Next Sunday, December 18, 10 a.m. -- Genealogy Jeopardy
Mark Heckman once again becomes Alex Trebek to test contestants' knowledge of Jewish genealogy and genealogy in general. You're guaranteed a fun and informational program.
See you Sunday!
Below are a number of items that may be of interest to you:
National Archives Blog -- NARAtions
Members of the National Archives staff send out brief information on various topics, collections via e-mail. You can subscribe by going to Email Updates in the lower right-hand corner of the page below.
Here's a recent e-mail:
Have you ever looked at a historic storefront flanked by modern office buildings and wondered what the streetscape might have looked like back when that first building was constructed? If so, the National Archives’ new partnership with Historypin may be right up your alley! Historypin, a project of the British non-profit We Are What We [...]
Teven Laxer forwards the attached form from the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce (Project Heart). The Taskforce is reaching out to eligible persons, Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs worldwide, whose families owned movable, immovable or intangible personal property that was confiscated/looted/forcibly sold in countries governed or occupied by Nazi forces or Axis powers during the Holocaust era. The deadline has now been extended for submitting the form.
From Avotaynu's E-Zine Dec 11, 2011
FindAGrave.com claims it has information about 72 million graves throughout the world. Information provided may include dates and places of birth and death, place of burial, biographical information, cemetery and plot information, photographs (grave marker, the individual, etc.), and contributor information. It even includes people who were cremated and have no grave. Sources include information provided by individuals as well as government agencies (example, U.S. Veterans Department).
Interesting Map Creator
Find Personalise your Map at http://free.findmaps.co.uk has the ability to create custom maps that could be placed on a website or in a family history book. It uses Google Maps as a basis you can add text and graphics such as map pins, numbered pointers, arrows and other symbols. After completing the customization, a PDF file is created to capture the image, The system has a flaw. If you search for a locale that it can't find, there is no error message..
Grin-ealogy. From a genealogy humor book: Example: Woman: “Please take my uncle’s name off the family tree.” When asked why, she replied, “Because he died!”
Finding Surnames on Facebook
A tip from “Blood and Frogs” (www.bloodandfrogs.com): If you go to www.facebook.com/family you can search all facebook profiles by surname.
From the JGS of the Conejo Valley Newsletter:
The 150th Anniversary of The U.S. Civil War: Jews and the Civil War
By Jan Meisels Allen
This year, 2011, the United States is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865). While many of us may not have had ancestors in the U.S. during the Civil War (1861-1865) some did . . . just as there were Jews here in the 1700s and served in the U.S. Revolutionary War.
By 1860 there were 150,000 Jews living in the United States. “At least 8,000 Jewish soldiers fought for the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. A few served together in Jewish companies while most fought alongside Christian comrades. Yet even as they stood "shoulder-to-shoulder" on the front lines, they encountered unique challenges.” According to The Jewish Americans, some 3,000 Jews fought on the Confederate side and 7,000 fought on the Union side. Jews also played leadership roles on both sides.
Judah P. Benjamin served as Secretary of State and acting Secretary of War of the Confederacy. Several Jewish bankers played key roles in providing government financing for both sides of the Civil war: Speyer and Seligman family, for the Union, and Emile Erlanger and Company for the confederacy.
By the time of the Civil War, tensions over race and immigration, as well as economic competition between Jews and non-Jews, combined to produce the worst outbreak of anti-Semitism to that date. Americans on both sides of the slavery issue denounced Jews as disloyal war profiteers, and accused them of driving Christians out of business and of aiding and abetting the enemy.
Major General Ulysses S. Grant was influenced by these sentiments and on December 17, 1862 issued General Order No. 11 expelling Jews from areas under his control in western Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky:
“The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.
Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and anyone returning after such notification will be arrested.
The order was issued as part of a campaign against a black market in Southern cotton, which Grant thought was being run “mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders”.
Grant also issued an order “that no Jews are to be permitted to travel on the road southward." He ordered “all cotton speculators, Jews, and all vagabonds with no honest means of support”, to leave the district. “ . . . they are such an intolerable nuisance that the department must be purged of them.”
