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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    December 23, 2012 Upcoming Meetings -- all meetings will be on Sunday mornings in 2013 Sunday, January 20, 10 a.m. -- Janice Sellers, Reconstructing Family
    Message 1 of 60 , Dec 23, 2012

      December 23, 2012
      Upcoming Meetings -- all meetings will be on Sunday mornings in 2013 
      Sunday, January 20, 10 a.m. -- Janice Sellers, "Reconstructing Family Information From Almost Nothing"
      (Sunday, February 3, (afternoon)  Davis, Bet Haverim -- Beginning Genealogy Research)
      Sunday, February 17, 2013, 10 a.m. --  Victoria Fisch and Jeremy Frankel, "Doings in the Cemetery"
      Sunday, March 17, 2013, 10 a.m. -- Shlomo Rosenfeld, "Discovering a Live Family Branch That Survived the Holocaust"
      Notes from December 16, 2012
      President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests.
      Dave Reingold noted that the Center for Sacramento History does accept some family genealogies.  Teven Laxer noted that he's compiling a list of Jewish archive repositories that also may be of interest.
      Upcoming meetings, see above.  Victoria noted that all meetings in 2013 will be held on Sundays.  In addition, there will be meetings held at Bet Haverim in Davis, and Victoria would welcome volunteers who would like to assist.
      Bob Wascou said he is collecting $25 checks for 2013 membership dues.  They can also be sent to the JGSS care of the Einstein Center, Room 220, 1935 Wright Street, Sacramento, CA 95825.
      December Speaker -- Lynn Brown   
      The "New" Immigration Process-- USCIS
      The new federal agency overseeing customs and immigration is now called the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service.  Also created was a genealogy department within the agency.  The previous Immigration and Naturalization Service ended after 9/ll, and the new agency is part of the Homeland Security Dept.
      Lynn Brown discussed the new agency, and information you can order.  Bottom line:  You'll want to order the "package," not just a single document. 
      Lynn said many records were not available to us until USCIS took over.  There were records but mainly limited to passenger manifests, ship records.
      Now, there are more records available and an online ordering process.
      Lynn's Part 1)_ Naturalization in the United States
      Only about 1/3 of people who who came were naturalized-- did not need to be a citizen, but can't vote or run for office.   There may be religious, cultural or other reasons why they didn't become naturalized.
      Lynn says we now have access to residential records with the new agency.
      "Declaration of Intention," also called "First Papers" -- to become a U.S. citizen.
      In those after 1903, you get the name, country of origin and date of application.  This form was required until 1952.
      Certificate of Arrival -- needed to prove how you got here.  It shows the port and date of arrival, shp's name (or car, plane, other mode of transportation).
      "You might want to look for this document," Lynn said.
      Naturalization Petition -- Final Papers
      Before 1906, Lynn said these did not provide much information. Post-1906, there is much genealogical data, incuded members of the family of the person being naturalized.
      1922-- Petition included photos; women could apply without husband's consent.
      Certificate of Naturalization
      Actual naturalization card immigrants carried with them, important to them.  It was issued after they took the oath of allegiance.   Many states used the term "oath of allegiance."
      Derivative Citizenship
      Before 1922, it was granted to the wife and children of a naturalized male.  After 1922, the wife could do it independently.
      Lynn cited the case of Austrian-born Maria Von Trapp ("who did not go over the Alps") -- she was arrested and had detention papers, if you want to search the National Archives and find them.  "Her husband, the  Captain, was never naturalized and stayed Austrian."
      If a U.S. born woman married an immigrant male, she lost her citizenship.  (Got back after 1922).
      Military Service
      1862-- Could petition for naturalization without a declaration of intent if one-year resident. in 1894 -- extended to 5-year veterans of the Navy and Marine Corps.  Still in use today.
      Lynn's Part 2)  Alien Records
      Lynn says these weren't available for use before.  This includes the Permanent Resident Card  or "green card," which is not green.  Most people carry it with them.
      For immigrants who did not want naturalization:
      -- Visas, begun in 1924, to enter the U.S.
      -- Certificate of Registry, for proof of entry, if arrived before July 1924 and no original arrival record could be located.
      After 1924, had to apply for it.
      Alien Registrations
      First begun in 1789, against France.
      "Enemy alien registration" -- came up in August 1940, only during times of conflict  (WWI, II)
      To fingerprint and create a record of every non-citizen.  In June 1940, it was all non-citizens, 14 years or older.
      For non-enemy alien registrations , everybody else: started in World War I, now run by the states.  Some use forms, some use court minutes, some have photos, some not.
      After World War I, Congress told the states  to destroy the records of enemy alien registrations.  Some did destroy them, some didn't.  After World War II, Congress never told the states to destroy the records, so they are now permanent records.
      Locating WW I Alien Registration Records -- while most were destoryed, Kansas, Phoenix, AZ, St. Paul, MN, Allen County, Indiana do have records, indexed by the National Archives ARC database, with a keyword seardh.
      WW II Alien Registration Records -- USCIS 1940-44-- on microfilm and available upon request.
      Naturalization and Alien Records Research Tools:
      1) NARA ARC-- Archival Rseearch Catalogue 
      .keyword search
      2)  Family History Library Catalogue, with keyword search
      3) State Archives Records Search
      Lynn's Part 3) USCIS   www.uscis.gov
      Genealogy research -- USCIS's genealogy program was created in 2008
      In May 2009, it went online as a "fee for service" operation which includes online e-ordering.
      Lynn advises using this short url:  www.uscis.gov/genealogy
      Some of the records you can get:
      -- those naturalized between Sept. 1906 and March 1956
      -- those who immigrated between July 1924 and May 1951
      -- pre-1906 records that have been updated, changed or corrected
      -- those who were alive and registered under the 1940 Alien Registration Act
      -- Naturalization Certificate Files (C Files)
      -- Registry Files, 1929-44
      -- Visa Files, 1924-1944
      Probably up til 1946 now, since 75 years of privacy on files
      USCIS does NOT have:
      -- records stored at NARA and regional offices
      -- state archive records
      -- those locally held
      Lynn's Part 4 -- Two Types of USCIS Services
      1) Index search -- $20 online  (G-1041)
      2) Record copy requst with valid record citations (USCIS file numbers)
            $20/35   (G-1041A)

