Jewish Genealogical Society
December 27, 2008
Upcoming Meetings -- Mark Your Calendars
Sunday, January 18, 10 a.m. -- Barbara Leak, Naturalization Rules and Records
Sunday, February 15, 10 a.m. -- Gary Sandler, How My Family Unexpectedly Materialized in Ellis Island Records
Sunday, March 15, 10 a.m. -- Allan Dolgow -- Ukraine Scrapbook
Membership Dues Due
If you haven't had a chance to pay your 2009 dues yet, bring a $25 check made out to the JGSS for treasurer Allan Bonderoff to the January meeting, or mail it to him c/o the Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street #116, Sacramento, CA 95825. Your dues allow us to make library acquisitions and pay expenses for our speakers. Any extra donations you'd like to make would be greatly appreciated.
Genealogy Classes Offered
The Folsom Cordova Unified School District and San Juan School District are both offering genealogy classes beginning in January. These include Beginning Family History, Intermediate Genealogy, Ancestry.com, Using Roots Magic Version 4, New Family Search and Computerized Genealogy.
It’s unclear when registration deadlines are; for further details, contact
Folsom Cordova Unified School District
Folsom Cordova Online Registration
and San Juan Spring 2009 Catalog & Registration Form
Mail In Registration Form Only
December 14, 2008 Meeting
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order. He provided an overview of upcoming meetings: in January we’ll hear from Barbara Leak re naturalization records; in February, it’s our 20th anniversary party -- “there’ll be a surprise for everyone” along with a presentation by Gary Sandler on his success with Ellis Island records; March will feature Allan Dolgow on his recent trip to the Ukraine; and April we’ll hear from Steve Morse on another way to do name matching, to get closer to the records you’re seeking.
Mort noted that Sue Miller is recovering from knee replacement surgery, and we send her our best.
Every quarter, the Sacramento Valley Genealogical and Historical Council meets. Mort said they now have an updated speaker’s directory. If you know of anybody who would like to be a speaker, let Mort know. We have the speaker’s directory both on paper and CD.
Dave Reingold mentioned he is involved with the Florin Historical Society, for those who might be interested, or know of a possible speaker.
Mort discussed the possibility of what happens when a speaker doesn’t show up -- what options do we have? Some suggestions -- learning more about JewishGen online; watching the “Brooklyn and Soto” video on Los Angeles; watching a video on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Sid Salinger mentioned his “Googling for Grandma” genealogy talk; it was also suggested members could each share their backgrounds and what they’re searching for.
Bob Wascou noted that our library now has a copy of the CDs from the Chicago conference, donated by Carl and Sue Miller, along with a printout of what’s on each disk. The CDs are available to be checked out of the library, and each one has an index.
Bob proposed that we again make a donation to JewishGen of $100 and suggested that everyone who uses it also make a contribution. For a donation of $100 or more, you receive immediate notification of someone searching your name on FamilySearch. Bob said he went into the JewishGen database, researching his father’s mother’s line, through the Bessarabia database (of which he’s in charge) -- one hit of his name from the Message Board, from a woman who wrote him, turned out to be a relative -- “her grandmother was my father’s first cousin.”
Our December program featured “Treasures from our Attics.” Those attending shared items of personal family interest.
Marv Freedman brought in a mortal and pestle which his mother’s family brought from Russia. He recalls whenever he was sick his mother would put in by his side and he’d ring it if he needed anything. Marv also mentioned that his mother had huge copper pots brought from Russia and used for things like soup and gefilte fish.
Susanne Levitsky shared a 1910 photo of her great-grandfather in front of his general store in Yolo County, and a framed Christmas-time grocery ad from the store from 1931, that she has up in her kitchen. Many of the products included in the ad are still around today.
Gerry Ross showed a gold ring with initials that belonged to her great-grandfather who died when she was about four. Gerry was given the ring when she graduated from high school and has used it to seal things, with sealing wax.
Allan Bonderoff recounted his efforts to try to track down his maternal grandfather. “My aunt said he deserted from the Czar’s army and the Russians were chasing him,” he said. Allan has been unable to find his grandfather’s naturalization records and he’s not in the 1920 census. “My grandmother said he probably never answered the knock on the door.” One suggestion from Bob Wascou -- search the Yad Vashem database.
Burt Hecht said one branch of his family was in the printing business and he had hoped to bring in an old calendar, but hadn’t yet received it from the relative who has them.
Mort brought in two binders that showcase his family history. The first contains legal documents, census and naturalization records and family trees. The second includes humor, recipes from the old country, photos and more.
David Reingold showed an old photo of his great-grandfather and great-grandmother --“it has to have been taken in the old country, since they never emigrated.” He also brought several other old photos of his family, who lived in the Belarus region.
Bob Wascou brought a small silver kiddush cup from his father’s family, who came from Russia. There were marks on the bottom and apparently the cup was made in Moscow.
From Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zine Dec. 21
Status of Internet Access to Canadian Census and Passenger Lists
If Canadian genealogy is an important part of your research, I suggest you subscribe to “Gordon Watts Reports.” His latest e-zine summarizes the status of the digitizing and indexing of the 1851 through 1911 and 1916 censuses and Canadian Passenger Lists. Watts’ latest release is located at http://globalgenealogy.com/globalgazette/gazgw/gazgw-0114.htm.
