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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org November 7, 2012 Our Next Meeting: Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m., Gary Sandler, ViewMate Need help with
    Message 1 of 47 , Nov 7, 2012
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    Jewish Genealogical Society
    of Sacramento
    November 7, 2012
    Our Next Meeting:
    Sunday,  November 18, 10 a.m., Gary Sandler,  ViewMate
    Need help with translations of historical or family documents? Our own Gary Sandler will talk about the award-winning ViewMate program he helped create. The program, honored at this summer's Paris conference, is found on the www.JewishGen.org website.  It offers free translations of old passports, postcards, gravestones, official documents and more.  Gary has been the programmer for ViewMate and will introduce its features and capabilities.  It has helped thousands of people move past brick walls in their family research.
    Gary Sandler has been a computer guy and project planner for over 30 years. His interest in genealogy sprang from his curiosity about whether he was related to the actor Adam Sandler (no).  He says he's been applying his obsessive- compulsive behaviors to researching and documenting his Russian, Lithuanian and Polish roots for over a dozen years. In 2006-07, Gary worked with Steve Morse to create the “Gold Form” one-step tool for searching Ellis Island passenger records.
    Future Meetings:
    Sunday,  December 16, 10 a.m. – Lynn Brown, Citizenship Records and Immigration
    Sunday, January 20, 2013, 10 a.m. -- Janice Sellers, Reconstructing Family Information From Almost Nothing
    October 21, 2012 Meeting Notes
    President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests. She said we had a great booth at the recent Davis Food Festival and had 49 people sign up expressing an interest in genealogy. 
    At last week’s Family History Day at the State Archives, the State Archivist, Nancy Zimmelman Lenoil,  was among those stopping by (she has spoken to our group on several occasions).
    Victoria said she will attend Marc Dollinger’s presentation on “Jews of the West” in Davis this afternoon.
    The Sacramento History and Genealogy group has printed up a list of resources; they are selling them for $1 each.  Victoria has some available.
    Art Yates mentioned that for those who may not be able to attend next year’s international conference in Boston, he recommends they try to attend something a little cheaper –the Southern California Jamboree in Los Angeles June 7-9.  He says it’s very similar to attending the international conference; he’s been twice so far.
    The Sacramento Central Library continues to offer genealogy classes.
    Susanne mentioned the value of having  “Google Alerts” set up for less common names you’re researching (or ancestral town names, etc.). You receive daily contacts when the word or words you've selected show up online.  She recently connected with a long lost first cousin, prompted by a Facebook photo that showed up in one of her alerts.
    Victoria expressed thanks on behalf of the group to Maribel Reingold and Susan Rumberg, who alternate in providing baked goodies for us at each meeting.
    (Editorial note about the October program -- in the more than 15 years I've been a JGSS member, this is the first time I've heard a presentation on this topic.  Extremely valuable program, outstanding presentation -- Susanne)
    October Program – Gen-Legacy: What Happens to Your Research After You’re Gone?
    Patricia Burrow was the meeting’s speaker.  She  retired from a Silicon Valley tech career and went on to publish a few articles about her ancestors. She's now working on a book about her adopted grandmother.  Patricia leads several genealogy groups, including an indexing project at the Santa Clara County Archives, a family surname group and a surname DNA project. 
    Patricia started off by asking, “How many of you have been threatened with a dumpster?”
    She said you have to think of your own research and what you’ve done over the years.  “We’re historians, and we don’t want that history to get lost.”
    Patricia said she would like her own descendants to get the benefit of the research she’s already done.
    She asked the group how many had had the experience of cleaning out a relative’s house.  Most had.  She told of helping clean her husband’s uncle’s home, where one family member dumped desk drawers into trash bags.  Patricia was able to rescue his military medals and other things.  “These are the kinds of things that can happen.”
    People may not have more than 8-10 hours to clean out a home and need to move fast.
    She said her own father had a file folder under D in his file cabinet, for death, and things he thought were important to place there.
    “We have to think about some of these things we have and what to do to get them preserved so they can last 1-2-3 more generations.”
    Member Teven Laxer recounted how after his father-in-law, a Holocaust survivor, passed away, he left hundreds of three-ring binders, that Teven is still working on indexing five years later.  He’s been in touch with the Leo Beck Institute and Yad Vashem about the collection.  He also said that his mother-in-law gave away books written in German, some of which he’s been able to retrieve from neighbors and friends, noting their value as family heirlooms.
    Patricia said the major word for today is “Publish.”  --The best way for our work to continue and be available for future generations.”
    She cited a Chinese proverb – “The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.”
    “My kids are not going to throw away a book that has their name on it,” Patricia said. “It’s a good way to distribute your genealogy.”
    She said if you can’t publish, make the material “look important.”  People might be reluctant to throw away something with their surname.
