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Genealogy Update

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  • SusanneLevitsky@aol.com
    Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento www.jgss.org October 5, 2006 Family History Day Saturday, October 14 It s time for the annual Family History Day at
    Message 1 of 59 , Oct 5, 2006


      Jewish Genealogical Society

      of Sacramento




      October 5, 2006




      Family History Day Saturday, October 14


      It's time for the annual Family History Day at the State Archives, downtown at 1020 O Street.  We'll have a booth along with other genealogy groups, and need a few more volunteers to spare an hour or two.  The event lasts from 8:30 to 4 p.m. -- contact Gerry Ross at 381-3213 if you can help out.  Those who've participated in the past have greatly enjoyed it.


      For more details on the day's activities, check out: the State Archives' Web site: www.ss.ca.gov/archives/level3_famhistday.html



      Upcoming Meeting Dates -- Mark Your Calendar!





      Monday, October 16, 7 p.m.

      Mark Heckman  -- Travels in Ukraine -- the 2006 Czernowitz Reunion


      Sunday, November 19, 10 a.m.

      Ron Arons -- The Internet Beyond JewishGen and Steve Morse's Web Site


      Sunday, December 10, 10 a.m.

      Reva Camiel -- Family Videotaping Production



       A few items shared from Avotaynu's e-newsletter:

      WeRelate.org: The www.werelate.org Web site claims to be an Internet search engine that only finds genealogy-related sites.  Avotaynu editor Gary Mokotoff  tried it and found it works fairly well. Searching for information about his ancestral town of Warka, Poland, using Google resulted in only three genealogically relevant sites on the first page. Others included hotels and weather reports. Using WeRelate.org he said all could be considered relevant. The first was the Wikipedia entry for the town giving its history; the second was a description of the voivodship (county/province) that included Warka. The third was a Warka entry from the catalog of the Family History Library.

      WeRelate.org is a general search engine. It can be used to search for people, surnames or places. Mokotoff used "ice cream" as keywords, and the first few hits were a genealogy site with the heading "Italians, Ice Cream and Settlement;" a second page from the same site; a page about the history of ice cream; a RootsWeb site that included the words.

      1837online.com: 1837online.com claims 400 million British records, including complete birth, marriage and death records from 1837–2004; census records, 1861–1891, with an all-name index; living relatives indexes; and military records. Future plans call for passenger emigration lists, 1890–1960, with an all-name index. It is expected to be available in mid-2007.

      For birth, marriage and death records, provided are images of pages from the government index. The 1837online.com index only captures the first and last name on each page. This means you must know the year of the event to find the entry in the government index. Otherwise, you must browse year by year until the entry is found.

      Military records include a National Roll of the Great War 1914–1918; soldiers who died in the Great War; Army Roll of Honor 1939–1945; and Armed Forces births, marriages and deaths.

      You can search for records free of charge but retrieving the information is fee based. The cost is £5 for 50 units; £10 provides 110 units. Many records cost more than one unit. Alternately, there are annual subscriptions for unlimited use of certain offerings.



      New Book: A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery
      A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, by Rabbi Joshua L. Sega offers a good book on understanding the ways of Jewish cemeteries and how to interpret the Hebrew inscriptions on tombstones.

      Hebrew tombstone inscriptions can be a challenge to some researchers. But the material presented in this book is simple enough that it can be understood by those with the most limited exposure to Hebrew, yet comprehensive enough to be a valuable resource to the most sophisticated readers.

      There is a dictionary of Hebrew words and common expressions that appear on tombstones. Since the carving of a tombstone can be expensive, sometimes Hebrew expressions are represented in abbreviated form. An appendix shows commonly used abbreviations.

      The book is 220 pages, softcover, and lists for $19.95. Avotaynu is currently offering it for $18 plus shipping. Additional information, including the Table of Contents and a sample chapter can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/cemeteryfield.htm.

      Google Provides Online Index to Old Newspapers
      Google's latest is an index to old periodicals, located at http://news.google.com/archivesearch/. The Google site appears to be a merging of many fee-for-service indexing services plus a few that are available for no charge. The sources are worldwide. Avotaynu's Gary Mokotoff found references to Polish sources when searching for "Mokotow."

      The first line of every hit states the source and date. When there's a fee to retrieve the item, the price is shown on this line. If there are a substantial number of hits, the system allows the user to narrow the list by time period or source.

      Fifth Cemetery in New York City Area Goes Online
      Mt. Ararat Cemetery, located in Lindenhurst, New York, has placed its 45,000 burials online. This is the fifth New York-area Jewish cemetery to make their burials available on the Internet. It is located at http://www.mountararatcemetery.com. Previous listings are
      Mt. Carmel Cemetery (Queens, New York) at http://www.mountcarmelcemetery.com;
      Mt. Hebron Cemetery (Queens, New York) at http://www.mounthebroncemetery.com;
      Mt. Moriah Cemetery (Fairview, New Jersey) at http://www.mountmoriahcemeteryofnewjersey.org; and Mt. Zion Cemetery (Queens, New York) at http://www.mountzioncemetery.com.



      New Blog: http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com

      Schelly Talalay Dardashti is a freelance journalist specializing in Jewish genealogy, travel and food. A New Yorker who has lived in several countries, she began her research in 1989, as the researcher for her husband's family and her own. Anyone bearing either of the rare names is sure to be related. With origins in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Spain and Iran, each extensive tree dates to about 1740.  Her articles have appeared in a host of Jewish press and genealogy publications and journals.


      Old BT phone books now available online

      News from Britain: People researching their ancestry have been given an online boost after telecommunications company BT launched more than 100 years' of phone books on the Web. The company hopes to tap into the nation's huge interest in genealogy by providing millions of names, addresses and phone numbers covering the period 1880 to 1984.

      At one stage, BT allowed brief job descriptions. The author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, of Victoria 1436, was listed as a barrister, while Houdini could be found under 'handcuff king'. BT has linked up with genealogy site Ancestry.co.uk to host the phone books.   The project's partners have started with Greater London, which contains 72 million names and covers the areas of Surrey, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent and Middlesex. The goal is to complete all 250 million names by the end of next year.

      Family history enthusiasts will be able to search by name, year and county, helping them fill in any gaps in their ancestor and house histories.

      September 18, 2006 Meeting


      Business Items:

      President Burt Hecht called the meeting to order and announced that Allan Bonderoff's presentation, "From Shtetl to Hester Street," would be given in January, to allow sufficient time for a review of the New York conference.


      Burt noted that Bob Wascou had received a special mention from the Romanian SIG (Special Interest Group) for his work with the Kishinev/Moldova databases.  Bob has devoted many hours to coordinating and encouraging volunteers and research, with more than 290,000 names added to the database.  Congratulations, Bob!


      Bob made a plug for more volunteers -- "we can always use people who can translate Hebrew, Yiddish or Romanian."


      Allan Bonderoff gave the treasurer's report, requesting a moment of silence for the current balance.  With the recent purchase of a laptop computer, our account now has $905.91.


      Mark Heckman gave an update on our library, which will have a full CD set of the New York conference.  We now have a completely indexed library with information scanned into a database.  Mark said we'll soon have a bar code for every person and every book.  To find out what's in our library, go to our Web site, http://jgss.org


      Bob gave an update on the cemetery project  -- he's trying to get data into the right format for JewishGen.  "We also have two things to update -- information on the headstones, which we didn't have, and photos of the headstones."


      Family History Day, October 14: Members are being sought to staff our table at the annual Family History Day at the State Archives, 1020 O Street.  The day runs from 8:30 to 4 p.m.; contact Gerry Ross at 381-3213 if you can help out for an hour or two.  Those who've participated in the past have had a great time.



      Sept. 18 Program: The New York Conference


      Art Yates and Teven Laxer reported on attending the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference last month in New York City.


      ART: Art began the presentation.  He said he's attended about seven conferences and this one was the most gratifying in terms of doing personal research.


      He gave a day-by-day description of his experience.  On Sunday, he went to the talk by Ada Green on cemetery research. The speaker said she got death certificates on every one she was researching, something Art noted is much harder to do in California.


      "Don't believe anything you see on a tombstone," the speaker said.  She said someone's name may be on a tombstone but the person may be buried in Florida.   She talked about how couples often would have both their names put on a tombstone in advance of their deaths, with the surviving spouse often moving away.


      Green said she also looks for burial permits for additional or confirming information.  "Unless the cemetery has the date of death, you don't know if the person's buried there -- it may be only a nice headstone."


      Some other concerns -- no middle names on most headstones, so if it's a common name, should verify; the translation of lettering can vary, sometimes the parent and sibling are named on the same tombstone; with changing borders, the cemetery may be in a different town.


      The following day, Art had signed up for a tour of Ellis Island.  He had wanted to go since his father had come through there and Art had had great success on the Ellis Island database, finding the street address where his father had lived.  In addition, Art's children had put their grandfather's name on the wall at Ellis Island.  


      He found the guide from Big Onion Tours very knowledgeable, sharing information such as they had immigrants climb the stairs so they could be observed for physical disabilities, hair lice, etc.


      After Ellis Island, Art visited the National Archives for the New York region where he found indexes for birth, death and marriage licenses (although not the certificates themselves).  "But don't believe what your family tells you -- my mother-in-law and father-in-law weren't married in St. Louis but in Albany, New York -- I found the documents."


      On Tuesday Art attended the Hungarian luncheon where he enjoyed the exchange of ideas with his fellow attendees.  He later attended a three-hour meeting which skirted the controversy of the Mormon baptisms of Jews.  "The attitude of those in charge was that this is not something we're going to discuss." That was until Gary Mokotoff spoke up and was able to recount the six days he spent in Salt Lake City focusing on the issue.  Gary was able to convince those in attendance that the church is closely looking at the baptisms and revoking the privileges of those who cross the line.  A planned vote on a letter about the issue drew a motion but no second.  "After Gary's synopsis, there was no need to go further."


      Art said they are looking for sites for future conferences -- 2008 will be in Chicago and 2013 in Warsaw.


      On Thursday, Art focused on personal research, including, which famous New York deli has the best sandwich -- Katz', Carnegie or the Stage .  "The Carnegie has by far the best pastrami sandwich," Art declared.


      Next on his agenda was a visit to the White Plains, New York cemetery to see the graves of his aunt and uncle.  It was also a chance to visit the city of his birth.


      TEVEN: Teven Laxer then shared his impressions of the conference, which went beyond the seminars.  His first night there he and his mother enjoyed klezmer music followed by a discussion of Yiddish theater and what it meant to immigrants.  Teven said his great uncle was a star of Yiddish theater and he was pleased and surprised to see two slides of him in the Powerpoint presentation made to the group.


      A 2006 Jewish Genealogy Yearbook was distributed, with pages on the various societies, including our own.  Teven shared copies of our page.


      Teven said he went to quite a few seminars; there were many, with 2,000 to 3,000 people attending the conference.  Along with the seminars, there were labs, movies, impromptu discussions and "birds of a feather" interest groups that announced meetings.   "It was hard to figure out where to go."  He went to 6-7 workshops a day, lasting an hour and a half to two hours.  "Some days I don't remember if I had lunch."  There is one lunch, however, he does remember.


      One of the benefits of the conference, Teven said, was meeting people he knew only through e-mail.  "My wife is a descendant of a 17th century German rabbi, and there's a guy in Baltimore who's researched with me hundreds of people in the family.  We got together for lunch and met for the first time; I found out he was 92.  We're having sandwiches in an open area of the hotel talking about our research, when people on either side of us overhear us and chime in about researching the same family -- and one was from London and the other Tel Aviv."


      Teven said it was an amazing experience that happened to him several times during the conference. 


      Teven said many of the speakers we've had here in Sacramento over the years spoke at the conference, including Gary Mokotoff, Steve Morse, Ron Arons and Stanley Diamond, who we've tried to get.  Diamond gave an update on the JRI (Jewish Records Indexing) Poland efforts.


      Teven went to a workshop on hometown societies and at the end, as he was about to leave, a woman said she had a program from one of the societies.  It just happened to be a 1930 program for the Geller society, "and on page 6, my grandmother and grandfather were listed as officers."  


      "There were maybe 100 people in the workshop and someone happened to have a booklet with my grandparents' names," he said.


      Teven brought back several books for the library, including a copy of Judith Frazin's "Translation Guide to 19th Century Polish Documents," and "The Galitzianers, 1772-1918."  He also snagged one of the books being given away in a Miriam Weiner workshop, a guide to Kishinev in English and Russian.


      Teven put in a plug for a book expected to be out in bookstores this week -- Daniel Mendelsohn's "Lost -- A Search for Six of Six Million."  The author's describes his quest in Ukraine and beyond to find out exactly what happened to his relatives.


      While in New York, Teven had the opportunity to visit a 90-year-old cousin in a nursing home.  "She had no short-term memory but incredible long-term memory," he said.  Teven urged that even if someone's in a nursing home, make the effort to talk to them.


      ART:  Art wrapped up the program discussing his visit to a county records office and a Jewish cemetery in Troy, New York.  He observed that the cemeteries in Troy, New York had almost no perpetual care of tombstones; others disagreed.  But he was able to find tombstones of his wife's relatives, despite the overgrowth of vegetation.  "Pam Dallas would be proud of me," he said.  (Pam had told us about finding family tombstones nearly hidden at the edge of a cornfield.)

      - - - - - - - - - -



      An article that may be of interest...


      The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

      A revolution in Jewish genealogy

      Adinah Greene, The Jerusalem Post

      Oct. 3, 2006

      They are coming from all over the world to claim their royal heritage.


      First, on October 19, they will meet in

    • SusanneLevitsky@...
      May 10, 2017 Upcoming 2017 Meetings: Sunday, May 21, 10 a.m. -- Preserving Family Heirlooms -- Teven Laxer Sunday, June 11, 10 a.m. -- Oral Histories, Memoirs
      Message 59 of 59 , May 10 3:59 PM

                                                                                        May 10, 2017
        Upcoming 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 Burns
        Notes from April 16, 2017 Meeting
        President Victoria Fisch called the meeting to order.  She presented the Board of Directors slate for 2017-18:
        President -- Mort Rumberg
        Vice President -- Sherri Venezia
        Secretary -- Susanne Levitsky
        Treasurer --  Victoria  Fisch
        Directors (appointed by the president with approval of the board)
         Library --   Teven Laxer
         Membership -- Judy  Persin
        Programming  -- Sherri Venezia
        Publicity --  Susanne Lrevitsky
        Webmasters  --  Victoria Fisch, David Fiedler
        Board Members at Large
        Tony Chakurian
        Mark Heckman
        Dave Reingold
        Art Yates
        The 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.
        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, Florida
        Dave 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 Had
        Some highlights from Victoria Fisch's presentation:

        Preparation -- Research Plan
        Where were your ancestors born?
        Some tried and true methods, common sense research principles
        Much of research is preoccupation with details. We can think of it as a Google Map, dive in closely until we see house and house number
        If you're not yet using online resources, you're missing the boat
        1) Ancestry.com -- gives you ability to manipulate a tree online
        Many 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 competitor
            Look 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 from
                                        It'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
                        -- photographs
        Familiarize 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 societies
        1880 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 directory
        Using 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 Cards
                        Sequence of becoming a citizen:
                        a) Declaration of Intent, valuable info.
                        b) Usually after five years -- Petition for Naturalization, more details
                        c) Actual naturalization certificate -- no information, worthless

        Look on card for witness name and address
                        if surname is a match, search for individual in census, city directory                      
        Newspaper articles -- weddings, articles about accidental deaths, tragedies

                        California Digital Newspaper Collection -- 1846 to 1910  -- free
        Most cost $$ -- newspapers.com  $39/year   OC
                        Genealogy bank -- seems to cover different newspapers, fee-based
                        Library of Congress, free  -- Chronicling America -- usu. get whole page, have highlights
                        **San Francisco Call Database -- vital records, indexed   1869-1900
        Nice thing about fee-based, usually zero in on whole article
        FultonHistory.com -- free -- mainly New York
                        thousands of small newspapers                                      
        Fulton old postcards -- goes back to 18th century
        London Jewish Chronicle newspaper -- free, goes back to 1841
        Using Death and Burial Records

        -- death notice and obituaries
        -- probate records
        -- burial sites, mortuary records, death certificates
        Legacy.com -- major aggregation of obituaries, death notices
        Probate records -- Ancestry started putting online
        Burial sites --
                        kehilalinks.jewishgen.org -- links to all NY or New Jersey cemeteries w/websites
        gives 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 Form
                        For name - - want exact or starts with
                        Town will come up w/alphabetical  list of hits
                        And 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 1909
                                        Marriage until 1937
                                        Death until 1948

        ItalianGen -- use if New York relatives
        Transcribed 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 names
        Confirming 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 site
        Other resources --
        JewishData -- paid website -- photos of headstones not on Find a Grave
        Logan Kleinwaks-- GenealogyIndexer.org-- free
        Canadian marriage records for Jews -- on Ancestry, incredible.
        From Avotaynu's E-Zine
        April 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 Helen
        April 14, 2017 | Year 41, No. 32   Heritage Florida Jewish News
        Uncle 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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