The planned Index to Quebec Passenger Lists 1865–1900 is now available at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/passengers-quebec-1865-1900/index-e.html.
Videos of Pre-Holocaust Jewish Poland
Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok has placed on YouTube 16 videos of pre-Holocaust Jewish Poland. They can be found at http://www.youtube.com/bagnowka7. They are mostly still pictures presented in video format.
Titles include Jewish Cemeteries til 1945, Hassidim Chasidim - Holocaust, Jewish Cemeteries til 1945, Bielsk Podlaski Synagogue, Jewish Children in Holocaust and Bialystok 1939-1944
One film, Chivalrous Wehrmacht, shows photos and films of the German occupation of Poland taken by German soldiers. In one portion, there is a photo of German soldiers who had plundered a synagogue and were mockingly wearing keters (crowns of the Torah) on their heads. Another soldier was removing precious stones from the plates that adorned torahs.
Wisniewski has a major website at http://bagnowka.com/, which includes nearly 60,000 photographs --some from postcards -- of Poland. Most are pre-World War II and many are of Jewish life in Poland. A search engine at the site allows you to search by surname or town name. Warning: A tiny note states the search is case sensitive. When I searched for the Mokotow ancestral town of “warka” (lower case “W”) there were no hits. Searching for “Warka” (upper case “W”) produced 18 results.
Foundation for Jewish Heritage in Poland
The mission of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland is to protect and commemorate the surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage; they're also working to reclaim and restore properties which before WWII were the property of Jewish religious communities and other Jewish entities. They have a web site at http://fodz.pl/?d=1&l=en. This site has a list of Jewish cemeteries in Poland and their current status that can be searched from the home page. The home page also links to current and past projects of the organization. Click on “Gallery” to view information about specific projects.
Ancestry.com Now Has 1935 and 1945 Florida Censuses Online
Ancestry.com has digitized and indexed Florida state censuses for the years 1867, 1875, 1935 and 1945. Florida is one of only two U.S. states (South Dakota is the other) to have completed a census as recently as 1945. This adds to Ancestry’s Florida State Collection which already includes the 1885 state census, marriages (1822–1875 and 1927–2001), death index (1877–1998), passenger lists (1898–1951) and land records. The Florida census search is located at http://content.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=1506&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0
A Viennese-based organization, Centropa, has developed a remarkable Internet site, http://centropa.org/, that is an oral history project which combines old family pictures with interviews. Centropa interviewed more than 1,350 elderly Jews living in Central and Eastern Europe; the former Soviet Union; and the Sephardic communities of Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. They combined the text of the interviews with 25,000 digitized images to created professional-looking autobiographies of these people. The intent was to document—at the family level—what it was like to live as Jews in 20th-century Europe.
When browsing this site, be sure to include http://centropa.org/?nID=1 which provides a list of the surnames, cities and countries of the people they interviewed. From this page you can click on a specific surname, city of country that will lead to a list of persons who met the criteria. From there you can select the interview and photographs of the particular person.
Living in America: The Jewish Experience—Philadelphia
In recognition that the 2009 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Philadelphia this summer, the online Museum of Family History has created a component titled “Living in America: The Jewish Experience—Philadelphia” at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-philadelphia.htm. It currently includes three articles with photographs about Jewish Philadelphia: “The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia,” by Harry Boonin; “The Fabric of our Lives: A History of Philadelphia's Fourth Street,” by Michele Winitsky Palmer; and “Four Jewish Families in Philadelphia: The End of the 19th Century,” by Leonard Markowitz.
See you at our Sunday, January 18 meeting!
Jewish Genealogical Society
December 6, 2009
Sunday, Dec. 20, 10 a.m. – Ron Arons, “Mapping Madness”
Sunday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. – Joann Weiser, “Everyone Has a Story”
Sunday, Feb. 21, 10 a.m. – Victoria Fisch, “Jews of the Gold Rush”
Dues are Due
Treasurer Allan Bonderoff has e-mailed a notice for 2010 dues. The $25 per year helps us purchase new books, assist with speakers, provide the Einstein Center a Chanukah gift each year, and more. You can bring your check to the next meeting or mail it to Allan Bonderoff, 1935 Wright Street, #116, Sacramento, CA 95825. Any additional sums donated are always appreciated.
Magnes Museum Archives Closure
Bob Wascou advises us hat that the collections of the Magnes Museum, including the archives of the Western Jewish History Center, will be closed to researchers starting January 1, 2010 due to the imminent move of the Magnes collections to the University of California at Berkeley. Reference and other collection services will resume in 2011, once the Magnes relocates to its new facility near UC Berkeley Campus.
Reference desk hours are by appointment only. http://www.magnes.org/
Sacramento Spring Genealogy Seminar
Now’s the time to save the date for the Root Cellar –Sacramento Genealogical Society Spring Seminar. It will be held on Saturday, March 27, 2010;
The annual event will feature Daniel M. Lynch, author of “Google Your Family Tree.” He will discuss techniques for using Google to conduct effective family history research.
