Jewish Genealogical Society
August 15, 2010
Monday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m. – Sandra Harris, When Was That Picture Taken?
Sunday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. – Dale Friedman, Introduction to Jewish Genealogy
Sunday, Nov. 21, 10 a.m. – Glenda Lloyd, Maiden Names
August 8, 2010 Meeting Notes
President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. He said our library is growing – Mort brought in a box of books from RootCellar, and Lester Smith donated three boxes from his personal collection. Gloria Powers donated Family Tree magazines.
Mort mentioned that Footnote.com is continuing to offer a 50% off price for subscriptions.
The Sacramento Central Library will continue its Sunday genealogy programs September 19 and 26 as well as October 3. Call (916) 264-2920.
Family History Day at the State Archives is coming up Saturday, October 9. We’ll probably share space with the Bay Area JGS. Why not sign up to staff our booth for an hour during the 8:30 a.m .to 4 p.m. day.
Mort mentioned that Victoria Fisch has been asked to be northern California editor of the Western States Jewish History Journal.
Allan Dolgow has notified us that the second cousin he met during his trip to Ukraine, Dr. Berta Chernmorskya, has passed away at 89 years old. Allan had shared his genealogical trip during a presentation last year.
August Speaker – Erwin Joos
This was the fourth of Erwin Joos’ lectures in California, which included speaking at the Los Angeles conference. Tomorrow he’ll address the Bay Area JGS in San Francisco.
Erwin is curator of the Eugeen Van Mieghem Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. He first became interested in the artist when he bought a painting 30 years ago.
Erwin gave some history of Antwerp and its relationship to emigrants and Jews. He said when Jews were expelled from Spain, many came to Antwerp. The most important Jewish businessmen even lent money to Henry the 8th. Antwerp was a Protestant city, and in 1585, it was decided that the Jews must leave. In the 1860s, free access to the river returned, and many Jews returned from Amsterdam.
Today, Erwin says Antwerp is the fourth most important port in Europe, ranking over Hamburg.
Van Mieghem lived with his parents across from the warehouses owned by the Red Star shipping line. The first ship left in 1873 and a month later reached Philadelphia. Ultimately, the shipping line would bring 2.5 million people to the United States, only 5 percent of them from Belgium.
“Antwerp was the port par excellence for Europe,” Erwin said. “About one million Jews left from there.”
He said the main emigration took place around 1903 when the pogroms started in Odessa and Kishinev. Jews went to Brody and from there could make their way to the ports.
All the Red Star line ships’ names ended in “land,” but they also chartered other ships.
Erwin showed photos of Van Mieghem’s work of the emigrants at the Antwerp port – he is believed to be the only artist in Europe who made a testimony of the Jewish emigration experience.
Among the well-known people who sailed on the Red Star line were Golda Meir, Albert Einstein and Irving Berlin.
Since the shipping lines didn’t want passengers being sent back at the line’s expense, they began to add controls in Antwerp. Those who were sick had to stay in Antwerp until they were better; some, like blind emigrants, probably never left.
Erwin showed similarities between Van Mieghem’s work and that of other contemporary artists. Sometimes the pieces are exhibited together. “I had eight works next to Picassos in Barcelona,” he said.
Van Mieghem never had a commercial instinct, Erwin said, but rather had a compassion for the emigrants. He was supported by money from his mother.
There are very few photographs of the emigrants at the ports, Erwin said, but Van Mieghem “really captured the soul of these people.”
“These paintings are really the missing link, between the photos of the shtetls and the photos of Jacob Riis on the lower east side of New York.
“My dream is that his pieces will end up in the major Jewish museums of the United States.”
Erwin said that the City of Antwerp wanted to tear down the port warehouses, but after some intense lobbying on behalf of “one million Jews – all the Jews in America,” the buildings were saved. They will open as a museum in 2012.
With the location about three hours from Paris, Erwin hopes to organize a tour in advance of the Paris IAJGS conference in 2012, and perhaps included Amsterdam as well.
There will be a Van Mieghem exhibit in Philadelphia in October at the Gershman Y Center with about 50 original paintings. Erwin hopes to bring the exhibit to Washington D.C. during the time of the 2011 IAJGS conference. Erwin will also have a new book out on Van Mieghem at that time.
He is considered the leading expert on his paintings. “Sotheby’s and Christie’s contact me when they have a Van Mieghem painting.”
