Sunday, January 20, 2013, 10 a.m.
"Reconstructing Family Information From Almost Nothing"
Janice Sellers will provide a case study demonstrating techniques and sources allowing the reconstruction of seven generations of a family. The immigrant ancestors of the family came from Eastern Europe to rural western Pennsylvania in the mid-1800s.
Janice's search began with the slimmest of information -- a town name, one person's last name, a married woman's first name and a third person's occupation. A key clue was a newspaper obituary.
Janice Sellers is a professional genealogist who specializes in newspaper and Jewish research. She is the editor of two genealogy journals and a member of numerous genealogy societies, including the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. Janice has volunteered for 12 years at the Oakland FamilySearch Library.
Root Cellar Spring Seminar Set
Registration is now open for the Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society Spring Seminar featuring guest speaker Thomas MacEntee.
Date: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Place: Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, 11427 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks, CA
Time: 9 a.m to 3:45 pm (Doors open 8:15 am)
Cost: $25 – Root Cellar Member; $30 – Non-member; $35 After March 1st. Optional lunch by TOGO’S - $7/each.
Downloadable Registration Form and flyer at http://www.rootcellar.org, click on Spring Seminar tab.
About the Speaker
When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 2,800+ members of GeneaBloggers (http://www.geneabloggers.com) , teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. More informationis posted on the Root Cellar blog at http://rootcellarramblings.blogspot.com, click on the label "Thomas MacEntee".
Seminar Topics include:
--Building a Research Toolbox: learn some of the most important online resources for genealogical research; learn how to organize your many bookmarks and lists into an easy-to-access, portable virtual toolbox.
--Internet Archive, A Gold Mine for Genealogists: learn how to navigate this website and leverage the best strategies to download its resources.
--Social Networking, New Horizons for Genealogists: social networking programs will be de-mystified; learn how each program is currently being used by genealogists and family historians of all ages.
--You Use WHAT for Genealogy? Wonderful Uses for Unusual Tools: learn what's hot in the world of apps and websites and how you can start using them; includes a review of a group of familiar apps and websites being used in creative ways by the genealogy community.
For more information, phone Diane Maltase (916) 797-2523 or Denise Miller (916) 726-3832 or email them at rootcellarsgs@....
NOTE: Due to the high interest in this seminar, early registration is highly encouraged. No registrations will be sold at the door.
Intro to Genealogy Presentation in Napa -- January 27
Victoria Fisch and Jeremy Frankel will be doing their introduction to genealogy in Davis February 3, but have also scheduled a Napa presentation at the end of January. They will speak to the Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley, details to come.
From Avotaynu's E-Zine:
JewishGen Necrology Database Now Has More Than 240,000 Entries
The JewishGen Necrology Database located at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/yizkor now has more than 240,000 entries extracted from 265 different yizkor (Holocaust memorial) books. The project is part of an overall JewishGen Yizkor Book Project to identify, translate and index the names in the 1,000+ yizkor books published to date.
After World War II, many Holocaust survivors published books memorializing their destroyed Jewish communities. Called yizkor books, they commemorate the victims as well as the Jewish communities.
Although written independently, the books share a basic common structure. The first section describes the history of the Jewish community of the town from its inception—sometimes hundreds of years ago—to the events of the Holocaust. This history invariably describes the destruction of all Jewish religious property (synagogues, cemeteries, etc.) and the immediate murder or deportation to labor or extermination camps of the Jewish population. For the historian, there is valuable material about the Jewish communal life of the town. For researchers who want to identify relatives who once lived in the town, pictures of religious and other organizations may offer clues. The articles and captions associated with the pictures often identify the members.
The next section consists of personal remembrances of survivors about their individual families. They contain a wealth of information about family members, including names, relationships, and sometimes ages or birth dates. Where survivors knew the fate of family members, this may also be included.