The Spring Seminar will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:45pm at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, 11427 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks, CA. Check the Root Cellar website www.rootcellar.com for registration details and updates. Contact Sammie Hudgens at 916-481-4930 or e-mail samihud@.... This event is open to the public.
Visiting the National Archives in D.C.?
If you’re planning a trip to Washington D.C. and visiting The National Archives, there is a new online reservation system, to make it easier to visit the National Archives. The convenience fee for online reservations is $1.50 per person. While reservations are not required to visit the National Archives and admission is free, this new system will eliminate the long lines and often lengthy wait. By going online, visitors can reserve their choice of dates and times.
Reservations will be handled through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS). Visitors to the National Archives Experience can make reservations online http://tinyurl.com/d4by4o from the NRRS Web site at www.recreation.gov. Reservations can also be made through the NRRS Call Center: 1-877-444- 6777.
Meeting Notes – November 15, 2009
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order. He mentioned that he had attended the recent meeting of the Genealogical and Historical Society of the Sacramento Valley, and they had passed out a CD with all the genealogy books in the Sacramento Library. They offer free genealogy classes and also have a speakers’ bureau.
Bob Wascou noted that all the headstones at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Sacramento have now been photographed, thanks to help from Carl Miller, Mark Heckman, Burt Hecht and Mort Rumberg. Bob said they found an original plot book and beginning minutes from the cemetery from 1924.
Our speaker for the meeting was Jim Van Buskirk of San Francisco, discussing “My Grandmother’s Suitcase.”
Jim said his grandmother, Georgette Simon, was an opera singer in France in the late 1920s and 1930s. She met her an American doughboy during World War I, Theodore Burns, who later became her husband. It was not a happy marriage but they had a little girl, Anne Marie,who Theodore took at age six to the United States in 1933. He ended up with the girl in Los Angeles. In 1945, after the war, Georgette went to the U.S. and found Theodore and her daughter. Jim remembers his grandmother, Georgette, and especially a large ring she promised him.
In October 2000, Jim, who had been estranged from his mother, heard from his brother that she wasn’t doing well, so he went up to Seattle to see her. “My mother said I have something to tell you – ‘you are Jewish.’”
His mother said there was a document somewhere with the name Bernstein.
Jim said he had written an essay a few years before entitled “At the Museum of Jewish Heritage.” And he had just published an article on “Identity Envy” about the Jewish faith.
He was having brunch with his mother when she said “I have your grandmother’s suitcase. The next day we went through it,” Jim said. “I envisioned an old suitcase maybe with stickers from places around the world – it turned out to be a piece of Samsonite.”
In the suitcase were documents, photos, contracts and letters, including letters from a young child to her mother. His mother said there was also a document in another suitcase or trunk somewhere mentioning the word “Israelite.”
Jim said when he got home he attended a Jewish genealogy seminar by Judy Baston in San Francisco, and Judy helped him get started with his research. He found a World War I draft registration card for his grandfather, Theodore Burns, which listed both Burns and Bernstein on it. It also listed his place of birth in Russia.
“My mother then started doling out cousins – one side had not changed its name and were Jewish.” One cousin sent a photo and family tree.
“I sent away for four siblings’ applications for Social Security – all had different names for their parents and different places of birth,” Jim said.
Theodore’s brother turned out to be president of a synagogue in Beverly Hills, but was introduced at the time as his lawyer.
Then Jim found a 1906 ship’s manifest for a Bernstein family and five children arriving in New York, noting they were going to meet a J. Bernstein in New York.
Jim said he read Arthur Kurzweil’s book, “From Generation to Generation,” talking about Jewish genealogy as a spiritual pilgrimage. “I realized that was what I was on. Kurzweil said the most important thing was to interview people while they were still able to tell the story. So I told my mom I was coming up to visit with a tape recorder.”
“She said it was fine for her to tell me the stories, but she didn’t want to be identified as Jewish,” Jim said. “It turns out she was sworn to secrecy by an aunt by marriage.”
Jim ultimately was able to convince his mother to talk with him, noting how he had come out to his mother years earlier as a gay man.
“I was estatic with this new-found heritage,” Jim said. “It confirmed the feelings I had had.”
He threw a party for himself – “a combination 55th birthday/retirement/bris/bar mitzvah – my acknowledgement to my friends of my Jewish heritage.”
After his mother passed away, Jim cleaned out her apartment but never found the suitcase with the “Israelite” document
On a trip to New York, he did find a Jennie Bernstein – his grandmother -- through his research, and ultimately, her gravestone.
Jim joined a Jewish congregation in San Francisco and is in the process of writing his memoir.
This article first appeared in the October, 2009 issue of “Family Gatherings, Newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County, Inc.” It is reprinted with their permission and that of the author, Ed Kritzler.