He reflected on the importance of Van Mieghem’s work to Jewish emigrants to the United States.
“About 30 to 40 percent of the people I meet in America have a link to the Red Star line.”
From Avotaynu August 14
Lost Synagogues of The Bronx Planned
Ellen Levitt, author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, is planning books on other boroughs of New York City. Her next project is The Lost Synagogues of The Bronx. While she has excellent information about former synagogues in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, she is weak on those synagogues that existed on or near the Grand Concourse. If you are familiar with ex-shuls in that area, please write to her in care of Avotaynu identifying the name of the synagogue and exactly where it was located. Write to info@....
The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn describes 91 former synagogues and includes photographs of how they appear today. Many are now churches. Additional information can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/LostSynagogues.htm.
A few articles of that may be of interest
Below are some recent articles ranging from the cost of the 2010 census to theft at the National Archives to a Web site that allows you to see the evolution of a town from the 1400s to today. And pieces about the new Alex Haley museum and an interesting term, “pajama genealogy.”
Census coming in at least $1.6 billion under budget
By Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 11, 2010; A15
Higher-than-anticipated response rates and an overqualified temporary workforce helped the U.S. Census Bureau keep the 2010 Census at least $1.6 billion under budget, officials announced Tuesday.
Congress appropriated $14.7 billion over 12 years for the 2010 head count, which began with planning meetings in 1999. More than half of the money was spent this year.
"This did not happen by chance," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told reporters on Tuesday, adding later, "We demanded accountability and stretched every dollar as far as it could go."
This year's census was still the most expensive in U.S. history, but census budgets have climbed every decade since 1950 as the population and number of households increase. The Census Bureau managed to return $305 million from a $7 billion total budget in 2000.
Locke and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves credited the American public for its 72 percent response rate this year, on par with the 2000 count. The response rate helped control the costs of the labor-intensive follow-up process.
The 565,000 temporary workers hired to conduct follow-up interviews at the 47 million households that didn't return census forms also were more educated and experienced than in previous years, Locke said. Census officials said that because of the economic slump, they had a more qualified applicant pool than a decade ago, when the agency struggled to fill the temporary positions.
The workers included former government employees, police officers, and veterans of Democratic and Republican political campaigns, who applied their political street sense to the bureau's efforts to track addresses, Locke said.
"That highly skilled workforce came up with efficiencies on their own and ideas that were then incorporated community-wide and then system-wide," Locke said.
Groves also credited the agency's multimillion-dollar multilingual advertising effort that spanned television, radio, the Internet, billboards and public transportation. Larger ad buys in 23 low-responding markets helped boost response rates in most of the markets, Groves said.
The actual amount of money that will be returned to the government is still unknown, because census operations are scheduled to continue through the end of September. The amount will be no less than $1.6 billion and Congress will have the final say on what happens to the money, officials said.
About $800 million of the savings came from a reserve fund that the Census Bureau didn't need to help pay for additional operations in the event of a natural disaster or epidemic. Congressional Republicans, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), blasted the agency for including the fund as part of its savings figures.
"Does the Obama administration really believe it deserves credit for the weather during the 2010 Census?" Issa said in a statement.
Issa noted that the original census budget was closer to $11 billion, but grew when the agency abandoned plans to use special handheld computers to compile data.
"It is ironic that an agency in existence to do simple arithmetic would try to peddle such incomplete and deceptive figures to cover up for its waste of an estimated $3 billion of taxpayers' money," Issa said.
No word yet on the potential size of the 2020 Census budget, but Groves has said it will include an online option for at least some Americans that should help control costs.
© 2010 The Washington Post Company
Guardians of the nation's attic
The National Archives keeps watch over 10 billion historical records. And its treasure hunting team keeps watch over collector shows and eBay for the scraps of valuable history that have been stolen.
The Wright brothers' patent application for their flying machine is missing from the National Archives. (National Archives / August 9, 2010)
By Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times
August 8, 2010
Reporting from College Park, Md. —
When Paul Brachfeld took over as inspector general of the National Archives, guardian of the country's most beloved treasures, he discovered the American people were being stolen blind.
The Wright Brothers 1903 Flying Machine patent application? Gone.
A copy of the Dec. 8, 1941 "Day of Infamy" speech autographed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and tied with a purple ribbon? Gone.
