Next Meeting, a Week from Monday:
Monday, August 17, 2009, 7 p.m. – Converting 35mm Slides to Electronic Format
Ron Young, a member of the Nevada County Genealogical Society, will present four different methods to convert your old slides and display them without the need of a projector. Young will talk about how color shift in old slides can be corrected, and that 400 to 600 can be stored on one CD. These CDs can be played through your TV and copies can be easily made to send to relatives.
Ron specializes in computer application to genealogy projects and has written many columns for local genealogy newsletters.
Join us on Monday evening, August 17.
Phila. convention to explore Jewish genealogy
By David O'Reilly, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer August 2, 2009
For the last six years, the Rev. Patrick Desbois has traveled the back roads of Ukraine, knocking at huts and farmhouses, asking their elderly occupants to speak to him of the unspeakable.
Tonight, before an expected audience of hundreds at the opening of the 29th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, this soft-spoken Frenchman, a Roman Catholic priest, will relay the horrors and shame he found hidden there.
"Most people try to forget the genocide [of the Holocaust] in order to sleep," Desbois said in an interview Friday. "We try to awaken them."
The conference, which continues through Friday at the Sheraton Philadelphia Center City Hotel, will not dwell on the Holocaust. With walking tours and workshops bearing titles such as "Mapping Madness" and "The Role of Philadelphia Jews in the Rise of Basketball," its overall tone is buoyant and industrious.
Yet, program chairman Mark Halpern pointed out, the "imperative" that compels Jewish interest in genealogy is serious.
"Jewish families have been fractured for a long time," said Halpern, an amateur genealogist.
Decades before the Nazi extermination of six million, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Eastern Europe to escape persecution. For many of their children and grandchildren, he said, genealogy is "a way to reclaim the lives and history" of those who fled or were executed.
This is the first time Philadelphia is hosting the convention, which will feature about 125 presenters and is expected to attract nearly 1,000 visitors.
The list of workshops and activities, which runs 12 pages, includes such topics as "Finding Places in the Russian Empire," "Learning the Cyrillic Alphabet," "The Changing Borders of Eastern Europe," "Common Genetic Traits and Diseases" of Jews, and "Finding Your Jewish Ancestors on Ancestry.com."
One of the field trips will visit the South Jersey chicken farms where many Jewish immigrants started their lives in America.
Although most of its events are focused on Eastern European Jewish identity, the convention is open to the public and includes some workshops of general interest to aspiring genealogists, such as "Preserving Documents and Photographs" and "Choosing Genealogy Software."
Unlike the Nazi exterminations in Central Europe, not much was made public about the massacres in Russia during the war - until Desbois recently began to investigate.
His research has revealed that the Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after invading the Soviet Union in 1941.
Grateful for what they supposed was release from communist oppression, or fearful for their own lives, countless Ukrainians pointed out the Jews in their midst – then watched in shock as the Germans herded them into fields or forests, shot them, and buried them in mass graves.
"It was not possible to forget," Desbois said in the interview. "These were not 'one million Jews' but neighbors, schoolmates."
Most of their graves are long grown over. But Desbois, who arrives in Ukrainian villages wearing his clerical collar and asks unaccusing questions, has coaxed his interview subjects into revealing the sites of more then 800 mass graves.
So detailed has his knowledge become, he said, that he can sometimes give an answer when someone asks about an ancestor's burial site.
Lately, he said, he hears of families organizing trips to visit the villages "and pray at the mass grave" of their grandparents or great-grandparents.
In 2004 he created Yahad-in Unum, a Paris organization devoted to Jewish-Christian understanding that is funded by a Holocaust foundation and the Catholic Church. Last year he published Holocaust by Bullets, a book about the Nazi genocide in Ukraine, and said he was at work on a second.
Last week, the National Geographic Channel televised Hitler's Hidden Holocaust, about Desbois' work in Ukraine.
Ancestry.com plans to go public
IPO » Online family history company's initial offering is up to $75M of shares.
By Tom Harvey The Salt Lake Tribune Updated: 08/07/2009
Ancestry.com, the Provo-based family history online research company, hopes to go public with an initial offering of up to $75 million of shares.
In its prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company formerly know as The Generations Network reported revenues of $197.6 million and a profit of $2.38 million in 2008.
Its main Web site, Ancestry.com, offers monthly subscriptions for access to its millions of genealogical records, plus gives subscribers the ability to build family trees and share information and documents with others.
The company indicated it might use some of the new capital for acquisitions of other companies, products or technologies.
Ancestry.com declined to comment on Friday, citing a required "quiet period" before the stock sale. In its SEC prospectus, Ancestry.com said the stock sale will take place sometime after 180 days from its filing on Monday.
The company now has 44 shareholders who own 76.6 million shares of common stock. The IPO underwriters are Morgan Stanley & Co., Merrill Lynch, BMO Capital Markets, Jefferies & Co. and Piper Jaffray & Co.