COLUMBUS’ ISLAND: JAMAICA FOR THE JEWS
By Ed Kritzler
Google “Christopher Columbus” and you find more than three million entries. Thousands of towns and cities bear his name. Yet, the wayward sailor, honored this week on the anniversary of his discovery of a New World, remains a mysterious figure. Italy, Spain and Portugal each claim his birthright, and much about him is debated. However, beyond dispute is a previously unreported relationship involving the Great Explorer and his family, and the Jews of Jamaica. From 1536 to 1655 (when England conquered Jamaica), the island was ruled by Columbus’ family who provided a haven for Iberian Jews on the run from the Inquisition.
Columbus’ close relationship with Jews began before his voyage of discovery. It was in the spring of 1492. Columbus was meeting with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. They agreed to sponsor his voyage but balked at his demand for hereditary rights to any land he might discover.Columbus, disheartened, was leaving the royal quarters when the king's financial advisor Luis de Santangel caught up with him. “Hold firm to your demand” he urged the explorer, explaining that he would try to get the royal couple to reverse their decision.
Santangel, a covert Jew, knew what was at stake. As the king’s counselor, he was aware that soon, town criers throughout Spain would proclaim the Expulsion Order of the Inquisition that mandated all Jews under penalty of death must leave. If Santangel could persuade the royal couple to accede to the explorer’s demand, Columbus, as ruler of a new land, would be in a position to provide a haven for banished brethren.
Granted an audience, the counselor addressed the monarchs. Columbus’ demand should not trouble them, he said. He and his crew could not possibly subdue one of the powerful Asian nations. However, if he was allowed to rule over a few islands he captured in the course of his voyage, Spain would gain strategic way-stations for her trading ships plying the shortcut passage to Asia. Ferdinand relented, and Columbus set sail, having gained hereditary rights over any newly discovered lands – to be “enjoyed forever by his heirs.”
With Santangel (not Isabella’s jewels) paying for the voyage, Columbus – on the same day that Jews were expelled from Spain – set sail with a hidden agenda. Along with his stated goal to gain the riches of the East, he hoped to acquire a land where Sephardi could live free from the Inquisition. It was not to be. He never reached Asia. Nor did he secure hereditary rule over any land in his lifetime. However, his promise to provide a homeland for covert Jews was kept by his family in the one “new land” the Crown eventually ceded his heirs – the island of Jamaica.
It’s been theorized that Columbus’ pledge to Santangel was reinforced in 1504, when,
marooned on Jamaica for one year, he rewarded the young sailors who, led by his brother Bartholomew, defeated a mutinous uprising by older members of his crew. One may ask the reasons for the youths’ allegiance. First, they had a fiscal interest in the voyage, as their fathers helped finance it. Second, their families, being wealthy conversos (Jews who converted to the Catholic faith), were suspect and therefore targeted by the Inquisition. To keep their sons safe, Columbus agreed to take them along.
While the Jewish boys may have looked to Columbus as their Moses (as he himself did), Jamaica was no Promised Land. Still, after leading underground lives in Spain, a year’s idyll on a tropical island was likely no hardship. How much their support played in fulfilling Columbus’ early promise to Santangel cannot be quantified. When rescued from Jamaica, Columbus and his crew were first taken to Hispaniola before departing for Spain. But the young Jews, rather than go back to the dreaded Land of the Inquisition, remained in Hispaniola and in 1509 returned to Jamaica as the island’s first settlers.
For more than a century, Columbus’ heirs kept Jamaica – alone in the Spanish Empire
off-limits to the tentacles of the Holy Inquisition that had spread over the New World. As far as Jamaica’s proprietors were concerned, as long as their Jewish settlers wore a Christian mask, no one in power might question the sincerity of their religious beliefs. Protected by the Columbus family, Jamaica’s Jews posed as New Christians from Portugal (known as Portugals), the only category of settlers that did not require proof of Catholic ancestry.
The family in partnership with Jewish traders and merchants ran Jamaica as a major smuggling port. This was revealed in 1568 when the Crown accused the current heir, Don Luis Colon, of “blocking an investigation into charges [he] used his private jurisdiction on Jamaica to cover illegal trade.” This violated Spain’s trade policy that required all goods to and from the New World to go via Seville.
Given that the Columbus family owned every inch of the island, Jamaica attracted few
Spanish settlers. No matter how prosperous they were, Spanish ranchers were little more than legalized squatters. To gain title to their estates, they needed the king to reclaim the island. Their means was the Inquisition. If they could expose Jamaica as a heretic island, it would give the Crown a reason to oust the Columbus family. In 1654, the opportunity arose when a Dutch ship carrying Jewish and Calvinist refugees from Brazil (after Portugal re-conquered the colony), was blown off course and forced to land in Jamaica. Local hidalgos thereupon invited Inquisitors from Columbia to investigate these “suspect heretics.” Jamaica’s covert Jews, fearing the inquiry could lead to their own exposure, sent a note to Oliver Cromwell’s agent: Jamaica could be conquered
with little resistance, and pledged their assistance.
The following year, a Jewish pilot led 36 English ships into the harbor, and two local
Portugals negotiated the treaty that surrendered the island. The Spanish were exiled, and Cromwell invited the Portugals to stay on as openly practicing Jews. Welcomed by the English, covert Jews throughout the New World shed their Christian cloaks and immigrated to Jamaica.
