- Jewish Genealogical Societyof SacramentoNovember 7, 2012Our Next Meeting:Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m., Gary Sandler, ViewMateNeed 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 ImmigrationSunday, January 20, 2013, 10 a.m. -- Janice Sellers, Reconstructing Family Information From Almost NothingOctober 21, 2012 Meeting NotesPresident 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 strangerPhotos 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 StoryPatricia 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-ExecutorWhen 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.Paper“I’ve already told my daughter, anything not in binders, throw away.” Patricia uses metal-edged containers for her paper documents.PhotosPatricia 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, Bookmarkswww.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.”MemorabiliaPhotograph 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:PublishMake It Look ImportantOrganize 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 fraudPublished 6:49 a.m., Friday, September 28, 2012BILLINGS, 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!
- May 10, 2017Upcoming 2017 Meetings:
Sunday, May 21, 10 a.m. -- Preserving Family Heirlooms -- Teven Laxer
Sunday, June 11, 10 a.m. -- Oral Histories, Memoirs and More -- Maryellen BurnsNotes from April 16, 2017 MeetingPresident Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order. She presented the Board of Directors slate for 2017-18:President -- Mort RumbergVice President -- Sherri VeneziaSecretary -- Susanne LevitskyTreasurer -- Victoria FischDirectors (appointed by the president with approval of the board)Library -- Teven LaxerMembership -- Judy PersinProgramming -- Sherri VeneziaPublicity -- Susanne LrevitskyWebmasters -- Victoria Fisch, David FiedlerBoard Members at LargeTony ChakurianMark HeckmanDave ReingoldArt YatesThe slate will be considered for ratification at the May meeting. The officers will assume their new posts June 1.The next board meeting will be June 11 in the afternoon. Anyone interested may attend.Announcements:Ron Arons will speaking to the Calaveras Genealogical Society in the near future.The annual IAJGS conference will be held July 23-28 in Orlando, FloridaDave Reingold recounted a recent experience providing information on his late uncle to the mortuary -- he said they made an error but it was too late by the time he discovered it.
May 7 is the Jewish Heritage Festival, to be held this year at the Scottish Rite Temple., 1-5 p.m. We'll have a table. Mort Rumberg will be there the whole time but hopes there will be other volunteers who might want to sit at the table for an hour or so,April Program -- Victoria Fisch:How to Find "Lost" Relatives You Didn't Know You HadSome highlights from Victoria Fisch's presentation:
Preparation -- Research PlanWhere were your ancestors born?Some tried and true methods, common sense research principlesMuch of research is preoccupation with details. We can think of it as a Google Map, dive in closely until we see house and house numberIf you're not yet using online resources, you're missing the boat1) Ancestry.com -- gives you ability to manipulate a tree onlineMany of Family Search centers have Ancestry and you can save your documents to a flash drive. Can also access Ancestry at any public library .. but to build a tree, need to subscribe.AARP -- offers $100 discount. Victoria suggest you get the "world" subscription.You can subscribe for 3 months, 6 months or a year.
2) Family Heritage -- Israeli competitor -- don't recommend
3) Find My Past -- UK competitorLook at the databases they have
Victoria likes to focus on building a family tree online -- Ancestry, she says, "is way easier" and has the edge over the others.
Ninety percent of Jewish families, even beginning in the Gold Rush era, Victoria says, came over and knew someone here already -- a relative or friend in town. That's one avenue for finding lost relatives.
If your relatives came after June 1906, all the better -- the passenger manifests looked different. Before 1906, they were one page of columns, asking the questions upon departure.
After 1906, they were two pages. The first page included a column asking about the relative they left behind. On the second page, who they were going to -- most of the time that person was a relative, usually identified. "And the person was probably related, even if they had a different name."
Pre-1906, sometimes a column:
1) where were your ancestors fromIt's not enough to know "Russia," but what was the town?2) where did your ancestors live upon their arrival here?Where did they move, if moved?
Discover the birthplace of your ancestors:-- from immigration records (passenger manifests)-- citizenship records-- WW I and WW II draft registration-- death notices (paid notices) -- usu. deceased children, wife, sometimes siblings noted-- newspaper notices -- wedding anncts., etc.-- family stories-- correspondence -- old letters and postcards-- photographsFamiliarize yourself with the region of nativity (birthplace):
-- JewishGen town finder-- Links to town pages, Yizkor books (compiled after Holocaust by survivors)-- Google the town for maps and history-- get a sense of what other towns in the area
Yizkor books -- usually in Hebrew -- some translated on JewishGen, could be a book done in Argentina by former European residents
Jeremy Frankel: The New York Public Library has a very large collection.Teven Laxer: Some even have family trees-- and they're constantly coming online, new stuff all the time. There is a Yizkor book name finder.