See you Monday evening, August 17.
- Upcoming Meetings:--Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. – Glenn Kurtz, “Three Minutes in Poland – Discovery of a Lost World in a 1938 Film”--Sunday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m., Susan Miller, “Jews in a Moslem World”
JGSS minutes for meeting on August 2, 2015Mort Rumberg took the minutes for Susanne Levitsky who was not present. (Thanks, Mort!)President Victoria Fisch made several announcements concerning scheduling and various genealogical events. She noted that the JGSS will participate in the annual Food Faire on August 30. Volunteers are welcome.Mort provided a quick tour of his eight days in Israel for the 35th annual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. He has a data stick with about two-dozen speaker handouts. The conference program was passed around and if people would like a copy of a conference presentation’s handout, email Mort and he will forward it (his email address is below). He noted that not all presentations had handouts. He said it was an incredible experience being there and would like to return and see the many other sights he missed.President Fisch introduced the speaker, Dr. Valerie Jordan, who spoke about Family Secrets and Genealogy – how genealogy may intentionally or accidentally uncover hidden family secrets.Dr. Jordan is a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, now retired. Born and raised in New York City, she came to California in 1977. She is a second generation American from Odessa (her maternal great-great grandmother), and from Bucharest (her maternal grandmother). She passed around photos of a very handsome couple (her grandmother and grandfather) and a family photo showing four generations.Valerie defined secrets as being an intentional concealment of information from others. The information can be shameful, painful, or harmful to others. She differentiated this from privacy, which she defined as a person not wanting to share information, but the information is not shameful, painful, or harmful. She also differentiated it from unknown or forgotten information or stories.When would you intentionally tell people of a family secret? These are some of the times: When they are “old” enough to handle the information; when a specific milestone or family event is reached and it is appropriate; when symptoms or distress becomes unmanageable and needs to be revealed.Secrets take many forms. Valerie discussed the following examples of secrets that families may not want revealed:Religious secrets – possible crypto or converso Jews in the family history.Biological secrets – she gave the example of Bobby Darin’s story where he was devastated when he discovered that his “sister” was actually his mother.Secret families – Charles Lindbergh had seven secret children.Political secrets – Perhaps someone in the family having, for example, a communist party background – “red” diaper babies, slavery secretsSecret affairsMental health secrets – such as suicide, addictions, mental illness, sexual orientation/identity, abuse, etc.Adoption secretsIncarceration secretsMilitary service secretsNext, Valerie discussed genograms. Genograms are charts or pictorial displays used in family therapy and medicine to gather family history, relationship patterns, stories and medical histories. It displays medical history and family stories in a creative and non-genealogical chart. The charts use symbols and terms to describe family members and their relationships and are used by many therapists. She provided examples of such charts using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family and Bill Clinton’s family.Obviously these types of charts have advantages and disadvantages.Advantages include obtaining useful information in a collaberative and engaging manner; observing family patterns across generations; collecting stories of resilience and hardships; possibly uncovering toxic family secrets and unknown relationships.Disadvantages include providing too much detail; exposing secrets too soon; too much focus on the past; identifying relationships that a client or family member may not be ready for or even want to know. There can be little information available or too few relatives to ask.Genograms are different from genealogical family trees: vital statistics and absolutely correct data are not essential, since the focus of a genogram chart is on relationships and stories. However, these charts can be useful as an adjunct to family trees.Valerie discussed secrets within her own family, indicating that she had known the “story” her mother told her in 1967 about her maternal grandfather, but subsequently found out that her mother’s story was “wrong.” Research convinced her that her mother’s story was wrong, possibly hiding a secret. She used census data, naturalization documents, passport and travel documents, city directories, marriage certificates, and his obituary in a Marin County newspaper in May, 1962, to flesh out her family story. The information was displayed in a genogram. She is still looking for more details.This presentation was extraordinarily interesting and exceptional for the questions and audience participation it stimulated.Mort has a copy of her PowerPoint presentation and it is available upon request. Send an email to mortrumberg1@....Morton M. RumbergFrom Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zines:
New Website Identifies Victims of Disasters
Was a member of your genealogical family the victim of a train wreck, significant fire, flood, shipwreck, plane crash or other disaster? The Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter notes there is a website, http://www3.gendisasters.com, that identifies such persons.
The authors of the site must have spent hundred of hours copying newspaper accounts of the disaster and lists of the persons dead and injured or missing. There are 99 air disasters for New York State alone. The well-known Triangle Shirtwaist fire is included, of course. There are 90 overall results for persons names Cohen.
Site Identifies More Than 5,000 Facebook Sites That Focus On Genealogy
Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has undertaken the monumental task of identifying more than 5,000 Facebook sites that focus on genealogy. The Jewish section has 25 entries.
