got her mother’s last name and social security number (the same information was also in Ancestry.com.) He then found her in the 1920 census.
“The real breakthrough for me was finding out Belva’s maiden name,” Ron said. “I got it through information on Belva’s nephews.” Her maiden name was Boosinger.
Among the information Ron shared: Looking at the 1910 census, Ron found that Belva’s mother’s name was different. Ron also learned that Belva’s father had applied for a civil war pension and sent off for the file through the National Archives. And in the 1900 census, he found Belva and her sister as “inmates” in the Illinois Soldiers Orphans Home. Illinois archives information is available at www.cyberdriveillinois.com
Belva -- the Sequel. Ron went through the Google News archives and got an index to articles; the articles he was able to retrieve at UC Berkeley.
Belva and her husband, the wealthy William Gaertner, were married and divorced three times. Ron obtained the divorce papers from Cook County .
Ron also got probate information and discovered Gaertner, her husband, “got the last laugh.” In his will, he left assorted bric-a-brac to Belva but his business to the University of Chicago . The company still exists today and Ron showed a page from its Web site.
Ron obtained a photo of the couple’s house from the Cook County Assessor’s Office, and another, similar view from “ Google Street .”
He was able to get in touch with Belva’s great nephew via ZabaSearch (www.zabasearch.com), who didn’t know his great aunt was a famous person.
Ron estimated about 70 percent of his information came from the Internet; he also had a researcher help him with the Illinois archives in Springfield , as well as Bob Wascou with material from the California state archives.
Various research questions were raised by members in the time available after Ron’s presentation, including the use of Ancestry.com; why a relative whose naturalization papers specify his arrival date and ship cannot be found in the Ellis Island database; and how to get a document translated (Use the Viewmate section on JewishGen -- “the Facebook of image exchange among genealogists.”
Our next meeting reverts to the Monday evening schedule and is set for Monday, June 15 at 7 p.m.
Online Archives of California
These archives bring together historical materials from a variety of California institutions, including museums, historical societies and archives. More than 120,000 images; 50,000 pages of documents, letters and oral histories; and 8,000 guides to collections are available: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/
Ukrainian Music Festival June 6
The Ukrainian Classical and Folk Music Festival will be held at 1 p.m. on June 6, at the Valley Springs Presbyterian Church, 2401 Olympus Drive , Roseville . More than 35 participants will play Ukrainian folk melodies and pieces by native composers and also sing Ukrainian songs. Musical instruments will include the bandura, piano, accordion, saxophone, guitar and phone. For details, call (916) 482-4706 or go to www.uhc-of-nc.org .
New York State's hidden treasure -- town historians
May 24, 2009 11:40 PM ·
New York State requires that every town have a town historian. This is great news for genealogists as town historians are responsible for preserving the past. Their preservation efforts may include town documents, buildings and artifacts. They may also be instrumental in helping the town store historical items so that they may be preserved for posterity.
Although, town historians exist, they are often hard to find. Due to budget constraints, they may not have an office or website- they may even be in a town that doesn’t have a town website. If this is the case, then you will need to put on a detective hat and make a few phone calls. Start with the town hall and ask for the name and number of the town historian. You can also look online for a list of historians in New York State through the Association of Public Historian’s site. Just click on your county for a list of historians by town in that county.
Once found, a town historian can assist you in discovering little known facts about seemingly lost cemetery records, family histories and town histories that have been collected and researched. They may have the names of other researchers that can be of help to your quest.
Town historians are not archivists or genealogists. They are not responsible for researching genealogies on demand, but may be of value to those researching on their own. Town historians may also be able to view their town’s closely guarded records that may not be accessible to everyone.
