- Jewish Genealogical Societyof SacramentoTV 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, 2012President 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 IndexAs 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 boundariesAmong the one-step census tools on Steve’s site:1) One-step Large City ED finder2) One step ED definition tool, used for rural areas3) 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 WebsiteRoot Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the grand opening of its new website. The url is still the same: http://www.rootcellar.orgAdditions to the site are still planned, particularly a searchable catalog of our genealogical library housed at the California State Archives.Email: rootcellarsgs@...Upcoming Events:31 Mar 2012, Spring Seminar with George G. Morgan, registration form on website6 Oct 2012, Sacramento Archives Crawl13 Oct 2012, Family History Day at the California State Archives, http://fhdnews.blogspot.comMegan 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.htmlQ) 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.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
- November 6, 2015Upcoming MeetingsSunday, November 15, 10 a.m. -- "Ask the Mavens" -- Email or Bring Your QuestionsSunday, December 13, 10 a.m. -- "30 Years. A Birthday Cake -- and the Wrong Family!" -- Jeremy FrankelOctober 18, 2015 Meeting NotesPast President Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order in Victoria's absence. He announced that contributions in the name of the late Bob Wascou would been made to the Moldova Special Interest Group in his name, and that his name has been put up on the Wall of Honor.The next meeting, November 15, will feature "Ask the Mavens." Email questions that have stumped you to Mort or Victoria to be addressed at the meeting.October 21-22 is a virtual genealogy fair sponsored by the National Archives (archives.gov) -- two all-day programs with classes.Teven Laxer mentioned an upcoming program at Mosaic Law on November 3, in memory of Yitzhak Rabin on the 20th anniversary of his death.October Program -- Susan Gilson MillerSusan is a professor of history at UC Davis and teaches courses in Jewish studies. She spoke on "Jews in the Moslem World."She said public outreach is not only her pleasure, but her responsibility.She teaches a class "Jews of the Non-Western World," focusing on Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Iran and China.Susan said Sephardic Jews can be traced back to 1492 with their expulsion from Spain. There is a Spanish dialect, Ladino, for Sephardic Jews, "a kind of Spanish Yiddish," she said. It can be traced back to the 15th century.There are also Mizrahi, "Jews of the east," who can be traced back at least 2000 years in Morocco.There was a migration of Jews to India, and then the second great migration occurred during World War II, when Jews fled to the Far East, including Shanghai.Susan's current research:Susan is currently focusing on Jews who left Europe and went to North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia). She asked how many had seen the movie "Casablanca," and said the first five minutes focus on the North African city."I'm thinking a lot about refugees and people fleeing -- if you're reading the newspapers today, Muslim and Christian refugees are leaving Syria and Afghanistan," she said. "There are lessons we can take from the past."She recalled the refugee crisis after World War II, and the displaced persons camps."There are many comparisons to today. And fences going up where there were no fences before, borders have appeared where there were none before."With differences in culture, languages and religion, there is a lot of xenophobia -- the parallels to the past are there, Susan said.She said that in France, four generations after the Algerian revolution, people still find themselves on the outside of French society.Jewish/Muslim connections in the Muslim world are very deepSusan said the Prophet Mohammed made a place for Jews, noted in his revelations from God. "We will keep you under our umbrella." Jews did have to pay taxes and were restricted from riding horses, carrying swords."The world for Jew in Arabic means protected person," Susan said.In 15th century Morocco, the first Jewish quarter was created, she said, although we don't know exactly why. "All the major cities have Jewish quarters, not ghettos -- they are neighborhoods, with Jewish butcher shops, etc."If you go to Morocco today, you can visit it -- also in Istanbul, Tunis."Susan said Jews flourished in Islamic society. In the 19th century, the Jewish community was discovered by Europeans, "living in the middle ages." Numerous organizations were founded, such as the Alliance Israelite Universelle in 1860, to rescue these Jews and teach them western language and modern math and science."Before, they studies the Bible, Talmud, learned their father's craft.""Suddenly, there was an intellectual revolution," Susan said. "Jews now had aspirations to and wanted to emulate Western ways -- there was a big difference between them and their Muslim neighbors."In the 1930s, Susan said, the Jews were now looking westward and were dissatisfied as second-class citizens in an autocratic society.With the creation of a Jewish community in Palestine, the Jews began to fight with Arabs, and this resounded back to other Arab countries. During the World War II years, Susan said, this became acute.After the war, with the knowledge of the Holocaust, many Jews went to Palestine, and the Jewish population grew by leaps and bounds.In the 