- 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
- June 29, 2015Upcoming Meetings:July – No meetingSunday, August 2 (note date change) – Valerie Jordan, "Uncovering Family Secrets Through Genealogy"Sunday, Sept. 27 (note date change) -- Glenn Kurtz, "Three Minutes in Poland"Meeting Notes – June 14, 2105President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order. She said she recently spoke at RootCellar, and, at their initiation of officers, they described what their society was all about.Dave Reingold circulated an article from 1991 describing the three major world religions.Teven touted the book “American Ghost” by Hannah Nordhaus, mentioned on the NPR program “Fresh Air.”Mort Rumberg, in charge of our JGSS nominating committee, proposed the following slate:President -- Victoria FischVice-Presidents in charge of programming – Sheri Venezia, Dave ReingoldSecretary – Susanne LevitskyTreasurer – Judy Persin (our founding JGSS president)No other nominations were presented. Joan Jurancich moved the officer slate be approved. Gerry Ross seconded. The motion carried.Saturday, July 18 is Family History Day, to be held this year at the California Museum downtown (right next to a light rail station). It is free to the public. Mort has responded and requested we have a table.Mort will be attending the International JGS conference held this year in Jerusalem. There was discussion as to whether we should purchase flash drives from the conference, or access to the top 50 lectures available online for several months.June Program – Tony Chakurian“The Magners – A Journey in Recovering Lost Family Heritages”Tony, a member of the JGS, says he joined our group after talking with members at a Family History Day event a few years back.He began his research in 2008. At the time, he believed his background was1/2 Armenian, 3/8 Irish and 1/8 German. He believed the Magner family branch to be Irish Catholic. That was not what he ultimately discovered.Tony’s roots go back to 19th century California, with his great-great grandmother, Rose Underwood, born in the mining town of Copperopolis in Calaveras County in 1866.Rose’s daughter, Hazel Mary Magner, was born in San Francisco in 1895; her father, Emanuel, husband of Rose, was born in Stockton about 1868.Tony showed census records documenting these relatives, including an 1880 census showing Emanuel’s parents as having come from Prussia, not Ireland.Emanuel was buried in Colma, Tony learned from JewishGen and the JewishGen Online Burial Registry, but moved to Holy Cross Cemetery in 1943. So Tony's question -- was Emmanuel born Jewish? He found the death records of his parents, both buried in Colma as well, and confirmed that Emanuel was born Jewish.After doing his research, Tony talked with his grandmother and asked if she knew the Magners were not Irish. He says that's all he said. She replied that "They were were German Jewish, I know."Tony showed a photo of his great-grandmother in her first communion dress, indicating she was raised Catholic.Because Max Magner, Emanuel's father, died in 1903 before the San Francisco earthquake and fire, many of the records Tony sought were lost. He pieced together information fom the 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses, all of which indicated Max had been born in Prussia, not Ireland.Tony said from the Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames, he found the name Magner in the province of Posen, which was part of Prussia in 1860.Rose Underwood, the wife of Emanuel who was born in Copperopolis, was of Chilean descent, and Tony confirmed details through the 1910, 1920 and 1930 censues. He also recounted a family story that Rose's mother, Maria, encountered famed California bandit Joaquin Murietta on horseback while she was a girl in California, giving him a cup of water. This would place Maria in California before the bandit died in 1853.To check what he had learned about his family by another means, Tony took the Ancestry DNA autosomal DNA test. It confirmed both his Jewish (8% European) and Chilean (5% Iberian Peninsula) ancestry. He also tested his mitochondrial DNA ("autosomnal only goes back six generations), using the National Geographic Genome 2.0 test. He found he was in group 2, one of the major Native American haplogroups. The group is very broad, he noted, including both North and South America.In February of this year National Geographic updated their mitochondrial results, refining Tony's haplogroup to B2i2b, which is generally found in central and southern Chile.Tony summarized the results of his research:-- The Magners didn't have Irish ancestry.-- Emanuel Magner was of Jewish ancestry and Maria Muscoc, one of his maternal ancestors, was born in Chile.-- Emanuel's parents were bron in the province of Posen in Prussia and Baden, Germany.-- Autosomal testing confirmed Tony's Chilean and Jewish ancestry-- Mitochondrial DNA indicated the B2i2b haplogroup, which is Native American with original in central and southern Chile.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~From Avotaynu's June 14 E-Zine:Stephen P. Morse Site Unblocked
Recognizing the importance of the Stephen P. Morse site (http://stevemorse.org), its Internet Service Provider, GoDaddy, has unblocked the site a number of days prior to its normal procedure. The site was taken down when GoDaddy received a complaint from a woman who stated that displaying her picture in a yearbook at the Morse site was in violation of her copyright. Morse challenged the complaint asking her to prove she was the copyright owner, and the woman was given two weeks to respond (which has now ended).