The books also give a little description of what life was like in the town.
Preparation -- Find all the consecutive years of the census, Victoria says. Identify the earliest census year, closest to the year of the family's arrival.
Record the address of the family, record profession of head of household, because lots of families had the same name.
Also look for state censuses, although erratic. New York -- 1905, 1915, 1925 -- pretty good.
Sherri Venezia; Cyndi's List notes what's available.At left edge of census -- usually name of street, left column, house number.
Using city directories and census records to find lost relatives.City directories -- do a manual search in Ancestry.Find a city direction on InternetArchives.org website.Find directories in genealogy or historical societies1880 census -- asks "When did you come to this country?" so gives you a window.Jeremy: Big city reference library will maybe make a copy and scan for you.
Research Plan-- Search for adult male ancestors in city directory-- Look for listings w/same surname, maybe same address-- Search for new individuals in same census year -- should be same address or street
Using immigration data:Research Plan -- find contact in U.S. on page 2 of manifest-- record name and address of contact-- search for him in closest census year-- match address from census to city directoryUsing Census Records:-- Review earliest census record-- scan page for same surnames and birthplace-- Use "see others on page" function (ancestry) to save individuals to your tree.-- Search for them to confirm relationships-- Check immigration year and profession of new individual
Teven -- Just because it says "boarder" -- might be sister of wife--- Search county of residence for surname and birthplace-- If children born in other states, search in those states.Using Naturalization Index CardsSequence of becoming a citizen:a) Declaration of Intent, valuable info.b) Usually after five years -- Petition for Naturalization, more detailsc) Actual naturalization certificate -- no information, worthless
Look on card for witness name and addressif surname is a match, search for individual in census, city directoryNewspaper articles -- weddings, articles about accidental deaths, tragedies
California Digital Newspaper Collection -- 1846 to 1910 -- freeMost cost $$ -- newspapers.com $39/year OCGenealogy bank -- seems to cover different newspapers, fee-basedLibrary of Congress, free -- Chronicling America -- usu. get whole page, have highlights**San Francisco Call Database -- vital records, indexed 1869-1900Nice thing about fee-based, usually zero in on whole articleFultonHistory.com -- free -- mainly New Yorkthousands of small newspapersFulton old postcards -- goes back to 18th centuryLondon Jewish Chronicle newspaper -- free, goes back to 1841Using Death and Burial Records
-- death notice and obituaries-- probate records-- burial sites, mortuary records, death certificatesLegacy.com -- major aggregation of obituaries, death noticesProbate records -- Ancestry started putting onlineBurial sites --kehilalinks.jewishgen.org -- links to all NY or New Jersey cemeteries w/websitesgives you plot location, can see who's buried in adjacent plot, or relatives in same "society."Death certificates -- usually say where person is buried, can use "Find a Grave: also. Can ask cemetery to take a photo.Also, respondent, person who doctor or mortician asks questions to -- look at home of respondent, might be son or son-in-law.Mortuary records -- Sometimes will say who index cards, sometimes buried, sometimes transferred to database.
Steve Morse's One-Step Pages
Direct portal to Ellis Island database -- use Gold FormFor name - - want exact or starts withTown will come up w/alphabetical list of hitsAnd after 1906, more info
Adding Maiden Names --
-- Order birth, marriage and death certificates-- For NYC vital records, use ItalianGen to find certificates:Birth Certificates until 1909Marriage until 1937Death until 1948
ItalianGen -- use if New York relativesTranscribed death certificates -- gives you names you never knew about before.Can search by parents
Using Yad Vashem Records-- Digital collections -- Shoah Names Database-- Search by surname and town, or town only-- Look for Page of Testimony-- Other records may have parents and surname namesConfirming Relationships-- World War I, II draft registrations -- often town where born-- Immigration records -- look for departure records (i.e. Hamburg Departures, usually good spellings of towns)-- link to Hamburg on Ancestry, Steve Morse's siteOther resources --JewishData -- paid website -- photos of headstones not on Find a GraveLogan Kleinwaks-- GenealogyIndexer.org-- freeCanadian marriage records for Jews -- on Ancestry, incredible.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~From Avotaynu's E-ZineApril 30, 2017“How to Manage Your Family's Digital Assets”Dick Eastman, author of the daily ezine Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, has written an article for the FamilySearch blog titled “How to Manage Your Family's Digital Assets.” He discusses various problems in preserving historical documents on digital medium, such as the problem of obsolescence of the medium. The extensive article can be found at http://media.familysearch.org/how-to-manage-your-familys-digital-assets.~~~~~~~~~~~~Genealogy success story: The mystery of my great-aunt HelenApril 14, 2017 | Year 41, No. 32 Heritage Florida Jewish NewsUncle Aaron and Aunt Helen in June 1942.Helen Benton was the younger sister of my maternal grandmother, Rose Rothenberg. My great-aunt Helen was an outgoing person in a family of reserved people. She was always very kind to my family and me. I have fond memories of times spent as a child with "Aunt Helen" and "Uncle Aaron."My sister, Barbara Silverman, and I have been working on our family genealogy for over a decade. A few years ago, my mother mentioned that at one time she had found naturalization papers for Aunt Helen. Everyone in the family wondered why there would be naturalization papers for someone whom we believed had been born in the United States.We encountered several roadblocks in our quest to unravel this mystery. Our first hurdle was that my mother could not find Aunt Helen's naturalization papers. Was she mistaken about the existence of these papers? My mother, Harriet Signer, who is 95 and lives in South Florida, has an excellent memory. She was absolutely certain that she had Aunt Helen's naturalization papers in her possession at one time.