Despite thousands serving in the U.S. Civil War, confederates Spotsylvania Court House and Fredericksburg denied burying the Jewish Confederate soldiers along side other slain soldiers killed in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Wilderness. As a result of anti-semitism, the only Jewish cemetery outside of Israel was created to bury the fallen Confederate soldiers in the Hebrew Confederate Cemetery, located in Richmond, Virginia. They were buried in five rows, with six bodies in a row, in a self -contained hallowed area within the larger Hebrew Cemetery. To read more, go to: http://www.fau.edu/library/confederate_cemetery.htm
A Jewish Civil War Veterans Database is available at: http://www.jewish-history.com/civilwar/Default.htm
From the Bay Area JGS Zichron Newsletter:
Jewish Refugees at Angel Island
Many Jewish refugees fleeing Europe in 1939 and 1940 were able to obtain exit visas and make their way across Russia to China and Japan, where they boarded ships to San Francisco. Many of them were held for medical inspection and questioning at the Angel Island Immigration Station. The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF) has begun to research this little-known chapter of history by looking at immigration files of Jewish refugees at the National Archieves in San Bruno.
Eddie Wong has been the Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation since May 2008. He will be speaking to SFBAJGS on 18 March 2012 about the Angel Island Jewish refugees.
The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation became aware that Jewish refugees had come to San Francisco in 1940 after long and difficult travels escaping Nazi rule in Austria and Germany because of one person: Alice Steiner. Mrs. Steiner responded to a newspaper article in which AIISFsolicited former immigrants to Angel Island to come forward with their stories. In 2004, AIISF volunteers interviewed Mrs. Steiner, who was 17 years old when she and her mother, Hilda Edelstein, journeyed from Austria to China to Angel Island.
Among the diverse stories of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Mexican immigrants who all spent time on Angel Island, the story of Jewish refugees has largely been untold. Preliminary research of ships’ logs revealed that in 1939 and 1940, 466 immigrants were listed as being of Hebrew ancestry. We assumed that most of them were coming to the U.S. to join other family members who had left in advance of the Nazi regime. Indeed,that was the case, as we soon discovered by reading the immigration records held at the National Archives at San Francisco, in San Bruno, California. To date, we have reviewed records and stories about 60 Jewish immigrants from Austria, Germany, Lithuania, and Poland. The eldest immigrant was Zelik Honigberg, a 61-year-old button manufacturer from Lithuania, and the youngest was Margaret Schwarz, a 2-year -old from Germany. Several of the male immigrants had been imprisoned in concentration camps and released on the condition
that they never return to Germany or Austria. Many of the immigrants had spent their life savings on the long journey across Europe and Russia to find safe passage to Shanghai, only to wait months before being able to come to San Francisco. Our research has focused mostly on passengers of ships that came to San Francisco in 1940 and 1941. From February to November 1940, eleven ships that
arrived brought Jewish refugees from Shanghai, Kobe, and Hong Kong. AIISF volunteers have also looked at immigrant files from four ships that came in 1941, just before the close of trans-Pacific travel due to the U.S. entry into World War II.
Holiday dinner table great genealogical resource
By: BY TAMMIE SMITH | Media General News Service
Published: November 26, 2011
Frankie Liles says recent TV shows have made genealogy looks easy, which it isn’t.
You could say Pat Clark left no headstone unturned as she traipsed across an Augusta, Ga., cemetery 10 years ago looking for her maternal grandfather’s grave to fill in blanks on her family tree.
Her grandfather died in 1925 on the same day Clark’s mother was born, so he never got to meet his newborn.
Clark’s mother died in January 2001. On Mother’s Day that year, Clark felt the need to complete her mother’s story. Living in New York at the time, she and her husband went to the Georgia cemetery where relatives were buried and methodically started walking the rows of graves.
Eventually, near the end of a third day of looking and with the help of two curious cemetery workers, they found the headstone for Peter Merritt, her grandfather.
"I could not believe it. It had his name, the year he was born, the year he died and it had his wife’s name. Right next to him was his mother," said Clark, who lives in Midlothian. She snapped photos.
"I shared it with my sisters and brothers that I found Grandpa. I was ecstatic about that," said Clark, a retired assistant principal turned professional genealogist.
Tracing one’s family history can be rewarding but also time-consuming and emotional. It can unearth shushed family secrets, but also foster new relationships with cousins you didn’t know, and even offer practical information, such as insight on illnesses that might run in the family.
The Thanksgiving holiday, which typically brings together generations of families, can be an ideal time to start interviewing relatives for a genealogy project.
Start with the oldest person there and get them talking, said Frankie Liles, a local researcher, writer and genealogist, and governor-at-large of the Virginia Genealogical Society.