Another section is devoted to describing families with no survivors. These accounts were contributed by neighbors or friends who had known the family. Each article is a brief one-or two-paragraph description headed by the names of the father and mother, as well as the names of the children.
Additionally there usually is a necrology—a list of all the victims from the town. It is this necrology that is extracted to form the JewishGen Necrology Database. A second project, Yizkor Book Master Name Index, identifies persons mentioned in the translated portions of the yizkor books on the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project website which is located at http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor.
Video of Trip to Latvia
Check out the link below to a video made by a member of the Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. The video is of a talk to the Bay Area group, with photos and other images added:
"Finding David Blumenfeld, From South St. Paul, MN to Tukums, Latvia"
David Blumenfeld and his family emigrated from Tukums to Minnesota in 1883. Nearly 130 years later several of his descendants went back to Tukums to find David's home town, and to explore the truth behind the stories they found in a box of his unpublished writings that had been hidden for more than 50 years.
Youngest Holocaust survivors look to next generation
Now in their 70s and 80s, children of the Kindertransport gather in Irvine to share stories with their children and grandchildren and continue searching for lost friends.
Holocaust survivor Doris Small, center, with daughter Miriam Saunders, 60, left, and granddaughter Jenniffer Veno, tells her offspring: "If I didn’t go through this and if I didn’t survive, you wouldn’t be here.” (Genaro Molina, Los Angeles Times / November 4, 2012)
By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
January 3, 2013
She was an orphan, a 14-year-old Jewish girl, when she went to the Berlin train station on a summer day in 1939, leaving behind all that she had ever known.
She had already experienced loss: her parents claimed by illness, her brother taken by the Nazis. Now Dora Gostynski was about to get on a train that would take her and hundreds of other Jewish children to safety — but they had to go without the comfort of their parents.
She remembered the other children's sobs as they embraced their parents, who had made the agonizing decision to give their children a chance at life, even if meant never seeing them again. And she remembered the parents who relented when their child didn't want to leave them. They walked away from the train station, and back into a world of danger.
"There was like an ocean of people and an ocean of tears," she said.
She was escaping Nazi Germany through the rescue mission Kindertransport, which carried about 10,000 youths to Britain and elsewhere for shelter during the Holocaust. Many — more than 60%, according to various estimates — never saw their parents again.
As they grew older, they sought out one another, drawn by a wrenching, shared experience. They founded the Kindertransport Assn., and kinder from around the world have gathered every other year for the last two decades.
The kinder are among the youngest Holocaust survivors, yet even they are now mostly in their 80s, a group thinned by the passing years. With each gathering, there are whispers that it could be the last.
At the most recent gathering, in an Irvine hotel, a much older Dora recalled the train station on that day more than 73 years ago. She recognized one of her classmates, a girl named Fritzy Hacker. Fritzy's mother hugged each of the girls tightly before they boarded the train together. "She said goodbye to the two of us like she was my mother too," she said.
But Dora couldn't stop thinking about her sister, Ida. They had applied for the Kindertransport mission together. But as they waited for word to arrive, her sister had turned 17. She missed being able to qualify by two months.
As the train chugged toward the Dutch border, she and Fritzy told themselves they were going on a field trip. The other passengers wept. She thought of her sister. She didn't know if she would ever see her again.
Dora — now Doris Small — is 89, and a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was one of the remaining kinder who had come to share their stories of survival with one another and their children in the hopes that their history isn't forgotten after they are gone.
"My generation is dying off," said Michael Wolff, who at 76 is one of the youngest. He was 2 when his mother handed him over to a teenage girl to carry him to Scotland. When his father visited him months later, he did not recognize him.
The conference in Irvine represented a passing of a torch to the survivors' children and grandchildren to maintain the Kindertransport story. The gathering drew three dozen survivors, and for the first time, the gathering was organized by the second generation — "KT2," as they are called. More than half of those attending were the survivors' children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.