    Patricia also stressed the importance of:
          --   photos that are labeled  
          --   Memorabilia With a Story
          --  organizing for a stranger
    Photos That Are Labeled
    “My theory is that we’re going to lose 2-3 generations of photos, because of digital photos.
    Patricia suggested place like Shutterfly, Snapfish, the I-Street Press (also Costco) will help you turn your photos into books.  But be sure the captions clearly indicate who is in the pictures (not like a baby book she saw that just identifies the parents as  “Mom and Dad” and provided no details about the baby’s birthdate or other information).
    Memorabilia With a Story
    Patricia said no one will know if there’s a story behind an object – write down the story of where it came from, what it is.
    Organize for a Stranger
    … so  your heirs do not get hysterical, fed up and just give up and toss.
    “And I’m going to call our children strangers,” she said.
    Patricia's Suggestion – Name a Gen-Executor
    When you put together your will or trust, do not think of yourselves as hobbyists – you are historians.
    Patricia provided possible wording for a codicil to a will naming a particular person to take charge of one’s research.  “It is our wish that our daughter Susan Jones Taylor take possession of all files, books, pictures and related materials.  We wish her to, in reasonable time, distribute the materials to the appropriate families at her discretion.”
    Patricia said you might specify a sum of money to go with this request.
    “If you do not do it formally, you do take a chance that your wishes may not be invoked,” she said.  “If you think you have kids that are dying for your family history, good for you.”
    Member Sid Salinger, who has thousands of names on his family tree, said his family members would likely fight over his research:  “You take it – no, you take it.”
    Victoria Fisch said she would try to compile for the group a list of places that might accept material. If you have suggestions, email them to Victoria. For example, the Sacramento archives might take material relating to the area. She said we might want to talk to the State Archivist, Nancy Zimmelman Lenoil, about how material should be prepared. 
    Gen-Executor – Patricia said this doesn’t have to be someone who will finish or continue your research, but someone with a reverence for history and appreciation of the family.  “We’re just asking them to preserve the collection, who might have room for it.” 
    Letter to the Executor
    “I put a letter in front of all my binders,” Patricia said. “We have spent many long hours researching this material, representing our heritage….” 
    “I just put this letter everywhere,: she said.  (Burt Hecht suggested maybe a short video, as well.)
    “I would set aside some money for someone to sort, organize and distribute your research, maybe find someone to finish a family book, if that’s underway.”
    Drop-Dead Book
    “This would include a list of societies I belong to, a pedigree chart, how the material is organized in the computer, paper files, where are photos, books, memorabilia located.
    Teven asked whether she mixed financial assets with genealogical assets; Patricia said no.
    You might also want to consider a back-up Gen-Executor, Patricia said.
    “Describe for a stranger what your work area looks like, where you can find files, binders, etc. 
     Talk your way through the organization you have, include passwords and contact information.”
    Patricia said a screen shot of digital files would also be a good idea.
    Digital Material:
    She explained her 3-2-1 system:
    Three digital copies of everything important to you on two different media  (hard drive,  CD/DVD).  Flash drives should not be used for long-term storage.  Keep one copy offsite – in your safety deposit box, with your brother, etc.
    Patricia said the website www.practicalarchivist.com  has more info on how to care for photos.
    Patricia says the scenario of the grandkids eyeing Nana’s new computer (with all her research), and taking it, is not hard to imagine.
    “I’ve already told my daughter, anything not in binders, throw away.”  Patricia uses metal-edged containers for her paper documents.
    Patricia said her father had Alzheimer’s but responded to photos.  So she made books for him, and had his brothers and sisters send stories and photos to include.
    Do not use magnetic albums – will ruin your pictures.
    Use corners, do not use anything sticky on the photo.
    You need to say “ lignin-free, acid free,” not just archival.   Can buy material at Costco, get Avery sleeves.
    Displaying photos – do not want to put original photos on the wall.  Kinko's can scan large photos for you.
    If digitizing, label, label  --iPhoto can add meta data.
    Books, Bookmarks
    www.librarythings.com – free – can index
    “I put bookmarks in my books,” Patricia said (see samples in photo, attached).  Three kinds – family book, history book, resources book.
    “This tells the Gen-Executor what to do with the book.  Say where you want your books to go.”
    Photograph each item.
    Describe their provenance.
    Teven suggested people open books they’re possibly discarding, to see if there is an inscription inside.
    Books – who do they go to, put this in your drop-dead file.
    The question of family history medical information came up --- Bob Wascou said he used an Excel spreadsheet.
    Patricia summarized her suggestions:
    Make It Look Important
    Organize for a Stranger
    From  Gary Mokotoff's Nov. 4 Avotaynu:
    Cyndi's List: It is reported that some unnamed website has copied Cyndi’s List in its entirety. Cyndi’s List, started in 1996 by Cyndi Ingle Howells, is a list of Internet sites of value to genealogists. It currently identifies more than 325,000 sites divided into 192 categories. The Jewish category has 707 links divided into 26 subcategories.