1950s, the Jews were culturally still very mid-eastern, and still today, identified as a part of a Sephardic migration, close to the life they left behind."One of the best sources is people who lived through this and can talk about their past," Susan said.She said Iran now has the biggest Jewish community in the non-western world, with about 20,000 Jews in Teheran. "They keep their heads down -- Jews in Persia were treated very badly by the dominant Islamic group." Susan said they weren't allowed to go out in the rain, for example, as the rain would drip off their bodies and pollute the streets.In Turkey, Susan said, the Jewish community has shrunk with the growth of Islamic groups, but those left are wealthy and there is a lot of intermarriage.In Cairo, there are just a handful of Jews left; in Iraq, none left -- they were expelled in 1948-49.In Syria, until very recently there were Jews, with Rep. Stephen Solarz helping people to get visas.In Lebanon, a few Jews.Important communities by numbers are in Morocco, with many Jews in Casablanca, and also Tunisia.Half of the French Jewish population is now of North African origin.And up to 1942, ships arrived with Jewish refugees with visas; after 1942, no.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From Avotaynu's E-Zine, October 25:Finding our Roots Third Season Begins January 5
The third season of Finding Your Roots will start on January 5, 2016. The new season will feature numerous celebrities including Patricia Arquette, Lidia Bastianich, Richard Branson, Donna Brazile, Ty Burrell, LL Cool J, Mia Farrow, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear, Maya Lin, Bill Maher, Julianna Margulies, John McCain, Julianne Moore, Azar Nafisi, Bill O'Reilly, Shondra Rhimes, Maya Rudolph, Gloria Steinem, Kara Walker, and Keenen Ivory Wayans.
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University continues as the show’s host.
Genealogy Roadshow Third Season To Start May 17, 2016
PBS will premiere the third season of Genealogy Roadshow, May 17, 2016, according to Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter with participants from Boston, Providence, Miami, Houston and Los Angeles. The program’s website shows they are also filming in Ft. Lauderdale on November 1 and Albuquerque on December 12.~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A 23andMe genetic test revealed that this man's father was adopted — and it changed his life
Bill Crede with his daughter, who was the first in the family to take 23andMe's test.Until his daughter had her DNA sequenced for a college course, Bill Crede had no idea his father had been adopted."She came back 16% Ashkenazi Jew, and we didn't know of any Jewish people in our family, and that particular thing is what spurred me on to get tested or get the test done," he told Business Insider. "So I sent my saliva off."People who use genetic tests, in this case from 23andMe, send in a sample of spit. Then, 23andMe's labs isolate the DNA in the sample and scan it for single genetic variations that are linked to specific traits like hair and eye color, susceptibility to certain diseases, and ancestry.When Crede got his results back, he saw that he was about 33% Ashkenazi Jewish. That's when Crede's mother spilled the beans and let him know his father had been adopted, which forever changed the way he looked at his family history.Crede, his daughter, and soon three other members of the family all took 23andMe's consumer genetics test to find out more about their genetic makeup.Crede, his wife, Luz Vasquez, and their daughter all took the genetic test before 23andMe had to stop providing the health report section of their test in November 2013.But, for Crede and Vasquez, the health portion was not nearly as important to them as the genealogy portion. Consumers such as them could be part of why two years later, 23andMe, which just announced they had raised $115 million in a recent funding round, is a thriving $1.1-billion company.23andMe spokesperson Andy Kill told Business Insider that, based on a survey question, the company estimates that about 5-6% of everyone who takes their test are adoptees. (He doesn't know how many people find this out for the first time as a result of 23andMe's test.)After seeing Crede and her daughter's results, Vasquez decided to try the test herself, mainly to figure out more about her ancestry. The test told her her background was a mix of Spanish, African and Mayan ancestry, which she had expected.While Crede was pleased to learn more about his ancestry, Vasquez came away a little disappointed in the lack of specificity with her results.She wanted to know more about her Puerto Rican identity, namely where in Africa her ancestors had originated before they arrived in Puerto Rico. Though, she said, "I found out I was related to half of Puerto Rico."Katarzyna Bryc, a population geneticist with 23andMe told Business Insider in an email that it's still working to make its ancestry test more specific."We have several initiatives in place working on getting data that will help us more finely map ancestry," she said. "We are always exploring new statistical methods to leverage the data we do have."Vasquez said the only thing she found surprising in her results is that people can contact you after, so fifth cousins started to reach out. Soon, she said, "My inbox was all of Puerto Rico." So far, she hasn't made any contact with the people who have reached out to her.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at our next meeting, Sunday, November 15!
- Lydia RamseyOct. 17, 2015, 11:00 AM