Until the 19th century, when its role as sanctuary was supplanted by the land of the free and home of the brave, Columbus’ island served as the principal haven for Jews in the New World.
In September, America’s Jews celebrated their New Year in freedom, thanks in part to the Discoverer and his family’s mitzvah in providing a sanctuary in Jamaica for Jews on the run from the Inquisition.
Author's note: Ed Kritzler, author “Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean” (Doubleday 2008), lives in Jamaica where he researched the island’s extraordinary Jewish history. He may be contacted asedkritzler@...
See you at our next meeting, Sunday morning, Dec. 20.
Jewish Genealogical Society
January 31, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 10 a.m. – Victoria Fisch, Jews of the Gold Rush – Who Knew?
Sunday, March 21, 10 a.m. – Liz Igra, Connections Small and Grand – Reflections from a Holocaust Survivor
Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. – Daniel Horowitz, Facial Recognition Technology for Genealogy
January 17 Meeting Notes
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. He noted that new members will receive a copy of the “Introduction to Jewish Genealogy” book, as well as all the other benefits of membership. For continuing members, the $25 annual dues are due.
Coming attractions: Upcoming meetings will include our own Victoria Fisch February 21, on Jews of the Gold Rush, Liz Igra on March 21 on her experience as a Holocaust survivor, Dan Horowitz on April 18 on facial recognition technology, and on May 16, Leslie Nye on handwriting analysis.
Mort passed around information about classes being held at the Sacramento Central Library during January and February, including a January 24 class by Glenda Lloyd.
The Nevada City genealogy group is holding programs on January 26 on Web sites and February 23 on the upcoming census. And the Family History Center on Eastern Avenue in Sacramento is holding classes on Wednesday evenings through March.
Dave Reingold noted that the Sacramento County History Day is coming up and judges are needed to spend about a half a day reviewing student programs. Call Myron Piper at 916-868-1049 if you might be interested.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 6 will be the county’s annual Museum Day, with free admission. See www.sacramentomuseum.org . And Dave also passes on the Web site for the Sacramento County Historical Society: www.sachistoricalsociety.org.
Bob Wascou said he is looking for photographs or other information on Sacramento burial plots going back to the 1800s. Contact him if you know of someone who might have something to share on burials prior to the establishment of the Home of Peace Cemetery.
Treasurer Allan Bonderoff reported a checking account balance of $1,414.39 after a providing a $50 honorarium to December speaker Ron Arons. Your dues go to help us pay for speakers, books for our library, and more.
January Program -- “Everyone Has a Story to Tell”
Our January speaker was Joann Weiser, who was born in Oakland in 1948, on Israel’s Independence Day. At age 5 she moved to Sacramento, where she grew up and attended school. She attended college at U.C. Berkeley and earned a degree in American History. Unsure of what to pursue next, she talked to a rabbi at B’nai Israel who linked her up with a program in Israel.
“I spent a year in a kibbutz, and fell in love with Israel,” Joann said. She returned home and began a teaching credential program at Sacramento State, where she met the head of an Israeli organization. Two years later, she had married him and moved to Israel, where she and her husband raised a family and remained for 28 years.
They are now back in the Sacramento area, where her mother, Dorothy Novack, still lives.
“Everyone Has a Story to Tell” is the name of Joann’s business, which focuses on the importance of memories. “If we don’t know where we came from and who we came from, how do we know where we’re going in the future,” she asks.
In Israel, Joann noticed the surge in personal histories being done. There was considerable interest in interviewing Holocaust survivors after Steven Spielberg set up his foundation. Then, in the last decade, there was an effort to interview many of the early pioneers of Israel.
Joann started with her mother (who was on hand at the meeting) but has since completed 7 or 8 books.
“We start with a family tree -- there’s always someone who’s been collecting family information.:”
Joann has subsequently become a member of the Association of Personal Historians, which has about 600 members across the country. “Most got involved by wanting to do their own family history.”
She said family stories are very personal but also reflect a time or place in history.
About her mother’s book, she said her children were unaware of a lot it, and there was of characteristics brought out that they’d like to share or emulate.
“And for many books people say --‘oh, we didn’t put that in the book,’ so there’ll be a second edition.
Joann said her mother-in-law was one of the last living members of her generation, and she knew if she didn’t start telling stories, they would never be told. The mother-in-law was born in Frankfurt and had been a dancer. Most of the family left Germany in 1936 to link up with an uncle in the United States, but she decided to go by herself to Israel.
Joann also did a book for Joe Schwartz of Sacramento. The request came from his children. While it was hoped to have the book ready for Joe’s 80th birthday, it took longer than expected to complete, about two years in all.
In the book, Joann touches upon Joe’s family in Helena, Montana, coming to Sacramento when he was three years old, to later in life when he and his wife, Harriette, took their children and grandchildren on a trip for their 50th anniversary.
“I think one of the biggest gifts in this book,” Joann said, ”was recounting many of the family traditions for Yom Kippur, Chanukah, seders, etc.”
“At the end of the book, there is a place to reflect back -- Joe talks about the technological changes he’s seen in his life.”
