July 30 JGSS Update
- Jewish Genealogical Societyof SacramentoJuly 30, 2012Upcoming Meetings:Monday, August 20, 7 p.m. -- Ron Arons, "Searching for Living People."Monday, September 10, 7 p.m. "Angel Island Immigration," Maria SakovichSunday, October 21, 10 a.m. Patricia Burrow, "Your Family History Legacy -- What Happens to Your Research After You're Gone?"July 16 Meeting: Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order, as Victoria Fisch was attending the Paris conference, along with Art Yates. Mort said he received an e-mail from Victoria, asking if we should order the complete syllabus set. Let Mort know your thoughts.Nevada County is hosting the 19th annual seminar, "Digging for Your Roots," Saturday, August 25 in Grass Valley. For more info, e-mail mbrower@...Mort shared a free genealogy newsletter he's learned about and now receiving: go to www.genealogyintime.com. "It's a wonderful site and newsletter and totally free," he says.
Bob Wascou mentioned that one of the people helping him with translations asked him if he were from Philadelphia. (She's in Los Angeles). She was a married to a Wasko, who turns out to be Bob's cousin. Small world.CONGRATS TO GARY SANDLERJGS member Gary Sandler has been honored by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies with the Outstanding Program or Project Award 2012, as part of a team involved in the ViewMate Project.Gary tells us that ViewMate is a document and photo-sharing site within JewishGen where volunteers translate and/or explain the document or photo. This includes decoding Hebrew tombstone inscriptions, translating Yiddish postcards, deciphering Russian passport documents, and more. The translators are all volunteers who graciously donate their time and energy to help others fill in pieces of their family history.Users of ViewMate can submit up to five images at any one time for translation, and the image remains in the "Image Gallery" for easy scanning by the volunteers for a week. After their image has completed its week in the Image Gallery, users are welcome to submit more images. Submitters can ask for a general translation or a complete, word for word translation. Volunteer translators generally help however they can, yet there's no guarantee that a image or document submitted will be translated. There are no paid services in ViewMate, all work, including administration, is strictly on a volunteer basis.The volunteer translators can see what the other volunteers have already translated, and can offer refinements or corrections to the translation. Users are notified by email when a translation has been posted so they don't need to monitor the site constantly. There are a number of convenience features for both image submitters and volunteer translators, and the site has gotten to be quite popular.The site was conceved of by Bernard Israelite Kouchel more than 10 years ago. ViewMate is administered by Sam Eneman who reviews all the images submitted for appropriateness, "approves" the images to appear in the Image Gallery twice a week and responds to questions and issues posed by the users. Gary has been the ViewMate developer for the last few years. He handles exception issues on the site, adds features and corrects any programming errors.Congratulations to Gary and the ViewMate team.From today's New York Times:Obama Has Ties to Slavery Not by His Father but His Mother, Research SuggestsRajah Bose for The New York TimesMark Bunch, who directs his family’s online lineage project, said of President Obama, “I’m his fifth cousin twice removed.”July 30, 2012Obama Has Ties to Slavery Not by His Father but His Mother, Research SuggestsWASHINGTON — President Obama’s biography — son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas — has long suggested that unlike most African-Americans, his roots did not include slavery.Now a team of genealogists is upending that thinking, saying that Mr. Obama’s mother had, in addition to her European ancestors, at least one African forebear and that the president is most likely descended from one of the first documented African slaves in the United States.The findings are scheduled to be announced on Monday by Ancestry.com, a genealogy company based in Provo, Utah. Its team, while lacking definitive proof, said it had evidence that “strongly suggests” Mr. Obama’s family tree — on his mother’s side — stretches back nearly four centuries to a slave in colonial Virginia named John Punch.In 1640, Mr. Punch, then an indentured servant, escaped from Virginia and went to Maryland. He was captured there and, along with two white servants who had also escaped, was put on trial. His punishment — servitude for life — was harsher than what the white servants received, and it has led some historians to regard him as the first African to be legally sanctioned as a slave, years before Virginia adopted laws allowing slavery.Historians say there was a trade in human labor, of both whites and blacks, during this period in American history. There were also some free African-Americans. Beginning around 1617, indentured servants were bought and sold, as were debtors, in the Chesapeake Bay region, said Ira Berlin, a University of Maryland professor and expert in the history of slavery. But while those people were in an “unfree condition,” he said, historians cannot pinpoint a date for the beginning of the slave trade.“What makes the John Punch case interesting is here is a guy who is definitely a slave,” said Professor Berlin, who did not participate in the examination of the president’s ancestors.The Ancestry.com team used DNA analysis to make the connection, and it also combed through marriage and property records to trace Mr. Obama’s maternal ancestry to the time and place where Mr. Punch lived. The company said records suggested that Mr. Punch fathered children with a white woman, who passed her free status on to those children, giving rise to a family of a slightly different name, the Bunches, that ultimately spawned Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.The findings come as more and more Americans are discovering their own mixed-race heritage. Elizabeth Shown Mills, a former president of the American Society of Genealogists, said the Internet, coupled with the ease of DNA testing and heightened interest among both amateur and professional genealogists, was helping to reveal the extent of racial intermingling over the centuries.