Jewish Genealogical Society
April 4, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. – Daniel Horowitz, Facial Recognition Technology for Genealogy
Sunday, May 16, 10 a.m. – Leslie Nye, Handwriting Analysis
Monday, June 21, 7 p.m. -- Marilyn Ulbricht, “Digging It, Researching Outside the Box”
Notes from March 21, 2010 Meeting
Bob Wascou called the meeting to order; President Mort Rumberg was away visiting a new grandchild.
Bob noted that Sacramento’s Central Library allows you to book a 30-minute genealogy session for free. Call 916-264-2920 or register online at www.saclibrary.org. There are upcoming programs on May 16 and 23.
The Sonoma County Genealogical Society is holding a seminar April 24 in Santa Rosa. For details go to www.scgs.org.
Family History Day at the State Archives is set for Saturday, October 9. We’ll plan to have a table once again.
In May, our JGSSS will hold an election for next year’s officers. Burt Hecht and Carl Miller are on the nominating committee and would like to hear from you if you’re interested in serving in a position.
Mark Heckman encouraged people to make use of our library. “There’s probably at least one book on almost any topic.” Members are allowed to check out books for a month at a time.
Bob said he’s working on a database for Sacramento’s Home of Peace cemetery and researching to verify that the information he has is correct. “There is no complete list of the burials in the old cemetery,” Bob said, “and we’re trying to recreate that list.”
Allan Bonderoff treasurer’s report for March 21: there is $1661.70 in our account.
March Speaker – Liz Igra
Holocaust survivor Liz Igra of Sacramento shared her fascinating personal story with us in March. Liz is a retired teacher and speaks to schools about the Holocaust. She is 75 years old but was only about four when the events of World War II began to impact her life.
“Iris Bachman (a JGSS member) urged me to keep speaking to groups, and found documents for me, “Liz says. “She gave me the energy to go ahead.”
Liz found that in talking to people about the Holocaust, they knew history, dates and places “but didn’t understand. It became my quest to help teachers and kids understand.”
“I was not aware that what I was remembering was Hitler’s strategy of deception – I just remembered that it happened.”
Liz said her father was a surgeon educated in Switzerland; both he and her mother, as well as Liz, were born in Krakow, Poland.
“I was the first and only grandchild on both sides of the family and terribly spoiled,” she says. “I had a nanny and my mother had maids.”
Liz said her parents were pretty assimilated and did not speak Yiddish.
“The first thing I remember is when the Germans came to town and my aunt was told her husband wouldn’t be coming home tonight – he was needed for the war effort. He went to the Black Forest, where he was killed – although we didn’t know it at the time.”
Soon after that, Liz says the Germans came to their house and “very politely” asked if we could share the house with a German officer, and they did,.
Then they were told they needed ID badges with a star or armband. “Within weeks or months, we were told we needed to move to a certain part of town.” Liz says one part of their apartment faced the ghetto, the other side, the town. She said they were not hungry at first, since her father often received food in payment for his medical work.
“In 1942, the commandant of the ghetto told my father that there would be a relocation of women and children. My father took me and my mother to the bus stop, and that was the last time we saw him.”
Liz said the next morning the commandant said they could return and take what they could carry into the ghetto, which was made much smaller. “I was allowed to take my buggy with my doll.”
There wasn’t much food, Liz recalls. “What I remember most is the bread ration – black bread, sometimes with straw.”
Not long after she recalls a jeep coming down the street, with a man standing on top, shouting. He made everyone come out. “A mob of people was walking down the street, and not long after we heard horrible sounds of people screaming and crying, and shots being fired, and then cheering as people were being killed in the marketplace. There was a children’s massacre. The cobblestones started to turn pink. I never saw my aunt or little cousin after that.”
Liz said her nanny who had stayed in their house overhead that the ghetto would be liquidated. She was able to smuggle Liz and her mother out after they hid under her bed.
“We got on a train for Krakow and went to a safe house. Within days, there was a knock at the door, two uniformed and two non-uniformed men. The woman getting money from us was also getting money by denouncing us.”
Her mother asked to get a glass of water, and they were able to run downstairs to the street and escape. They got new papers and her mother got a job, putting Liz with a family while she worked.
“One day at lunch, someone told my mother, ‘I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but someone told me you were Jewish.’ That night, my mother and I got on the train and got off finally somewhere near the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. Then we started walking.”
Liz says they walked at night and hid during the day in the forest. “Our food was snow, sugar cubes and alcohol drops.”
