Jewish Genealogical Society
July 27, 2009
Monday, August 17, 7 p.m. -- Ron Young, Converting 35mm Slides to Video
Monday, September 14, 7 p.m. -- Jerry Unruh, Using the Internet for Genealogy
Sunday, October 18, 10 a.m. -- Roy Ogus, The South African Jewish Community
Notes from the July 20, 2009 Meeting
President Mort Rumberg introduced the evening’s speaker, Dr. Joel Weintraub of Dana Point. Joel is an emeritus biology professor at Cal State, Fullerton, who has volunteered for many years at the National Archives facility in Laguna Niguel. He has also worked with Steve Morse since 2002.
Joel’s two-hour presentation focused on the 1940 U.S. census which will be open and available to the public in April 2012.
“It’s 986 days away -- two and a half years,” he said about the opening of the census. And since April 1, 2012 is a Sunday, he guesses Monday, April 2 will be the first day the data will be available.
Why talk about it now, Joel asks? “Because it’s the last good genealogy census, we can showcase one-step tools and we’re looking for volunteers. And everything you know about why the census is released after 72 years is wrong.”
Taking us back to 1940, Joel noted that the minimum wage was 30 cents an hour, unemployment was about 15 percent. The census started April 2, 1940, “a frozen moment in time.”
Joel provided definitions used, such as enumerator (the counter), schedule (the forms the enumerator filled out) and ED (enumeration district).
“Those alive on that day are counted,” -- or are they?
Joel said his main research sources are a 1940 enumeration handbook, old newspaper columns and archives, a scrapbook of clippings he found on eBay, films, and a book on procedural history.
He said planning began for the census with a committee created in 1937. Some 6,000 questions were suggested to be included in the census. Among those rejected: do you own a Bible, are you over 6 feet tall, and how many dogs do you own? (Although one county in New York took a dog census in 1941-- enumerators were paid 20 cents a dog, versus four cents usually provided for humans in the regular census.)
Joel showed a clip from a short Three Stooges movie (1940) focusing no the census: “No Census, No Feeling.”
The government did a trial census using two counties in Indiana.
Highlights of the 1940 Census questions:
-- Who gave the information
-- A new question: What is your highest grade completed? (In 1930 they had asked whether the person was able to read and write. In 1940, an estimated 1/4 of the population had a high school education.)
Dropped was a question about parents’ birthplaces; there was no immigration information or dates, or naturalization, just one citizenship column.)
The 1930 census was not a Depression census -- it hit after. But the 1940 census did include a question regarding residence as of April 1, 1935, and did you move from a rural area or a city greater than 2,500 people.
Employment questions -- Did you work the week before the Census date? Were you on relief?
Some of those in CCC camps may have not been counted, some may have been counted twice.
The last question --- How much money did you earn? And did you earn more than $50 from other than wages or salary? People got furious about this question, Joel said.
The average wage in 1940 was about $1900.
Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire opposed the census and advocated a national census strike.
If you didn’t want to tell the enumerator something, you were able to fill out the form, place it in a sealed envelope. The enumerator noted where you lived and put a “C” for confidential on his form.
For the 1940 census, Joel said 5 percent of the population was sampled -- this was the first year of population sampling. These people answered additional questions.
Joel said the trend has been less questions for everybody and more sampling. On the 2010 census form, he said there are only 10 questions.
“The 1940 census was the last good genealogical census,” Joel said.
In promoting public awareness of the 1940 census, a record was made and distributed to radio stations, and a slogan developed: To Know America, Tell America.
In 1940, Joel said they began to estimate the undercount of the census. About six months after the census, there was mandatory Selective Service registration. Based on that data, there were 13 percent more blacks and 3 percent more non-blacks.
On opening day of the census, what can you expect, Joel asked.
-- Most likely, there will population schedules online (no film)
-- There will be no name index
Geographical searches and locational tools
Check out www.stevemorse.org, census folder -- where search tools are posted.
Joel has manually transcribed 28 rolls of film, the National Archives is proofing. There will be a city block index, and information about changes in enumeration districts from the1930 to 1940 censuses.
“We can use volunteers” to do more, Joel said.