    Whether the person did it with malice or because the person feels s/he has a legal right to do it may have to be decided in a court of law. The confusion emanates from a Supreme Court decision in 1991 that you cannot copyright facts, and Cyndi’s List, the defendant can argue, is nothing more than a bunch of facts and, therefore, not protected by copyright law which protects original works.

    Prior to the Court decision, facts could be copyrighted if they were gathered by the “sweat of your brow,” that is, if the facts were very difficult to accumulate. This would be true of Cyndi’s List. Since the decision, federal courts have backed off somewhat on the broad ruling.  My opinion is that based on the “Implications” section of this article, the person violated copyright law.
    From the JGS of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County:
    Sarina Roffe publishes Genealogy Detective, a blog that focuses on Sephardic genealogy. Recently, Sarina listed her top 10 tips for using databases. You can see them at http://tinyurl.com/8lrvqbp.
    Billings woman gets over 4 years for tax fraud
    Published 6:49 a.m., Friday, September 28, 2012
    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings woman who said she filed false tax returns using the Social Security numbers and birth dates of deceased people she found while doing genealogy research online has been sentenced to more than four years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $130,000 in restitution to the IRS.
    The Billings Gazette reports  41-year-old Shannon Kathlina Grimm was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, who noted she was on probation when she committed the federal fraud.
    Grimm pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud and false claims. She admitted filing at least 90 false tax returns seeking a total of $402,833 in refunds. Prosecutors say she laundered the $129,498 in refund money she did receive through accounts of others to whom she paid a fee.
    Information from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com
    See you Sunday morning, November 18th!

  • SusanneLevitsky@...
    Upcoming Meetings: --Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. – Glenn Kurtz, “Three Minutes inPoland – Discovery of a Lost World in a 1938 Film” --Sunday, Oct. 18, 10
    Message 47 of 47 , Aug 17
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      Upcoming Meetings:
      --Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. – Glenn Kurtz, “Three Minutes in Poland – Discovery of a Lost World in a 1938 Film”
      --Sunday, Oct. 18, 10 a.m., Susan Miller, “Jews in a Moslem World”

