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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org April 4, 2010 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. – Daniel Horowitz, Facial Recognition
    Message 1 of 50 , Apr 4, 2010
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      Jewish Genealogical Society

      of Sacramento



      April 4, 2010



      Upcoming Meetings:


      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

      Nashville Business JournalNashville-based Turner Publishing announced today that it has purchased the publishing arm of popular genealogy site Ancestry.com.

      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.



                                                      See you at our next meeting, Sun. April 18.
    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      January 9, 2016 Upcoming Meetings: Sunday, January 17, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Ron Arons: Handwriting Analysis -- Documents and Graphology Sunday, February 21, 2016,
      Message 50 of 50 , Jan 9
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        January 9, 2016
        Upcoming Meetings:
        Sunday, January 17, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Ron Arons: Handwriting Analysis -- Documents and Graphology
        Sunday, February 21, 2016, 10 a.m. -- Marisa Louie Lee -- 20th Century Immigration and Naturalization Records
        Ron Aron's presentation on January 17:
             This presentation will cover both document examination and graphology. The former is the more accepted discipline of comparing questioned samples with known handwriting samples. For decades courts have allowed document analysis as evidence in probate cases, etc.
             Ron says graphology is the more questionable "art" of trying to determine personality characteristics and behavior based on the analysis of signatures and handwriting in general. Although a "soft science," graphology has some merit. Examples of how both document examination and graphology can be used in genealogical research will be provided. Also, various software packages and books that can help understand these two topics will be discussed.
        Ron has spoken to our group many times and is the author of "The Jews of Sing Sing." In 2005 Ron won a Hackman Research Residency Award from the New York State Archives to continue his research of New York Jewish criminals.
        In January 2008, Ron appeared on the PBS television series, The Jewish Americans, regarding Jewish criminals of New York’s Lower East Side.
        Save the Date: April 2, 2016 -- Root Cellar Spring Seminar
        The Sacramento Genealogical Society's annual day-long seminar will feature Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi's List. The event will be held once again at the Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church.
        November Meeting Summary
        The focus of the meetings was addressing brick walls, with several of our JGSS members participating. Panel members Tony Chakurian, Victoria Fisch and Teven Laxer shared their thoughts, some of which are noted below:
        Victoria said one of the most important things for success is to be a creative thinker. She also stressed the importance of looking at primary source documents -- civil records, immigration records, wills, probate, etc.
        Teven noted the common myth of names being changed at Ellis Island. In fact, when immigrants boarded a ship, their names were placed on a passenger manifest, and they had to have a passport and proper documentation.
        It was noted that name changes in Russia were very difficult to do.
        Tony noted that on Ancestry.com, you can put in the first name only and approximate age and perhaps find a whole family group.
        Victoria noted that in city directories, you might find the same address and profession but the "smoking gun" for a name change.
        Where do you access city directories? Ancestry (also some Canadian, German), Internet Archive  (www.internetarchive.org) scans all kinds, the digital material is free.
        Book suggestion: "The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street" by Susan Gilman -- a novel about an immigrant girl's success.
        "If you are serious, you have to have a subscription to Ancestry or go to the Mormon Library and use their subscription -- FamilySearch is a free online database.
        San Francisco Genealogy, 1849 to present -- a nonprofit site, web page lists all kinds of databases -- www.sfgenealogy.com/sf/
        Tony said Intenetarchive has original census books scanned --you can read it there if you can't read it on Ancestry.
        Victoria -- don't bother with the Ellis Island site -- if you want to use it, go through Steve Morse's portal.
        Teven talked about ViewMate on JewishGen, where you can upload a document and ask for help in translating.  He also mentioned the  "Tracing the Tribe" blog.
        For the census, people were asked what year they immigrated -- these years were often wrong, but use as a window of time.
        In putting in names to search in Ancestry, use the wild card generator -- * represents multiple characters, ? represents one character.
        ItalianGen -- good site for New York City vital records, with bride and groom index.  From about 1867 up to about 1948. Gives you a certificate number.
        Teven recounted that the six things he thought he knew about his family history, ranging from where the ship sailed, to what year, to what port, to what name -- all turned out to be wrong.
        JRI Poland -- photographs and digitization of records.