First, we had to verify that Aunt Helen was actually born in New York like her sister, Rose, my grandmother.I went to the New York City Municipal Archives and found Aunt Helen's birth certificate. She was born on Oct. 2, 1897, at 200 East 7th Street in Manhattan.
Now I was really perplexed. There were several ideas that circulated around the family to explain our conundrum. Sometime after World War II, Aunt Helen and Uncle Aaron changed their surname from Benowitz to Benton. Also complicating matters, Aunt Helen never told the truth about her age. Was there a relationship between these behaviors and what we had already discovered? The mystery became even greater.
After several years of searching, I found Aunt Helen's Petition for Naturalization online. It clearly stated that she was born on July 4, 1898, (the date was a fabrication). The document also indicated that she was born in New York City and that her husband, Uncle Aaron, who was born in Lithuania, was naturalized in 1925.Every step in this journey to determine why Aunt Helen had applied for citizenship, despite the fact that she was born in this country, added more questions and increased the mystery.
I was totally shocked by the final answer to my question. It not only involved Aunt Helen, but potentially many women living in the United States at that time. When I told people what I uncovered, they, at first, did not believe it could be true.
One day at a Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando meeting, I mentioned to a fellow member/genealogist that I had proved that while Aunt Helen was indeed born in the United States, she had applied for citizenship in 1928! This fellow member of the Society explained that it might have something to do with the fact that she married an immigrant.
I went home that night and, in a short time on the computer, I was able to find the Naturalization Law of March 2, 1907, which stated that a woman's nationality would henceforth be determined by her marital status. Thus, if a woman married an "alien" (as they were then referred to), she would lose her citizenship. Only if her husband applied and was granted citizenship, could she then apply.
This is totally startling by today's standards, but what was even more shocking was that, according to this law, males who married female "aliens" did not lose their citizenship. At that time, it was generally felt that women were subservient to men and their allegiance would be influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of their husbands. In actuality, since women did have not the right to vote at this time, and the most important right of citizenship was voting, it probably was not seen as an important issue.
In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution granted women the right to vote. This created an untenable situation since a naturalized husband could vote but his wife born in the United States could not.
Fortunately, this situation was remedied by the Married Women's Act of Sept. 22, 1922 (Cable Act). From that time, a woman had the right to citizenship of her own that was not based on that of her husband. Those women who had lost their citizenship by marrying a foreigner could regain their citizenship, but it was not automatic and an application was necessary. Therefore, it was not until three years after Uncle Aaron became a U.S. citizen that Aunt Helen applied for citizenship. I was fascinated that in her Petition for Naturalization it states in very small print that with her signature, Aunt Helen agreed "to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to "Republic of Lithuania and/or Republic of Poland and/or State of Russia." Ironically, these are countries to which she never had any allegiance in the first place.
This genealogic journey was a fascinating insight into the position of women in the time of my great-aunt Helen, who died at age 85 in 1983. I wish I had known this unfortunate piece of our history when she was alive. I would have asked about her feelings-not about being treated as a second-class citizen-but about losing her citizenship entirely.
Helen Benton's Petition for Naturalization.Dr. Richard Signer is a retired pediatric surgeon. He was the chief medical officer of Florida Hospital for Children for 14 years. He lives in Winter Park with his wife, Lainey. He can be reached at rds11544@....
You can learn how to search JewishGen and other important resources at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando (JGSGO) "My Jewish Roots" workshops. The next workshop is "Jewish Names" featuring JewishGen Managing Director Warren Blatt on Tuesday, May 2, at 7 p.m. at the Roth Jewish Community Center, 851 N. Maitland Ave ., Maitland. The workshop is free and open to the public. Bring your own laptop to participate in the lab portion. It is also possible to attend via the Internet. Pre-registration is required. Pre-register for either in-person or online participation at
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