For more information, contact the Association of Public Historians of New York State:
90 State Street, Suite 1009
Albany, New York 12207-1710
Phone: (518) 694-5002
Fax: (518) 463-8656
Author: Meri Rees
- Thanks so much to Mort for filling in for me and taking copious notes:
JGSS meeting Sunday, May 15, 2001President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order. He mentioned that we are looking for volunteers to staff our table at the Jewish Heritage Festival on Sunday, May 22. Mort made the following announcements:The Nevada County Genealogical Society is hosting their 18th annual genealogy seminar on August 27, 2011. The program was distributed.The CA Family History Day will be October 15. The SF Bay Area JGS will join us at FHD. Check it out at www.fhd2011.blogspot.comThe Sacramento Central Library’s genealogy programs for the rest of May and for September were distributed.The Sacramento FHC will initiate a film-ordering process from home (rather than in the FHC) in September, making it very convenient for researchers.The IAJGS is sponsoring the International Jewish Genealogy Month Poster Contest. Contest entries are due June 15.Burt Hecht announced that the Jewish Federation is no longer monitoring voice mail.Art Yatres announced that Lester Smith is in the hospital (Kaiser on Morse Ave.)Julie Lavine requested occasional help as treasurer, mostly for assistance with deposits and infrequent backup. Please let Mort or any officer know if you can help a little.Elections will be in June. Mort presented a proposed slate of officers:President: Victoria FischVP Programming: Burt Hecht (with assistance from Sue Miller and Mort Rumberg)Secretary: Susanne LevitskyTreasurer: Julie LaVine.Nominations from the floor are welcome.Coming presentations:June 20 – Monday, 7 p.m. Steve Morse, Update to DNA and GenealogyJuly 18 – Monday, Marian Kile, Organizing Your ResearchAugust 15 – Monday, Linda Lucky, Research Logs – A Powerful ToolMort also mentioned that he is trying to get Cara Weiss Wilson to make a presentation in October. Cara wrote a book about her lifetime of correspondence and meeting with Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank.Notes from the Presentation by Janice Sellers, Newspapers Online.Janice began her excellent presentation with a history of what newspapers were used for:1700 – 1800: primarily used for advertising, with some national and local news. Also included legal notices.Civil War to WWII: Large printing presses were used; Weekly newspapers became dailies; Travel (and thus distribution) became easier and faster; Local news came into its own.The question for genealogists is, Why care what’s in newspapers? Why are they important to genealogists?They provide a record of births, engagements, marriages, anniversaries, deaths and obituaries, legal notices and court cases, land issues, business news, social notes, local news, gossip, job notes, military service, moves and relocations, photographs and so much more. The articles and photos provide a wealth of knowledge of how people lived and what issues were important to them.Types of newspapers:Nationals: Wall St. Journal; USA Today; Christian Science Monitor.Large National distributed “locals”: New York Times; Los Angeles Times; London Times.Large Locals: (large distribution but more closely tied to local or regional areas): San Francisco Chronicle; San Antonio Express; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Newcastle Courant (Newcastle-on-Tyne, England); Winnipeg Free Press (Winnipeg, Manitoba).Small Locals: Titusville Herald (Pennsylvania).Ethnic Papers: Jewish Sentinel (Chicago), Edmonton Ukrainian News (Edmonton, AB, Canada).Subscription Databases to access newspapers – usually recent editions only (some up to 20 years):Sacramento Bee and California newspapers (text only) (NewsBank)Sacramento Bee images (February 13, 2008 – present) in library only (NewsBank)Newspapers from other states (Gale) – also includes foreign newspapersMagazines and Newspapers (Gale)Informe (Spanish Language) (Gale)Subscription Databases accessed at Sacramento Family History CenterNewspaperArchive.com (Godfrey)Footnote.com19th century U.S. newspapers (Godfrey)19th century British newspapersSmallTownPapers.com (Footnote.com)Ancestry.com Library EditionWorldVitalRecords.comThe Family History Center also has free database accessOther Subscription Databases:Chicago Tribune: Elk Grove Public LibraryAmerica’s Newspapers (NewsBank.com): Elk Grove Public LibraryInfotrac (Gale): Elk Grove Public LibraryNew York Times, San Francisco Chronicle (ProQuest.): SF Public Library,GenealogyBank.comUC Davis has subscription databasesTerms used above: The three largest Informational Conglomerates are: Gale, ProQuest, and NewsBank.Free Databases:Library of Congress Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/California Digital Newspaper Collection, http://ednc.ucr.edu/Catalog of Digital Historical Newspapers, http://ufdc.ufl..edu/hnccoll/WayBack Machine (Internet Archive), http://www.archive.org/Rootsweb.comwww.americanancestors.comPortals (Links to other sites):GenealogyBuff.com Newspaper Directory, http://genealogybuff.com/np/Cyndi’s List, http://cyndislist.com/newspaper.htmOnlineNewspapers.com, USNPL.com (current papers)Catalog of Digital Historical Newspapers, http://=ufdc.ufl.edu.hnccoll/Database BasicsIs the database electronically created, transcribed, or OCR (Optical Character Recognition)?Electronic: probably fairly reliable index.Transcribed: varying quality; depends on who did the indexing and level of quality control.OCR: quality of the index depends on the quality and condition of the materials scanned (maybe 95-98 % accurate) – often the original documents are not neat or correct.Look for multiple access methods: search, browse (browse can be useful if you’re not sure of your search parameters).Experiment to see how searches work:Uncommon names – basic searchCommon names that can generate hundreds of hits or more – restrict with advanced searches – such as location, date.Unexpected lack of results – test the search engine by using a common name (e.g., Smith).If you find something, copy it and save it – it might go away. An example: finding something critical only to lose it the next day because a database subscription ends.Check back with databases regularly; they are always adding new data.The tip of the iceberg: The vast majority of newspapers (and other similar records) are still NOT available online. If you can’t find a newspaper online, don’t forget to look offline. Check other library indexes, as well as Worldcat.org, Google, Idaho State Historical Society and Archives.~~~~~~~Below, a May 19 article from the New York on genealogy online.