What is the process Joann uses? Here is her basis approach:
2) Word-by-word transcription (for every interview hour, about 4-5 hours to transcribe)
3) Edit material into flowing text (the most laborious part)
4) Make corrections, additions, changes
5) Choose pictures, letters, documents
6) Design book
7) Add family tree and dedication
8) Coordinate book printings
9) Delivery of family heirloom books
The books are written in a first-person narrative, so the person is telling his own story. “It’s your book; I’m just an instrument for you.”
Among the areas Joann asks about in her interviews are:
Childhood memories, parents and siblings, school days, college, marriage, profession, becoming a father or mother, significant people, hobbies and passions, becoming a grandparent, losing a spouse, reflecting on life.
In terms of reflections, things to ask about include the legacy the person wants to leave behind, hopes and dreams, lessons learned, accomplishments, values, life then and now, what you wish for your children, the way you’d like to be remembered.
Joann said the benefits of telling your story include sharing your thoughts and feelings, connecting the generations through a common thread, a positive emotional experience for the storyteller, enabling children and grandchildren to identify with family members from the past, capturing and giving life to a period of history that children and grandchildren never knew, and showing appreciation and telling someone how much you love them.
“It’s an opportunity to preserve your family heritage and give a lasting gift to your family.”
Joann added that “it’s not a confessional -- you don’t want to leave a bomb. You have to be sensitive and discreet.
The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
-- Andy Rooney
Kimberly's Genealogy Blog By Kimberly Powell, About.com Guide to Genealogy
Two New iPhone Genealogy Apps
Tuesday January 26, 2010
This month two nifty new genealogy apps have made their way onto my iPhone, which I thought some of you might find interesting.
The first is a great app for iPhone / iPod Touch users of Ancestry.com Family Trees. The free new Ancestry.com Tree to Go iPhone app offers up a lighter version of your family tree that you can easily access on the go. You can search or browse your family tree while at the library, easily add a new tombstone photo right after you take it at the cemetery, or add interview notes directly to your tree as you talk to your relatives.
You can't begin a new Family Tree via the Ancestry.com Tree to Go app (at least not yet), but you can actually scroll through your existing trees a bit easier than is offered online. The navigation is different than what you're used to online (no more pedigree view for example) due to the need for streamlining for the iPhone. You also can't yet search Ancestry.com databases and upload your finds to your tree through the app (thought that will hopefully be available in the future). But even with these limitations, I love the new Ancestry.com Tree to Go app. Download it now for free in the iTunes store and let me know what you think.
The second is an iPhone / iTouch app for Lisa Louise Cooke's Genealogy Gems Podcast which streams her free genealogy audio and video content on the go (a nice feature for genealogists like me who are always on the go!), and also offers exclusive Bonus Content. The app streams all Genealogy Gems podcast episodes, which cover everything from research strategies to celebrity and family history expert interviews; new episodes are downloaded automatically. While Genealogy Gems podcasts are free online, the new Genealogy Gems app is available for $2.99 from the iTunes Store with exclusive bonus content such as custom genealogy themed wallpaper as well as Cooke's 20 page e-book, 5 Fabulous Google Research Strategies for the Family Historian. More bonus content will be released with future episodes.
Comments January 26, 2010 at 2:58 pm
REUNION (Mac Genealogy program) also has an app for the iphone. This may have already been mentioned in previous discussions. The app has been ‘out’ for about a year.
From the January 18th and 31st Avotaynu E-zines
Online Information about 10,000 European Jewish Cemeteries
An organization, Lo Tishkach Foundation, has developed an online database of more than 10,000 Jewish cemeteries located throughout Europe. It also includes information about mass burial sites in Eastern Europe. Many entries included pictures of the cemetery as it exists today.
The current inventory by country is: Austria (66 cemeteries), Belarus (298), Bosnia and Herzegovina (28), Bulgaria (31), Croatia (82), Czech Republic (419), Denmark (16), Estonia (28), Finland (4), France (263), Germany (2401), Greece (31), Hungary (1313), Ireland (3), Italy (66), Kosovo (1), Latvia (169), Lithuania ( 417), Luxembourg (5), Macedonia (5), Malta (4), Moldova (41), The Netherlands (244), Norway (2), Poland (1453), Portugal (13), Romania (870), Serbia (103), Slovakia (415), Slovenia (8), Spain (26), Sweden (6), Switzerland (28), Turkey (50), Ukraine 1666), United Kingdom (196)
The site is located at http://www.lo-tishkach.org/. Touch the “Database” tab to open a pull-down menu with the option to search the database. The Search tab on the home page is used to search the web site, not the database.
The Lo Tishkach European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative was established in 2006 as a joint project of the Conference of European Rabbis and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. It aims to guarantee the effective and lasting preservation and protection of Jewish cemeteries and mass graves throughout the European continent. Lo Tishkach is Hebrew for “do not forget.”
Register Now for the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Registration is now open for the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy being held at the newly built JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE from July 11–16, 2010. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles is the host. Full registration prior to May 1 is $265 with spouse/partner an additional $150. There are also discounts for full-time students or those 18 or younger. It is also possible to register on a daily basis.