Citing Ben Affleck’s ‘Improper Influence,’ PBS Suspends ‘Finding Your Roots’PBS said on Wednesday that it was postponing a future season of “Finding Your Roots” after an investigation revealed that the actor Ben Affleck pressured producers into leaving out details about an ancestor of his who owned slaves.PBS will not run the show’s third season until staffing changes are made, including hiring a fact checker, it said.The show, which is hosted by the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., traces family histories of celebrities and public figures, and has run for two seasons. The concern about Mr. Affleck’s relative surfaced in the WikiLeaks cache of hacked Sony emails after Mr. Gates asked a Sony executive for advice about a “megastar” who wanted to omit a detail about a slave-owning ancestor.“We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found,” Mr. Gates wrote to a Sony executive, Michael Lynton, in July 2014. Mr. Gates added that this would violate PBS rules, and “once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”When the episode was broadcast in October, it did not mention the slave-owning ancestor. After the emails were posted to WikiLeaks, Mr. Gates said that producers had discovered more interesting ancestors from Mr. Affleck’s family, including a relative from the Revolutionary War and an occult enthusiast.Mr. Affleck said in April that he was “embarrassed” when he discovered that he was related to a slave owner. “I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves,” Mr. Affleck wrote on Facebook.In the investigation, PBS said that producers violated network standards by letting Mr. Affleck have “improper influence” and “by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.”The network said that before the third season of “Finding Your Roots” can broadcast, the show needs to make some staffing changes, including the addition of a fact checker and an “independent genealogist” to review the show’s contents.PBS also said that it had not made a decision about whether to commit to a fourth season of the show.In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Gates said, “I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming.”Freeze damaged heirloomsConservators and students at the University of Texas have been assisting flood victims salvage their heirlooms and documents following the devastating floods in that area. An article about their activities can be read at http://tinyurl.com/p5canb8, and an important bit of advice is appropriate to repeat here. "Wet papers and photographs, textiles, scrapbooks, books and other sentimental objects should be frozen, if possible, and not thrown out."A phone number and further advice is available at the website.From the June 28 Avotaynu E-Zine by Gary MokotoffBBC Strikes Back at EU “Right to be Forgotten” Rule
As previously reported numerous times, the European Union has declared Google must remove from its site links that provide objectionable information about its citizens. The British Broadcasting Corporation has struck back by placing on its website a list of BBC links Google removed as a result of the “right to be forgotten” decision by the European Court of Justice in May 2014.
The BBC will publish each month links to those pages that have been removed from Google's search engine. BBC stated they are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. They think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. They hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. BBC added that they also believe that the integrity of the BBC's online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.
Links to the removed pages can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/entries/ 1d765aa8-600b-4f32-b110-d02fbf7fd379. The most recent removal concerns a 2006 article about a man named Richard Holtby who strangled his girlfriend Suzy Healey the weekend before her 40th birthday. BBC does not indicate whether the request to have the offensive article removed came from the strangler, Holtby, or the family of the victim, Healey. From here in the United States, I Googled “Holtby Healey strangle” and got hits for the The Guardian, Daily Mail, and at least 10 other British newspaper sites. Suzy Healey is even listed in FindAGrave.com.
The bottom line is that the European Union has opened up a can of worms. Google has demonstrated its reach is so vast, it is impossible for a person to be forgotten even if he becomes a monk in the Himalayas. Rest assured that some day, someone will post to the Internet a list of all monks who live in the Himalayas and Google will index the list.
Thank you Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, for making me aware of this development, as well as the hundreds of situations she reports to the genealogical community every year about record access matters that affect family history research.
WDYTYA-US Summer Season Will Include J.K. Rowling
Though not officially announced, this summer season of the American version of Who Do You Think You Are will include Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Other celebrities who will discover their ancestral past are Tom Bergeron, Bryan Cranston, Ginnifer Goodwin and Alfre Woodard. The season premiere is Sunday, July 26 at 9 pm ET on TLC. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/WDYTYASummer2015.
Celebrities to appear on summer season of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are have been announced. The exact dates were not given. Great British Bake off presenter Paul Hollywood, modeling legend Jerry Hall, Last Tango In Halifax stars Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, andactress Jane Seymour are among those on this year’s series.
Online Collection of Postcards Depict Scenes of U.S. Towns
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter notes that USGenWeb has online a collection of postcards consisting of scenes of U.S. towns. The collection is at http://www.usgwarchives.net/special/ppcs/ppcs.html. They may be useful is dressing up a family history book you plan to publish. The site is interested in growing the collection. If you want to contribute postcards in your possession, click the “Submissions” link at the site for additional information.
New FamilySearch Additions
After a three-week hiatus, FamilySearch has announced it has added 15.6M indexed records and images to its site. he list is substantial, and it is worthwhile to glance through the entire list.Notable collection updates include 5.5M records from the Iowa 1925 State Census, 2M records from the California Death Index (1905–1939) and 1.2M images from Ontario Marriages (1869–1927).
DNA Testers: Be Patient
Israel Pickholtz has written an excellent article in his blog about the frustration people are having when DNA testing does not locate previously unknown relatives. His conclusion is to be patient.
He states, “…the realistic view is that with only five years of autosomal testing in the various companies' databases, we should not think that we are testing to find our relatives. We are testing so that when our relatives test someday, we will be there waiting to be found. In the meantime, we check our new matches every week or two. That ‘someday’ may be this week.”
Reminder: Have You Signed the Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights?
With all the talk about privacy rights by other interest and political groups, the genealogical community created its own “Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights” last May. The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy.Genealogists advocate the right of access to records held by government agencies including but not limited to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, divorces); land conveyances and mortgages; tax assessments; guardianships; probate of estates; criminal proceedings; suits of law and equity; immigration; military service and pensions; and acts of governmental entities. Genealogists further advocate that they need to be allowed access to original records when photocopies, microfilm, digital images, or other formats are insufficient to establish clear text, context or completeness of the record. The rights of genealogists specified in the Declaration object to numerous barriers created to deny them access to records. We cannot have our voice heard in Congress without showing we are a formidable number of voters. Readers can read and sign the Declaration at http://tinyurl.com/GenealgyDoR.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See you at our next meeting -- August 2!