Genealogy Mtg. Next Sunday
Jewish Genealogical Society
August 2, 2010
Next Sunday, August 8, 10 a.m. (date/time change) – Edwin Joos, “ One Foot in America -- Jewish Emigrants of the Red Star Line”
Monday, September 20, 7 p.m. – Sandra Harris, “When Was This Picture Taken?”
Sunday, October 17, 10 .am . – Dale Friedman, “Introduction to Jewish Genealogy”
We’ll be meeting earlier this month, and on a Sunday – next Sunday-- to hear Edwin Joos talk about “The Jewish Emigrants of the Red Star Line” Edwin is from Antwerp, Belgium. He’ll focus on the Red Star shipping line that transported 2.7 million Eastern European emigrants up until 1935. Many would arrive in Antwerp after traveling for weeks. But as one writer described it, being in Antwerp was like having one foot in America already. The journey to New York would take seven to 14 days, and for steerage passengers, rarely a pleasant trip. But after experiencing pogroms, poverty and unemployment, for many it was not a difficult decision.
According to Mr. Joos, Antwerp, with its concentration today of Hasidic Jews, is sometimes regarded as the last shtetl of modern Europe. Mr. Joos is the full-time curator of the Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum in Antwerp. He lectures widely and has organized 15 major exhibitions in Belgium. He’ll have DVDs and books related to his talk available; cash purchases only.
July 19, 2010 Meeting Notes
(With special thanks to Mort Rumberg for assistance with the notes)
President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and made several announcements. Family History Day at the State Archives is set for Saturday, October 9. We’ll have a table and hope to provide Ellis Island look-ups for attendees.
Burt announced the upcoming meetings (see top of page), including the August meeting, set for a Sunday morning, August 8, to accommodate the travel itinerary of Erwin Joos.
Treasurer Julie Lavine said that accountant Gil Levander is assisting her in establishing databases and accounting procedures. A new account has been established with a debit card, and banking can take place online.
Burt then asked the members and guests about their special projects or genealogical interests. They included:
-- Building family trees and gaining access to new databases and records
-- Going back 17 generations with Finnish-Jewish records
-- Cemetery projects at the Home of Peace. The cemetery board has agreed to
make their old records available.
-- The Romanian-Moldavian Special Interest Group is getting more records and
is looking for volunteers to help with them.
-- Lester Smith says he’s coming out of retirement and restarting his genealogy research. He mentioned there were 1,061 attendees at the recent IAJGS conference.
-- Art Yates reviewed how he became involved with the Sacramento JGS.
-- Sue Miller said the IAJGS conference renewed her interest in genealogy.
-- Building German family history.
-- Researching German family towns.
-- Researching family from Vilnius.
-- Transcribing data from vital statistics records to the L’viv database.
Mort Rumberg passed around the IAJGS conference guide and program, and Family Finder, which all conference attendees received. Conference presentations are available for ordering on CDs and DVDs. We had a good representation at the conference – in all, there were 500 attendees from California.
Getting together at the Los Angeles conference – in our JGSS “We Dig Our Ancestors” T-shirts, are, back row, left to right: Art Yates, Mort Rumberg, Lester Smith, Carl Miller, Teven Laxer, Susanne Levitsky and Bob Wascou. Front row: Mark Heckman, Sue Miller, Victoria Fisch. Not shown is JGSS member Ann Kanter, who also attended.
Note: Burt Hecht notified the JGSS board following the meeting that he has found his schedule for the upcoming months will make it difficult to remain as president. He would like to serve instead as vice president for programming. Board members subsequently indicated their support for Mort Rumberg returning to the office, and he has agreed to serve once again.
July Speaker -- Beginning German Genealogy
Burt Hecht introduced our speaker, Shirley Reimer, for her presentation. She mentioned she had actually been a guest at the JGSS 17 or 18 years ago. 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 .
Shirley passed out very useful handouts designed to get a researcher started. Her presentation included maps of changing German borders since the 1700s, and statistics on German immigration. There was a spike in German immigration in the 1880s when people heard about “free land.” “These were the two most magical words,” Shirley says, “as land in Germany was very scarce, and divided up among sons.”
Most Germans came to the east coast, with Milwaukee/St. Louis/Cincinnati considered the German triangle.
Church records were recorded in kirchenbucher (church books) and Jewish records were often recorded there, as well as in the “standesamt,” the civil registry offices. The records go back to about 1524.