All cities over 50,000 in population are done and will be searchable. Joel has taken photos of more than 61,000 frames from 1940 films. “We have lots of tools all dressed up and ready to go.”
The 72-Year Rule and Confidentiality
Joel presented a chronology about the census itself as well as the 72-year rule for release of census data.
In the Constitution, in 1787, Congress was given the right to direct the census. States have also taken censuses -- New York completed its last one in 1925.
In the 1790 census, there was no confidentiality and the tradition of census data being public continued until 1850.
Presidential proclamations beginning with William Howard Taft stressed the confidential nature of the census, but Joel said the Census Bureau didn’t follow along, and in 1917, used some of the information to track down draft evaders. In 1940, census data was used to aid in the internment of the Japanese. “And, on at least one occasion,” Joel said, “in 1943, names were given to the FBI.”
In Canada, census data is closed for 92 years, and now, if you say you don’t want your information to be disclosed, it won’t. In Australia its 99 years and 100 years in England.
Why 72 years in the U.S.? “It has nothing to do with life expectancy,” Joel said.
Is it because there are 72 columns around the National Archives building? No.
Here’s why: the 1870 census records were transferred to the Archives in 1942 and released -- 72 years after they were taken. It became the tradition, records being closed for a period of 72 years. (FYI, the life expectancy for those born in 1870, was 66.2 years.)
Joel then traced the history of divergent views on census records disclosure and restrictions, with debates between the head of the National Archives and the head of the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau usually advocated for confidentiality, the Archives for openness and the right to know.
In 1973, it was decided that confidentiality restrictions were no longer necessary. Joel said there were three things that continued to support this view -- 1) House Speaker Carl Albert was interested in genealogy, 2) so was President Jimmy Carter, and 3) the acclaim of the book “Roots,” tracing Alex Haley’s genealogy.
But, Joel said, “the director of the Census Bureau and the Archivist could changes the rule tomorrow if they wanted to.”
For more information on Joel Weintraub’s presentation and related efforts, see his Web site at http://members.cox.net/census1940/
Treasurer’s report from Allan Bonderoff: Our JGSS account balance is currently $1320.25 after recent expenditures. Your annual dues go to purchase books for our library, provide small honorariums to our speakers and more.
From recent editions of Avotaynu’s E-Zine:
New Book: Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants
The most important part of Alexander Beider’s name dictionaries is not the dictionary portion but the introductory portion, a scholarly dissertation on the book’s subject. It was this portion of his first book, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, that established him as one of the world’s leading authorities on the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames in Eastern Europe. The 300-page introductory portion of his Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names actually is his doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne’s Dept. of History.
Dr. Beider has created a new book, Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants which is that portion of the larger Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation, and Migrations focusing on the needs of genealogists. Missing from the smaller work is the doctoral thesis and the portion citing sources for all the variant names. Included in the Handbook is the description of the origin and evolution of the name, a tree-like structure of all the name variants showing how they were derived from the root name, and the all-important indexes which list all 15,000 names derived from the 735 root names. The index is in three sections: names as they appeared in the Latin alphabet, names in the Cyrillic alphabet and those in the Hebrew alphabet.
I (Gary Mokotoff) used it to research my mother’s Hebrew name: Tsiril. I was surprised to find out that it is a variant of Sarah. The Derivation Scheme for Sarah showed the evolution of the name from Sarah, to Tsore to Tserl(e) to Tsirl(e). All told, Dr. Beider identifies nearly 100 variants of the popular feminine given name, Sarah.
Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants is 232 pages, softcover and costs l$26.00 plus shipping. It can be ordered at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/handbook.htm. As an illustration of the content of the book, the complete citation of the feminine name, Sarah, is shown, including a description of its origin and derived names. Also shown at the site is a complete list of the 15,000 names..
New Book: Sephardic Genealogy–Second Edition
Jeffrey S. Malka, author of the award-winning Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World, has completely updated the book. Nearly 100 pages longer, it adds a new chapter on DNA as well as new chapters on resources for the Sephardic communities of Portugal, England, Rhodes, Hamburg-Altona and Vienna. There is also a new chapter on how to research the Spanish archives with clues on deciphering old Spanish script.
The section on the Internet is fully updated and now includes more than 300 links to sites that have information valuable to Sephardic research. The surname index alone has 3,037 names.