        Where to put your family tree? Victoria says she would put your primary tree on Ancestry, but save the data once in a while.  "It's crazy to be maintaining more than one tree."
        Teven -- one of my favorite things about Ancestry is the "shaky leaves," which are hints. But Victoria says beware of the leaves if there is no source. Always look for primary sources.
        Fold3 -- a subsidiary of Ancestry, has military records (formerly Footnote). War of 1812 pensions just came online.
        Tony -- Will and probate records from just about every state just came online.
        December Meeting Summary
        Our speaker was Jeremy Frankel, on "Thirty Years. A Birthday Cake -- the Wrong Family."  Jeremy, president of the San Francisco JGS, is a professional genealogist.
        It all happened on the 9th of April, 1985, Jeremy said.  It was the second night of Passover and as he and his family were finishing the meal, his father asked him, "Did you know my brother was married before?"
        Jeremy didn't, but the information he subsequently learned led to a discovery of a new part of his family.
        It turned out that Jeremy's uncle married a woman, Sophie Ost, in 1930 but separated within a year. What his Uncle Charlie may or may not have know was that his wife was pregnant, and Leatrice Levy was born in 1931.  When the couple divorced, they all used his changed last name, changed from Levy to Leader.
        Note from Jeremy: Free BMD is a very useful website for British civil records -- http://www.freebmd.org.uk/.
        In his presentation, Jeremy described his search for this part of his previously unknown family. He discovered through research that was Leatrice living in Wales; she had married a Nigerian with the last name of Iwobi.
        "What do I do? Do I tell them about their half-sister?"
        Jeremy wrote to family members, culminating, in April 2015, with a family reunion in London with the different family branches represented.
        Jeremy said his newly found relatives were very warm people, and "you never know where genealogy is going to take you.  If my grandfather hadn't talked to me ..."
        Victoria Fisch noted several "accumulator" public record sites that are useful, including
        "Advanced Background Check"  that posts the last six addresses, along with possible relatives and ages, and also Intelius and US Search.
        The Southern California Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the 47th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree. The conference will be held at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel, Burbank, California, Friday through Sunday, June 3-5, 2016. Registration is now open and available on the Jamboree website. You can either complete your registration through the online shopping cart or download the registration form and mail it in.
        Jamboree 2016 offers an exceptional educational opportunity for family historians and genealogists of all experience levels. The theme for Jamboree 2016 is "Giving to the Future by Preserving the Past." We welcome all attendees who are interested in genealogy and preserving the past for future generations. Our heritage focus is on German, Eastern European, and African-American research. Topics covered include research methods, analysis and problem solving, organization techniques, family history writing, the use of technology, and more.
        Jamboree 2016 will feature: 
        • Over 55 national, regional and local speakers
        • JamboFREE sessions Friday morning including Beginning Genealogy, Librarians' Boot  Camp, Why and How to Become a Professional Genealogist, Using Social Media for  Genealogy, and Genealogy & DNA Roundtables
        • Five specialty workshops (separate fee required) 
        • Free exhibit hall throughout the weekend
        • Research tours Thursday and Friday
        • Special activities each day
        • One-on-one research assistance provided by members of the Southern California  Chapter, Association of Professional Genealogists
        Back by popular demand, SCGS will hold its fourth Genetic Genealogy Conference,"The Future of the Past: Genetic Genealogy 2016," on Thursday, June 2, 2016. also at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel. This conference provides the opportunity to hear from some of the top leaders in the field of genetic genealogy, with topics suitable for all levels of experience with using DNA for genealogical research. Six intensive workshops will also be offered during this event that will provide an opportunity for in-depth study of genealogical research techniques of interest to a variety of experience levels (additional fee required). The Genetic Genealogy Conference is separate from Jamboree, and separate registration fees apply. 
        Early Bird registration ends April 23, 2016. Special pricing for 2016 offers a discount to those who register for both Jamboree and "The Future of the Past: Genetic Genealogy 2016" as well as discounts for SCGS members for each event.
        Don't forget to make your hotel reservations! The Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel room reservations are now open. Room rates range from $165 to $185 per night. To make your reservations online, visit http://www.tinyurl.com/jambo2016Hotel/, or call directly at 800.736.9712. Be sure to mention the group "SCGS Conference" when making your reservation to get the Jamboree rate and to guarantee your room. 
        The best way to keep in touch with Jamboree and the Genetic Genealogy Conference is to subscribe to the Jamboree blog, either through RSS feed or by updates sent directly to your email. Information on Jamboree activities and schedule details will be updated regularly on the Jamboree website.
        From the December 27, 2015 Avotaynu E-Zine:

