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Sunday, April 19 Meeting -- Steve Morse
Phonetic Matching: An Alternative to Soundex with Fewer False Hits
Genealogist Steve Morse of “one-step” fame will present a program on “Phonetic Matching.” Searching for names in large databases containing spelling variations has always been a problem. One solution, known as soundex, is to encode each name into a number such that names that sound alike will encode to the same number. The search would then be based on finding matching numbers, which results in finding all names that sound like the target name.
The "sounds-alike" criteria used in soundex is based on the spelling, with no regard to how the name might be pronounced in a particular language. The phonetic encoding Steve will describe incorporates rules for determining the language based on the spelling of the name, along with pronunciation rules for the common languages. This has the advantage of eliminating matches that might appear to "sound alike" under the pure spelling criteria of soundex but are phonetically quite unrelated.
The work Steve will discuss was developed together with Alexander Beider.
The meeting is set for 10 a.m. on April 19.
Montreal Records Index Soon Available
Burt Hecht passes on this information from Canadian genealogist Stanley Diamond -- the JGS of Montreal now has new resources that can provide a lot of missing information. Access details will be announced soon. The group’s Web site is at http://jgs-montreal.org/.
As a registered genealogical society in Quebec, the JGS of Montreal was eligible to purchase the index to marriage and death records registered in Quebec from 1926 -96. The marriage indices may include dates/years of birth or age; death indices may include age/years of birth, date of death, location, as well as parents and spouses' names.
Fascinating NY Times Series on Civil War Soldier
(Note from Susanne: I read all five of the columns linked below. Great detective and genealogical efforts are recounted -- and don’t skip the readers’ comments at the end of each column. You don’t have to be a Civil War buff or have relatives in the Civil War to enjoy these.)
This is the fifth and final installment of “Whose Father Was He?” — an investigation into a photograph of three children found on the dead body of Amos Humiston, a fallen Union soldier, at Gettysburg in 1863. Part one can be read here; part two here; part three here; and part four here.
The soldier’s body was found near the center of Gettysburg with no identification — nothing save for an ambrotype (an early type of photograph popular in the late 1850s and 1860s) of three small children clutched in his hand. Within a few days the ambrotype came into the possessionof Benjamin Schriver, a tavern keeper in a small town west of Gettysburg. The details of how Schriver came into possession of the ambrotype have been lost to history. But the rest of the story survives, a story in which this photograph of three small children was used for both good and wicked purposes.
Tree Climbing is Her Specialty
By JIM FENNELL
MANCHESTER – A small piece of paper and a large dose of curiosity changed the life of Melinde Sanborn.
Sanborn was an undergraduate with dreams of being an archaeologist in 1976 when she came across a note at the home of her mother-in-law. It mentioned infant twins "so small they had to be incubated under teacups."
Twins? She didn't know of any twins in her husband's family. Who were they? How long ago were they born? Sanborn had to know.
She started investigating and found that there were multiple sets of twins in the family tree, even triplets. Friends and family members were so impressed they started asking her to look into their ancestry. They were even willing to pay her.
"I loved it," Sanborn said. "And I never stopped."
Sanborn scrapped her aspirations of being an archaeologist and decided she would become a genealogist. Instead of digging into the ground to find physical remains that would tell the story of cultures, she decided to start digging into files and records to tell the story of individual people.
She went from becoming a sort of historian to someone who is more like a biographer. The way Sanborn puts it, "No individual has the same story."
If that's the case, there will be hundreds of stories floating around the Center of New Hampshire when the 10th annual New England Regional Genealogical Conference is held there April 22 to 26. More than 500 genealogists will be swapping stories and sharing their methods of tracking down a person's history. At least 22 genealogical societies, including the American Canadian Genealogical Society of Manchester, will be represented.
Many people may casually associate genealogy with tracing their family tree, but other uses include proving wills and helping doctors understand the origins of hereditary issues in families.
Sanborn, who now lives in Bedford, said the highly acclaimed mini-series "Roots," which first aired in 1977, kick-started a fascination among people looking to trace their family trees. The Internet made finding the information even easier. And both of those developments helped people such as Sanborn.
