31 May 2010

Collecting the stories: Journals to give

We've all seen baby books. Everyone gets them or gives them. New parents write the details of their child's milestones, add pictures and documents. They are preserved and shared with children and grandchildren.

Tracing the Tribe just received a press release from Sand Dune Books about its line of 15 "Between me and you - A few things I've been meaning to ask" journals to give to, and be completed by, mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and significant others.

Sand Dune says that these books might "help us all get just a little bit closer to the people we care about while having fun at the same time." The company's president, Winston Simmonds Jr., developed the series because he wanted to have something personal and meaningful from his own parents, who responded enthusiastically when they received his hand-made version.

Although I haven't seen one yet (maybe I'll see them on my trip), they seem like a good way to get started on the path to family history and the price - $14.95 plus shipping - won't break anyone's bank. They are spiral-bound with no page numbers and have blank pages for adding additional questions or photos.

Current titles (more are planned) are "Between Me and You MOM a few things Iʼve been meaning to ask" also comes in versions for DAD, GRANDMA, GRANDPA, HONEY, GIRL, SISTER, BROTHER, DAUGHTER, SON, AUNT, UNCLE and FAMILY REUNION. There are also MAMA and PAPA versions in Spanish.

MOM questions - Simmonds says GRANDMA and GRANDPA questions are similar - include:

-- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
-- Tell me about the first time you met Dad.
-- Was there anything that I did while growing up that reminded you of yourself as a child?
-- How do you think we are different?
-- What are your favorite memories of your mother? Of your father?
-- What are your memories of the day I was born?
-- Did you have and role models when you were a teen? Who were they?
According to the press release,

Guess what! Our parents were real people and actually had real lives before they had us. And let's face it. We all keep meaning to ask them about some of their teen experiences or childhood relationships or even questions about ourselves and most times never quite get around to it. How fun and enlightening would it be to have a journal containing their handwritten responses to all of those questions youʼve been meaning to ask for years.
The books are in gift and card shops or can be ordered online at the link above. There's also a nice discount if you buy two or more - see the website link above.

30 May 2010

California: Oldest known Jewish death, 1850

Today is the 160th anniversary of Samuel Harris Goldstein's tragic and untimely death. It is the oldest known Jewish death in California.

From cemetery project coordinator Bob Wascou - of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento - comes this information surrounding Goldstein's death.

In 1849, merchants Samuel Harris Goldstein and Moses Hyman came to California from New Orleans, Louisina.

Hyman settled in Sacramento, while Goldstein and his son, 14, were in Marysville, some 45 miles north of Sacramento. Goldstein's wife and other children were in New Orleans.

On May 30, 1850, Harris Goldstein, as he was known, took a steamer - the Governor Dana - to Sacramento, accompanied by his son.

Here is the Placer Times newspaper account of his tragic trip, published on Monday, June 1, 1850.

While no documentation exists, according to Wascou, he was likely buried in the old Sacramento City Cemetery by Moses Hyman, who was a religious man. Hyman had his own Torah scroll, conducted the first Sacramento high holiday services in 1849 or 1850, and was also a mohel (ritual circumciser), who traveled all over the Gold Rush territory.

Hyman donated the money he earned as a mohel to purchase the property for the Jewish cemetery in fall 1850.

On April 2, 1851, Hyman married Goldstein's widow, Rosina, and their son Kaufman was the first Jewish boy born in Sacramento in 1851.

Goldstein was re-interned in what is known as the old Jewish cemetery and again re-interned in the present day Jewish cemetery - Home of Peace - when all bodies were moved to the current Jewish cemetery.

[NOTE: The stone's inscription refers to Goldstein as a holy wise man and teacher. His Hebrew name appears to be Shemuel Zvi ben Ari Leib]

While the newspaper account is in a number of microfilms, Bob used the California Digital Newspaper Collection because it was the clearest.

Bob has been researching in the archives of B'nai Israel congregation - the first Sacramento synagogue. Hyman was instrumental in its founding. When founded, the cemetery was owned by the Hebrew Benevolent Society, and later by the congregation. Home of Peace Cemetery is owned today by the B'nai Israel and Mosaic Law congregations.