Target maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, war telegrams written by Abraham Lincoln and a scabbard and belt given to Harry S. Truman? Gone, gone and gone.
Citizens of a democracy must have access to their history, Brachfeld understood. But what kind of country leaves its attic door open, allowing its past to slip away? His solution: Assemble a team of national treasure hunters.
They are two earnest federal agents and a bookish historian dutifully scouring Civil War collector shows, dealer inventories and the Internet for bits of Americana that wind up on an EBay auction block. They sift through leads from disgruntled divorcees ("I was going through his junk and I found this document…") and set straight do-gooders convinced they've just gotten hold of the Gettysburg Address.
It is mission impossible by any measure; the National Archives keeps watch over 10 billion federal, congressional and presidential records. The most famous -- the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights -- are enshrined in the magnificent granite headquarters blocks from the White House. But they are a sliver of the nation's important stuff, much of it shelved or boxed all over the country. (Indeed, the dismantled pieces of Parkland Hospital's Trauma Room 1, where President Kennedy was pronounced dead, are in an underground cave in Kansas that no one intends to open.)
Now the Archival Recovery Team, as the treasure hunters are formally known, is asking the American people to help find what rightfully belongs to them. They published a pamphlet on how to recognize an historical federal document, and who to call if you find one. The Wright Brothers patent -- lost or stolen in the '80s, no one knows for sure -- was May's featured missing item on the archives' Facebook page.
"We have taken theft out of the shadows," Brachfeld said, recalling the days when embarrassing losses were kept secret. "We want people to know we live, we exist. If it's gone, we want it back. And if it's stolen, we will do our best to send whoever took it to jail."
This day, Brachfeld and his team are gathered around a conference table here at Archives II, a big, bland building in the Maryland suburbs that belies the history between its climate-controlled walls: Jackie Kennedy's blood-stained pink Chanel suit, the deed of gift for the Statue of Liberty, Eva Braun's photo albums.
Mitchell Yockelson, a veteran archivist, is the team's historical brains. He decides what belongs to the nation and what doesn't. Special agents Kelly Maltagliati and Dave Berry are the law enforcement brawn. They carry guns and raid houses.
Much has changed since Brachfeld, who came out of the Secret Service internal affairs, took the job a decade ago and was alarmed by a string of brazen thefts, some by trusted archives staff.
In 2001, Shaun Aubitz, in charge of preparing exhibits of the Philadelphia holdings, took virtually all of the collection's presidential pardons and the deed to the hillside home of Robert E. Lee, whose front yard became Arlington National Cemetery. A dealer Aubitz tried to sell to became suspicious and reported him. When Brachfeld looked Aubitz in the eye and asked, "Did you take more than we'll ever know?" Aubitz only winked.
A few years later, a buyer shopping on EBay spotted Civil War documents he had seen in Washington's archives collection and alerted authorities. A history buff named Howard Harner confessed to smuggling more than 100 of them out of the archives' research room in his clothes over a six-year period, slicing off valuable signatures with a razor blade. Forty-two were recovered from his home; the team is still searching for the rest.
Security tightened. Surveillance cameras scan the premises at all of the archives' 44 facilities and presidential libraries. Guards patrol. No purses, briefcases or jackets are allowed in the research rooms. Registrars keep track of what goes out and who signed for it. When Archivist of the United States David Ferriero showed up at his downtown Washington office one Sunday morning, the cameras caught him "breaking in" -- and he runs the place.
The easiest course would be to lock it all away and be done with it. But the National Archives prides itself on balancing public access with historic preservation, inviting American citizens "to see for themselves the workings of the federal government." All you have to be is 14 or older with proper identification and a research card that takes minutes to get. A homeless man who used to come regularly to the Washington building got the same access as filmmaker Ken Burns.
"We had one senior manager who wanted to strip everybody naked who came through here," Brachfeld said. "In 99.9% of cases that would stop it. But God help America if it came to that.''
The archives' paper records alone could circle the earth 57 times. There are battlefield maps, Confederate muster rolls, World War II Navy deck logs, grainy footage of Japanese planes strafing U.S. battleships in the Pacific. All of it belongs to the people, and the people have a right to look, even if that means things occasionally walk out the door in somebody's sock.