The conference reflected the push to connect generations, with sessions on writing memoirs and ethical wills and conversations in which moderators prompted open dialogue after years of silence. It was time for their children — and the world — to know their legacy.
"This is a story of survivors," said Wolff's son, Jeffrey, who was the conference chairman. He said they are "strong characters because they had to adjust, they had to adapt, they had to survive."
They were linked by traumatic experience, but the gathering, in some ways, had the feel of a high school reunion.
They reconnected with people they hadn't seen since they were children. The kinder and their children walked around with scrapbooks, flipping through pages of black and white photos hoping to identify the other children on their ship.
There was also a message board, where the kinder and their descendants left notes in hopes of finding others on the same voyage or track down those they haven't heard from since the war.
Did anyone stay in Cornwall during war and after in orphanage/hostel? Pls contact Linda
And in underlined red letters: Does anyone know a Fritzy Hacker from Berlin, Germany?
Doris Small still searches for her friend all these years later.
She lives in Broomfield, Colo., now. She's supposed to use a walker, but she tends to leave it behind. She keeps her hair a light shade of brown. A toothy, impish grin frequently creases her face.
After her husband, a concentration camp survivor, died four years ago, she became involved in the Kindertransport Assn. This was her second conference, attending this time with her daughter and granddaughter.
It was a history once kept quiet, but she has grown confident now in sharing her past.
"You should have seen the heavy breaths I took," she said, recalling the moment her train cleared the German border. "I remember it like yesterday."
They arrived in England and the children filed into a large room lined with benches where they would be assigned to their homes. It was the last time she saw Fritzy.
A number of kinder were fortunate and were assigned to families who accepted them as their own, while others went to less embracing households where they were used as common laborers. Some were packed into orphanages.
Dora went to live in London with an elderly couple who owned a factory making men's trousers. They sent her to work and didn't enroll her in school. The days blended together.
"I didn't know what month it was," she said. "Every day was the same: Monday, Tuesday..."
She woke up one day in the hospital, possibly because of exhaustion or malnutrition. She didn't know how she got there, or why. "Father Christmas came through the hospital, and that's how I know it was close to December."
Her sister had made it to England and was living with a family as a maid. The two sisters kept in touch through letters after they were separated. After Small was released from the hospital, the sisters found a little room in a rough London neighborhood and got sewing jobs in a factory.
After the war ended, she and Ida left for the United States. Her sister, now 91, lives nearby in Colorado.
"I still hate tea," Small said. "It reminds me of England."
The Holocaust cast a shadow that has hung over generations. Small's daughter, Miriam Saunders, recalled growing up in a German-Jewish enclave of New York's Washington Heights neighborhood where no one seemed to have grandparents. She would wake up to her father's nightmare screams. She knew there was something the adults around her were keeping secret.
"I didn't know why they did the things they did," Saunders, 60, said. "They lived in fear, but I never knew why."
It was years before Small and her husband spoke of the past. They joined a group of Holocaust survivors when they moved to Long Island and, slowly, they began talking. Small's 35-year-old granddaughter, Jenniffer Veno, said she was nearly a teenager before her grandmother told her about the trains that carried the children from their homeland and their families.
The Smalls began sharing their stories in schools. At one school, the students questioned her for almost two hours and doted on her. "They asked for my autograph!" she said. "I felt like a celebrity!"
She does it be
cause it's therapeutic. Telling her stories, her daughter said, is what has kept Small sane.
But it never became easy. When one class seemed disinterested, she vowed never to speak to a class again, but she relented because she doesn't want her history to die with her. She has six great-grandchildren, ranging in age from 5 to 20. It's critical that they know.
"If I didn't go through this and if I didn't survive," Small said, "you wouldn't be here."
Two generations — her daughter and granddaughter — flanked her as she recounted her life. They assured her that the youngest generation would know that their great-grandmother's story of survival is also their own.
See you at the next meeting, Sunday, January 20th!