      "I recommend your print the forms first then go back and fill them out online," Lynn said.  "I highly recommend that you use the request form for the index search."  Your fee is nonrefundable.
      They don't blackline redacted material, but delete it.
      A single immigrant may have several USCIS records.  File an index search!
      They will want a death certificate on a person you're requesting, 100 years of privacy from date of birth.  They will ask you to upload a death certificate.
      Art Yates noted they will also accept obituary notices.
      Archival Research Catalogue -- ARC -- use keywords to isolate and refine your search.
      What else is at NARA? Records of passports and concentration camps.
      Archives -- Sacramento has California records, San Francisco has all other states.
      Art suggested checking with the county firest -- he has found some records online, such as Westchester County, New York.
      Lynn Brown can be reached at lgbrown@...
      From the (free) Genealogy in Time Magazine Newsletter:
      Spain – The Spanish website Routes of Sefarad has created an excellent mapping system allowing people to explore their Jewish ancestry in Spain. Basically, the website provides an interactive multimedia experience to trace your Sephardic heritage. The website is in English and it is definitely worth exploring. [Jewish Ancestry in Spain]
      Philadelphia Passenger Lists –FamilySearch.org has indexed some 454,000 records of Philadelphia passenger lists, for passengers who entered the port of Philadelphia from 1800 to 1882. Access is free. [Historic Philadelphia Passenger Lists]
      Don's List
      Burt Hecht passes on a valuable genealogy website that includes information for Pittsburg, for example, and many others links to U.S. research and beyond.
      See you Sunday, January 20, 2013
    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      July 15, 2017 Upcoming Meetings -- No July Meeting Getting Started in Genealogy --- August 20, 9 a.m. to noon September 17, 9 a.m. to noon Meeting Notes --
      Message 60 of 60 , Jul 15

