June Genealogy Notes
Jewish Genealogical Society
June 23, 2009
Monday, July 20 Joel Weintraub – Search Tools for the 1940 Census
Monday, August 17 Ron Young – Converting 35mm Slides to Digital
Monday, September 14 Jerry Unruh – Using the Internet for Genealogy
Notes from June 15, 2009 Meeting
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. He passed around the latest catalogue of genealogy-related books published by Avotaynu. “We have a lot of these books in our library, and one of the benefits of membership is you can check them out for a month at a time,” Mort said.
Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 10 -- that is Family History Day at the State Archives in Sacramento . We’ll have a table at the annual event, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Galitzianer, the quarterly magazine of the Galicia Special Interest Group, or SIG, is looking for articles to publish. Mort says he’s submitted two and one has been published.
June 26-38 is the 40th annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree.
Bob Wascou gave an update on the cemetery project, begun 10 years ago by Judy Persin and Iris Bachman, to document the headstones in Sacramento ’s Home of Peace Cemetery. Data collected over the years has now been transferred to an Excel format, but JewishGen also wanted photos. Mort, Bob, Mark Heckman and Burt Hecht photographed all the headstones, although not yet the nameplates on the crypts.
Bob noted that Home of Peace has now renumbered its grave sites.
Burt handed out a brochure on the DNA Shoah Project, headquartered at the University of Arizona . The effort is aimed at building a database of genetic material from Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
Mark Heckman spoke about the upcoming Philadelphia conference, and a show of hands indicated four people are planning to attend. Mark is one of the program chairs as well as the technology chair. For more information, go to www.philly2009.org. Next year’s conference is a bit closer, in Los Angeles .
Gary Sandler encouraged members to check out “The Shtetl Book” from our library. He said it uses documents from Poland to paint a picture of shtetl life. “It’s a wonderful read and full of color.”
A bank account update from Allan Bonderoff: as of June 15, we have $1400.77 in our account.
Our speaker was Anna Fechter of Utah , community operations manager for the Generations Network which oversees ancestry.com. She has been with the organization for about four years and oversees Rootsweb. She also oversees about 60 message boards.
“We are the largest online genealogy site,” Anna said,” with thousands of databases and one billion names submitted.”
Anna demonstrated some of the newest features of the ancestry.com site, including the personalized home page. New records are added pretty much every day. The “Publish” feature allows you to create your own books and posters. Check out the 1940 Census Substitute.
Anna said Ancestry.com has offices around the world, including San Francisco , Seattle , the UK , France , Germany , Australia and China .
She encouraged people to take advantage of the online webinars, hosted on a regular basis. Gary Mokotoff of Avotaynu did one recently.
Anna said last year Ancestry joined up with JewishGen, providing access to their databases. “They’ve seen a huge increase in visitors” in just a short time.
Anna highlighted the value of Ancestry’s “Card Catalogue” to get a list of all the different collections. “You can type in the word “free” and find 345 free databases, if you don’t have a subscription.”
Anna was asked if you can “weight” a search to emphasize something you know. She suggested using the “exact” box.
“Always search by individual databases, rather than just putting a name in a general search on the home page. “Then, if you find the name’s not there, you can check that one off.”
Sort through things 50 items at a time -- or if you want to do 100, you can change the number 50 to 100 in the url at the top.
“If you research with other people, here, or across the country, you’ll want to put your tree on line,” she said. It can be either public or private.
And trees are a free access item, you don’t need a subscription, but you do need to have a registered guest account.
Anna said genealogy.com was bought by Ancestry -- at the time it had better census data. It hasn’t been updated in recent years, just maintained.
The Ancestry Library Edition -- free in many libraries -- allows you to get all of the world’s records, not just U.S. records. But you can’t do personal trees or message boards from the library.
There are about 750-1,000 Ancestry staff, including contractors, at any one time, with about 600 people headquartered in Provo , Utah .
Message boards -- (“they’re wonderful,” said Mort) -- there are probably more than 60,000 total, many being surnames. And Anna said every county has a message board.