Her mother recited children’s poetry, family stories and started teaching the multiplication tables. And then Liz got the chicken pox. Her mother had two choices – to risk being caught to get help for Liz, or to bury her in the forest. She picked the first and went to a forester’s hut.
The pair ended up joining a family with a guide – “my mother bribed everybody, she was prepared” – and they went from Czechoslovakia to Hungary. The guide told them at 6 o’clock that evening they should cross the road and would be in Hungary. Except that they were intercepted by border police and taken to jail.
“I thought I was in heaven,” Liz says, “with a shower and soup.”
A few days later Liz, her mother and others were marched down the street to a convent school. They heard terrible sounds from the room where people were taken, and they didn’t come back out. Liz’ mother was interviewed and told her husband looked Jewish. She slapped the officer’s face and they escaped the fate of the others.
Not longer after Liz and her mother ended up in the Budapest jail which wasn’t pleasant. They spent several months there but were released in fall 1943, probably due to lack of space. The next challenge? Liz contracted scarlet fever. She was placed in an isolation ward in a hospital.
The two remained in Hungary and were there when Budapest was liberated, which took six months, street by street.
“I was hungry a lot of the time during the war but this time we were starving,” Liz says. “My mother found a bag of horsefeed, wet it and put pieces on the stove and we had one meal a day. I remember asking my mother to remember, after the war, how to make these.”
The two were put on a cattle truck to go back to Krakow, still using their false names after the war. One day her mother finds her brother --Liz’ uncle. Aside from Liz, they were the only two from both sides of the family who survived the war. The uncle would not let them pretend any longer they weren’t Jewish.
Liz’ nanny, who had stayed in their house, had saved a lot of their possessions. They set her up with an apartment in Krakow and decided to go to France. They had tried to go to the United States but couldn’t get in. Eventually they made their way to Australia, where Liz went to school and later met her husband.
Liz talked about the deception of the Nazis. She learned that her father was taken to the Belzec camp, but not before he and the others got off the train at a building the Germans had made to look like a real station. They gave people tokens for their luggage and escorted them to the showers, where they received another token for their clothes. “600,000 people were murdered, and they were deceived until the last minute,” Liz says.
She says the Belzec camp existed only about nine months, and was one of only three camps set up explicitly for killing people, no labor.
Since she retired, Liz started organizing training for teachers about the Holocaust and created the
Central Valley Holocaust Educators’ Network, working with the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The Network offers model curricula, teacher lesson plans, reference material, fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, and video and audio tapes. She also stresses the importance of studying the roots of anti-Semitism.
The network is totally non-profit and can be reached at info@.... It worked with 60 teachers in February.
“Has my experience stopped me from living a full life? No,” Liz says.
Root Cellar Annual Seminar
This year’s Sacramento Root Cellar conference March 27 featured Daniel Lynch, author of “Google Your Family Tree” (and a book we have in our library.) Lynch spoke to several hundred local genealogy buffs and shared tips on how to narrow your Google searches, use Google books for genealogy research, use Google news archives, Google alerts, video and images.
Among Lynch’s tips for filtering Google searches:
Use the minus sign to exclude terms
Use the tilde sign (~) followed by your search term (for example, ~genealogy --no space between the tilde and the word --) to get words with similar meetings. (In the case of the word genealogy, the search also pulled up items with the words “family history, family tree, vital records” and other terms in them.)
The tilde in front of the word vintage -- ~vintage + postcards + a town name – in Google images will bring up old photos and postcards.
Use the wild card asterisk in between two words to capture anything that might show up in between in your search -- for example – “Patrick * Lynch” where it could be a middle initial or a full middle name.
Don’t hesitate to click on “cached” pages – which may be a capture of the last Web page, even if it isn’t currently available.
Root Cellar’s 2011 seminar will feature Geoff Rasmussen of the Legacy-Millennia Corporation on Saturday, April 9, 2011 in Sacramento. Rasmussen has spoken twice before and was invited back by popular demand.
From Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zine, April 4:
Footnote.com Makes U.S. Census Available at No Charge
Footnote.com is making its U.S. census index and images available at no charge. That is the good news. The bad news is that they have available only 6% of the 1900 census, 4% of the 1910 census, 3% of the 1920 census, 98% of the 1930 census and 100% of the 1860 census. The good news is that the 3% of the 1920 census includes much, if not all, of New York City. The 1910 census data includes Pittsburgh, and the 1900 census includes Chicago.