      July 15, 2017
      Upcoming Meetings --
      No July Meeting
      Getting Started in Genealogy --- August 20, 9 a.m. to noon
      September 17, 9 a.m. to noon

      Meeting Notes -- June 11, 2017
      Mort Rumberg called the meeting to order and welcomed members and guests.
      Mort mentioned that the numbered parking spaces are for Einstein residents and we should park elsewhere.
      There will be no meeting next month, when the IAJGS conference will be held in Orlando.
      The California Museum will have a film program through August 6 --“Light and Noir,” exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950.
      Librarian Teven Laxer showed several books we have in our library, including “The History of the Jews in Milwaukee” and “The History of the Jews in Los Angeles” – both have cross-references to newspaper articles.  We also have a Legacy Family Tree 8.0 Manual.
      Teven said we have close to 500 volumes in our library, most targeting Jewish genealogy. The library is one of the benefits of membership.
      The Tikva group will have its next program June 25 on Anti-Semitism. It will take place at B’Nai Israel from 1 to 4 p.m.  The guest speaker will be Nancy Appel from the ADL in San Francisco.
      Judy Persin is organizing the August and September meetings which will focus on Beginning Genealogy Workshops, from 9 a.m. to noon on August 20 and September 17. There will be two sessions each Sunday. “We’ll provide the basics for those who are just beginning and it’s also a great review for old-timers,” Judy said.
      The cost is $10 for members, $15 for non-members, covering both August and September workshops.
      Registration form for the August/September workshops attached. Please reserve now to secure a space.
      June Speaker – Maryellen Burns “The Power of Story”
      Why do we tell stories? What is revealed, what is hidden in the story.
      “Growing up, I was really isolated,” Maryellen said.  “I didn’t discover I was Jewish until I was 10, when my parents invited a friend who had been in Auschwitz. I went from knowing nothing to now having 586 pages of relatives on my maternal grandmother’s side."
      She said her father was on the road from ages 7 to 9 – the only reason he could survive was that he could read the hobos’ symbols and find Jewish families in the South.
      Maryellen noted that while Jews don’t have godparents, two friends of her family, Nate and Laura, filled that role. She also recalls one day when Woody Guthrie, Andre Segovia and Arthur Fieldler’s sister were at her house.
      “I want to know the character of the person who is part of my history,” Maryellen said, something she learns through conversation. She says she has more than 110 conversations on her phone.
      She said the stories we tell and the stories we hide tell a lot about us.
      Maryellen said the family photos she had came from cousins, including many in the last few years. “My parents took a picture and then sent it to relatives.”
      “Each one of us in our lives has a keeper of stories,” she said. “The oral tradition plays a large part in Jewish culture.”
      "What we are named, who we are named for – are names chosen to hide our identity, to perhaps look we were Catholic?” That was the case for Maryellen and her brothers.
      Maryellen asked the group to talk to the person next to them about their names. Who were they named after?
      "And if you had a nickname, how did that affect your identity?”
      Seven Reasons Why We Tell Stories
      --They define who we are – what we choose to tell and what we want to conceal.
      -- To plant ideas in people – ideas, thoughts and emotions.
      -- We like stories
      -- We are born to tell stories.
      -- We are literally wired to relate to people who tell a story
                  It’s our own natural tendency to tell fictional stories as well as true stories.
      -- Stories inspire action.
      -- We tell stories to impress.
      Maryellen asked the group, how many of you plan on recording your story in some way? Most of you. What is the mechanism you will use?
      Why is it important to you? Do it for your kids?  Think about donating a copy to the library.  Maybe you can bring something that will spark a story in someone else.
      Maryellen said we tend to rely on lists of questions. “But get into conversation, let the story lead where the person wants to go. What did the house, Grandma, smell like?  What did you hear when you were there?”
      Maryellen does talks on a number of subjects, including book architecture, whipping up a family cookbook, and (for the Renaissance Society), how every wave of immigration affected the food in the local area.
      Maryellen can be reached by email at Maryellen_burns@....
      International Jewish Genealogy Conference hosts a plethora of talent
      Heritage -- Florida Jewish Names  June 23, 2017
      Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, host of the popular PBS television show "Finding Your Roots," will address the IAJGS annual awards banquet with a talk on "Genealogy and Genetics in America.