Shirley said Napoleon wasn’t interested in church records. By 1874 all of Prussia had to have civil records and by 1876 all of the German empire.
Shirley presented a review of German words related to family and registration. All birth, marriage and deaths had to be recorded in civil authority records.
There are many handwriting problems. In addition, Shirley provided a review of spelling of surnames: a word like Byrne could be spelled several different ways. Lesson: Spelling doesn't count. You have to check all variations. “I’ll probably say this six times tonight,” she said.
Shirley noted there are abbreviations of German given names, and alos provided samples of German given names with their English equivalents. Parish registers were reviewed. Different information is available within each parish, so you need to check carefully. Along with parish records, check into the civil registration since the religious and civil records had different requirements.
“Another nightmare for genealogists is that town names changed their spelling often,” Shirley said.
Civil Registration records are better than religious/church records since they contain more information and go back further. Civil records were reviewed.
Pronunciation of words applying to civil registry may be erroneous. Check carefully. She provided examples of records in German showing the difficulty of understanding what is on the record. A German – English dictionary is a must.
She recommended the book “Germans to America,” by Glazier and Filby, available at the Sacramento Public Library. It contains lists of passengers arriving at U.S. ports.
Other sources of information on German genealogy:
Meyers Locality and Commercial Gazetteer.
Wiki.familysearch.org (under “Search,” type in “Germany.”
Palatinate place name indexes.
You can reach Shirley Reimer at: Lorelei@...
From the JGS of the Conejo Valley:
TENEMENT MUSEUM PHOTOGRAPHS
New York’s Tenement Museum has made its photograph collection available online. Pictures of immigrants, street scenes and more may be viewed or downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/2bswrjl. If you click on an image in your search results, you can enlarge it or save it to your favorites (which requires a free account).
A DIRECTORY FOR LOCATING DIRECTORIES
Google’s online Historical Directories Web site has organized directories from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland and Thailand in one place. It is a work in progress but already includes some directories dating back to the 1600s. The U.S. link allows you
to search by state although not all states are available: http://tinyurl.com/njmnvx
NEW STEVE MORSE ONE-STEP FEATURE
There is a new feature in Steve Morse’s ‘One-Step’ Web site that will make it easier to find New York City records. If you go to http://stevemorse.org and hover over the “Vital Records” heading at the upper left, you will see several tools for New York vital records. Now, when using the birth, marriage and death indexes as prepared by the Italian Genealogical Group, the results will include the Family History Library roll number where you may find the actual record eliminating the old ‘back and forth’ process previously necessary.
See you next Sunday morning.
Next Sunday …
Hungarian Family Research
Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento
Sunday, December 19, 2010, 10 a.m.
Vivian Kahn will provide an overview of the history of Hungary's Jewish community; she’ll also discuss resources for researching roots from the current and former territory of Hungary, including archival records in Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, and Hungary and sources such as burial and military records.
Vivian will describe and provide tips for searching JewishGen's All-Hungary Database, now one of JewishGen's largest all-country databases with close to a million records referring to individuals living in areas that are in present-day Hungary as well as Slovakia, Croatia, northern Serbia, northwestern Romania, and subcarpathian Ukraine. She’ll also talk about other online resources for researching Hungarian Jewish roots.
Vivian Kahn, from Oakland, is coordinator of JewishGen's Hungarian Special Interest Group (H-SIG). Vivian's 18 years of researching her roots in pre-Trianon Hungary has taken her to Hungary, Slovakia, Israel and Salt Lake City.
Dues are due for 2011 …
If you haven’t yet paid your dues for the 2011 calendar year, bring a $25 check with you to the meeting next Sunday. Your dues allow us to pay a small honorarium for speakers, buy books and do business throughout the year. Can’t make it to the meeting? Send the check to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento, c/o the Albert Einstein Residence Center, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento, CA 95825.
A little genealogy humor ….
Rhymes With Orange 12/7/10
- Sunday, November 15, 10 a.m. -- "Ask the Mavens"Victoria, Teven and Mort will field your tough questions. Now's your chance to try to break through that brick wall in your research.Join us Sunday morning at the Einstein Center.From Avotaynu's E-Zine, Nov. 8:Free Ancestry Military RecordsThrough Veterans Day
In honor of Veterans Day, Ancestry is offering at no charge access to their military record collection through November 11. These are the military records for all countries.