Register at https://www.goeshow.com/jgsla/IAJGS/2010/Registration.cfm. The complete schedule of rates including the cost for late registration can be found at http://www.goeshow.com/jgsla/IAJGS/2010/Registration_Pricing.cfm.
The conference is the premier event of the year for Jewish genealogy. It is anticipated that more than 1000 people will attend to hear presentations by renowned scholars, archivists and research specialists from around the world. The conference will offer films, methodology workshops, evening musical and dramatic performances, and opportunities to network and schmooze with a friendly, global community of Jewish genealogists. The resource room will be staffed by representatives from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Shoah Foundation, Steven Spielberg Visual History Archive, Jewish Genealogy Learning Center in Warsaw and Yad Vashem, providing attendees with one-on-one assistance with their research.
There are also lunches and dinners sponsored by Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Breakfast-with-the-Experts, Midnight with the Mavens, computer lab and tours of the Los Angeles area.
A description of the conference hotel with a link to hotel reservations can be found at http://www.jgsla2010.com/hotel-los-angeles/the-marriott-at-l-a-live/. The conference has an e-mail newsletter. Subscribe to it at http://www.lyris.jewishgen.org/listmanager. Login required.
Mount Olives Cemetery Graves to be Indexed
The graves at the world’s oldest Jewish cemetery—that on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem—are in the process of being indexed and placed on the Internet at http://www.mountofolives.co.il/eng/. Approximately 20,000 of the estimated 200–300,000 graves have been indexed to date. For notable people, there is biographical information. There is an option for anyone to upload data and photographs for a given person.
Further information about the project can be found at http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=166478
Germany Relaxes Access to Civil Registration Records
It was reported on the JewishGen German SIG Discussion Group that the German Standesamt (civil registration offices) have relaxed restrictions on access to post-1875 civil registration birth, marriage and death certificates. Previously laws restricted information to spouses, direct-line ancestors and direct-line descendants. Now exempt from these restrictions are records of births through 1898, marriages through 1928 and deaths through 1978. Additional information indicated that access to information will increase by one year every year. That is, birth records available after 110 years, marriage after 80 years and deaths after 30 years. After these time periods, records will be transferred from the local civil registration office to the local archives. It was also reported that it is now possible to obtain extracts of genealogical information or uncertified photocopies of these documents.
RTR Foundation Now Has Databases (searchable by family name) and Photos
One site I (Gary Mokotoff) visit regularly is the Routes to Routes Foundation at http://rtrfoundation.org. The site has the most complete inventory of Jewish record holdings in the archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. If not identified at the RTRF site, the Jewish vital records (birth/marriage/death/divorce) likely do not exist. The Archive Database also includes inventories of other types of documents including census records and family lists; recruit lists; lists of voters, taxpayers, merchants and school records; Holocaust records (lists of victims and survivors); immigration/migration records; land and property records; name changes; pogrom records; local government records (such as wills, notary records, etc.).
To search for records of a particular town, click on “Archive Database” on the home page and then click on “Archive Documents.” Type the name of the town of interest, and the next screen will display of the types of Jewish and civil records available for that town, which archive has the records, years available and archive file. There are no actual surnames in this search result, but rather an inventory of the surviving documents.
Beginning in 2005, Logan Kleinwaks has placed digitized and indexed Eastern European directories on his Internet site. This started with ten business and phone directories for Galicia, Poland, Posen and Romania and now has grown to more than 100 databases. He has placed them all on their own site: http://genealogyindexer.org. They include directories from Bulgaria, France, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Galicia, Silesia, Pomerania, Posen, Romania, Carpathian Ruthenia, South America and United Kingdom. A complete list can be found by clicking the word “Directories” at the upper left portion of the home page.
Also at the site are 64 digitized and indexed yizkor books and lists of Polish military officers.
