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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org TV tonight, Friday, February 24: Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC, Channel 3,, 8 p.m., continues with
    Message 1 of 50 , Feb 24 1:03 PM
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      Jewish Genealogical Society
      of Sacramento
       
       
      TV tonight, Friday, February 24:
       
      "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC, Channel 3,, 8 p.m., continues with its third celebrity, Blair Underwood.  The complete programs on Martin Sheen (Feb. 3) and Marisa Tomei (Feb. 10) can be found on the program's website.

      Meeting Notes from February 19, 2012
       
      President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests.  She mentioned the upcoming Jewish Heritage Festival, which will not be held on the Capitol grounds but on 20th street between L and N this year.  The date is Sunday, April 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
       
      Victoria noted that Jeremy Frankel of the Bay Area JGS helped with California research on Helen Hunt, one of the celebrities featured on this season's "Who Do You Think You Are?"
       
      Two weeks ago, Jeremy and Victoria visited the Eldridge Street synagogue in New York; Victoria will bring in some slides to show at the next meeting.
       
      Upcoming meetings and speakers:
       
      Sunday, March 18, 10 a.m. -- Ingeborg Carpenter -- "Superstitions and Other Irrational Beliefs Guiding Our German Ancestors' Lives."
       
      Sunday, April 15, 10 a.m.  Lynn Brown, "USCIS and How to Order Citizenship Records Online."          
       
      Sunday, May 20, 10 a.m. Robinn Magid,  "California Jewish Cemeteries."
       
      Monday, June 18, 7 p.m. Glenda Lloyd,"City Directories."
       
      Bob Wascou mentioned that those researching Ukraine should be aware that the Ukraine SIG (Special Interest Group) has a new web page as of this week, with a lot more information.  He said the Romania SIG is also upgrading its website and includes information on the area of Hungary that was once part of Romania.
       
      A gift presentation was made by the JGSS to the Albert Einstein Residence Center.  Les Finke, director of the center, was on hand to accept the “superduper” boombox picked out by Dave Reingold.  Les said it was an especially welcome gift, given the use of music in so many of the center’s activities.
       
      The Einstein Center will celebrate its 30th anniversary April 22, and will show off its newly green, high-tech building improvements.
       
      Les also mentioned the role of the late Marvin Freedman in influencing Les’ move to Sacramento.
       
      February presentation -- Steve Morse on the 1940 Census                                                      Searching Without a Name Index
       
      As Steve noted, the census data will become available to the public at 9 a.m. EST April 2.  He said he’s heard that it could be six to nine months before names will be searchable.  In the meantime, he has several tools now available on his website (www.stevemorse.org ) to help with searches until that time.  Steve worked with Joel Weintraub on the various tools.
       
      Census day was April 1, 1940. The census reflects who was in the household on that day.
      Steve said they have scanned all the microfilm and are putting the scanned images up, for free, on April 2.  Ancestry.com has said the material would be free through 2013; FamilySearch (LDS) and Archives.com are also providing free access.
       
      Steve noted that the census is organized by enumeration district.  “The challenge is to find out what ED your address corresponds to.”
       
      Maybe your looking to find addresses for your relatives.  Two suggestions include looking at Social Security applications, which started in 1936.  There is also the World War II draft registration, which is just a few years later than the 1940 census.
       
      New things on the 1940 census included:
      listing the informant for the first time, indicated as : (x) 
      If the neighbor were the informant, it might be noted in the margin.
      People were asked about the highest grade completed and place of birth (country) according 1937 boundaries
       
      Among the one-step census tools on Steve’s site:
      1)     One-step Large City ED finder 
            2) One step ED definition tool, used for rural areas
            3) 1930 to 1940 census ED converter, if you know the 1930 ED.
       
      Steve noted that census tracts are stable geographic units.  In one of his one-step tools, you get a tract map and can enter the tract number in the ED definition tool.
       