Coinciding with Canadian Remembrance weekend, Ancestry is also releasing a new record collection: WWII Service Files of War Dead (1939–1947). It contains more than 29,000 records of Canadian military personnel killed in action during the conflict. There are a total of more than two million images, including a variety of different documents for each soldier. Each service file contains an average of 52 pages of personal information.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Henry Louis Gates Jr. offers reflections on genealogy at UNCAHenry Louis Gates Jr. recently gave the keynote speech for the celebration of the Center for Diversity Education's 20th anniversary. Creative commons photo by Jon IronsHenry Louis Gates Jr. loves genealogy, and that passion is infectious.It started when he was 9, Gates told an audience of about 400 people Thursday night. After the death of his grandfather, Gates’ father showed him and his brother a photo of their great-great grandmother, Jane Gates (1819-1888), a former slave who owned her own home and raised five children. The home is still in the family.Gates, a Harvard professor and host of the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots,” delivered the keynote address at UNC Asheville’s Kimmel Arena for the celebration of the Center for Diversity Education’s 20th anniversary. The lecture opened with clips from the television series, including a poignant moment when Rep. John Lewis learns his ancestor registered to vote in 1867. The evening also honored the original members of the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality, a group of student racial-equality activists that operated here from 1960-1965.The day after his grandfather’s funeral, Gates bought a composition notebook and interviewed his parents, trying to learn all he could about his ancestry from their memories.Years later, he would watch the television series, “Roots” and develop what he calls, “Roots envy,” because he could find nothing of his family roots beyond his great-grandmother. Slaves were not recorded in any U.S. census before 1870, so most African-Americans’ family records stop there.He wanted to be able to trace his roots back to Africa, to learn where his family came from, and in 2000, he learned that mitochondrial DNA could pinpoint the region of his ancestry with a decent degree of accuracy.“I had thought my people came from West Africa, since that’s where the slave trade originated,” he said.But his ancestry is from Sudan; he is Nubian, the people who were leaders of Egypt from 750-650 B.C.Gates spoke about the importance of learning one’s family history at UNC Asheville on Thursday, Nov. 5. Photo by Leslie BoydLater testing would determine half of his ancestry is white, stemming from Ireland. It is likely his great-great grandmother’s children were fathered by a man of Irish descent.Gates discovered he could learn more about African Americans’ ancestry by cross-referencing the 1870 census with records of whites with the same last names from previous census records.When the idea came to Gates that he could do a television show helping people to find their ancestries, he called his friend, Quincy Jones and asked him to help recruit Oprah Winfrey. He knew he needed big names to get the funding he would need to produce a television show.When Oprah called him back, he knew he was going to be able to produce the show even before she said anything.“Rich people don’t call you in-person with bad news,” he said.The show, “African-American Lives,” featured Jones and Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Ben Carson, Chris Rock, Don Cheadle and other prominent African-Americans. More than 8 million viewers tuned in.It was when a woman told him she thought the show was racist that Gates decided to include others.“I was like Noah,” he said. “I had two black people, 2 Jews, two Asians, two white people … and Meryl Streep because she’s Meryl Streep.”Gates dispelled three African-American ancestry myths:1. Igbo Princess2. “We were never slaves”3. “High cheekbones and straight black hair: Have I told you about my Cherokee grandmother?”A number of African-Americans have told him the same story, of being descended from an Igbo princess who was seen by a German baron, who was immediately smitten with her. He paid for her, took her north and married her.“You don’t have an Igbo princess in your tree and your ancestors were slaves,” he said.As for the Cherokees, few slaves encountered Cherokees, and DNA analysis shows African-Americans have an average of less than 1 percent Native American DNA.“Your straight hair came from your white ancestors,” he said.Gates closed by suggesting African-American children who are in struggling schools might benefit from learning about their genealogy, starting with swabbing their own cheeks for tests. In the six weeks it takes for results to come back, they can learn the science behind the tests.“Then you take them down the hall and teach them how to learn more about their own ancestry, starting with interviewing their own parents and grandparents,” he said. “Tell me they won’t be excited about learning this. … Your ancestors died for the right for you to learn.”The third season of “Finding Your Roots” will air on PBS beginning in January.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you Sunday morning the 15th, 10 a.m.