"It brought a tremendous number of hobbyists," Sanborn said. "It actually increased my business quite a bit."
Inevitably, Sanborn said, the amateur is confronted by a "thorny problem," a roadblock that stops the flow of information.
"That's when they need someone like me to answer those questions," she said.
Melinde Lutz Sanborn stands by one of her many bookcases with research and genealogy books. (THOMAS ROY)
Genealogy requires a mind that is curious, resourceful and methodical enough to pore through records from libraries and courthouses, municipal documents, church registers, census records and published letters. Sanborn has that.
She is respected enough in her profession to be one of the 50 living genealogists elected to the American Society of Genealogists.
The bulk of her early work was tracing heirs to close out wills, but she now spends as much time editing and writing books and journals (40 and counting) and serving as the director of Boston University's certification program for genealogical research, for which she is also an instructor.
The versatility of genealogy is outlined in the course description, which says it can be useful in "librarianship, archival management, teaching, historical research, law, medicine, biology, or other related fields."
Part of Sanborn's preparation for the course she teaches on forensic genealogy is to have her class study a Jane Doe murder that occurred in Bedford in 1971.
Unlike the recent case of a man who was identified through fingerprints two days after being found dead in the woods of a quiet North End neighborhood, the young woman found in Bedford along a path near Kilton Road and Route 101 has never been identified.
Sanborn believes she can find the woman's identity using the principles of genealogical research.
"I've found thousands of people with names, some who were missing," Sanborn said. "I think I can flip it and find a dead person with no name.
"I've never found anybody who didn't have a name, but I'm confident it can be done. She's somebody, and we can find out who she is."
Sanborn is working with Bedford police on the case, but solid leads are not easy to come by because of a lack of technology at the time of the case and evidence that has been lost or not accounted for.
For people looking to solve much simpler problems about their family, the upcoming conference (www.nergc.org) provides an opportunity to talk with experts such as Sanborn.
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- View SourceApril 9, 2014Upcoming Meetings --Sunday, April 20 (Easter Sunday), Lynn Brown: "U.S. Citizenship Records and Research"Sunday, May 18, Leon Malmed: "Surviving a Secret Childhood in Nazi-Occupied France"Sunday, June 15, Steve Morse: The Julian Calendar and Its Importance to Genealogists"March 16, 2014 Meeting NotesMort Rumberg called the meeting and welcomed members and guests. He noted that President Victoria Fisch, who could not be present, was the subject of an article in The Voice, about an exhibit she curated at the Folsom History Museum on Pioneer Jews of the Gold Rush. She will be speaking about the exhibit at a meeting in Davis March 23.On April 4, Root Cellar will hold their annual Spring Seminar in Sacramento.Bob Wascou update -- We're pleased to hear that Bob is now at home and can receive cards and emails; no calls or visits yet.Abraham Spivak -- Longtime JGSS member Abraham sent us a note that he is moving to the Spring Lake Village senior community in Santa Rosa to be closer to one of his children. We wish him well and hope he'll stay in touch.March Program -- Frederic Hertz"Finding David Blumenfeld: A Family Reunited through Discovery of a Diary"Frederic Hertz said there were four ways he got to know his family -- from the family narrative, from the discovered diary, from what you learn on the Internet, and "what we learned when we got on a plane to Latvia."Frederic said he was fortunate to grow up in St. Paul, Minnesota with all four of his grandparents living.Three-fourths of them were born within a 100 miles of each other, and the other within 200 miles, in an area of western Latvia. It was outside the Pale of settlement but not in Germany, although German-speaking,His great-grandfather, David Blumenfeld, was born in 1863. He came to America in 1884, to a town in Michigan. "One of the rules was that Jews didn't compete with other Jews." So hiis great-grandfather moved on to South St. Paul, Minnesota, where there was no men's store.David and his great-grandmother had four children . One of the daughters was rebellious and became a Christian -- it was her grandson who found Blumenfeld's diary. The youngest of the four children went to Harvard Law School in 1923.The family did not respect David as a writer-- "My mother thought he did so to get away from his wife."David did not got to synagogue often, but did undertake a 500-page translation of the Old Testament in rhyming verse. He had it published by a vanity press. David died in 1955.In 2009, the family found a box of his unpublished work -- eight