“It is becoming increasingly common now because people are discovering it,” Ms. Mills said. “In the past, very few records were available. Very few people made the effort to do the research.”The Ancestry.com team spent two years examining Mr. Obama’s mother’s past, focusing on the mixed-race Bunch line. The researchers said that over time, as the Bunches continued to intermarry, they became prominent landowners in colonial Virginia and were known as white.“We sort of stumbled across it,” said Anastasia Harman, the lead researcher. “We were just doing general research into the president’s family tree, and as we started digging back in time, we realized that the Bunch family were African-American.”There is no evidence that Ms. Dunham had any inkling that she might have had African-American ancestry, said Janny Scott, her biographer. By the mid-1800s, according to a 2007 article in The Chicago Sun-Times, one of Ms. Dunham’s Bunch ancestors had a son who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.The Ancestry.com group traced two major Bunch family branches, one that lived as white and stayed in Virginia for generations and another that left for the Carolinas. In North Carolina, the Bunches were recorded as “mulatto” in early records, and their descendants are also the president’s cousins.Mr. Obama descends from the Virginia branch, which eventually migrated to Tennessee, where his great-great-great-great-grandmother Anna Bunch was born. Her daughter Frances Allred, who was born in 1834, moved to Kansas. Four generations later, in 1942, with the family still in Kansas, Mr. Obama’s mother was born.But the research left open a question: Was John Punch, the slave, a Bunch ancestor? Because records have been destroyed, there is no definitive proof.Still, some factors led Ms. Harman and her group to a conclusion. The surnames were similar. There was DNA evidence showing that the Bunches had sub-Saharan African heritage. And a very small number of Africans were living in Virginia in the mid-1600s. All that convinced the team that the nation’s first black president was descended from Mr. Punch.“The odds, based on what does actually survive, strongly suggest that President Barack Obama is a descendant (he would be the 11th great-grandson) of the first enslaved African in America,” Ms. Harman and her team wrote in a research paper that Ancestry.com intended to release on its Web site on Monday.The team shared its findings with The New York Times, which consulted two independent genealogists — Ms. Mills, who specializes in Southern genealogy, and Johni Cerny, who specializes in black ancestry — about the findings. Both said there was no way to be certain of the Punch-Bunch connection. But both also said the Ancestry.com team made a solid case.“The research, I am convinced, is sound,” said Ms. Mills, who also reviewed the findings at Ancestry.com’s request. “The P and the B are virtually meaningless in historical context. What matters is the historical evidence that can be mustered to place the same people in the same area.”Ms. Cerny was more skeptical but said the research team’s careful wording was appropriate. “I’m sure people will be tantalized and try to prove or disprove it,” she said. “But what they’re saying is very safe and appropriate. I would be tempted myself to try to make that connection.”One reason the Ancestry.com team could make the connection was the Bunch family itself. The extended family maintains an online database that traces the family tree. It is supplemented by DNA testing showing that the men in the family have genetic markers consistent with sub-Saharan African descent. The Ancestry.com paper said the Bunches’ particular DNA profile was common in Cameroon.“I consider myself Caucasian, but I find that my mixed-race roots go way back,” said Mark Bunch, who administers the Bunch family project.Mr. Bunch, 53, the finance director for a community hospital in the agricultural town of Othello, in eastern Washington State, learned of the project several years ago from a cousin. He bought a home DNA test kit, swabbed the inside of his cheek three times and sent it off for analysis. What came back — a genetic blueprint that included sub-Saharan African roots — surprised Mr. Bunch. Then came another surprise: President Obama was a distant cousin.“I’m his fifth cousin twice removed,” Mr. Bunch said. “Of more surprise was the African Y chromosome. The relationship to President Obama was kind of the icing on the cake after that.”Our July 16 Program -- "Names: What Are You Missing?" -- Tamara Noe
Tamara has been a volunteer at the Family History Center on Eastern Avenue for 10 years and edits a newsletter for the Roseville genealogy group."This is one of my favorite presentations," she said. "What are we missing when we look for names?"She noted that variations can occur through spelling, handwriting, pronunciation, Americanization of names and patronymics.Familysearch.org -- if you type in "name variations" you'll get about 620 articles. If you go to Cyndislist and click on "n" for names you'll find 18th and 19th century American nicknames and many other good links, Tamara says.Changes in names-- can occur in census records from one decade to another-- initials might be used versus nicknames vs. middle namesTamara advises you make a list of every possible spelling. You can develop your list through:-- Ancestry.com ("don't use their default on last names")-- message boards-- soundex-- phonetics-- handwriting-- old alphabets-- transpositions--AmericanizationsShe says her last name, Noe, is so short, she can't use wildcards in searches. Phonetically, she says there are about 30 ways to spell it."Ancestry now lets you use * wild card for