Jewish Genealogical Society
July 4, 2010
Upcoming Meeting – Monday, July 19, 7 p.m.
“Beginning German Genealogy”
At the July meeting, Shirley Reimer will focus on the first steps needed for an understanding of the cultural, historical and genealogical facts for German ancestral research. This includes a look at the Second German Empire as related to German research as well as an overview of German civil and church records.
Shirley taught high school English for ten years, then worked in communications for 22 years. After she retired, she published The German Research Companion in 1997 and co-authored a second book in 2001. For the last 18 years, she has published Der Blumenbaum, the quarterly journal of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society. For the last nine years she has also published the quarterly newsletter, Mitteilungen, for the Sacramento Turn Verein German-American Cultural Center/ Library.
This August, Shirley will make her 41st visit to Germany .
Notes from June Meeting
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order. He gave an overview of upcoming meetings, including Shirley Reimer on Beginning German Genealogy (Monday, July 19, 7 p.m.) and Erwin Joos on the Red Star shipping line (Sunday, August 8). Sunday, October 17, Dale Friedman will give an Introduction to Jewish Genealogy, and Sunday, November 21, Glenda Lloyd will discuss Maiden Names.
Mort passed around a thank-you card for our recent donation of an easel to the Einstein Center. He also noted that a donation had been made in memory of our late treasurer, Allan Bonderoff.
The Sacramento Regional Family History Center continues to hold Wednesday evening classes, but you do need to register.
October 9 will be Family History Day at the State Archives in Sacramento. We plan to have a table and do Ellis Island lookups for attendees. There will also be a number of beginning genealogy classes that day.
Mort Rumberg has served two terms as president, the total permitted under our bylaws. After some discussion, Burt Hecht volunteered to serve once again as president. Victoria Fisch and Sue Miller will serve as vice-presidents/program chairs; Susanne Levitsky as secretary; and Julie Lavine as treasurer.
Marilyn Ulbricht, the current president of RootCellar, the Sacramento Genealogical Society, spoke to us about “Digging It – Using Archeology to Locate Your Ancestors.”
“It’s not Indiana Jones running around and finding these great things,” Marilyn says, “but with archeology, you can literally touch your ancestors.”
She talked about artifacts – items made or modified by human beings. “The diversity of artifacts increases geometrically as you get closer to the present.”
Dating artifacts –
There is “relative dating,” which includes statigraphy, the lowest layers must have been formed first. (The law of superposition.)
And there is seriation, sequence dating – the idea that an artifact can change over time (think of the fins of a car).
Marilyn talked about various artifact dating methods, including thermoliminescence, radio-carbon dating, and dendochronology (as in tree rings).
Sources of artifacts – sometimes they are in or next to a casket. Trash dumps and other domestic settings are also sources.
Salvage archeology – Most used for American archeology, usually because of pressure (they’re going to put in a highway or build a dam).
Some work is better than none.
Can determine, for example, where a road used to be by using metal detectors – find bullets, horseshoes, metal from oxen harnesses, etc.
Midden – this is the term for a mound of domestic refuse/trash dump.
Marilyn described to us in detail a study of Kadema. A large mound near Fair Oaks and Watt in Sacramento was once home to the Nisenan Indians, considered a branch of the Southern Maidu. The area is now covered with housings, but prior to building, a historical cemetery was excavated for reinterment.
Marilyn talked about some of the people buried there, including a Kadema chief who had been a brickmaker for John Sutter. The area was also used as a camping ground during hop-picking. There were a number of burials that ensued due to malara epidemics. Marilyn also talked about some of the Kadema men and women and their families, including a few who ended up in California prisons.
In conclusion, Marilyn encourages us to read archeological notes and books and check out more than just genealogy books.
YIVO Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe Online (From Avotaynu)
It has only been available in print for two years at a price of $400, but YIVO Institute has decided to place its YIVO Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe online. Judging from the quality of the site, it was planned all along. It is located at http://www.yivoencyclopedia.org.
A number of negative postings to the JewishGen Discussion Group complained that people keyed in ancestral towns and got no results. The purpose of the book was not to be an encyclopedia of Jewish towns. That is the purpose of Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust which originally sold for $395 and is now available from Avotaynu at $99. It has information about 6,500 towns. (A list of towns is available at the Avotaynu site. See http://www.avotaynu.com/books/encyclopedia.htm.)
The YIVO Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia of the history of the Jews of Eastern Europe. Consequently, it has articles on selected cities, persons, events and locations. It has some interesting maps—60 in all—that include the Kovno, Lodz and Warsaw ghettoes. These maps identify specific sites within the ghetto, and sliding a mouse over a site provides a description. There are three maps of “Poland” from 1795, 1900 and 1930. On a more global scale there are maps of Eastern Europe in 1600, 1740, 1814, 1923, 1945 and today. I accidentally discovered that if you scroll the mouse wheel, it zooms in on the map.
The best way to determine its content is to click Browse on the home page. It provides an alphabetical listing of topics. There are also links to the maps, images/audio/video (1,382 in all) and 192 original documents.
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See you on Monday, July 19, 7 p.m.
- 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.