The lifesaver icon you’ll see on Ancestry means “I’ll help you,” -- the feature was added last year.
Anna mentioned the World Archives Project which encourages people to volunteer to key in records. If you key in a certain amount, you’re eligible for a discount on your Ancestry subscription.
Anna is reachable by e-mail afechter@....
From June 21 Avotaynu E-Zine
U.S. National Archives to Get Alien Registration Records
During World War II, all persons over the age of 14 residing in the United States who were aliens were forced to register. They include people who immigrated decades earlier never bothered to become naturalized citizens. These records have been in the possession of the Citizenship and Immigration Services and are now in the process of being turned over to the National Archives. These Alien Case Files (commonly referred to as A-Files) will be sent to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birth date of the subject of a file. At that time, they will be available to the public. The files include information such as photographs, personal correspondence, birth certificates, health records, interview transcripts, visas, applications and more. Additional information can be found at http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2009/nr09-90.html.
Museum of the History of Polish Jews Creates Virtual Shtetl Site
In 1996, the Jewish Historical Institute Association in Warsaw undertook a project to build a Museum of the History of Polish Jews. It will open in 2011 on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The museum will be a multimedia narrative museum and cultural center presenting the history of Polish Jews and their civilization over almost 1000 years.
The museum now has developed a Virtual Shtetl site at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/?lang=en_GB. The site development is in its infancy but already there is information about many Polish towns. Potentially each town will have subsections identifying the town’s location through maps, general history of the locality, Jewish history, demography (general and Jewish population through the years), Jewish cemeteries, places of martyrology (sites that memorialize the Jews of the town), location of archival material, bibliographies and links to other sites with information about the town. Viewers are encouraged to contribute information about the Jewish presence in the town either as text, photographs, audio or video recordings.
Using the search engine requires a bit of training. In the area just below the word Search there is a place to key in any word or portion of a word. The result is any place at the site that contains the characters in the search argument. Below the data entry field is another field to search for information about a specific town; it requires the correct spelling in Polish. Possibly to help those unfamiliar with the Polish spelling, as each character is typed, all towns at the site that start with the letters are immediately displayed. Therefore typing “Bia” is sufficient to determine they have a site for Białystok. This scheme does not work, of course, for towns whose initial letter starts with a letter that has a diacritic mark such as Łańcut.
Details can be found at http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/index.php?lang=en.
British Library Places 19th-Century Newspapers Online
The British Library has launched the public version of its 19th-century British Library Newspaper Web site, located at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs. There are some two million digitized pages with full-word indexing. Searches of the site are free and downloads of full-text articles are available by purchasing either a 24-hour or seven-day pass.
Canadian Censuses 1851–1916 Now Online
Ancestry.ca, in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, has completed the first online launch of the Canadian censuses, 1851-1916. The censuses are fully indexed and include original document images. Included are more than 32 million names and 1.3 million images of original records. Additional information can be found at http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/? Ancestry.ca is a fee-for-service site.
Israel Genealogical Society Places Mount of Olives Cemetery Data on Internet
The Israel Genealogical Society has placed on their Web site an index to burials at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The source is the book, “Helkat Mehokek,” which was published in 1913. It is a bilingual (Hebrew-English) searchable database of 8,092 tombstones, mostly covering the period between 1740–1906, although the earliest inscription dates from 1646.
The database was originally made available at the 2004 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy on CD. The English version is located at http://www.isragen.org.il/siteFiles/1/153/4977.asp. The Hebrew version is at http://www.isragen.org.il/siteFiles/13/79/5778.asp.
The actual search function is at the very bottom of each of the pages named above. These pages start with a lengthy description of the history of the index followed by guidelines for using it; scroll down the page to find the results.
New York State Newspaper Site
A number of New York State newspapers have been digitized and indexed at http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html. Of greatest interest to Jewish genealogists will be the Brooklyn Eagle. There are even more recent editions of this newspaper than on that newspaper's own Internet site. I could find no place at the site that listed which newspapers and years have been indexed, but there are Brooklyn Eagle pages into the 1950s and New York Times pages into the 1920s.