May 18, 2011
Finding Family History Online
By MICKEY MEECEFor those on a genealogy quest, large or small, these are exciting times.Amateur family sleuths are taking advantage of the vast and growing trove of digitized records on sites like Ancestry.com, FamilyLink.com and Geni.com. More often these days, researchers are turning to social networks for help in discovering connections to the dead, and to the living.Revelations can be serendipitous, and shockingly fast. Last November, for example, it took Laurel Axelrod just two hours to locate the birth mother of her husband, Nicholas, who was adopted as a toddler. She started with crucial biographical information on Ancestry.com and finished by poking around on Facebook.Within a week, Nicholas spoke to his birth mother on the phone for more than an hour. “It’s sweet,” Laurel said, “now it’s every weekend.” This spring, the couple, who live in California, flew to England to meet his birth mother and a few other family members in person. “It’s really, really amazing,” she said.Mr. Axelrod, who is in his 40s, said he tried to search for his mother a decade earlier but found too many obstacles. He even thought of hiring a private investigator, but that would have cost thousands of dollars. Requesting documents by mail back then took months, he said, whereas the request was fulfilled on Ancestry.com in an instant for about $25.“I knew her maiden name, which was probably the most important thing because we were able to find her birth certificate and a couple of marriage certificates with her maiden name on it,” he said.Indeed, Ancestry.com is positioning itself as a tool to make such connections to relatives, said Eric Shoup, senior vice president for product.Most of its 1.6 million users are looking back in time, he said, but “we’re also using our technologies to bring you forward in time” to connect families via social media. “The more we can help members, the more we all benefit.”Not every genealogy search is so productive. Some companies want dabblers in family lore to have fun. On the new Family Village Game, for example, players discover unknown ancestors and find out facts about them.In this genealogy game, which is reminiscent of FarmVille or CityVille, players build villages, amass fortunes, buy houses and cars, immigrate family members and assign jobs. As the village grows, according to Jeff Wells, founder of Funium, the game maker, Family Village works behind the scenes to find family connections and real-world documents, including census records, newspaper articles and marriage records. Players can then examine the records, print them or store them in their personal game library.Jennifer Gray, who played the game this winter as it was being tested, said, “It is addicting.” As she played, she found an obituary for a great-uncle and for her grandmother. “Now I have copies of these,” she said, which led to a conversation with her mother about their family history.Even though she lives in Utah, “the genealogy capital of the world,” she never had a deep interest in her family tree. The game changed that, she said, and now with the aid of a son, Spencer, who helps her collect coins in Family Village to buy more artifacts, she is excited to dig deeper and share what she finds with her family.While the genealogy game is new, family trees are not. They are popping up in all corners of the Internet, and on mobile applications, as interest in genealogy grows — heightened this year by the 150th anniversary of the Civil War as well as the NBC television show on celebrities’ ancestors, “Who Do You Think You Are?”, which is co-sponsored by Ancestry.com.Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy educator, writer and speaker, said the explosion of interest in genealogy was because of “an alignment of technology planets.” First came software, then the Internet and now social networks, he said.“In the genealogy world, we have always been a social group,” said Mr. MacEntee, founder of GeneaBloggers.com, a community resource hub. “In a way, social media is a natural progression.”Facebook and Twitter users are flocking to the sites that cater to their need for social interaction and collaboration. WikiTree.com, for example, is a free and collaborative project created in 2008 to connect personal family histories with one worldwide family tree.Contributors who abide by an honor code, according to the site, edit the content. Each profile page on WikiTree.com has a trusted list that enables people to share information but protect confidential information. As of this week, more than 27,000 people had created more than 1.4 million profiles.