"Ask, ‘Who is the oldest ancestor you can remember’ or ‘Do you know who your great-grandparents were, and where were they, and what can you remember about them,’" Liles said.
Keep paper and pencil handy, preferably use any of the family group or pedigree charts that can be found online to take notes.
"Always, always write in pencil on these charts because you are going to change stuff all the time," Liles said. "Just get them talking, and if you can do it in front of a video camera or tape recorder, even better."
NBC’s "Who Do You Think You Are?" and the PBS series "Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates Jr.," shows that trace family histories of celebrities, have helped fuel interest in genealogy, Liles said.
They also make genealogy looks easy, which it isn’t, said Liles, who has spent more than 20 years searching her history, which dates back to the 1600s in Henrico County.
Clark’s trip to Georgia was to get to original source records. With the dates from the headstones, she was able to go to the Georgia vital records office and get death certificates.
"From the death certificates, I was able to get husbands or wives, different names that I didn’t have," Clark said. She also searched the local telephone book for the last name Merritt, an uncommon name in Augusta. About a half dozen were listed. She started calling, asking if any knew of a family relation to Peter Merritt. Two of them were relatives, she said.
In doing searches, expect to find some surprises, perhaps some unwelcome, such as illegitimacy or adoption. Often, relatives took in children of widowed or deceased relatives in unofficial adoptions.
"Many folks start out and think they know everything about their family in the 20th century, and they get some surprises," Liles said. "People should be prepared for this and try not to judge their history but to incorporate it and do their entire family history and bring it forward. Sometimes I think it can be like a healing."
Although 10 years ago Clark had to travel hundreds of miles to confirm family information, today it’s possible to find a significant amount online on free and fee-based websites.
Millions of records have been digitized by state libraries, historical societies and organizations such as FamilySearch International, the nonprofit organization sponsored by the Mormon Church, and by Ancestry.com, which offers a paid membership service.
Census records, records of births, deaths and marriages are the obvious places to begin looking, but there are collections of probate records, christenings, pensions, military records, land records and more online as well.
"In the past five years, more has been out there than ever before," Clark said.
FamilySearch’s free website, www.family
search.org, has more than 2.5 billion records online, said spokesman Paul Nauta.
"We are producing about 160 million new images a year, from microfilm conversion and new digital acquisitions," Nauta said. "What that means to patrons is that we are publishing 30 to 50 million new records a month."
Those records are from all over the world. The organization’s paid staff is supplemented by an army of about 100,000 volunteers who help. Some are provided with digital or traditional microfilm cameras, then fan out to capture images of records. Others transcribe documents and index them.
"We are generating more digital images of historic records than our core of volunteers can index in a year," Nauta said. They could easily use another 200,000 volunteers, he said.
Clark said she does volunteer transcribing and indexing of historical records for Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
"That’s how all that information gets out there," Clark said. "We just sit there and type all of this information in, or scan it in, or whatever, so that the most information we can get out there, we do."
Clark, Liles and numerous other experts and organizations help with genealogical searches. There are local and state genealogy groups, archivists at libraries, and historical societies that can help. The Library of Virginia and the Richmond Public Library occasionally offer free genealogy programs.
Software, ranging from basic programs to those that will create a book from the information, can help organize it.
Inevitably, family researchers will hit a wall and not be able to trace any further. In the South, many county records, for instance, were burned, lost or pilfered.
"Southern genealogy is very difficult because of the lack of records, and we have to piece together so much evidence … to make the lineage work," Liles said.
"The stories of the families … are so poignant and wonderful, it’s worth the work. And you are reading real history, history that you did not learn in school."
12/8/2011 11:51:00 PM
ID thieves use Social Security numbers of deceased
U.S, Senator Bill Nelson sent a letter to several genealogy websites urging them to remove the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals from their websites.
The letter was joined by Senators Sherrod Brown, Durbin, and Stabenow.
Recent reports have shed light on the growing trend of identity thieves using the personal information of deceased individuals to file fraudulent tax returns.
Senator Nelson uncovered this problem earlier this year in a hearing he held on identity theft-related tax fraud, where a father explained how a thief stole his tax refund using the stolen identity of his departed daughter.
The findings that emerged from that hearing led Senator Nelson to introduce legislation (S.1534) to protect victims from this crime. Many Americans must file taxes for their loved ones who died in the past year if they file jointly, or if they claim them as dependents.