unpublished novels and the diary. "My Episcopalian second cousin found the box in a basement laundry room," Frederic said. The cousin had all the works PDF'ed for family members.The cousin's mother, David's daughter, was a poet and a writer, probably why she ended up with the books. She then passed on the box to her son.The book called "Diary" is a slightly fictionalized family story, but everything has turned out to be true, Frederic said. Through three-fourths of the book, the names are changed, then in the last fourth, they change to real names."It was pretty intense for my family," Frederic said. "My mother and my aunt did not want their portions published."The diary's events began in 1840, although written in 1920.What did the family learn from the research?"We decided it wasn't enough to read all these things," Frederic said. "We wanted to go there." He said five of them made the trip, just the right number. "It was a pivotal experience."Those on the trip included Frederic's sister, Deborah, chair of the Judaic Studies Program at UC San Diego.Frederic said they met with the head of the Jewish Museum in Riga who pulled out books on the history of their great-grandfather's village. The family's store on the town square appeared in photos for many years, until it was demolished in 1945.They thought the name of one of his great-grandfathers was Gottschalk, but discovered it was Klatsov, which means laborer. Families had to take German names."We decided we were going to recreate David's trip to the United States. There's still a boat that goes to Hamburg -- we took the same boat ride, at the same time of year."Frederic said that all during his childhood, "we thought we didn't have any family who died in the Holocaust," he said. But he found a Yad Vashem record for David Klatsov.Back to David Blumenfeld -- Frederic says he came to America because he was going nowhere in Latvia. "There weren't really any pogroms there; it was more of an economic migration than a flight from anti-semitism."But the younger brother of his ancestors, who owned a leather goods store on the village square, "was killed by the Latvians with the Nazis looking on." Testimony about him was submitted by his daughter in Haifa, which gave Frederic another connection to research, finding one relative had moved to the Bay Area. "All this research, and [one relative] knew everything, and he lived 10 miles from me."Summing up his journey sparked by the diary, Frederic said:"I have come to understand my family, its values and a sense of history, along with many of their internal conflicts, in a way I never could, but for this.""I felt like I understand my past; it also helped explain the life they created in the Midwest."What Frederic and family did on their trip:-- Visited a historian and archivist during their three days in Riga, hired one for the day in Tukkums, the family's village. They also visited Vilnius, in Lithuania, where there is a "very moving ghetto museum."Frederic's book recommendations: David Laskin's "The Family" -- Frederic says it talks about the three Jewish families entering the 20th century -- one in New York, one in Palestine, and one in Ukraine.Ellen Cassedy's "We are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~From the National Archives:Have Your Say: Open Government at the Archives!by Meredith Stewart on April 2, 2014It’s that time again! We are developing the agency’s third Open Government Plan and we need your suggestions for 2014-2016.Take a look at our overview of proposed actions for this plan and our previous plan and tell us what you would like to see included. How do you think we should further transparency, participation, and collaboration at the National Archives?We’re looking for your feedback on a variety of topics, including:· Innovation, crowdsourcing, and public engagement· Digitization and online public access· Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)· Declassification· Records managementPost your suggestions on this blog post, or email opengov@.... Please send us your suggestions by April 23, 2014 so they can be considered for the plan.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Southern California Jamboree 2014It's coming June 6-8 at the Los Angeles Marriott Hotel in Burbank. This the 45th annual Jamboree hosted by the Southern California Genealogical Society. Art Yates is a longtime attendee and sings its praises … for details on this year's event, "Golden Memories: Discovering Your Family's History," go to the Jamboree websiteApril 30 is the deadline for early-bird reservations.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tracing your family tree? The 10 best apps to help you find your relativesLaura Berry, lead genealogist for BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are?, offers an expert's guide to aid your online searches