The book, 472 pages with hard cover, can be ordered for $45 plus shipping through http://www.avotaynu.com/books/Sephardic.htm.
Need Volunteers to Translate Yizkor Book Information
Lance Ackerfeld, recently appointed JewishGen’s Yizkor Book Project Manager, is looking for volunteers to translate from Hebrew to English lists of necrologies found in yizkor books. Yad Vashem has supplied these lists as Excel files. According to Ackerfeld, these lists have important information including names of parents, spouses, location in the war and more. To volunteer for the translation project, contact Ackerfeld at lance.ackerfeld@....
New Functions at Stevemorse.org
Stephen P. Morse reports two new functions at his One-Step site, http://stevemorse.org.
Morse has had for some time an Assembly District/Election District (AD/ED) finder for the New York State censuses of 1905, 1915 and 1925 for all boroughs of New York City. Given a street address in New York City, the function determines the correct AD/ED. You then use this result to find the census record on microfilm. FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Mormon Church, has now placed at its site images of the 1905 census for the borough of Brooklyn without a name index. Morse has update his AD/ED finder linking the results of the search directly to the FamilySearch census images.
The second function is an Ahnentafel calculator converting an Ahnentafel number into a description of the relationship between the individual and the person whose pedigree is being defined – i.e., on a pedigree chart, the person with an Ahnentafel number of 123 is the mother's mother's mother's father's mother's mother of the person whose pedigree is defined. For more about the numbering system: http://genealogy.about.com/cs/research/p/ahnentafel.htm.
JOWBR Now Has 1.2 Million Records
The JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry has been updated for the Philadephia conference. Added are more than 94,000 new records and 12,000 new photos from 16 countries. This brings JOWBR's holdings to more than 1.2 million records from more than 2,400 cemeteries (or cemetery sections) from 46 countries.
Some of the collections added in the recent update are:
• U.S. National Cemetery Records. More than 23,000 records from 150 national cemeteries located in 46 states and Puerto Rico. These records represent veterans whose markers have a Star of David on it.
• Iasi, Romania. 17,500 additional burial records translated from the Hebrew burial register from 1888–1894 and women's records from 1915–1943.
• Bathurst, Ontario. 9,000 additional records from 60 sections of this Canadian cemetery.
• Krakow, Poland. 6,300 records from the Miodowa Street Cemetery in Krakow.
• Vitsyebsk, Belarus. 5,600 cemetery records
Bayside, NY. 5,600 additional records from the Bayside/Ozone cemetery complex
• Chernivtsi, Ukraine. 4,300 additional records and photos
The database is searchable at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/cemetery/. A list of cemeteries included in the collection can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery/tree/CemList.htm
Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won’t Go Away
Mormon Leaders Present President Obama with HIs Family History
The Mormon Church practice of posthumously baptizing Jews murdered in the Holocaust made the news media again when Mormon leaders presented President Barack Obama with five leather-bound books detailing Obama's family history. What was not mentioned at the meeting was the fact that the Church had posthumously baptized Obama’s mother as well as other ancestors of the U.S. president.
In response to the revelation by the news media of the baptism, a Church spokesperson gave the standard Church response, "It is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related." So baptism of non-relatives goes on unabated contrary to Church policy but in conformity with Church doctrine.
Meanwhile the posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims continues. Baptisms as recently as July 2009 have been discovered contrary to Church policy but in conformity with Church doctrine.
Third Edition of Polish Translation Guide Published
Judith Frazin has expanded and enhanced her A Translation Guide to 19th-Century Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents (including Birth, Marriage and Death Records) in a third edition. In addition to being a translation guide, it also helps the reader locate Polish ancestral towns on a modern map, determine if old vital records exist, learn how to acquire them and—through its unique step-by-step method—decipher and translate the records. The book is published by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois of which Frazin is a former president.
Jewish Genealogical Research Trip to Salt Lake City
For those who want an additional dose of genealogical research in addition to, or instead of, the annual conference, veteran Jewish genealogists Gary Mokotoff and Eileen Polakoff are offering a research trip to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City from October 22-October 29, 2009, for the 17th consecutive year. To date, more than 400 Jewish genealogists have participated from around the world.