        New York Times Cautions on European Union “Right to Be Forgotten” Rule
        In an editorial, the New York Times has cautioned European Union that the EU is “clearly motivated by a desire to protect the privacy of their citizens. But they should be careful that in trying to achieve that admirable goal they do not harm other rights, like free speech.” It expressed concern that the planned EU law “would come at a cost to free expression and leave a redacted history for Internet users.”

        The editorial can be found at
        http://tinyurl.com/NYTRTBF. It includes a good summary of the entire controversy.

        EU Privacy Regulation Specifically Excludes Holocaust-related Documents
        The problem of researchers gaining access to Holocaust-related documents about specific individuals was put to rest by a regulation drafted by the European Union. In past years, it was not uncommon for archivists to refuse access to information about Holocaust victims without proof of death. Archivists would state without proof, they would not release data until 100 years after the birth of a person.

        The European Union privacy regulation currently being formulated specifically excludes Holocaust-related data from privacy rules. EU member states are authorized to provide personal data to researchers when there is a general public interest value “for example with a view to providing specific information related to the political behavior under former totalitarian state regimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, in particular the Holocaust, or war crimes.”

        An article about the ruling can be found at

        Library and Archives Canada -- Web Pages for Genealogy Research by Ethnic Group
        Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has sections of its website devoted to researching various ethnic and cultural groups in Canada. Each page describes the Canadian history of the group, genealogical resources available at LAC, links to other sites and published material about the group. The Jewish section is located at
        http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/ history-ethnic-cultural/Pages/jewish.aspx.

        There are a total of 26 groups presented including Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. Links to these sites are shown on the Jewish site.

        Swiss Banks Release Names of Dormant Bank Accounts Holders
        Swiss banks have published the names of more than 2,600 people whose bank accounts in Switzerland have lain dormant for more than 60 years, giving them or their heirs one last chance to claim their wealth before it reverts to the state. It is believed that a number of these accounts are for Holocaust victims.

        The names can be searched at
        https://www.dormantaccounts.ch. Click on the “Publications” button at the bottom of the screen to access the search engine

        From the January 3, 2016 Avotaynu E-Zine:
        Latest Plans to Make More Government Records Available
        Note to JGSS members -- Brooke is our March 2016 speaker.

        http://avotaynu.com/Gifs/NWN/BrookeGanz.jpgBrooke Schreier Ganz, creator of the organization “Reclaim the Records,” has indicated on her website, https://www.reclaimtherecords.org, future plans to make additional government records available to the public. They include:
           • Index to all New York City marriage records, 1930–2015
           • Index to New York State Deaths (Outside of New York City), 1880–1957
           • New York City Birth Certificates, 1910–1915

        The New Jersey Birth, Marriage, and Death Indices, 1901–1903 and 1901–1914 have been acquired by Ganz. Information about this collection is at
        https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/records-request/5/. She also received from the New York City Municipal Archives the Index to New York City Marriage Applications, Affidavits, and Licenses, 1908–1929. She now has a New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the New York City Clerk's Office for the New York City Marriage Index 1930–2015.

        Ganz wants other family historians to request records under their state’s Freedom of Information Law. Toward this end, she will post to MuckRock.com her filings where everyone can observe the FOIL process in real time, “and hopefully learn that it's not so scary and impenetrable after all.” Her request for the New York City marriage records, 1930–2015 can be seen at
        https://www.muckrock.com/foi/new-york-city-17/index-to-all- new-york-city-marriage-records-1930-2015-23051. She notes, “If you browse around [the MuckRock] site, you can see all kinds of FOIL requests to all kinds of agencies in every state, coming and going, accepted and not accepted and redacted and fulfilled and ignored and everything else that can happen to a request. It's fun to poke around and see what other people are doing, and how good or bad the various agencies are about their responses.”

        She is also asking people who know about historically or genealogically important public records that have limited public access—or no public access—to fill out a survey form at
        https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/ records-survey. If appropriate she will add it to her “To Do” list, which currently is quite extensive, and can be seen at https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/to-do.