I use the Ancestry.com collection, but the value of another index is that it may not include the errors that exist in the first index. For example, I found a Mokotoff family in the Footnote database that was misspelled in the Ancestry index as Bokotoff.
Footnote still provides Holocaust-related records from the National Archives and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at no charge. Both the Holocaust and census databases can be accessed from the home page at http://www.footnote.com.
Online Education Courses by Family History Library
The Mormon Family History Library is now offering online education courses at no charge. The initial offerings are:
• England Beginning Research (5 courses)
• Germany Research (3 courses)
• Ireland Research (5 courses)
• Italy Research (1 course)
• Principios básicos para la investigación genealógica en Hispanoamérica (México) (3 courses)
• Research Principles and Tools (6 courses)
• Russia Research (2 courses)
• U.S. Research (4 courses)
I (Gary Mokotoff) listened to the first Russian course, given by Daniel Schlyter, and it was a good overview of the history and geography of Russia. The second course, also given by Schlyter, is about records and resources. The Library is reaching out to the professional genealogy community asking for people to volunteer to provide additional lectures for the collection.
The list of courses can be accessed from the home page by clicking “Free Online Classes.” The exact URL is http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/education/frameset_education.asp?PAGE=education_research_series_
From the JGS of the Conejo Valley newsletter:
Ancestry.com has listed its new or improved collections (both US and International) in one handy place: http://tinyurl.com/ye9ppt4.
Who Do You Think You Are?” the NBC prime-time show depicting celebrities searching their family history, is attracting more viewers. The March 12 episode that followed NFL star Emmitt Smith’s efforts was seen by 13% more adults than the previous episode (Sarah Jessica Parker, right) according to Media Life Magazine. It also represents an increase of 50% over NBC’s previous offering on Friday night at 8 p.m .an indication of the growing interest in genealogy.
If you missed the episode where Lisa Kudrow traces her Jewish roots to eastern Europe and the Holocaust you may view it at http://tinyurl.com/cfp55h.
It appears Sarah Jessica Parker’s show will repeat April 9, followed by profiles on Susan Sarandon and Spike Lee on succeeding Friday evenings.
Turner Publishing buys Ancestry.com's books division
Turner, which has produced more than 800 genealogy titles since 1984, adds more than 100 titles to its roster, including bestsellers “The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,” “Ancestry’s Red Book,” and “1-2-3 Family Tree.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Ancestry.com actually grew out of Ancestry Publishing, which was founded in 1983.
- June 29, 2015Upcoming Meetings:July – No meetingSunday, August 2 (note date change) – Valerie Jordan, "Uncovering Family Secrets Through Genealogy"Sunday, Sept. 27 (note date change) -- Glenn Kurtz, "Three Minutes in Poland"Meeting Notes – June 14, 2105President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order. She said she recently spoke at RootCellar, and, at their initiation of officers, they described what their society was all about.Dave Reingold circulated an article from 1991 describing the three major world religions.Teven touted the book “American Ghost” by Hannah Nordhaus, mentioned on the NPR program “Fresh Air.”Mort Rumberg, in charge of our JGSS nominating committee, proposed the following slate:President -- Victoria FischVice-Presidents in charge of programming – Sheri Venezia, Dave ReingoldSecretary – Susanne LevitskyTreasurer – Judy Persin (our founding JGSS president)No other nominations were presented. Joan Jurancich moved the officer slate be approved. Gerry Ross seconded. The motion carried.Saturday, July 18 is Family History Day, to be held this year at the California Museum downtown (right next to a light rail station). It is free to the public. Mort has responded and requested we have a table.Mort will be attending the International JGS conference held this year in Jerusalem. There was discussion as to whether we should purchase flash drives from the conference, or access to the top 50 lectures available online for several months.June Program – Tony Chakurian“The Magners – A Journey in Recovering Lost Family Heritages”Tony, a member of the JGS, says he joined our group after talking with members at a Family History Day event a few years back.He began his research in 2008. At the time, he believed his background was1/2 Armenian, 3/8 Irish and 1/8 German. He believed the Magner family branch to be Irish Catholic. That was not what he ultimately discovered.Tony’s roots go back to 19th century California, with his great-great grandmother, Rose Underwood, born in the mining town of Copperopolis in Calaveras County in 1866.Rose’s daughter, Hazel Mary Magner, was born in San Francisco in 1895; her father, Emanuel, husband of Rose, was born in Stockton about 1868.Tony showed census records documenting these relatives, including an 1880 census showing Emanuel’s parents as having come from Prussia, not Ireland.Emanuel was buried in Colma, Tony learned from JewishGen and the JewishGen Online Burial Registry, but moved to Holy Cross Cemetery in 1943. So Tony's question -- was Emmanuel born Jewish? He found the death records of his parents, both buried in Colma as well, and confirmed that Emanuel was born Jewish.After doing his research, Tony talked with his grandmother and asked if she knew the Magners were not Irish. He says that's all he said. She replied that "They were were German Jewish, I know."Tony showed a photo of his great-grandmother in her first communion dress, indicating