      JGSS minutes for meeting on August 2, 2015
      Mort Rumberg took the minutes for Susanne Levitsky who was not present.  (Thanks, Mort!)
      President Victoria Fisch made several announcements concerning scheduling and various genealogical events. She noted that the JGSS will participate in the annual Food Faire on August 30. Volunteers are welcome.
      Mort provided a quick tour of his eight days in Israel for the 35th annual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. He has a data stick with about two-dozen speaker handouts. The conference program was passed around and if people would like a copy of a conference presentation’s handout, email Mort and he will forward it (his email address is below). He noted that not all presentations had handouts. He said it was an incredible experience being there and would like to return and see the many other sights he missed.
      President Fisch introduced the speaker, Dr. Valerie Jordan, who spoke about Family Secrets and Genealogy – how genealogy may intentionally or accidentally uncover hidden family secrets.
      Dr. Jordan is a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, now retired. Born and raised in New York City, she came to California in 1977. She is a second generation American from Odessa (her maternal great-great grandmother), and from Bucharest (her maternal grandmother). She passed around photos of a very handsome couple (her grandmother and grandfather) and a family photo showing four generations.
      Valerie defined secrets as being an intentional concealment of information from others. The information can be shameful, painful, or harmful to others. She differentiated this from privacy, which she defined as a person not wanting to share information, but the information is not shameful, painful, or harmful. She also differentiated it from unknown or forgotten information or stories.
      When would you intentionally tell people of a family secret? These are some of the times: When they are “old” enough to handle the information; when a specific milestone or family event is reached and it is appropriate; when symptoms or distress becomes unmanageable and needs to be revealed.
      Secrets take many forms. Valerie discussed the following examples of secrets that families may not want revealed:
      Religious secrets – possible crypto or converso Jews in the family history.
      Biological secrets – she gave the example of Bobby Darin’s story where he was devastated when he discovered that his “sister” was actually his mother.
      Secret families – Charles Lindbergh had seven secret children.
      Political secrets – Perhaps someone in the family having, for example, a communist party background – “red” diaper babies, slavery secrets
      Secret affairs
      Mental health secrets – such as suicide, addictions, mental illness, sexual orientation/identity, abuse, etc.
      Adoption secrets
      Incarceration secrets
      Military service secrets
      Next, Valerie discussed genograms. Genograms are charts or pictorial displays used in family therapy and medicine to gather family history, relationship patterns, stories and medical histories. It displays medical history and family stories in a creative and non-genealogical chart. The charts use symbols and terms to describe family members and their relationships and are used by many therapists. She provided examples of such charts using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family and Bill Clinton’s family.
      Obviously these types of charts have advantages and disadvantages.
      Advantages include obtaining useful information in a collaberative and engaging manner; observing family patterns across generations; collecting stories of resilience and hardships; possibly uncovering toxic family secrets and unknown relationships.
      Disadvantages include providing too much detail; exposing secrets too soon; too much focus on the past; identifying relationships that a client or family member may not be ready for or even want to know. There can be little information available or too few relatives to ask.
      Genograms are different from genealogical family trees: vital statistics and absolutely correct data are not essential, since the focus of a genogram chart is on relationships and stories. However, these charts can be useful as an adjunct to family trees.
      Valerie discussed secrets within her own family, indicating that she had known the “story” her mother told her in 1967 about her maternal grandfather, but subsequently found out that her mother’s story was “wrong.” Research convinced her that her mother’s story was wrong, possibly hiding a secret. She used census data, naturalization documents, passport and travel documents, city directories, marriage certificates, and his obituary in a Marin County newspaper in May, 1962, to flesh out her family story. The information was displayed in a genogram. She is still looking for more details.
      This presentation was extraordinarily interesting and exceptional for the questions and audience participation it stimulated.
      Mort has a copy of her PowerPoint presentation and it is available upon request. Send an email to mortrumberg1@....
      Morton M. Rumberg
      From Gary Mokotoff’s Avotaynu E-Zines:

      New Website Identifies Victims of Disasters
      Was a member of your genealogical family the victim of a train wreck, significant fire, flood, shipwreck, plane crash or other disaster? The Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter notes there is a website, http://www3.gendisasters.com, that identifies such persons.

      The authors of the site must have spent hundred of hours copying newspaper accounts of the disaster and lists of the persons dead and injured or missing. There are 99 air disasters for New York State alone. The well-known Triangle Shirtwaist fire is included, of course. There are 90 overall results for persons names Cohen.

      Site Identifies More Than 5,000 Facebook Sites That Focus On Genealogy
      Katherine R. Willson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has undertaken the monumental task of identifying more than 5,000 Facebook sites that focus on genealogy. The Jewish section has 25 entries.

      The number of Facebook sites devoted to Jewish genealogy is even greater because the list does not cross-reference a number of items. For example, not included in the Jewish portion is “Jewish Memory, History & Genealogy in Moldova” which is found only in the Moldova section, and “Dutch Jewish Genealogy” found only in the Netherlands section. It would be wise to first examine the Jewish list and then use your browser’s search engine to locate any item on the list that has the word “Jewish” or “Jews” in its name. This also applies to place names. Toronto Facebook sites appear in numerous sections.

      Browse the Table of Contents to understand the scope and organization of the list. The database is located at https://moonswings.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/ genealogy-on-facebook-list-aug-2015.pdf.