      If streets are missing, it could be because the street names were changed.  Joel Weintraub put together a list of 220+ cities with a list of old street names and new numbering.
       
      The name index will come along, but the location tools will not be obsolete, Steve says.  The one-step site will support a name index.  "We'll probably have more search fields than the commercial websites," he says.  "It will be easier to search difficult years."
       
      He says the map tool for San Francisco is "totally illegible -- don't try it."
       
      Expect the unexpected -- two new things he noted:
       
      1)The Census Minute -- Persons born on April 2, 1940 are not counted.  If a father died on March 31, he was not counted.
       
      The Census minute -- 12.01 a.m. -- those who died before and those born after are not counted. Steve says there are about 7,000 people born soon after who are not reflected in the census.
      2) Why are so many pages missing?
       
      Pages 41 to 60B appear to be missing, except they never existed, Steve says.
       
      National Archives Website -- Steve showed us that under Finding Aids, they direct people to his one-step website.
       
      And he predicted that "on April 2, my site is going to crash."
       
      To check out his census tools, go to  www.stevemorse.org
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
       
      .
      RootCellar Has New Website
       
      Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the grand opening of its new website.  The url is still the same: http://www.rootcellar.org
       
      Additions to the site are still planned, particularly a searchable catalog of our genealogical library housed at the California State Archives. 
       
       
      Upcoming Events:
      31 Mar 2012, Spring Seminar with George G. Morgan, registration form on website
      6 Oct 2012, Sacramento Archives Crawl
      13 Oct 2012, Family History Day at the California State Archives, http://fhdnews.blogspot.com
       
       
      Genealogy Detective Megan Smolenyak http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-p0p110eya6w/Tz6A4CaK2cI/AAAAAAAABhM/Nt82dWHOlcM/s320/megan+smolenyak-korean-mem.jpg
      Megan Smolenyak is THE leading genealogy investigator in this country, and possibly the world. Many folks may recognize Megan from her numerous TV appearances on shows and networks such as Good Morning America, the Today Show, the Early Show, CNN, NPR and BBC. This former international marketing consultant’s awards include National Genealogical Society's Award of Merit, a gold Folio Eddie, five writing awards from the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, and four Tellys for video production.

      If that doesn’t jog your memory, try these nostalgic news clips: President Obama and Sarah Palin are related. President Obama has Irish ancestry. Strom Thurmond and Al Sharpton’s families have a common past. The person who established these relationships that made the headlines? Megan Smolenyak. While such genealogical confirmations may elicit a public chuckle, or raise an eyebrow, they don’t begin to scratch the surface of the truly remarkable work this lady performs.

      Our nation’s military serves, protects, and sometimes dies for us. In fact, currently there are 75,000 Americans still unaccounted for from WWII, 8,000 from Korea, and 1700 from Vietnam. Yes, there are more from WWI, the Cold War, and other combat arenas. These men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice deserve to go home.

      As one of the first to utilize DNA as a means to explore heritage, Megan’s work was quickly recognized by the Unites States military, and for the past decade Megan has worked furiously and relentlessly to reunite previously unknown heroes with their families. This work has become so much a part of her that she stood alone at the burial of the remains of a soldier she identified when no living family members were yet located. Such is the heart of Megan Smolenyak.

      Previously, Megan co-authored “Trace Your Roots with DNA,” the best-selling, how-to book on genetic genealogy. Her other books include “Honoring Our Ancestors,” “In Search of Our Ancestors,” and “They Came to America.” Now she has written “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing.” This book affords the reader a ringside seat as Megan recalls a number of career highlights including tracking First Lady Michelle Obama’s heritage, the Obama-Palin link, and locating the families of our fallen soldiers as far back as the Civil War. There are a few how-to tips for those who would like to perform their own family investigations. But most importantly, this book more than any other allows us to travel Megan’s journey and learn just how devoted she is to her work and how extremely consuming, heart wrenching, and joyous genealogy investigation can be.
      http://megansmolenyak.com/index.html
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-v8n7VEdj0WY/Tz6AeMaLowI/AAAAAAAABhE/ILLbKv9Ncfk/s320/Megansidebar-hayras-book.jpg
      Q) From international marketing to genealogy detective. What brought about that unique shift in careers?