The number of Facebook sites devoted to Jewish genealogy is even greater because the list does not cross-reference a number of items. For example, not included in the Jewish portion is “Jewish Memory, History & Genealogy in Moldova” which is found only in the Moldova section, and “Dutch Jewish Genealogy” found only in the Netherlands section. It would be wise to first examine the Jewish list and then use your browser’s search engine to locate any item on the list that has the word “Jewish” or “Jews” in its name. This also applies to place names. Toronto Facebook sites appear in numerous sections.
Browse the Table of Contents to understand the scope and organization of the list. The database is located at https://moonswings.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ genealogy-on-facebook-list-aug-2015.pdf.
“Right To Be Forgotten” May Be Spreading
If you are interested in following the battle over the European Union’s “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling, the New York Times has published a comprehensive article about the subject describing the position of the rule’s advocates as well as opponents. It is at http://tinyurl.com/R2BForgotten. Another lengthy discussion can be found at https://euobserver.com/opinion/129823.
NARA and Ancestry.com Plan To Renew Their Partnership Agreement
For seven years the U.S National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) and Ancestry.com have operated under an agreement where Ancestry.com and its subsidiary Fold3 can scan documents at the Archives and have exclusive use to these images for five years. Ancestry is permitted to charge for access to the documents. After five years, NARA can use the images in any way it cares to, including making them available to the public at no charge.
The two organizations are now renewing the agreement with some changes that benefit the genealogical community.
• The five-year embargo previously started when Ancestry.com placed the images online at their site. Now the clock will start running when they complete the scanning process. Apparently it can take up to two years for Ancestry to place the images online, so the clock will start earlier.
• The updated agreement encourages Ancestry to post segments of large collections immediately rather than waiting for the entire collection to be completed.
• The new agreement outlines NARA’s commitment to protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and more specifically spells out Ancestry’s responsibilities if PII is identified.
Kaunas City Government Agrees to Maintain Jewish Cemetery
Lithuanian governments at all levels have been severely criticized by some Jewish organizations for refusing to recognize government complicity in the murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust period. Now the Kaunas City Municipality has agreed to maintain a Jewish cemetery in its city at the request of Maceva, the organization involved in maintaining and documenting the remaining Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. The city plans to tend to the cemetery in several stages and has allocated €8,000 for the inventory and identification of graves. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/KaunasJewishCemetery. It includes a number of photographs of the current condition of the cemetery.
Maceva has its own site at http://www.litvak-cemetery.info/en. Its home page includes a map of Lithuania showing the location of all known Jewish cemeteries.
Maceva Matching Grant Program. An anonymous donor has offered a matching grant up to $5,000 for the Maceva Cemetery Project. All donations to Maceva made between August 4 and August 31 are eligible to be included in this offer. Go to http://www.litvaksig.org/contribute to make a donation. Select "Maceva Cemetery Project" as the Special Project.
“New” Database: Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette
The Israel Genealogy Research Association is adding more databases to their site at http://genealogy.org.il/. One of them, “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette,” is a list of more than 28,000 persons, mostly Jews, who legally changed their names while living in Palestine during the British Mandate period from 1921–1948. This database has an interesting history.
I (Gary Mokotoff) am known for creating some of the earliest—pre-Internet—databases for Jewish genealogy including today’s JewishGen Family Finder and the Family Tree of the Jewish People. A lesser known one is titled “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette.” This minor database has significance today because it was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System.
The story: At the Jerusalem conference held in 1984, I met the late Rabbi Shmuel Gorr, who was one of the first professional Jewish genealogists. He wrote to me a few months later, knowing I was in the computer services business, stating he wanted to create a database of Jews who legally changed their name during the British Mandate period. These names were published in the official publication called the “Palestine Gazette.” He’d send me photocopies of the pages from the “Gazette” and I’d computerize the list organizing them by original name and new name. This database was valuable to genealogy because many people knew they had relatives who made aliyah (immigration) during the 1920s and 1930s and changed their name but they did not know the new name.
The list was compiled, placed on microfiche, and distributed to all Jewish Genealogical Societies.
The project was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. At that time, I observed that the European names being changed had many spelling variants. Being familiar with the American Soundex System developed by Robert Russell in 1918, I applied this system to the European names and found it did not work. One significant problem was that those names spelled interchangeably with the letter w or v, for example, the names Moskowitz and Moskovitz, did not have the same soundex code. So I developed by own soundex system and applied it to the Palestine Gazette names. This modification to the U.S. soundex system was published in the first issue of AVOTAYNU, in an article titled "Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code." Randy Daitch read the article and made significant improvements to what I had developed. The joint effort became known as the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System which today is used by JewishGen; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for retrieving case histories; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It can be used to search the Ellis Island database of 24 million immigrants at the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at the end of September.