Laura Berry, the lead genealogist for BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are? Photo: James HigginsA decade ago there was no point even considering researching your roots if you weren't prepared to spend days, months or potentially years trawling through dusty registers and reels of microfilm in an archive where the temperature is controlled at near Arctic conditions. Now I can browse centuries of marriage records on my iPad while basking in the sunshine.The internet opened up a world of possibilities for anyone eager to find out, at the click of a button, if a First World War soldier, merchant seaman or criminal lurks in their family tree. What's more, you can start the process anywhere, surrounded by family, and this is where the best genealogy apps come into their own.The smartphone has given us so many tools rolled into one – a video camera for recording uncle Albert's war stories, a voice recorder for the camera shy, interactive maps so you can find the house where your grandfather was born and a pocket scanner for quickly capturing copies of great aunt Ethel's ration book before she chucks it out without telling you.Before you know it you'll be infected with the genealogy bug, seeking out the nearest archive in search of all those documents that haven't yet been digitised.IPHONE, IPADInterviewing your family is the best place to begin. This voice recording app offers clear sound, good basic functionality and the option to tag audio files that you have saved. If you want to keep the interviews for posterity, using a plug-in microphone with your smartphone or tablet will improve the quality further still.2 ANCESTRYIPHONE, IPAD, ANDROIDStart building your family tree and find your ancestors in billions of historic records. This works best when used with a monthly subscription to the Ancestry website. Individual family records can be bought by non-subscribers (up to £1.49 a document), which is useful, but the subscription allowing unlimited downloads is more cost-effective.IPHONE, IPAD, ANDROIDWho Do You Think You Are? magazine is the UK's leading family history monthly. This forum app gives access to a rapidly growing genealogy community online. Somewhere for newbies to ask for friendly pointers and for experienced hands to share advice. It is also a good place to pick up birth, marriage and death certificates.4 TREEVIEWIPHONE, IPAD, ANDROIDFamily trees that are easy to build and to view even offline. There are three privacy settings and a function to create a fast family tree by connecting with relatives via Facebook. If you want to view historical documents, including census returns, wills and nonconformist records, you have to pay to subscribe via TheGenealogist website.IPHONE, IPAD, ANDROIDAnother great tool for creating and editing your tree. A useful feature allows photographs to be incorporated. Has a good but basic facility for looking up records, but you need to pay a full subscription to view search results. It supports 32 languages and is renowned for its worldwide genealogy community, helping you link to relatives overseas.IPHONE, IPAD (FREE)Designed to help you search for family graves worldwide, but equally useful for those who want to share their findings via crowdsourcing. Add photographs of headstones and transcribe memorial inscriptions to build up the database. Also lets you post a request for local volunteers to search for your ancestor's headstone in a cemetery. To maximise the results, use Find A Grave in combination with Billiongraves, another great app that's suitable for Android and iOS.IPHONE, IPAD, ANDROIDLinks with Dropbox and iTunes so that you can view trees and research logs created with RootsMagic desktop software. Gedcom files can also be converted from other genealogy software companies for viewing as RootsMagic files while you are out and about. Contains tools, including a date calculator, perpetual calendar, and relationship calculator.8 ONE NOTEIPHONE, IPAD, ANDROIDEvery genealogist needs a first-class filing system and One Note is proving a credible competitor to the popular app. Incorporate digital photographs of old letters, clippings from genealogy websites, videos and audio interviews into your searchable notes, share them with relatives and sync with all your devices.9 REUNIONIPHONE, IPAD (£10.49)Accompanies one of the best family tree building software programmes, Reunion. Easy to use and with detailed but simple layouts, this app lets you work seamlessly on the go. The one downside is that it is available only for those who already have the full software package installed on a Mac.10 HISTORYPINIPHONE, WINDOWS, ANDROIDPin old family photographs of a known area on to an interactive map and search for thousands of images uploaded by museums and archives. Great for comparing changes to the places where your ancestors lived or worked, as it overlays historical scenes on to Google Street View. Browse by date or location to find images and stories behind them.The Guardian is running a Masterclass on researching your family tree on alternative dates in May and June 2014~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at our next meeting, Sunday, April 20
- Laura Berry The Observer, Saturday 5 April 2014 02.00 EDT