      A) I started genealogy in the 6th grade and it’s always been my first love, but back when I finished school, it seemed a fantasy to make a living as a genealogist, so I became a consultant. I enjoyed it and had the opportunity to see the world, but I reached a point where I was averaging nine months a year overseas and living the rest of life in little gasps in between suitcases. That’s when I decided to make a change and give genealogy a go as a profession – and I’ve been beyond fortunate. It still amazes me how many wonderful opportunities have come my way.

      Q) As a veteran, I’m humbled and grateful for your work. As a former police detective, I understand how difficult your job can be. How did you feel the first time you actually reunited a fallen soldier with his family? I would suspect there was as much relief as joy.

      A) First, please allow me to thank you for your service in both capacities. I happen to be an Army “brat,” so this work is incredibly meaningful to me. I’m just a small part of the process, but am fortunate enough to be the family’s first point of contact, a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Having located thousands of family members over the years, I’ve done it many times now, but it’s still a fresh experience each time. And I suppose the “first” that stands out the most for me is the first funeral I attended at Arlington National Cemetery. To see the actual outcome of the efforts of the Army and JPAC was unforgettable.

      Q) Obviously, your work requires long hours and a lot of travel. How do you and your husband stay connected?

      A) My husband is perhaps the most patient and flexible man on the planet. When possible, he tries to travel with me, but otherwise, we keep in touch by phone. And now with FaceTime on our iPads, we can see each other!

      Q) Not every case is solvable, and there is always one that stays with us, the one we can’t forget or let go of. Which unsolved case is your constant companion?

      A) Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to be very specific, but there was a case involving a soldier who lost his life in Vietnam that tormented me for quite a while. He was born overseas to foreign parents, and his mother brought him to America, where she cycled through a number of locations and marriages. After he died, she returned to her home country. In the course of my research, I also discovered a previously unknown child of the soldier’s. I came up short the first time, but for whatever reasons, the case was given back to me, and I was able to resolve it. Perhaps because my father served in Vietnam, that one really had a hold of me until I got that second chance.
      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-W_EIqTiDQdg/Tz6Cwr7w_qI/AAAAAAAABhc/u6qVtEhgVRw/s320/MeganWDYTYA-cover.jpg
      Q) What was it about tracking genealogy that first captivated you?

      A) Back when I was in a youngster in school, we were instructed to go home one day and ask our parents where our surnames were from. When we went back the next day, we had to put our names on slips of paper in our countries of origin, and I – slightly misinformed, as I would later learn – had the whole of the then-Soviet Union to myself. Having grown up in a military family and in several countries, I had spent my life in a multi-cultural environment and didn’t realize until that moment what I strange name I had. That’s what sparked my curiosity and once I took my first steps, it became my own personal history mystery, so I quickly became addicted to the thrill of the hunt!

      Q) Any parting comments for your readers?

      A) Talk to your elders – and I mean soon. I’ve written whole books on how to research your roots, so could bombard you with tactics, websites and resources, but the one regret I hear over and over again is some version of, “I wish I had asked him when he was still alive.” Older relatives are living libraries and have so much to share. The databases and records will be there waiting for you. Talk to Grandma first! You’ll be glad you did.
       
      DA Kentner is an author and journalist. www.kevad.net
      https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/1283401221081017613-3466305084648948301?l=dakentner.blogspot.com
       
       
    • 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.
         
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~       
        http://files.ctctcdn.com/fc46f49d001/e43300d5-84c9-4551-9e7d-ee81678e38e5.jpg
        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.
         
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        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
        https://euobserver.com/justice/131633.


        ,
        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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