August Genealogy Update -- Meeting Aug.11
Jewish Genealogical Society
Monday, August 11 meeting -- 7 p.m.
The Science of Names -- Dr. Donald R. MacRae
Our next speaker will be Dr. Donald R. MacRae of Sacramento, who will talk about the science of names and outline the Sephardic names of Western Europe.
Dr. MacRae has a Ph.D in etymology from the University of Edinburgh and spends six months each year in Scotland as a visiting university lecturer. He has written several books on the science of names and is a certified genealogist by the American Genealogical Society.
A student of heraldry while still a boy in Scotland, Dr. MacRae assisted the Scottish court in confirming geneaology for grants and arms, using both family and clan histories.
The August 11 meeting will be held at the Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento.
Meeting Notes from July 21, 2008
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and shared several announcements about upcoming activities. The Folsom-Cordova Unified School District is offering three genealogy workshops, in advanced genealogy, Ancestry.com research, and beginning genealogy. The classes will take place in August.
The Nevada County Genealogical Society will hold its 15th annual seminor on Saturday, August 23, with Steve Morse among the speakers. In October, Family History Day will once again be held at the State Archives. Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 11, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m, admission free.
There are new books out on finding your Civil War ancestors, and Mort handed out a flyer on a DNA Shoah project. He also mentioned he received a call from a woman who has 600 genealogy books on hand, if we are interested.
Allan Bonderoff attended the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree in Burbank and donated the syllabus to our library.
Carl and Sue Miller will be attending the IAJGS conference in Chicago next month and will donate a syllabus to our library as well.
As mentioned in our recent e-mail, Family Tree Magazine this month has published a list of the 101 best Web sites; the best for Jewish Researches are Avotaynu, JewishGen, and Tracing the Tribe -- this last produced by our evening’s speaker, Schelly Talalay Dardashti.
Schelly’s presentation was entitled “Creating Hope.” She is a New Yorker based in Tel Aviv who has written newspapers columns, articles, and currently an internationally known blog, “Tracing the Tribe.” It can be found at http://www.tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/.
Schelly asked the editor of the Jerusalem Post if she could do a column on genealogy. The response was “who would read a column about dead people?” Nevertheless, shortly after her column debuted in 1999, she heard from about 100 people. The column ran until 2005, usually appearing twice a month, sometimes in a full-page spread, and also online.
She talked about some of the by-products of her column, such as families who had been separated for 100 years -- “we put them back together in three days.” This was the case with a Russian girl in Israel, reading the Jerusalem Post in her English class. “Now the families are in contact and have been to see each other in Israel.”
Schelly is a strong advocate of people putting their information in the JewishGen Family Finder. “It may take 10 years for someone to find you, it may take half an hour. Go home tonight and put your names in!”
Schelly says she always checks for common Jewish names in new databases that come up, whatever the focus.
She said her maiden name, Talalay, is a Sephardic name, with the family coming from Catalania northwest of Barcelona. “There were 20 Sephardic families in Barcelona and nobody knows why. Every archivist in Spain knows if they find something related to Talalay they have to call my researcher.”
For those looking for information in Belarus, “the Minsk archives is fantastic,” she said.
There are no records in Iran, she said, but it is possible to get a considerable amount by word of mouth. She discovered 1700 people in her husband’s family tree via an old siddur that went back three generations.
“We’re back to the same time frame in both of our families -- one through archival research and one through word of mouth.”
She said Jeff Malka is “the most brilliant person” in Jewish genealogy for Sephardic research, and has a Web site, www.SephardicGen.com .
In 2006, Schelly started her blog. “I didn’t want to say it but I didn’t even know what a blog was at that time,” she said. Her blog is the only Jewish genealogy blog updated daily. She was very pleased to be cited in the Family Tree Magazine top 101 sites.
She described an interesting study of Hispanic women in Colorado who have the “Ashkenazi” breast cancer gene. The women are apparently descendents of conversos. But Schelly said it’s not really an Ashkenazi gene, but a Jewish gene. “They said the same thing about a Parkinson’s gene.” Schelly has contacted some of the researchers to ask how many Sephardic Jews were part of the study.