The program offers genealogists the opportunity to spend an entire week of research at the Library under the guidance of professional genealogists who have made more than a three dozen trips to Salt Lake City. For details: http://www.avotaynu.com/slctrip.htm.
- April 22, 2015Upcoming MeetingsSunday, April 26, 10 a.m. -- JGSS Board Meeting, Card Room, 2nd Floor. All are welcome to attend.Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m. -- "Using Genetic Genealogy to Break Through Brick Walls in Your Family Tree," -- Jonathan LongApril 19 Meeting NotesThe meeting was called to order by Librarian Teven Laxer. Teven handed out information on the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree and its webinars. On Sunday, June 7, there will be five speakers focusing on "Researching Jewish, Russian and Eastern European Roots."The jamboree is being held at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Hotel. There is an early bird discount for the jamboree until April 30. For details, go to www.genealogyjamboree.com.Teven noted that a Yom HaShoah commemoration will be held at B'nai Israel this evening at 7 p.m.Our next meeting will be held on May 10 (also Mother's Day), with Jonathan Long providing a different take on DNA researchAll are welcome to attend next Sunday's JGSS board meeting upstairs in the card room, at 10 a.m. on April 26.The meeting's program was a showing of "There Was Once," a fascinating and poignant documentary about a small town in Hungary with no current Jewish population. However, a Catholic teacher took it upon herself to track down former residents or their descendants, to learn about life before World War II and the fate of the Jewish residents. Viewers watch her efforts unfold through the film.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~GENEALOGY WITH JANICE: What’s in your closet? Old documents tell your family’s historyInsideToronto.comGenealogy with JanicePhoto/JANICE NICKERSONThese documents were found in my grandmother's closet - in a shoebox!Genealogists spend a lot of time searching for old documents in libraries, archives and online databases. But in the excitement of finding new resources, we forget that some of the richest resources are hidden away in our own closets.Every once in a while, on visits to my parents’ home, I wander down into the storage room and bring up a box of “old stuff”. Often it contains items I’ve seen before, but sometimes I get a surprise. And I always learn something new, because I open it with my mother or father (and sometimes other relatives) and new stories come to light.One of these boxes contains my father’s old school report cards. The oldest describes his adjustment to kindergarten and progress in learning how to share, line up quietly and print his name. It amuses my school-age nephews to read his teachers’ comments about his tardiness and lack of “attention to his studies”.Another box is filled with scrapbooks my mother created when she was young. It seems that she kept every birthday card she received since she was four years old! These “old-fashioned” cards are fun to look at, and reading the notes inside them gives me an extra-special perspective on the relatives who sent them, including my great-grandmothers, whom I never got to meet.Visiting with my grandparents, I found other treasures: A family Bible from the 1880s contained lists of family births, marriages and deaths; a box of sympathy cards sent to my grandparents when my uncle died 50 years ago provided the names and addresses of many distant cousins; and a yellowed envelope contained a hand-written poem written by my great-grandfather describing his bicycle treks through the countryside to visit his sweetheart (my great-grandmother).Letters to other relatives asking about their “old documents” turned up still more exciting finds including a box of letters written by my great-grandmother to her son while was working in a logging camp in 1918. These letters are full of day-to-day family news including the antics of his younger siblings, births of new babies in the family, the progress of the farm and social events happening in town.So when was the last time you looked in your closet? Have you asked your parents, siblings, cousins and other relatives about their own old treasures? I hope I’ve given you the inspiration to revisit this precious resource.---Author of ‘Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher’s Guide’ and ‘York’s Sacrifice: Militia Casualties of the War of 1812, Janice Nickerson lives and breathes genealogy. She believes that we all have interesting ancestors, we just need to learn their secrets. Find her online at UpperCanadaGenealogy.com and facebook.com/JaniceCNickerson
Ben Affleck's slave-owning ancestor 'censored' from genealogy show