A lot of what's stolen seems obscure -- a letter to a Civil War saddle-maker -- but can be worth hundreds of dollars on the collectors' market. A Lincoln signature fetches thousands, and a few were recently unearthed by amateur researchers plodding through arcane court-martial records here in Maryland
(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
- April 22, 2015Upcoming MeetingsSunday, April 26, 10 a.m. -- JGSS Board Meeting, Card Room, 2nd Floor. All are welcome to attend.Sunday, May 10, 10 a.m. -- "Using Genetic Genealogy to Break Through Brick Walls in Your Family Tree," -- Jonathan LongApril 19 Meeting NotesThe meeting was called to order by Librarian Teven Laxer. Teven handed out information on the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree and its webinars. On Sunday, June 7, there will be five speakers focusing on "Researching Jewish, Russian and Eastern European Roots."The jamboree is being held at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Hotel. There is an early bird discount for the jamboree until April 30. For details, go to www.genealogyjamboree.com.Teven noted that a Yom HaShoah commemoration will be held at B'nai Israel this evening at 7 p.m.Our next meeting will be held on May 10 (also Mother's Day), with Jonathan Long providing a different take on DNA researchAll are welcome to attend next Sunday's JGSS board meeting upstairs in the card room, at 10 a.m. on April 26.The meeting's program was a showing of "There Was Once," a fascinating and poignant documentary about a small town in Hungary with no current Jewish population. However, a Catholic teacher took it upon herself to track down former residents or their descendants, to learn about life before World War II and the fate of the Jewish residents. Viewers watch her efforts unfold through the film.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~GENEALOGY WITH JANICE: What’s in your closet? Old documents tell your family’s historyInsideToronto.comGenealogy with JanicePhoto/JANICE NICKERSONThese documents were found in my grandmother's closet - in a shoebox!Genealogists spend a lot of time searching for old documents in libraries, archives and online databases. But in the excitement of finding new resources, we forget that some of the richest resources are hidden away in our own closets.Every once in a while, on visits to my parents’ home, I wander down into the storage room and bring up a box of “old stuff”. Often it contains items I’ve seen before, but sometimes I get a surprise. And I always learn something new, because I open it with my mother or father (and sometimes other relatives) and new stories come to light.One of these boxes contains my father’s old school report cards. The oldest describes his adjustment to kindergarten and progress in learning how to share, line up quietly and print his name. It amuses my school-age nephews to read his teachers’ comments about his tardiness and lack of “attention to his studies”.Another box is filled with scrapbooks my mother created when she was young. It seems that she kept every birthday card she received since she was four years old! These “old-fashioned” cards are fun to look at, and reading the notes inside them gives me an extra-special perspective on the relatives who sent them, including my great-grandmothers, whom I never got to meet.Visiting with my grandparents, I found other treasures: A family Bible from the 1880s contained lists of family births, marriages and deaths; a box of sympathy cards sent to my grandparents when my uncle died 50 years ago provided the names and addresses of many distant cousins; and a yellowed envelope contained a hand-written poem written by my great-grandfather describing his bicycle treks through the countryside to visit his sweetheart (my great-grandmother).Letters to other relatives asking about their “old documents” turned up still more exciting finds including a box of letters written by my great-grandmother to her son while was working in a logging camp in 1918. These letters are full of day-to-day family news including the antics of his younger siblings, births of new babies in the family, the progress of the farm and social events happening in town.So when was the last time you looked in your closet? Have you asked your parents, siblings, cousins and other relatives about their own old treasures? I hope I’ve given you the inspiration to revisit this precious resource.---Author of ‘Crime and Punishment in Upper Canada: A Researcher’s Guide’ and ‘York’s Sacrifice: Militia Casualties of the War of 1812, Janice Nickerson lives and breathes genealogy. She believes that we all have interesting ancestors, we just need to learn their secrets. Find her online at UpperCanadaGenealogy.com and facebook.com/JaniceCNickerson
Ben Affleck's slave-owning ancestor 'censored' from genealogy show