      What do Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alexander Hamilton and Aida have to do with discovering your ancestors? To find out, join other genealogists at the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy from July 23–28 at the Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, Florida.

      Henry Louis Gates Jr., host of the PBS hit series "Finding Your Roots," will be the featured speaker on "Genetics and Genealogy in America" on Thursday evening at the conference. Some of the many celebrities that Gates has successfully helped to find their Jewish roots include Barbara Walters, Julianna Margulies, Gloria Steinem, Norman Lear, Tony Kushner, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey, Jr., Carole King, Alan Dershowitz and Dustin Hoffman.

      "This is a one of a kind opportunity for the Greater Orlando Jewish community to trace their ancestors-both for those totally new to family history research and those already experienced in genealogy," said Dr. Diane Jacobs, local host conference co-chair.

      Sunday evening will feature "Alexander Hamilton, the Jews, and the American Revolution," presented by Dr. Robert Watson, professor, historian, author, and media commentator.

      Wednesday evening, there will be a special showing of the 2016 acclaimed documentary "Aida's Secrets" (sponsored by MyHeritage). This documentary is a story about family secrets, lies, high drama and generations of contemporary history. The international story begins with World War II and concludes with an emotional 21st century family reunion. Izak was born inside the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and sent for adoption in Israel. Utilizing the resources of Yad Vashem and MyHeritage, secret details of his birth mother, an unknown brother in Canada and his father's true identity slowly emerge in this extremely personal investigative film. 

      Featured Monday evening, acclaimed expert and author on etymology and geographic distribution of Jewish surnames, Alexander Beider and Harry Ostrer will debate "Setting the Record Straight: What Yiddish and DNA Tell Us About Ashkenazi Origins" (sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA).
      On Tuesday evening, "1917: A Turning Point in American Jewish History" (sponsored by JGSLA) will be presented by Hasia Diner, author and Paul and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish history at New York University.
      Professor Robert Watson, a featured speaker at the IAJGS Florida/Caribbean conference, will talk about our Nevis-born founding father "Alexander Hamilton, the Jews, and the American Revolution."