He has full access to the Home of Peace records, but they aren't complete and the old cemetery records no longer exist. At the time there was no superintendent for the Old City Cemetery, so there is no record of who was interned there.

Goldstein's son, Jacob, was adopted by Hyman and known as Jacob Hyman. According to Bob, he was born in Poland and naturalized on August 1, 1856, but Bob has not yet found the naturalization papers. In the October 14, 1850 census, Bob notes that a Jack Hyman listed with Moses could be Jacob but he's still researching that.

Jack learned watchmaking from Hyman and operated a jewelry store in Sacramento. As far as Bob knows, he did not marry. He died December 21, 1897, and is buried in Home of Peace cemetery. The Sacramento Bee carried his obituary on December 23, but Bob has not yet obtained it.

Thanks, Bob, for sharing such an interesting story with Tracing the Tribe.

29 May 2010

A busy schedule: Flying to the US

Tracing the Tribe wishes readers a happy holiday weekend with friends and family. Travel safely.

I'm off to Los Angeles in the early hours of Tuesday June 1, arrive the same day after a long flight, and jump right into a busy schedule. I'm looking forward to meeting Tracing the Tribe readers at every stop. Please make sure to come by and say hello.
  • After a few days with good friend and fellow Mogilev researcher Hilary Henkin, I will be speaking on Sephardic research at the JGS of Conejo Valley (and Ventura County) at 1.30pm, Sunday June 6, at Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks.
  • From June 11-13, I will be at the Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Jamboree at the Burbank Marriott - always an amazing event - where I'll be on the advanced bloggers' panel and also speak on our IberianAshkenaz DNA Project from the administrators' viewpoint. I'm looking forward to seeing many of my Geneablogger colleagues, Tracing the Tribe readers and will be blogging away all weekend. I'll also be helping out at the MyHeritage booth, as I also write the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog.
  • On June 13, as Jamboree ends, I go north to Los Altos to visit good friends Rosanne and Dan Leeson and hope to also see friends in San Jose and Monterrey.
  • July 4th weekend is at the Association of Jewish Libraries' conference, July 4-7, at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel., Seattle There are several family history sessions this year: history of names (Jewish European names, 18th-19th Centuries), researching Sephardi Jews (including Yeshiva University's Sephardic collections, and using social media in relation to Sephardic studies), Jewish archives, Jewish social history, social media, Seattle's Sephardic history, Jewish business in the Far West, Yiddish culture, in addition to many others on archives, libraries and more.
  • To Los Angeles on July 8 to get ready for JGSLA 2010's big international Jewish genealogy conference from July 11-16. I'll be presenting on the wonderful world of genealogy blogging, our IberianAshkenaz DNA Project and how to create your own DNA project, on Sephardic research, speaking with Thomas MacEntee and Lisa Louise Cooke at a social media expert's breakfast, and much more. I'll be blogging from there all week attempting to attend as many as possible of the 150+ speakers presenting 300+ programs.
  • On July 16, just as JGSLA2010 ends, I'm off to El Paso, Texas for the 7th Bnai Anousim Sephardic Conference, July 16-19, at Congregation Bnai Zion, where I will be speaking on Genealogy 101 and Sephardic research.
  • Then to Houston to enjoy a few days with FamilyTreeDNA.com's Bennett Greenspan and his family.
  • New York City is next to see family and friends for a few weeks.

Sounds like a lot of work with all those conferences, but how can we possibly call genealogy-related activities "work"? We love it!

Vacations are great, breaks are necessary but, after this one, I'm sure I'll need another "real" vacation!

While I'm trying to schedule in as many Tracing the Tribe blog posts to automatically publish, there may be some slow days due to travel arrangements or other activities.

It's the summer and everyone needs to kick back a little.

I'm already working on a travel schedule for October. I'm hoping to again attend the Mont Juic Institute's October 18-20 conference (in Barcelona and Valencia) on Catalan-speaking Jews, and the FamilyTreeDNA administrator's conference October 30-31. An East Coast speaking tour may also be in the works.