she was raised Catholic.Because Max Magner, Emanuel's father, died in 1903 before the San Francisco earthquake and fire, many of the records Tony sought were lost. He pieced together information fom the 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses, all of which indicated Max had been born in Prussia, not Ireland.Tony said from the Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames, he found the name Magner in the province of Posen, which was part of Prussia in 1860.Rose Underwood, the wife of Emanuel who was born in Copperopolis, was of Chilean descent, and Tony confirmed details through the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censues. He also recounted a family story that Rose's mother, Maria, encountered famed California bandit Joaquin Murietta on horseback while she was a girl in California, giving him a cup of water. This would place Maria in California before the bandit died in 1853.To check what he had learned about his family by another means, Tony took the Ancestry DNA autosomal DNA test. It confirmed both his Jewish (8% European) and Chilean (5% Iberian Peninsula) ancestry. He also tested his mitochondrial DNA ("autosomnal only goes back six generations), using the National Geographic Genome 2.0 test. He found he was in group 2, one of the major Native American haplogroups. The group is very broad, he noted, including both North and South America.In February of this year National Geographic updated their mitochondrial results, refining Tony's haplogroup to B2i2b, which is generally found in central and southern Chile.Tony summarized the results of his research:-- The Magners didn't have Irish ancestry.-- Emanuel Magner was of Jewish ancestry and Maria Muscoc, one of his maternal ancestors, was born in Chile.-- Emanuel's parents were bron in the province of Posen in Prussia and Baden, Germany.-- Autosomal testing confirmed Tony's Chilean and Jewish ancestry-- Mitochondrial DNA indicated the B2i2b haplogroup, which is Native American with original in central and southern Chile.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~From Avotaynu's June 14 E-Zine:Stephen P. Morse Site Unblocked
Recognizing the importance of the Stephen P. Morse site (http://stevemorse.org), its Internet Service Provider, GoDaddy, has unblocked the site a number of days prior to its normal procedure. The site was taken down when GoDaddy received a complaint from a woman who stated that displaying her picture in a yearbook at the Morse site was in violation of her copyright. Morse challenged the complaint asking her to prove she was the copyright owner, and the woman was given two weeks to respond (which has now ended).
Citing Ben Affleck’s ‘Improper Influence,’ PBS Suspends ‘Finding Your Roots’PBS said on Wednesday that it was postponing a future season of “Finding Your Roots” after an investigation revealed that the actor Ben Affleck pressured producers into leaving out details about an ancestor of his who owned slaves.PBS will not run the show’s third season until staffing changes are made, including hiring a fact checker, it said.The show, which is hosted by the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., traces family histories of celebrities and public figures, and has run for two seasons. The concern about Mr. Affleck’s relative surfaced in the WikiLeaks cache of hacked Sony emails after Mr. Gates asked a Sony executive for advice about a “megastar” who wanted to omit a detail about a slave-owning ancestor.“We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found,” Mr. Gates wrote to a Sony executive, Michael Lynton, in July 2014. Mr. Gates added that this would violate PBS rules, and “once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”When the episode was broadcast in October, it did not mention the slave-owning ancestor. After the emails were posted to WikiLeaks, Mr. Gates said that producers had discovered more interesting ancestors from Mr. Affleck’s family, including a relative from the Revolutionary War and an occult enthusiast.Mr. Affleck said in April that he was “embarrassed” when he discovered that he was related to a slave owner. “I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves,” Mr. Affleck wrote on Facebook.In the investigation, PBS said that producers violated network standards by letting Mr. Affleck have “improper influence” and “by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.”The network said that before the third season of “Finding Your Roots” can broadcast, the show needs to make some staffing changes, including the addition of a fact checker and an “independent genealogist” to review the show’s contents.PBS also said that it had not made a decision about whether to commit to a fourth season of the show.In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Gates said, “I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming.”Freeze damaged heirloomsConservators and students at the University of Texas have been assisting flood victims salvage their heirlooms and documents following the devastating floods in that area. An article about their activities can be read at http://tinyurl.com/p5canb8, and an important bit of advice is appropriate to repeat here. "Wet papers and photographs, textiles, scrapbooks, books and other sentimental objects should be frozen, if possible, and not thrown out."A phone number and further advice is available at the website.From the June 28 Avotaynu E-Zine by Gary MokotoffBBC Strikes Back at EU “Right to be Forgotten” Rule
As previously reported numerous times, the European Union has declared Google must remove from its site links that provide objectionable information about its citizens. The British Broadcasting Corporation has struck back by placing on its website a list of BBC links Google removed as a result of the “right to be forgotten” decision by the European Court of Justice in May 2014.