the first letter -- you just have to have three other letters." In Soundex, Noe comes out N000.She says Ancestry has one person working on an index; FamilySearch has two. She works as an arbitrator in indexing.Spelling errors can occur, she says, because a person is illiterate, misspells, mis-hears, mis-reads, mis-types, has poor handwriting, or transposes letters.Substitution tables -- there are commonly misread capital letters, such as A and H, B and R, F and T, etc.Common phonetic mistakes include mixing up the letters d and t, k and c, m and n.If the name starts with a vowel, you may want to try adding an H in front of it.Tamara says "n's" are terrible in handwriting -- you just have to be aware of all the problems.Old Handwriting: Problems include transpositions, Americanizations --shortening the name, translating a name-- Giuseppe Verde becomes Joe Green. "People got tired of spelling their name all the time."Patronymics: -- in England, you find "son" at the end.Ireland, Scotland Wales: Mac, Mc, O', s (Jones, son of John)Nordic -- son, -sen, -datter, -dotterRussia -- -ovich, -yevich, -yichJewish -- ben, batJr. and Sr. -- can be younger or olderNicknames: Bess, Betsy, Betty, Libby,etc -- all for ElizabethDaisy, Madge, Meg, Peggy -- MargaretMay, Molly, Polly -- Maryetc.Initials and Middle Names -- check hereAbbreviations:: may use first and last letters onlyHy for HenryWm for WilliamFS for FrancisOther -- Xpr for ChristopherSearching -- some things to consider-- change vowels, drop silent letters, add silent letters, drop double letters, substitute lettersWildcards on Ancestry: -- replace with a *Can replace just one letter, use ? Johns?n, for example, which allows a search for both Johnson and Johnsen.Can't have both the first and last letters wild.Learn to recognize the handwritten name -- "Write it normally, write it quickly, write it with your opposite hand, write it in old script, have someone else write it, have a child write it."One book that Tamara recommends: "Names and Genealogy-- Their Origins and Meanings."From the JGS of the Conejo Valley and Ventura CountyCALIFORNIA IN 1940Release of the 1940 Census allows genealogists to find or continue to track family members. It also allows historians insights as well. Archives.com has compiled a fun and interesting overview of California in 1940 as derived from the census data. To see where Clint Eastwood lived or how much a bottle of scotch whiskey cost, visit http://tinyurl.com/d3qqskd .From Avotaynu's E-Zine:Paris Conference a Great Success
From Editor Gary Mokotoff: Congratulations to the Cercle de Généalogie Juive for the excellent 32nd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The society stated that there were 850 attendees from 30 countries. This would be a record—I believe—for an IAJGS conference outside North America. Many of the speakers lecturing on standard subjects were from Europe and not heard at U.S.-based conferences. This gave a fresh approach to the subjects. The bilingual lectures, French/English, were no obstacle. The translators were excellent and the wireless headsets did the job comfortably. I listened to a number of lectures presented in French with no difficulty. The quality and uniqueness of the conference demonstrates that IAJGS should plan a European-based conference at least every 10 years.
The 2013 conference will be held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel from August 4–9. They already have a website at http://iajgs2013.org. IAJGS president Michael Goldstein announced that future conferences will be held in Salt Lake City (2014) and Jerusalem (2015). Discussions call for the 2016 conference to be somewhere in the Northwest U.S, 2017 in Eastern U.S. and 2018 in Eastern Europe, likely Warsaw.
News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A login is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen/sigs.htm.General. A posting to the Latvia SIG Discussion Group notes that a glossary of medical terms used in the 18th and 19th centuries can be found at http://www.thornber.net/medicine/html/medgloss.html.
Austria-Czech. Additional digitized birth, marriage and death records for the Jewish communities of Bohemia and Moravia are now online at http://www.badatelna.cz/fond/1073. The fond, not all of which has been digitized, covers the period 1784–1949, but registers of births of the period 1913–1949, marriages 1938–1949 and deaths 1937–1949 are closed to the public for privacy reasons.
Belarus. A search engine in English for records of the Belarus archives, not only the National Historical Archives of Minsk and Grodno, but all the other archives as well is at http://archives.gov.by/eng/index.php?id=search.
Hungary. More than 12,200 birth, marriage, and death records from the former Hungarian county of Maramaros are now part of the JewishGen Hungary Database at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Hungary. A list of towns/years included is at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Hungary/Maramaros.htm. This represents the first live searchable data from the Maramaros/Maramures Jewish Records Project. for details: http://www.MaramarosJewishRecords.com.
Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. and Death Index
In a letter to the Social Security Administration, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania requests that the Death Master File, also known as the Social Security Death Index, be banned from public access. It can be found at http://tinyurl.com/SenCaseyLetter.
From the Genealogy In Time Newsletter July 21Austria –June 2012 -- FamilySearch.org has added a new browsable image collection of registers of births, marriages, deaths (and some burials) for the Jewish community of Vienna (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien). The collection spans the years 1784 to 1911 and consist of some 350,000 images. The records are in German. Access is free. [Historic Vienna Jewish Birth Records]Shoe by Chris Cassatt and Gary Brookins July 15, 2012See you at our next meeting -- Monday, August 20 -- 7 p.m.