See you at the next meeting, February 21…
- May 5, 2014Upcoming Meetings:Sunday, May 18, 10 a.m. Surviving a Secret Childhood in Nazi-Occupied France -- Leon MalmedSunday, June 15, 10 a.m. "The Julian Calendar and Its Importance to Genealogists" -- Steve MorseJuly -- No MeetingApril 20, 2014 Meeting NotesPresident Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order. Mort Rumberg gave an update on Bob Wascou, who is still in recovery but now at home. He requests no calls or visits but can receive emails.May 4 is the Jewish Heritage Festival in Sacramento, with food, dancing, booths. We'll have a booth once again -- members are welcome to visit or volunteer. We bring books and chat with attendees. The hours are 11 to 3.Victoria Fisch is the curator of an exhibit, "The Jews of the Gold Rush," at the Folsom History Museum. Admission is $4. Victoria says former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin has visited twice. On display are artifacts of different descendants. The exhibit runs through May 18.Teven Laxer said he attended the recent RootCellar Spring Seminar.Victoria noted that Paul Stanley of KISS, a former childhood friend, has written a book. It mentions anti-Semitism he experienced growing up.It was mentioned that Ukraine guides are available to help you with research; due to the unrest, tourism has suffered in the country.On pbs.org, you can see online "The Story of the Jews."April Program -- Lynn Brown -- "Immigration and Naturalization Part II -- Citizenship"Lynn Brown returned to tell us more about the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service --USCIS. It has evolved from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, created in 1906 to process naturalizations and keep track of immigrants. Copies of documents since 1906 are maintained by USCIS, with older records still at the National Archives or related archives.While some earlier records had been requested by Congress to be destroyed, there was no such order in World War II.In 2003, the INS functions were placed under the new Department of Homeland Security. In 2009, the USCIS created an online genealogy records request service to obtain post-1906 records.www.uscis.gov/genealogy (but loads slowly)The new word in the USCIS name was "Citizenship"-- up until 2003, didn't mention citizenship.Some records currently available:-- naturalization, September 1906 to March 1956-- 1940 Alien Registration Act-- pre-1906 records reissued, updated, many women-- pre-1906 naturalization records, upgradedThe Von Trapp Family story in the federal records: www.archives.gov./boston/exhibits/von-trapp.htmlHistorical Records:-- Naturalization certificate files (C Files): September 27 1906 to March 1956-- Registration Files, 1929- 1944 ( includes Bibles, letters from home)-- Visa Files 1924-1944WW II Alien Registration RecordsThere were 3.5 million aliens registered from 1940-44; more aliens than naturalized.Two types of alien registration files:AR-2-- a lot of info, and fingerprint and photoAR-3 -- what was returned to alien after processedResearchers must submit a request, including name, DOB, place of birthGermans (including Jewish Germans), Japanese -- enemy aliensThird party-- can white out information relating to others, but you can call (Lynn did) and obtain more informationLynn says there are some records the USCIS does not have:-- Records stored at NARA and regional archives-- WW I alien registration records-- state archived records-- locally held recordsUSCIS genealogy program -- offer two fee-for-service services:1) The first -- Index Search, $20, G-1041-- will search citations for a particular immigrant. (Teven -- took about 60 days to get; Art-- sometimes longer)2) Record Copy Search -- G-1041A -- $20/$35. For those with valid record citations, can request copies of historical immigration and naturalization records.For Index Search -- there's an online form --"I highly recommend you download the form, fill it out on paper before you do online." The more you can provide, the more accurate research the USCIS people can do. Use variations of the name, as well. You may have to provide proof of death, which could be an obituary."My mother's file had 35 pages of records -- I expected a passport application or ship's manifest," Lynn said. They do censor records, but may tell you if you ask.You can only request records for one immigrant at a time, not a family. You can send an email if you have the case number, and ask them to send additional documents.You have up to one year from the date you requested information to order citations (files) from USCIS. There's a set fee for the whole packet, whether it's one form or 50 forms.Freedom of Information Act Requests -- you can write a letter and specify your requests.National Archives -- you can register (no charge), and they can search.OPA -- Open Public Access -- anything the National Archives has, including regional offices, updated twice a week. "After you give up with OPA, you can Google it and may find what you're looking for."AAD -- Access to Digital Archives, search engineGenealogy notebook -- new rules affecting genalogy. Can have them send you updates.Other places to look for information:-- Family History Library Catalog, familysearch.org-- Family Search wiki (replaces old research guides)-- Statew Archive Records Search-- Fold3 -- can access at the Family History Center (Victoria: good images of people)~~~~~~~~~~~~~DeathCertificates.us.org to Help People Learn the Most Efficient Ways to Build Their Family Trees
>PRWEB.COM Newswire<="">Chicago, IL (PRWEB) April 28, 2014DeathCertificates.us.org is launching an education program to teach people how to use genealogical methods to build a family tree quickly and easily, the company said yesterday."We've taken a good hard look at the types of questions we receive from our customers," a DeathCertificates.us.org spokesman said. "What we've realized is that most of them are using our service to build their family trees. But they often don't have much experience with basic genealogy. So, it makes sense for us to provide them with that information because it will make using our service that much more valuable to them."DeathCertificates.us.org will work with genealogical experts to create a series of articles that will take people step by step through basic techniques to create a family tree, he said.DeathCertificates.us.org is the top online resource for accessing death and obituary records in the United States. With over thousands of records to search through, DeathCertificates.us.org makes finding any death record simple and efficient. Visit DeathCertificates.us.org today to chat with a live representative, 1-855-674-7444, or email manager@....~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~From the JGS of Ventura County and the Conejo Valley:AUSCHWITZ TATTOO NUMBERS PROJECT -- Arthur BenevisteThe Auschwitz Tattoo Numbers Photography Project is led by Gabriella Y. Karin who iscapturing and cataloguing this visual documentation of Auschwitz captives. If youknow of an Auschwitz survivor, please contact Ms. Karin at auschwitznumbers@...or at the address below with the following information:• Photograph of the person showing the tattoo• Photo of the forearm with the number and a close-up of the number• Full name (including maiden name, if applicable), city and country where personlives• Tattoo number written clearlyGabriella Y. Karin, c/o Los Angeles Museum of Holocaust, 6435 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~May 10th:Sacramento German Genealogical Society's Annual Seminar, Fair Oaks"The Latest German Research Tools" is the theme for this year's seminar. Kory Meyerink will lecture on three different topics. Learn more.:~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at our May meeting -- Sunday, May 18!