Hacked Sony emails raise questions over a decision to omit part of star's family history from PBS programme, but makers say there were "more compelling" Affleck forebears to talk about.Actor Ben Affleck Photo: BloombergBen Affleck asked that a slave owning ancestor not be included when he appeared on a genealogy programme in the United States, according to leaked Sony emails.The star of upcoming movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice explored his family history on Finding Your Roots, which is broadcast by PBS.According to the emails he was one of a number of high-profile guests who turned out to have slave owning forebears, but the only one to want it edited out.Affleck was not named in the email exchange between the show's host Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr and top Sony executive Michael Lynton in July last year. He was referred to as Batman and a "megastar".Professor Gates wrote: "For the first time one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors - the fact that he owned slaves."Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners. We've never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He's a megastar. What do we do?"The professor said he believed the star was "getting very bad advice" and it would be a "violation of PBS rules, actually, even for Batman" to edit out the footage.But when the show was broadcast in October last year it focused instead on other ancestors of the actor including one who served under George Washington, an occult enthusiast, and his mother who was active in the Civil Rights era.Professor Gates issued a statement today saying he had editorial control of the series and it had "never shied away from chapters of a family’s past that might be unpleasant".He added: "In the case of Mr Affleck we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry."In a statement PBS said: "It is clear from the (email) exchange how seriously Professor Gates takes editorial integrity."He has told us that after reviewing approximately ten hours of footage for the episode, he and his producers made an independent editorial judgment to choose the most compelling narrative."From Gary Mokotoff's April 19 E-Zine:JewishGen Creates Educational Videos
Phyllis Kramer, Vice President–Education of JewishGen, has created a series of five-minute videos about various aspects of JewishGen and genealogical
research. They are:
• Prepare For Your Search (for USA researchers)
• Navigate JewishGen
• Find Your Ancestral Town (for USA researchers)
• Communicate with Other Researchers via:
–JGFF: JewishGen Family Finder
–FTJP: Family Tree of the Jewish People
–JewishGen Discussion Groups
• Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
• Jewish Genealogy Websites & Organizations:
–Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part I (JewishGen and IAJGS/JGS)
–Jewish Genealogy Websites - Part II
Go to http://www.jewishgen.org/education to view them.Confucius' family tree sets record for world's largest2015/04/19 22:50:40Taipei, April 19 (CNA) The Confucius genealogical line has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest family tree in history, containing the names of more than 2 million descendants, according to the latest edition of the Confucius genealogy book published in 2009.
The 2 million figure is thrice that included in the previous edition of the genealogy book for descendants from Confucius -- the famous Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher -- who lived 551–479 BC.
The first Confucius Genealogy was published in 1080 and has undergone a major revision every 60 years and a small revision every 30 years. The fourth edition, printed in 1937, contained 600,000 names.
With a history of over 2,500 years covering more than 80 generations, the latest and the fifth edition of the Confucius Genealogy was printed in 80 volumes in 2009.
This fifth edition is the first edition to include women, ethnic minorities and descendants living outside China.
Confucius has 2 million known, registered descendants, with some estimated 3 million in all. Tens of thousands live outside of China.
In the 14th century, a Kong descendant went to Korea, where some 34,000 descendants of Confucius now live. One main branch fled from Qufu, the Kong ancestral home, during the 1940s Chinese Civil War and settled in Taiwan.
Kong Weiqian (孔維倩), a 78th generation descendant of Confucius, traveled all the way from mainland China to Taiwan last year and now studies at the National Chung Cheng University in Chiayi, southern Taiwan.
Kong was a junior and marketing major at Jiangxi Normal University in China. She is now an exchange student at the National Chung Cheng University, a sister school of Jiangxi Normal University.
Kong's middle name "Wei" is universally adopted among those in the 78th generation of Confucius and the middle name "De" is used among those in the 77th generation, according to Kong Weiqian.
Based on family tradition, women usually are not listed in the Confucius' genealogy book. However, with the rise of gender equality, and the insistence of her father, her name is now in the family book as well, Kong Weiqian added.
The family-run Confucius Genealogy Compilation Committee (CGCC) was registered in Hong Kong in 1998 and began collecting data, according to Kong Xing (孔祥祺), a 75th generation descendant of Confucius, who was then in Taiwan to look for the descendants of the family.
The latest project to revise and update the Confucius family tree began in 1998 and was completed 10 years later.
Notably, in South Korea, the descendants of Confucius have made outstanding achievements in various sectors, while the government attaches great importance to an annual grand worship ceremony held to commemorate him.
In addition, South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University has been the center for studying and promotion of Confucianism as well as the cradle of distinguished scholars and statesmen starting from the Chosun Kingdom period for over 500 years to the present.
(By Chiang Yuan-chen and Evelyn Kao)