        What motivated her to get involved in public access to these records, what she has accomplished to date, and her plans for the future will be the lead article in Winter issue of
        AVOTAYNU, which will be published in early February.

        Can Genetic Research Help You?
        Adam Brown, director of the Avotaynu DNA Project recently received an inquiry from a person which said, “My husband and I are exploring our families. Can genetic research help us?”

        Below is Brown’s response.

        The usefulness of DNA testing is a function of what you are trying to achieve. If you are trying to ascertain whether someone is related to you or not, DNA testing is exceptionally useful. For example, if your husband is a Goldstein and he would like to know whether he and another Goldstein are descended from the same individual through their fathers, that is very easy to ascertain with a Y-Chromosome test for each of the men. If you are trying to ascertain whether you are related to a particular individual within the last four or five generations, and you and that person do not share a common male ancestor, you should be able to figure that out by having you and the other individual take an autosomal DNA test.

        If you are unfamiliar with your family history and are taking first steps to explore your family background, an autosomal DNA test can be very helpful by describing your likely ancestral origins and providing a list of individuals who match you to varying degrees. Furthermore, by comparing Y DNA and mitochondrial results to the large database maintained by the Avotaynu DNA project, you may be able to learn about your ancient and medieval origin of your specific patrilineal and matrilineal lines as well.

        If you are trying to expand your family tree by identifying specific new relatives through DNA testing, sensational results can be obtained but it requires a bit of luck (relatives need to have been tested) and possibly additional testing. This past year, for example, Avotaynu published an article by an individual who compared his Y chromosome and autosomal results to those of suspected relatives and demonstrated that Strauss families around the world were part of one and the same family torn apart during the Shoah.

        Until DNA testing becomes universal among individuals interested in Jewish genealogy (and our Jewish DNA database grows every day), there are no guarantees that DNA research will expand your existing trees, but it will most certainly expand your understanding of your family’s place in the overall Jewish family tree. Undoubtedly you will find DNA matches to numerous individuals with whom you are related. Some close relative matches may appear from out of the blue as Mark Strauss’ did, while other predicted relationships may predate records and not be readily apparent. The important lesson from the Strauss study was that many of the family members whom he matched had been previously tested; Mark had even tested himself. To quote the genetic genealogist Israel Pickholtz: “You do not just get DNA tested so you can find people; you also get tested so that others may find YOU.”

        The types of tests offered and the prices charged for them change frequently. You can stay up to date on these by participating in the Avotaynu DNA project, which offers expert advice on DNA testing and will help answer your questions. Keep abreast of the Project by enrolling for Avotaynu Online at
        http://tinyurl.com/oygl3dr and participate directly in the Avotaynu Project directly by either enrolling your existing test or by purchase a new test at http://tinyurl.com/pd8zjk2. For personal answers to your questions, feel free to email us at AvotaynuDNA@.... Additional information about the project can be found at http://www.avotaynuonline.com/2015/12/ announcing-avotaynu-dna-project.

        USCIS Announces Two Genealogy Webinars
        The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced two webinars to be conducted by USCIS historian Marian Smith as part of its “History and Genealogy ‘Your Questions’” webinar series. The first, “The Curious Case of Albert Miller,” will be held on January 22 at 10 a.m., Sacramento time. This presentation will discuss the search for answers in the case of an immigrant who arrived at Philadelphia in 1908. Questions raised by Albert Miller’s naturalization documents lead to additional information in a variety of places and some very surprising results. At the time of the event, go to
        https://connect16.uc.att.com/EventEntry/ Websites/?VaccId=uscis&ExEventID=82058965&CT=M&oldee=1 to log on. This session will not be recorded.

        The second webinar will be held on March 25, again at 10 a.m. This will be the more usual USCIS genealogy webinar, a question and answer session. Submit questions to Ms. Smith by March 11 via e-mail to
        cishistory.library@... with the subject line “Your Questions Webinar.” If your question relates to a document, attach a copy of the document to the e-mail. Documents submitted with questions may be shared and discussed during the live webinar. To ensure the hour is of interest to the widest audience, questions answered will be those most commonly asked or that generate the most useful answers.

        Information about USCIS webinars can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/HGWebinars.

        See you on the 17th, 10 a.m.
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