      The conference will include special emphasis on finding ancestors through DNA, finding Converso/Anusim ancestors, Jews in Florida, the Caribbean and the South, and strategies for passing your family legacy on to younger generations. Conference tracks, workshops, and sessions will focus on how to trace your ancestry through the Diaspora: in Poland, Galicia, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, Austria, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Sub-Carpathia, Czech Republic, North Africa, South Africa, Brazil, Bessarabia/Moldova, and more. The special aspects of tracing Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, and rabbinic family lines will be covered.
      Stanley Diamond is a leader in Canadian Jewish Research, JRI-Poland
      By Bill Gladstone -   July 13, 2017   Canadian Jewish News
      Stan Diamond, left, receiving his medal from Gov.Gen David Johnston. SGT. JOHANIE MAHEU RIDEAU HALL PHOTO
      In 1986, when Montrealer Stan Diamond sold his decorative-ceiling company after a successful business career, he could not have envisioned that a second career, even more monumental than the first, lay ahead of him. Almost by happenstance, it seems, he became executive director of a large, U.S.-based non-profit organization called JRI-Poland, which would help thousands of people research their family roots – an achievement for which he received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on June 23.
      To date, JRI-Poland (short form for Jewish Records Indexing, Poland) has indexed some five million 19th-century and early 20th-century Jewish birth, marriage, death and other records from more than 550 Polish towns. Not only is the database fully searchable online, but more than two-million records are available for download, with more becoming accessible every few months.
      Driven by an executive committee of four, a 16-member board and an international network of hundreds of volunteers, JRI-Poland raises about US$100,000 ($133,000) each year, most of which goes to digitizing and indexing records that are mostly hand written in antique Polish script or Russian Cyrillic. Scores of volunteers from the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, Great Britain, France and elsewhere participate in the project.
      Diamond has heard countless stories of people achieving remarkable, sometimes even life-changing results from the JRI-Poland database. It has been instrumental, for instance, in uniting long lost family members. Recently, a brother and sister in Jerusalem found a half-brother from their father’s second family, who was previously unknown to them, even though he was living just 90 minutes away. Last year, Diamond used the database to confirm the birth date of 112-year-old Auschwitz survivor Yisrael Kristal of Haifa, who was subsequently proclaimed the world’s oldest man by Guinness World Records.
      His inbox is filled with stories of research “miracles” and people telling him that JRI-Poland has solved enduring family mysteries. “Two weeks ago, a woman in Toronto wrote us that her grandfather had always said they were related to (the late French actor and mime) Marcel Marceau and she wanted to know how,” he said. Taking on the challenge, he found that Marceau’s family was from the Polish town of Bedzin, where their surname had been Mangel, and was able to make the connection to the woman’s family. The lady was thrilled.
      While Jewish record books in most towns survived the devastation of fire, flood and war, there are often gaps in the series of available years. In a few towns, the records disappeared entirely. Sometimes it’s a matter of town officials being careless; and some records were lost during the tumultuous Nazi era, when the occupying Germans took over town halls for their headquarters. In Pultusk, Jewish records before 1875 were reportedly destroyed by the Jews themselves, who feared the Nazis would use them to track down the town’s Jewish families.
      The Warsaw cemetery, Diamond related, once had huge volumes of burial registers that disappeared. “What we were told by the management of the Warsaw cemetery is that they were used as firewood during the war,” he said. “They were huge registers – you’re looking at a cemetery with some 300,000 or more burials.”
      Diamond’s knowledge of Polish geography, developed over many annual two-week trips, seems remarkable for a non-native. “At the end of one trip, we were talking to the director of the archives about all sorts of things and I was pulling the names (of towns) out of a hat and he remarked, ‘You know, Mr. Diamond, I think you know more about the Polish State Archives (PSA) and about Polish geography than anybody else outside of Poland’,” he said.
      His knowledge of both Polish geography and Jewish genealogy began innocently enough some 30 years ago, when he wanted to trace the path of a rare genetic condition called beta thalassemia within his own family tree. Travelling to Poland, he received permission to index the Jewish records from his own ancestral town, Ostrow Mazowiecka. When he was done, he paid a visit to Prof. Jerzy Skowronek, then director of the PSA.
      “When I presented him with the printout of the database, I was not in any way, shape or form thinking about what was going to happen next,” Diamond said. “He said to me, ‘Mr. Diamond, this is very impressive, I wasn’t expecting this.’ And I don’t know what prompted me at that moment, but I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do this for all of Poland?’And he said, ‘Well it’s not our policy, but maybe we’ll start small and do a few more towns’.”
      When he returned to Canada, Diamond began calling people and raising interest. He attributes the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fortuitous co-operative spirit of the PSA as chief factors – along with the rise of the personal computer and the World Wide Web – behind JRI-Poland’s step-by-step development and growth. “Everything came together, the timing was exquisite,” he said. “It was a continuum of one thing happening after another that made all this possible.”
      A key step along the way was the agreement that Diamond signed with the PSA in 1997 that officially recognized JRI-Poland as a partner. “After that, we had the credibility to go to each branch of the PSA, having been introduced by headquarters. Back then, of course, we were still buying photographs of the index pages. When digitalization became a reality, that was also a turning point,” said Diamond.
      Diamond has already received numerous awards for his work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Last December, he was nominated for the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
      As for the Meritorious Service Medal, all JRI-Poland leaders and volunteers also share in the honour, he said: “What we have accomplished has only been made possible through teamwork and a level of collaboration and dedication unmatched in the Jewish genealogical world.”
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