Southern California: Sephardic research, June 6

Tracing the Tribe is getting ready to travel again!

It seems I just returned from Hong Kong and Australia, and am already planning my conference travel, and additional talks.

On Sunday, June 6, I will be speaking on trends, resources and recent discoveries in Sephardic, Converso and Bnai Anousim research at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County.

The program begins at 1.30pm at Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, California.

The discussion will include current trends and recent discoveries in Sephardic Judaism, current information on Hispanics with Jewish roots in several Southwestern states and available resources for those interested in tracking their families back through the centuries.

The topic of "hidden Jews" has been of particular interest since I was in junior high school and discovered a copy of Cecil Roth's "The History of the Marranos," before most people knew the word was pejorative.

Sephardic genealogy has made major strides recently in terms of databases, archival disoveries, books, papers and journals.

I'm interested in meeting Tracing the Tribe's readers, and would like to welcome you at the meeting.

There is no charge to attend this program. For more information, email president Jan Meisels Allen.

26 May 2010

Fun: Are you a genealogy geek?

ProGenealogists' Natalie Cottrill shares the telltale signs of finally realizing that you're a genealogy geek.

Here are some:

-- You know that Ahnentahfel is not an Egyptian Pharoah.

--You don’t travel with just a briefcase or folder back and forth to various research settings, but instead you carry in BOXES of genealogy.

-- You have put an old board across the handrails of your treadmill to put your laptop on so that you can keep researching ancestors while taking a walk.

Jamboree: A world of genealogy

The 41st Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree spotlights the world of genealogy.

Taking place from June 11-13 at the Burbank Marriot, the event has attracted international attendees from Canada and Israel, as well as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Jamboree is also a magnet for increasing numbers of geneabloggers. As many as 50 of us may be attending, so make sure to say hello.

The opening-day JamboFREE activities (Friday, June 11) will focus in part on the multi-topic Genealogy World round table discussions.

Some 20 different tables are scheduled in two time slots from 9am-12 noon on Friday, June 11. Tracing the Tribe will host the Jewish round table early session, and Daniel Horowitz will host the later session. Remember to bring family information, documents and questions, of course. If you need something translated, bring that along and Daniel or I will try to help.

The discussions are are intended as an information exchange and a great way to meet people interested in the same topics.

Geographic/ethnic tables are African-American, English, German, Jewish, Mexican, New England, Portuguese, Scottish, English-Canadian, French-Canadian, Hungarian, Irish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.

Topic tables are Adoption Research and Reunion, DNA, Energize your Society Membership and VolunteerismGenealogists in Second Life, Planning Great Programs and Events, Show and Tell, Society Newsletters, Archiving your Family Movies and Sound Recordings, and Publishing Your Family History.

Here's the complete list and descriptions of topics for both sessions.

Preregistration is requested but not required.

The free Genealogy World sessions will be in the big white tent -the Pavilion - east of the Convention Center, from 9am-noon.

We're looking forward to greeting old friends and new at Jamboree .

25 May 2010

Catskills Bungalow Heritage Museum

While many people joyfully remember their Catskill summers as some of the happiest moments in their lives, there is no physical, visual place to share those memories.

Many Catskill summer kids remember this sign (left). We may have been oblivious to lots of things, but that sign was good to see each year.

Some determined individuals want to change that and create The Catskills Bungalow Heritage Museum.

Phil Brown of the Catskills Institute (which archives information about the region), informed me about this new project

A meeting about the project - whose purpose is the preservation of the heritage and history of bungalow colonies in the Catskills - is set for 11am, Sunday, June 13, at the Mountaindale Firehouse, Mountaindale, New York.

All interested individuals are invited to attend and discuss:
-- Physical acquisition and restoration of at least three original period bungalows.
-- Presentation of furniture, objects, photographs and ephemera from era.
-- Preservation of the history of tenants and tourists of the bungalow colonies
-- Collection of oral histories of former owners and service businesses for the bungalow colonies.
The organizers are Allen Frishman, Evadne Giannini and Raymon Elozua.

We are interested in your ideas and thoughts about such a museum. And we seek support from the local community to develop an initial action plan. We ask if possible to put your thoughts in writing so that the committee will be able to review your recommendations at a later date. We look forward to seeing you there.

Since the 1970s, the bungalow colonies have suffered a severe decline as our nation's wealth and lifestyles have changed. Many colonies were abandoned, demolished or sold for development. In an encouraging sign, a number have survived and thrive today as religious groups seek the same benefits for their members. All in all, a miniscule few remain open for rent to the general public.
The organizers' hope is that the Catskills Bungalow Heritage Museum will become a destination point for families and children who once vacationed in these colonies, creating tourism that will contribute to the economic re-vitalization of Sullivan County.

If you are interested and wish to be kept informed about the project, or wish to share ideas or contacts, email the organizers (above).

Florida: The right place, the right time

Historic preservationist Josh Wilks was in the right place at the right time when he saw a suitcase in a trash pile outside the Finkelstein home in Pensacola, Florida.

The owners gave permission for him to take it, and thus began the story of its contents - handwritten trans-Atlantic Holocaust-era correspondence in English and Yiddish - as Wilks, 31, tracked down generations of Fuchs and Finkelsteins.

In the Pensacola News Journal, the story, by Louis Cooper, covers a tragic era, refugees, immigration, Prague, London, a Jewish community's help and more. There are also images of the original letters.

In 1939, Eugene Fuchs and his family, from Prague, wrote to his cousin Katie Finkelstein in Florida, asking for help so that they could come to America because of the worsening situation. Through Finkelstein's years of effort and eventual sponsorship, Fuchs, his wife Ester, and children, Klara — now Claire — and Harry, arrived in America in 1948 and changed their name to Fox.

With the family's permission, Wilks researched the letters and searched for the people mentioned in them - and their descendants, checking records, manifests and cold-calling Fuchses and Foxes around the country.

"I was hit with an overpowering feeling of awe that one person, Katie Finkelstein, a housewife in 1939 Milton, Florida, was trying everything she could to help this family she had never met. She was their only link outside of Europe — to survival — and she knew that."
Wilks found Fuchs' daughter, Claire Perskie, who was 5 when she fled Prague with her mother and brother. All she knew was that they only had her mother's knapsak when they left at night, traveled by train and boat to Holland and England. where they rejoined Fuchs. The little girl was sent to foster care while her parents and brother went to a Czech refugee camp. Meanwhile, they were trying to get to the US.

She had never known how Finkelstein had helped until she saw the letters.

Read the story of how Finkelstein organized a group to help the family, including the Department of State, Temple Beth El, a local attorney and a congressman who was later governor.

Wilks wants the primary source letters to be used to focus the impact of the Holocaust on a local family. He's working with the family, the University of West Florida, the Library of Congress, local historians and others to decide the best way.

Read the complete story and view letter images at the link above.

24 May 2010

DNA: Bennett Greenspan in Dallas, May 26

Discover Jewish history through the lens of DNA testing, with expert Bennett Greenspan, at the Dallas (Texas) Jewish Historical Society, at 7pm, Wednesday, May 26.

The program is part of the Society's Harold A. Pollman Lecture Series, at its annual meeting and elections at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas.

A familiar favorite at Jewish and general genealogy conferences, his talks always fill to capacity.

His presentation will demonstrate the overlap between Jewish DNA found in Ashkenazi/Mizrachi and Sephardic populations and will shed light on the amazing stories that non-Jews - who have found a Jewish ancestry - share with him weekly. He'll also discuss the newest test for finding Jewish relatives out to fourth or fifth cousins.

If you haven't tested yet, Bennett's presentation will inspire you to find out more about who you really are. A limited number of DNA testing kits will be available for purchase following his talk.

With more than 255,000 records, Family Tree DNA - founded in 2000 - has the largest database of its kind in the world. Importantly for Jewish researchers, it also includes the largest Jewish DNA database to test against.

An entrepreneur and life-long genealogy enthusiast - since elementary school - Bennett turned his hobby into a full-time vocation. His effort and innovation created the ever-expanding field of genetic genealogy and all its possibilities.

A native Nebraskan with a University of Texas BA, he has spent years investigating his maternal grandfather's family, an obsession which led to the founding of the company and its association with Arizona Research Labs, led by Dr. Michael Hammer, a world authority on Y-DNA genetics.

Founded in 2000, FTDNA is the largest non-medical DNA testing company in the world, and includes other cooperative ventures such as the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project and AfricanDNA.com, and is now involved in DNATraits.com, a new medical genetic testing company

Admission is free and the program is open to the public. For reservations, call 214-239-7120 or send an email.

Click the Dallas Jewish Historical Society for more information on society holdings.

New Gen Blogs: Would you believe 29?

Genealogy blogs are growing exponentially, and our colleague Thomas MacEntee keeps finding them all over the world.

During the week ending May 22, he's discovered 29 genealogy and family-history related blogs. There are now 1,101 geneablogs at Geneabloggers.com.

Topics cover general and individual family history, speakers' presentations, genealogy books, cemeteries, WWII letters, African-American, writing family history and more.

International geographical locations are Canada, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Philippines, Suriname and the UK, while US locations include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Read all about them here.

Geneabloggers are reminded to add a comment to these new blogs welcoming them to our community, to add them to our blog readers if they contain material of use to our interests or to use the Blogger Follow feature - if they are on the Blogger platform.

Peeling the layers: Onion genealogy

Peeling an onion can make you cry.

This Onion, however, brings tears of laughter.

Back in 2002 - long before many geneablogs existed - the satire site seemed to forecast some of today's genealogy problems.

Dick Eastman's newsletter pointed to this old Onion article, so I went to take a look. I'm glad I did. Thanks, Dick.

I used to read The Onion frequently, but life has just gotten too busy. This post offered some interesting tips to working on one's family history.

Here are some:

-- Avoid this common mistake made by many first-time genealogists: Search for people with the same last name, not first. [Tracing the Tribe might also add that if you are creating an index, it be done by surname, not given name. It seems obvious, doesn't it? But we've seen a foreign cemetery index done by first name. Oy.]

-- Note to women: In this society, it is unimportant to know anything about your lineage on your mother's side. Just skip it altogether. [NOT! There are many genealogists who would like a piece of the article's author.]

-- Go to your oldest living relative and ask him or her about your lineage. Work your way down to the second, third, and fourth oldest until you get to someone who makes some sense. [and make sure to audio and video record each of these people, of course.]

Footnote.com: Free newspaper access ends soon

Footnote.com's free access to its complete historical newspaper collection will only last through the end of May.

Take this opportunity to see what you can find on your families of interest, the places they live in and their daily lives.

In addition to news stories, social announcements and obituaries, I also enjoy the advertisements which provide even more information about how people lived in those days, what they bought, what things cost.

Readers new to Footnote will need to register (free) and will then be able to download articles of interest. View the newspaper collections here for free through the end of the month.

Once you've seen what you can find, note that there is also a limited time 50% sale for subscriptions.

Its many collections are valuable to all researchers.

While the Holocaust Collection is of particular interest to Jewish genealogists, there is so much more to be examined.

As of today, there are some 65,585,666 historical documents on the site, and more are added frequently.

Roots Travel: A London success story

Afraid of reaching out via a cold phone call or email to a long-lost cousin in a distant location?

That "cold" call or tentative email just might result in a wonderful reunion and provide a memorable experience for all involved. It can also bring together family branches long separated for reasons unknown.

When Tracing the Tribe visited our TALALAY/TOLLIN cousins in Springfield, Massachusetts, many years ago, my visit prompted the reunion of several area branches who had not spoken for so long that no one knew why. They lived not far from each other and didn't know they were related, although they had the same rare surname.

We learned that the split had occured because an uncle's wife did not like the wives of her husband's two nephews. Although the branches did not attend the same weddings and bnai mitzvahs, they did attend the funerals.

When the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy was in Toronto awhile back, it was the perfect opportunity to meet my now-late cousin Victor Talalay, with whom I had worked long-distance for a long time on the family history. Victor even attended the conference, and it allowed attendees to see that there really was more than one TALALAY in the world! I later met Victor's brother Michael and family in London, and their uncle, Dr. Paul Talalay, in Baltimore.

My good friend Daniel Horowitz had a similar experience when he traveled to London to represent MyHeritage.com, where he is genealogy and translation manager, at the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE family history fair in February.

Thanks to his visit (and those tentative emails and phone calls), several SINGER branches were able to meet once again. His SINGERs are from Czernovitz (was Austro-Hungary->Ukraine.

Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela and now living in Israel, Daniel knew there were London branches but didn't know much about them, except that they didn't talk to each other. When Daniel's father's cousin Renee visited them in Israel, they talked about the family and Daniel's then-upcoming trip to the UK.

"Renee asked if I knew about our London cousins and, of course, I knew about our late uncle Lothar," says Daniel, who adds that "about 25% of my current family tree is due to Lothar's work in the early 1970s, when he compiled a complete tree for my father's mother's family."
However, Daniel didn't know about his sons and other descendants. He had once tried to contact Lothar's wife, but she wasn't very interested.

Renee reminded him about their other cousins in London, including the sons of Dorica (Lothar's cousin) and said she had met them when they visited the family in Israel a few times.

His information on the London relatives was limited to their names and a few dates, he says, but by the end of Renee's visit, he knew much more, including children and previous family contacts.

The critical information was that the two branches in London simply didn't talk to each other because of a problem their parents had experienced.

To genealogists, the opportunity to meet and bring together family is always a call to action! As Daniel told me, "This was the perfect trigger for a genealogy quest."

Renee provided the cousins' contact information. Daniel began contacting them, explaining why he was coming to London and that he really wanted to meet them.

Daniel said they were all cordial and, to his surprise, they agreed to a small family meeting. it took many emails and phone calls to schedule the meeting with as many cousins as possible at very short notice and with a hectic business schedule.
"The first thing I asked them was to bring as many old photos or documents they could find," said Daniel. "I gave them access to my MyHeritage.com family site, so they could see what I already had for them and they could add new information."
They did.

One cousin couldn't make the planned get-together, so Daniel met him a few nights earlier. Over dinner, they talked about their families, and updated each other with information covering 50 years.

"We had each heard the names before, but now I knew exactly what questions to ask. He told me about his father and the pre-WWII stories he had heard: How his father had been in the Russian Army and later with the partisans, how he had been involved in illegal immigration to Israel where he later moved, and how he got to London.

"My cousin found, in his parents' home, many photos with inscriptions on the reverse, along with a completely new family tree of which neither of us was aware. This was new information for me, and what you might call a moment of serendipity! It was the perfect preparation for our family meeting a few days from then."
The other cousins met at a Piccadilly Circus restaurant, and three were already there when Daniel arrived, and another arrived shortly after.

"I introduced myself and explained how we were related. They had brought photos and we began sharing information about our parents and grandparents.

These were cousins who had always lived in the same city and had lost contact for more than 20 years. Now reunited, they were beginning to recall their memories, sharing and comparing photos with each other. And I was there to hear all the stories."
In addition to learning about their childhoods, their visits to Israel and Brazil (that was a new lead for him!), there was also all the gossip and family secrets buried in their collective memory.

"Not everything was revealed that afternoon and, of course, nobody knew exactly why their parents had stopped the contact between them, but it wasn't really important any more.

"I now have contact with family of which I hadn't been aware, and this is just the beginning, thanks to my cousins in London."
When will you visit your family in other places?

Let me know about similar experiences you have had.

22 May 2010

JGSLA 2010: Jewpardy is back!

Don't know an ahnentafel from a taffy apple? A Gedcom from a Jedi?

If you love game shows and you love genealogy, this is the event for you! Just come along and join the fun at JGSLA 2010, July 11-16, in Los Angeles.

Tracing the Tribe had such a great time at the Jewish Genealogical Game Show Night (aka Jewpardy) at last year's Philadelphia conference that I wanted to give this year's edition a mention all on its own!

Be prepared to roll in the aisles (wear appropriate attire!) and laugh your socks off (just wear sandals!) with emcee Jordan Auslander, a perennial comedic favorite (and accomplished genealogist).

Regardless of whether you're a potential contestant or an innocent bystander, you'll love this fun-filled program. Last year, we saw Team Litvak vs Team Galizianer, Team Sephard vs Team Ashkenaz. Who knows what's in store this year?

The 2010 edition will feature new "Jewpardy" answers to stump professionals and challenge newbies. Now's the time to review your knowledge of terminology, historical facts, Jewish geography and Yiddish slang. Flex those fingers, as you've got to be able to hit a buzzer on cue!

Jordan is the consummate gameshow host and nothing - we mean nothing - is sacred!

There'll even be prizes.

Mark your conference calendar now for 10.30-11.30pm, Monday, July 12.

This event is only for registered conference-goers, so don't miss the fun. If you haven't registered yet, this is another reason not to miss JGSLA 2010; click the link to find all essential details.

Jamboree: SCGS sets social media policy

The Southern California Genealogical Society, which runs the annual Jamboree - this year is the 41st - has just posted the event's social media policy.

This is important as the number of attending bloggers has grown exponentially over the past few years.

Tracing the Tribe first attended Jamboree in 2007, and spoke ("Creating Hope") at the writers' breakfast, focusing on how mainstream media family history articles - using my own articles in the Jerusalem Post and other media as examples - not only assist established researchers, but also attract new people to our passion. Those who have never considered investigating their families may read an article in a local paper that ignites the spark of curiosity.

As part of the first-ever innovative Blogger Summit (2008) and Blogger Summit II (2009), Tracing the Tribe will be back for this year's event from July 11-13, for Blogger Summit III (Part 2 for more advanced bloggers) and to also speak on the nuts and bolts of creating a DNA project.

As many as 50 of our blogging colleagues may attend this year, which is sure to be a record. Has anyone called the Guiness World Book of Records? Geneabloggers may want to do that.

With that many bloggers busily blogging, Facebooking and tweeting, it makes sense to have a policy that is fair to everyone. Similar policies have been instituted for other conferences.

Here is Paula's post:


To ensure that we have an environment that is mutually supportive for the social media users, our lecturers, and our lecture audience members, the SCGS Board of Directors adopted the following Social Media Policy:

The Southern California Genealogical Society is an active supporter of the use of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and blogging) at its events, including the society’s annual Genealogy Jamboree. Event attendees are allowed and encouraged to promote, critique, and review the conference, its exhibitors, speakers, and activities using these forms of media.

Use of smartphones, netbooks, laptops, etc., shall not disrupt other attendees. Mobile device ringers must be set to silent during lecture sessions.

Attendees are prohibited from recording the proceedings of any lecture or workshop session by any means, including but not limited to photography, audio recording, video recording, or verbatim transcription, without expressed written permission from both SCGS and the lecture speaker. Some sessions will be professionally audio recorded and available after the event.

Social media may be used to summarize or extract lecture content provided:

(1) the author is referenced and cited appropriately; and
(2) material is not shared in full.

We fully respect the intellectual property rights of the authors of syllabus materials and lecture content. Copyright laws apply.


See you in Burbank!

Iran: Keeping the faith

Keeping the faith - Judaism - in Iran has always been something of a tightrope walk. Easy at times, more difficult at others.

When we lived there, during the "golden age," everything was very open, as was the general culture. We returned to the US just before the revolution changed everything for everyone, especially the Jewish community, and the Persian diaspora was the result. The 1979 execution of the respected community leader Habib Elghanian stimulated that diaspora.

KansasCity.com has an article by an Iranian journalist - Parvaneh Vahidmanesh - who lives in Washington DC. It offers some insights to what Jewish life is like today.

"Ten years might pass before a wedding takes place in the Jewish community here," said Haroun, who is one of the nearly 40 members of the Jewish community in Yazd, Iran.

"Even though the Jewish population in Yazd has decreased considerably over the past few years, we try to keep the synagogues open and teach our children Hebrew and educate them in the religion," he said.

The Jews of Iran trace their history back 2,600 years. While Iran has had a history of religious tolerance for most of that period, conditions for Jews in the country became markedly more difficult after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

While Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini assured members
of the country's Jewish community that they would not be affected by the
country's open hostility to Israel, prominent Iranian Jews almost immediately
became targets after the revolution.