The BBC will publish each month links to those pages that have been removed from Google's search engine. BBC stated they are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. They think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. They hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. BBC added that they also believe that the integrity of the BBC's online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.
Links to the removed pages can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/entries/ 1d765aa8-600b-4f32-b110-d02fbf7fd379. The most recent removal concerns a 2006 article about a man named Richard Holtby who strangled his girlfriend Suzy Healey the weekend before her 40th birthday. BBC does not indicate whether the request to have the offensive article removed came from the strangler, Holtby, or the family of the victim, Healey. From here in the United States, I Googled “Holtby Healey strangle” and got hits for the The Guardian, Daily Mail, and at least 10 other British newspaper sites. Suzy Healey is even listed in FindAGrave.com.
The bottom line is that the European Union has opened up a can of worms. Google has demonstrated its reach is so vast, it is impossible for a person to be forgotten even if he becomes a monk in the Himalayas. Rest assured that some day, someone will post to the Internet a list of all monks who live in the Himalayas and Google will index the list.
Thank you Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, for making me aware of this development, as well as the hundreds of situations she reports to the genealogical community every year about record access matters that affect family history research.
WDYTYA-US Summer Season Will Include J.K. Rowling
Though not officially announced, this summer season of the American version of Who Do You Think You Are will include Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Other celebrities who will discover their ancestral past are Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin and Alfre Woodard. The season premiere is Sunday, July 26 at 9 pm ET on TLC. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/WDYTYASummer2015.
Celebrities to appear on summer season of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are have been announced. The exact dates were not given. Great British Bake off presenter Paul Hollywood, modeling legend Jerry Hall, Last Tango In Halifax stars Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, andactress Jane Seymour are among those on this year’s series.
Online Collection of Postcards Depict Scenes of U.S. Towns
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter notes that USGenWeb has online a collection of postcards consisting of scenes of U.S. towns. The collection is at http://www.usgwarchives.net/special/ppcs/ppcs.html. They may be useful is dressing up a family history book you plan to publish. The site is interested in growing the collection. If you want to contribute postcards in your possession, click the “Submissions” link at the site for additional information.
New FamilySearch Additions
After a three-week hiatus, FamilySearch has announced it has added 15.6M indexed records and images to its site. he list is substantial, and it is worthwhile to glance through the entire list.Notable collection updates include 5.5M records from the Iowa 1925 State Census, 2M records from the California Death Index (1905–1939) and 1.2M images from Ontario Marriages (1869–1927).
DNA Testers: Be Patient
Israel Pickholtz has written an excellent article in his blog about the frustration people are having when DNA testing does not locate previously unknown relatives. His conclusion is to be patient.
He states, “…the realistic view is that with only five years of autosomal testing in the various companies' databases, we should not think that we are testing to find our relatives. We are testing so that when our relatives test someday, we will be there waiting to be found. In the meantime, we check our new matches every week or two. That ‘someday’ may be this week.”
Reminder: Have You Signed the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights?
With all the talk about privacy rights by other interest and political groups, the genealogical community created its own “Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights” last May. The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy.Genealogists advocate the right of access to records held by government agencies including but not limited to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, divorces); land conveyances and mortgages; tax assessments; guardianships; probate of estates; criminal proceedings; suits of law and equity; immigration; military service and pensions; and acts of governmental entities. Genealogists further advocate that they need to be allowed access to original records when photocopies, microfilm, digital images, or other formats are insufficient to establish clear text, context or completeness of the record. The rights of genealogists specified in the Declaration object to numerous barriers created to deny them access to records. We cannot have our voice heard in Congress without showing we are a formidable number of voters. Readers can read and sign the Declaration at http://tinyurl.com/GenealgyDoR.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at our next meeting -- August 2!