“This is a great time to be in genealogy,” said Mr. MacEntee, who became interested in the field after watching the 1977 television miniseries “Roots.”While much data can be found free, many sites offer premium content for a monthly fee. Membership rates vary depending on the length of the subscription. For example, an annual membership at Ancestry.com costs $12.95 a month for United States records, and $24.95 for worldwide records.For those signing up for the plus membership at FamilyLink.com, to gain access to its database and historical newspaper and record collection, fees range from $4.95 a month for a two-year subscription to $12.95 month by month.Tpstry.com aims to fill the void left when searchers hit a dead end with their historical document searches. The site prompts users to tap into the knowledge that exists in the minds of relatives to answer questions: Who was Mom’s prom date? Did anyone in the family attend an Elvis concert? What was Granddad’s dream car? The goal is to collect odds and ends and patch them into a larger, richer picture of the past, according to the site.Tpstry.com automatically generates a Family Memories Web site to feature the collection as a digital magazine format with people, places, events and image sections. Each entry has a page that displays all answered questions and tagged images. A timeline provides important dates. Tpstry.com provides a basic service free and has not set pricing for its premium plan.Along those lines, Footnote.com, acquired by Ancestry.com last year, introduced the I Remember Facebook application for its registered users in 2009 to “preserve, honor and share the memories of anyone who influenced your life,” including family, friends, teachers, coaches, and fallen soldiers. Users can search by name or create a page. Posts on Facebook also show up on Footnote.While many sites like Footnote.com offer access to historical collections, some sites sell keepsakes. VintageAerial.com, which has amassed a collection of more than 25 million photographs of small farms and rural America spanning the second half of the 20th century, sells framed prints starting at $349. Family tree makers at Geni.com can buy a 16-by-20-inch printed poster of their tree for $30, or get it framed and on canvas for $120.In the future, the deceased may be able to speak from beyond the grave. A company called Timeless Footsteps is marketing a product using the latest scanning technology called Footprints, which are business-size placards that can be affixed to a headstone.Each plaque contains a unique Quick Response code, one of those square blotchy bar codes that can be scanned by visitors using a smartphone QR code reader. The code directs visitors to a Web page to learn more about the deceased, including a biography and photographs, and connections to social networking pages like Facebook and Twitter.~~~~~~~~~~~US governor signs Holocaust disclosure lawBy Karin Zeitvogel (AFP) – May 19, 2011ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — A US governor Thursday signed landmark legislation requiring France's state-owned SNCF railway company to disclose its role in World War II deportations to Nazi death camps before it bids on US rail contracts.The law is the first of its kind in the United States, and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said he hoped it "will become a national model sooner rather than later."The law, said O'Malley, lets "Holocaust survivors who are still with us... know that the atrocities inflicted on their families and their people will never be forgotten and will never be repeated."The Maryland law requires the French rail group to be transparent about its involvement in hauling tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths in World War II, while a federal law that is working its way through Congress would allow lawsuits against the SNCF over its role in the Holocaust.Ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz, who in 1942 escaped from an SNCF transport bound for the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz by prying apart the windows of a cattle car he was crammed into with 50 deportees, hailed the Maryland legislation as "a good beginning."But 66 years after the end of World War II, Bretholz said he mainly "wants a declaration of contrition from the SNCF -- 'Yes, we've done it, we are guilty.'" Bretholz wrote a book about his escape and survival in World War II, telling a story of 1,000 Jews packed 50 to a rail car who were with him on that November morning in 1942 when he and 1,000 others were shipped out of Drancy, near Paris Many died en route to Auschwitz and 773 were gassed on arrival at the Nazi death camp in southern Poland. Only Bretholz and a friend of his escaped.The SNCF's US affiliate was awarded a contract to run commuter rail services Maryland's neighboring state of Virginia, and wanted to bid for a similar contract to run Maryland's MARC commuter trains.Last year, the French rail company bid on a $2.6-billion rail project linking the Florida cities of Orlando and Tampa that is part of President Barack Obama's multi-billion-dollar initiative to improve rail service across the United States, and a rail project in California.Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved