August JGSS Genealogy News
Jewish Genealogical Society
of SacramentoAugust 8, 2007
Monday, August 20, 7 p.m. -- Highlights of the Salt Lake City Conference
We'll hear from our four members who attended the July International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference. Lester Smith will report on new acquisitions to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City; Mark Heckman will talk about new microfilms acquired and movies shown at the conference. Bob Wascou will talk about what's new on the JewishGen Web site and the new Family Tree Maker 2008; Art Yates will talk about some of the most interesting lectures he attended at the conference.
Speaking of interesting lectures, those would undoubtedly include the presentation Mark Heckman made on Protecting your Digital Genealogical Information Online and Off and Bob Wascou's talk on Finding Bessarabia Vital Records at the Family History Library.
For those of us who didn't attend: Conference Copy, the company that recorded the July sessions, has extended the on-site price of $109 for the MP3 complete conference CD until September 7, 2007. Orders can be made at their Web site www.conferencemediagroup.com or by calling (800) 575-0580. This is a great opportunity to listen to those sessions that you were unable to make at the conference.
And upcoming meetings:
Monday, September 24, 7 p.m. -- Our Heritage and Health -- Update on Jewish Genetic Disorders
Monday, October 15, 7 p.m. -- Pam Dallas on Beginning Genealogy Research
Sunday, November 18, 10 a.m. -- Carol Baird -- German Jewish Research
Sutro Library/Nat'l Archives Visit
The next bus trip to Sutro Genealogy Library and the National Archives is Wednesday, October 24th. Price change: Due to the still rising price of gas, the cost has been raised to $35 for Genealogy Association of Sacramento members; for non-GAS members, the price is $40. Please call Sharon Bias for details at her office between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 916-481-4413.
A few articles that may be of interest:
Deseret Morning News, Wednesday, July 18, 2007
LDS Church debuts 3 online resources for Jewish genealogical researchers
By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret Morning News
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it has made available three new online resources to aid with Jewish genealogical research.
The announcement comes as the 27th International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies is meeting this week in Salt Lake City.
A new Web page at www.familysearch.org includes a Jewish genealogy database, a new research guide called "Tracing Your Jewish Ancestors" and information on thousands of Jews from the British Isles called the Knowles Collection, which builds on the work of the late Isobel Mordy. The latter links individuals into family groups, with more names added continuously, according to a press release.
Free genealogy software is available to download, and the Knowles Collection is available as a file that can be viewed and edited through most genealogy software programs.
Paul Nauta, manager of public affairs for FamilySearch, said users will be able to follow simple steps to identify an ancestor's birthplace or place of origin, "a difficult task for many with Jewish ancestry," he said. The research guide provides instructions on which records to search first, what to look for and what research tools to use.
Other Jewish family history resources at the site include links to relevant records and searchable databases, helpful guides and forms to view online or print, and online indexing projects, where individuals can register to volunteer or to see what databases are forthcoming.
Published July 13, 2007
Genealogy Society Slumber Party
WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: 628 E. Grand Ave.
COST: $15; includes pizza and light breakfast
BRING: Names, dates and places to research and snacks to share.
TO REGISTER: Call (515) 276-0287 or e-mail igs@...
All in the family: Join the genealogy slumber party
All-night participants scan microfilm, census data, old Bibles and vital records.
By MARY CHALLENDER
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
Instead of checking their friends on Facebook, they'll look for deceased relatives on ancestor.com.
The drink of choice is likely to be coffee, not Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine.
But the biggest difference between the average slumber party and the event being held this weekend at the Iowa Genealogical Society may be this: If someone falls asleep, no one will shave his or her eyebrows or write goofy sayings all over a face in green marker.
Debi Chase, an administrative assistant with the genealogical society, said the annual all-nighter, which kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday at its East Village headquarters, is a bigger draw than might be expected.
"Well, you know everybody's dream is to be locked in a library overnight - at least anyone that likes books or research," she said. "We've been doing it for quite a few years. It gives people a chance to research to their hearts' content."
Although it's called a slumber party, the event is closer to a night-before-finals cram session. Participants spend 13 hours scanning microfilm, flipping through reams of census data, digging into vital records and even examining old Bibles, all in an effort to fill in the missing links in their family trees.
Chase said last year's event drew about 25 researchers.
The slumber party costs $15, and participants don't have to be members of the Iowa Genealogical Society.
Pizza is served, along with a light breakfast for those who last until dawn. Everyone brings snacks to share.
Caffeine is up to the players.
"Oh, you bet I drank coffee," said Hazel Demirjean, a retired librarian from Urbandale.
Demirjean, a volunteer with the society, said the slumber parties allow her to research her own family, which she can't fit in when helping others.
Participants do sometimes doze, Chase said, and are invited to crash in a corner or a conference room.
This is especially true when the genealogical society holds one of its two-day mega-slumber parties, as it did last year.
"We're thinking of doing it again in the fall," Chase said. "We had a lot of people come from out of state.
"You do need caffeine and lots of sugar for it."
Reporter Mary Challender can be reached at (515) 284-8470 or mchallender@...
A Voice Crying in the Wilderness
Museum to Revise Exhibit on U.S. Response to Holocaust
By Jacqueline Trescott, Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 1, 2007; C01
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has agreed to recast part of its permanent exhibition to include the story of the Bergson Group, a World War II citizens' group that called attention to the horrors facing European Jews and urged the American government to help.
The group was created in 1942 by a Lithuanian Jew who had immigrated to Palestine and taken the name Peter Bergson. He had come to Washington to represent a Zionist group and had visions of creating a Jewish army that would fight alongside the Allied armies. But on Nov. 25, 1942, he saw a story in The Washington Post reporting that the Nazis had killed 250,000 Polish Jews and planned the extermination of half of the Jewish population in that country by the end of the year.
The story ran on Page 6.
Bergson was so angry at the news and the placement of the story that he decided to start a massive lobbying effort.
Some of his tactics were considered divisive and controversial at the time. The group, formally called the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, bought newspaper ads pointing to the failure of the government and other efforts to save the Jews. There were also demonstrations, including a march of 400 rabbis in Washington.
He enlisted celebrities, including writers Ben Hecht and Moss Hart and actors Edward G. Robinson and Paul Muni. They created a dramatic pageant called "We Will Never Die," with music by Kurt Weill and readings praising the achievements of Jews throughout history, as well as describing the horrific plight of victims of the Nazis. The pageant traveled the country, drawing 40,000 people to Madison Square Garden. When it was performed at Washington's Constitution Hall on April 12, 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt and dozens of politicians watched it. When Mrs. Roosevelt wrote her next newspaper column about the pageant, according to the Holocaust Museum, "it was the first time [millions of American newspaper readers] heard about the Nazi mass murders."
At one point, Bergson advocated the bombing of Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
Finally, the group won the support of Congress, which prepared resolutions asking President Roosevelt to take action. Before the vote, Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board in 1944.
Museum officials said yesterday that at the urging of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies they would revise the segment on the board, a federal agency formed in the waning months of the war to help people flee Nazi oppression. It helped finance Raoul Wallenberg's work and saved about 200,000 people. The materials, which will be introduced next spring, will include wall text and photo reproductions and a new case for artifacts on the Bergson efforts.
While the permanent exhibition is often updated, this is the most extensive revision of one subject to date.
"The Bergson Group was important in calling American attention to what was happening during the Holocaust and demanding action," said Steven Luckert, curator of the museum's permanent exhibition.
"Most of what Americans know about our country's response to the Holocaust is that the Jews in Europe were abandoned. There were some Americans who did speak out, and it is important that their work be highlighted," said Rafael Medoff, director of the Washington-based Wyman Institute. He started lobbying for the change in August 2002.
Though historians have focused on the Bergson work, the museum's treatment is groundbreaking, Medoff said. "The story should have been included since Day One. The museum has never disputed the Bergson Group had a role, but they told us [the inclusion] would take time. There have been changes by some of the smaller Holocaust institutions, but the U.S. Holocaust Museum is the most important address," he said.
The museum's permanent exhibition, an account of the Nazi atrocities against Jews and others, was installed when the museum opened in 1993. It has been changed before. "The museum tries to address a variety of public concerns," Luckert said. Artifacts are added and rotated. The work of the Bergson Group was covered in a 2002 exhibition of Arthur Szyk, a Polish Jewish artist, and in related online exhibitions.
The Bergson Group's "willingness to take a stand and the willingness to launch controversial publicity campaigns and lobby congressmen for a cause" underscores its relevance today, Luckert said.
The group's ultimate goal of saving millions of Jews from Nazi persecution was unsuccessful. By 1943, 2 million Jews had already been murdered and the total would surpass 6 million. But museum scholars believe the Bergson Group should be singled out for its efforts to change public opinion.
Around Washington, Bergson earned the nickname "the nuisance diplomat."
Internet archive puts flesh on the bones of first world war soldiers' experiences
Records on web detail injuries, character, appearance and illnesses.
Where to trace your genealogy on the web.
Esther Addley, Wednesday August 8, 2007
Like many men of his generation and experiences, Pattie Townsend's father didn't talk much about the Great War.
She knew he had enlisted in 1914, full of excitement and pretending to be older than his 17 years. By the time he was discharged on December 22 1916 he had been gassed, received injuries to his left knee and forearm, and had part of his skull blown away, an injury that left him suffering from epilepsy for the rest of his life. Patrick Gould married twice, working for much of his life as a labourer on the docks in London, but when he died in 1975 he took with him most of his wartime secrets.
Today, Mrs Townsend, 77, will be able to add a few more details to her father's service history. The pension records of almost a million soldiers who served in the first world war have for the first time been made available on the internet, allowing descendants to access a wealth of information about anyone who was injured or discharged due to illness.
The records are significant because as well as dry military facts - date of enlistment and discharge, records of rank and any medals won - the documents also record personal, occasionally very intimate details of illnesses contracted and injuries sustained, as well as meticulous records of next of kin, physical descriptions, even accounts of an injured soldier's character.
"What is so exciting is the amount of detail you can go into," says Simon Harper, managing director of ancestry.co.uk, the genealogy website that has made the records available online. "Physical descriptions. Scars or injuries. Sometimes accounts of where they served and how they were injured." On average, he says, the site holds 10 pages of records for each soldier listed.
The documents are not new; they have long been available at the National Archives in Kew, but until now could only be consulted in person. "The key thing about this particular collection is that you can get all kinds of things relating to service personnel that you might not expect. A good example might be a chap who was in the army but was caught by the civil police as drunk and disorderly. You would get the records relating to his arrest in his file. Before the first world war, it wasn't information they thought to keep."
Other discoveries may be more delicate, he says. "These were human beings, not just soldiers, and they have human frailties. Someone might have had a major medical condition but the details of how they contracted it might be a surprise to their relatives." Meaning sexually transmitted diseases? "A lot of people don't like coming across that kind of information, but it was a fact of military life at that time."
The process of scanning millions of pages of records, then inputting the neatly handwritten entries into a searchable format, has taken just a matter of months, says Mr Harper - but the expense of doing so means that after a free introductory period the site will charge for access to the files. "Well over a million" people in Britain were already registered with the site and were compiling family trees, he said.
"Everyone has heard their own stories. It's how family history starts. You hear the stories, you come home and say, is that really true? One of our quietest times is on Christmas Day, but we get extremely busy the following week, as everyone tries to check out the stories."
Mrs Townsend's growing interest in genealogy has, with age, become an obsession, she admits. She recently completed a degree course in heritage studies, and is compiling family trees for each of her own and her husband's parents. "Of course, in a way I do regret not asking my father about his wartime experiences, but of course we didn't know about all that then, tracing our heritage. That was just how life was. In those days people didn't worry their children with the bad facts of life."
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007
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