Hacked Sony emails raise questions over a decision to omit part of star's family history from PBS programme, but makers say there were "more compelling" Affleck forebears to talk about.Actor Ben Affleck Photo: BloombergBen Affleck asked that a slave owning ancestor not be included when he appeared on a genealogy programme in the United States, according to leaked Sony emails.The star of upcoming movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice explored his family history on Finding Your Roots, which is broadcast by PBS.According to the emails he was one of a number of high-profile guests who turned out to have slave owning forebears, but the only one to want it edited out.Affleck was not named in the email exchange between the show's host Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr and top Sony executive Michael Lynton in July last year. He was referred to as Batman and a "megastar".Professor Gates wrote: "For the first time one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors - the fact that he owned slaves."Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners. We've never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He's a megastar. What do we do?"The professor said he believed the star was "getting very bad advice" and it would be a "violation of PBS rules, actually, even for Batman" to edit out the footage.But when the show was broadcast in October last year it focused instead on other ancestors of the actor including one who served under George Washington, an occult enthusiast, and his mother who was active in the Civil Rights era.Professor Gates issued a statement today saying he had editorial control of the series and it had "never shied away from chapters of a family’s past that might be unpleasant".He added: "In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry."In a statement PBS said: "It is clear from the (email) exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity."He has told us that after reviewing approximately ten hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative."From Gary Mokotoff's April 19 E-Zine:JewishGen Creates Educational Videos
Phyllis Kramer, Vice President–Education of JewishGen, has created a series of five-minute videos about various aspects of JewishGen and genealogical
research. They are:
• Prepare For Your Search (for USA researchers)
• Navigate JewishGen
• Find Your Ancestral Town (for USA researchers)
• Communicate with Other Researchers via:
–JGFF: JewishGen Family Finder
–FTJP: Family Tree of the Jewish People
–JewishGen Discussion Groups
• Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
• Jewish Genealogy Websites & Organizations:
–Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part I (JewishGen and IAJGS/JGS)
–Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part II
Go to http://www.jewishgen.org/education to view them.Confucius' family tree sets record for world's largest2015/04/19 22:50:40Taipei, April 19 (CNA) The Confucius genealogical line has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest family tree in history, containing the names of more than 2 million descendants, according to the latest edition of the Confucius genealogy book published in 2009.
The 2 million figure is thrice that included in the previous edition of the genealogy book for descendants from Confucius -- the famous Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher -- who lived 551–479 BC.
The first Confucius Genealogy was published in 1080 and has undergone a major revision every 60 years and a small revision every 30 years. The fourth edition, printed in 1937, contained 600,000 names.
With a history of over 2,500 years covering more than 80 generations, the latest and the fifth edition of the Confucius Genealogy was printed in 80 volumes in 2009.
This fifth edition is the first edition to include women, ethnic minorities and descendants living outside China.
Confucius has 2 million known, registered descendants, with some estimated 3 million in all. Tens of thousands live outside of China.
In the 14th century, a Kong descendant went to Korea, where some 34,000 descendants of Confucius now live. One main branch fled from Qufu, the Kong ancestral home, during the 1940s Chinese Civil War and settled in Taiwan.
Kong Weiqian (孔維倩), a 78th generation descendant of Confucius, traveled all the way from mainland China to Taiwan last year and now studies at the National Chung Cheng University in Chiayi, southern Taiwan.
Kong was a junior and marketing major at Jiangxi Normal University in China. She is now an exchange student at the National Chung Cheng University, a sister school of Jiangxi Normal University.
Kong's middle name "Wei" is universally adopted among those in the 78th generation of Confucius and the middle name "De" is used among those in the 77th generation, according to Kong Weiqian.
Based on family tradition, women usually are not listed in the Confucius' genealogy book. However, with the rise of gender equality, and the insistence of her father, her name is now in the family book as well, Kong Weiqian added.
The family-run Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC) was registered in Hong Kong in 1998 and began collecting data, according to Kong Xing (孔祥祺), a 75th generation descendant of Confucius, who was then in Taiwan to look for the descendants of the family.
The latest project to revise and update the Confucius family tree began in 1998 and was completed 10 years later.
Notably, in South Korea, the descendants of Confucius have made outstanding achievements in various sectors, while the government attaches great importance to an annual grand worship ceremony held to commemorate him.
In addition, South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University has been the center for studying and promotion of Confucianism as well as the cradle of distinguished scholars and statesmen starting from the Chosun Kingdom period for over 500 years to the present.
(By Chiang Yuan-chen and Evelyn Kao)