      “Right To Be Forgotten” May Be Spreading
      If you are interested in following the battle over the European Union’s “Right To Be Forgotten” ruling, the New York Times has published a comprehensive article about the subject describing the position of the rule’s advocates as well as opponents. It is at http://tinyurl.com/R2BForgotten. Another lengthy discussion can be found at https://euobserver.com/opinion/129823.

      NARA and Ancestry.com Plan To Renew Their Partnership Agreement
      For seven years the U.S National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) and Ancestry.com have operated under an agreement where Ancestry.com and its subsidiary Fold3 can scan documents at the Archives and have exclusive use to these images for five years. Ancestry is permitted to charge for access to the documents. After five years, NARA can use the images in any way it cares to, including making them available to the public at no charge.

      The two organizations are now renewing the agreement with some changes that benefit the genealogical community.
         • The five-year embargo previously started when Ancestry.com placed the images online at their site. Now the clock will start running when they complete the scanning process. Apparently it can take up to two years for Ancestry to place the images online, so the clock will start earlier.
         • The updated agreement encourages Ancestry to post segments of large collections immediately rather than waiting for the entire collection to be completed.
         • The new agreement outlines NARA’s commitment to protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and more specifically spells out Ancestry’s responsibilities if PII is identified.

      Kaunas City Government Agrees to Maintain Jewish Cemetery
      Lithuanian governments at all levels have been severely criticized by some Jewish organizations for refusing to recognize government complicity in the murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust period. Now the Kaunas City Municipality has agreed to maintain a Jewish cemetery in its city at the request of Maceva, the organization involved in maintaining and documenting the remaining Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. The city plans to tend to the cemetery in several stages and has allocated €8,000 for the inventory and identification of graves. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/KaunasJewishCemetery. It includes a number of photographs of the current condition of the cemetery.

      Maceva has its own site at http://www.litvak-cemetery.info/en. Its home page includes a map of Lithuania showing the location of all known Jewish cemeteries.

      Maceva Matching Grant Program. An anonymous donor has offered a matching grant up to $5,000 for the Maceva Cemetery Project. All donations to Maceva made between August 4 and August 31 are eligible to be included in this offer. Go to http://www.litvaksig.org/contribute to make a donation. Select "Maceva Cemetery Project" as the Special Project.

      “New” Database: Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette
      The Israel Genealogy Research Association is adding more databases to their site at http://genealogy.org.il/. One of them, “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette,” is a list of more than 28,000 persons, mostly Jews, who legally changed their names while living in Palestine during the British Mandate period from 1921–1948. This database has an interesting history.

      I (Gary Mokotoff) am known for creating some of the earliest—pre-Internet—databases for Jewish genealogy including today’s JewishGen Family Finder and the Family Tree of the Jewish People. A lesser known one is titled “Name Changes in the Palestine Gazette.” This minor database has significance today because it was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System.

      The story: At the Jerusalem conference held in 1984, I met the late Rabbi Shmuel Gorr, who was one of the first professional Jewish genealogists. He wrote to me a few months later, knowing I was in the computer services business, stating he wanted to create a database of Jews who legally changed their name during the British Mandate period. These names were published in the official publication called the “Palestine Gazette.” He’d send me photocopies of the pages from the “Gazette” and I’d computerize the list organizing them by original name and new name. This database was valuable to genealogy because many people knew they had relatives who made aliyah (immigration) during the 1920s and 1930s and changed their name but they did not know the new name.

      The list was compiled, placed on microfiche, and distributed to all Jewish Genealogical Societies.

      The project was the genesis of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. At that time, I observed that the European names being changed had many spelling variants. Being familiar with the American Soundex System developed by Robert Russell in 1918, I applied this system to the European names and found it did not work. One significant problem was that those names spelled interchangeably with the letter w or v, for example, the names Moskowitz and Moskovitz, did not have the same soundex code. So I developed by own soundex system and applied it to the Palestine Gazette names. This modification to the U.S. soundex system was published in the first issue of AVOTAYNU, in an article titled "Proposal for a Jewish Soundex Code." Randy Daitch read the article and made significant improvements to what I had developed. The joint effort became known as the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System which today is used by JewishGen; the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for retrieving case histories; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. It can be used to search the Ellis Island database of 24 million immigrants at the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site.
      See you at the end of September.
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