Genealogy saves lives -- Schelly recounted Stanley Diamond’s efforts to find relatives with a rare disease that ran in his family, and was able to make use of the JRI Poland database to help. “We’re solving contemporary medical issues -- genealogy is now useful,” she said.
She also talked about 1,000 children who were saved by an underground railroad (not the well-known KinderTransport). In an effort to locate more of the children, she has been involved in going to senior homes in Israel to get names and photos of those not yet recorded. “One visit resulted in finding 250 names,” she said. She noted most of the seniors are not going to connect with researchers via computer.
Schelly talked about the Istanbul Jewish Genealogy Project. “It’s no longer on line, because of complaints of privacy.” But 35,000 marriage and burial records were translated -- go to benkazez.org or Google Daniel Kazez + Istanbul, and you should find information, Schelly said.
She said Istanbul has had a very active Ashkenazi community since the 14th century.
JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry -- “In Israel, we put in 34,000 names from one source, 45,000 from another.
Another source of databases -- google “Israel Genealogical Society.”
“It takes one person with one idea to start connecting all the dots for a lot of people,” said Schelly.
Schelly recounted how efforts to “improve” the Israeli phone directory have now been reversed. She called those in charge and told them (much to her husband’s chagrin) how difficult it was for Americans seeking to use the directory and perhaps find relatives who had survived the Holocaust. “I’d like to think that the guilt worked,” she said.
In addition to her “Tracing the Tribe” blog, Schelly also writes one for the My Heritage Web site. She said it wasn’t Jewish-oriented but basic research suggestions.
“The most amazing tool we have now is DNA,” said Schelly, who is involved with Family Tree DNA-- “the first, the pioneer and still on the cutting edge” of all the firms out there.
She talked about her involvement with people in Colorado and the Southwest who have a special marker. They speak Ladino, their families have been part of the conversos or hidden Jews, and they have been there since the 1600s. She said there are about 20 related families, in a matriarchal society where the women must marry within the group.
Schelly said 23-24 million Hispanics in the U.S. have Jewish roots, much of which may stem from the days of Columbus. Most of the crew on his three ships were filled with conversos. Pizzaro and Ponce de Leon both had some Jewish roots, she said.
Following her talk, Schelly took questions. Bob Wascou testified to the power of her blog -- he said she mentioned his quest for volunteers to translate Romanian records, and people came through, thanks to the mention.
New Genealogy Book from Britain
Just published is Rosemary Wenzerul's "Tracing Your Jewish Ancestors -- A Guide for Family Historians." She takes readers through the entire research process; the book also includes a brief social history of the Jewish presence in Britain, with descriptions of the principal communities all over the country.
From Avotaynu’s E-Zine
1891 Canadian Census Now Online at Ancestry.com with Morse One-Step Access
Ancestry.com now has the 1891 Census of Canada online -- 4.5 million names from all 10 present-day Canadian provinces and its three territories. Direct access to the database is at http://content.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=1274. There is an Ancestry charge.
Steve Morse has created a portal to the census at http://stevemorse.org. Advantages of using the Morse site include:
* searching all online Canadian censuses (1851, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911) from his form
* search may include middle initial, age or religion, helping to filter out false positives on common names
* searching on birth year being between two values rather than using plus-or-minus
* selecting district within province from a drop-down list instead of having to type it
Online FBI Files Accessible for Free
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Footnote.com has made its digitized collection of FBI records free of charge. It’s located at http://www.footnote.com/documents/169098/fbi_case_files/ , with more than two million documents for 1908–1922.
So you never had a relative who was a criminal? The FBI did not merely keep track of potential violators of the law, but also potential “troublemakers.” Jews have always been social activists and many of them were tracked by the FBI. I (Gary Mokotoff) searched the database for union leader Samuel Gompers, finding several records. Also Henrietta Szold, the founder of the Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. She was there merely as a reference in a passport application for her sister who was described as a Socialist.
See you at our next meeting, Monday evening, August 11!
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