Habibollah Elghanian, a leader of Tehran's Jewish community, was executed in 1979 after being accused of corruption and having contacts with Israel.
Today, there are some 30,000 Jews (half in Teheran) across Iran, down from the pre-revolution estimate of some 150,000. It is the second-largest Jewish population in an Islamic Middle East - only Turkey's is larger.

The story mentions the Jewish hospital in what was once the mahalleh or old Jewish quarter. It still operates as a Jewish charity, although many staffers and most patients are not Jewish.

There are ways to make one's life easier: keep secret your religious and ethnic identity. Some have even gone underground, modern Conversos to use an Inquisition-era phrase, and converted publicly to Islam.

While this version of the story did not clarify the following quote - some versions have - it is obvious that this section concerns the Mashadi Jews who underwent a forced conversion in the 1830s, and went underground, living publicly as religious Moslems and in private as very religious Jews.
"Every newborn was told from his first years of life that we are living in times of crisis and that they must lead a double life," said Moshe Hakimi. They told us that we must not talk about our personal lives in front of non-Jewish people. This absolute secrecy became second nature after reaching puberty.

"Therefore, all Jewish converts to Islam had two names: for example, my grandfather's Muslim name was Sheikh Aboulghasem and his Hebrew name was
Benjamin. My father's Muslim name was Ebrahim and his Hebrew name was Abraham. Outside they call me Mousa and at home, I'm called Moshe. In my father's lifetime, many of the Jews had very Muslim names. They even went to Mecca on pilgrimage."
People still trickle out, to Israel, to the US and elsewhere and thus questions of social life and marriage become more important, as families try to immigrate or at least send their children out of the country for education and safer lives.

Read the complete story at the link above.

JGSLA 2010: Breaking bread with experts

Breaking bread with experts at themed early-morning breakfasts is always a popular activity at the annual Jewish genealogy conferences.

Because the team at the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy - JGSLA 2010 - knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it has scheduled 13 special sessions over the conference week, July 11-16.

You have to eat breakfast anyway - or should - so why not also interact with experts in diverse areas? Breakfasts are fee-added items.

Readers will note that I'll appear with my esteemed colleagues Thomas MacEntee and Lisa Louise Cooke on Monday, June 12, at our breakfast session on social media and blogging. We're looking forward to meeting our readers and others who want to learn about what we do and why it is good for genealogy.

Here's the complete list:

MONDAY, June 12

-- "Only Connect!" - Social Networking & Blogging for Genealogists: Lisa Louise Cooke, Thomas MacEntee, Schelly Talalay Dardashti
-- Eureka! Finding Californians: Los Angeles and Statewide Research: Mara Fein
-- Jews,Genes and Genetics & Unlocking the Medical Secrets in Your Family Tree: Adele Schneider, Gary Frolich

TUESDAY, June 13

-- From Russia With Love: A Report on the Archives of the Former Soviet Union: Benjamin Nathans
-- Israeli Research: Past, Present and Future: Rony Golan, Michael Goldstein
-- Alexander the Great & The Life of Brian: Galician & Ukrainian Research and Travel: Alexander Denysenko, Brian J. Lenius


-- From Bratislava to Budapest to Bucharest: Travel & Research in Slovakia, Romania & Hungary: Vivian Kahn, Beth Long, Rony Golan
-- How To Do Genealogy Research In Poland – And How Not To: The Potential and Pitfalls: Anna Przybyszewska Drozd, Yale J. Reisner
-- Outlaws & Outliers: Black Sheep & Family Skeleton Experts Share Their Research Secrets! Ron Arons, Steve Luxenberg

-- A Baltic Road Map - Travel & Research in Lithuania and Latvia: Howard Margol, Aldona Sudeikiene
-- No Stone Unturned - Furthering Your Holocaust Research: Lisa Yavnai, Zvi Bernhardt, Stephen Smith
-- People of the Book: Expert Advice on Writing Newsletters, Memoirs and Family Histories: Lil Blume, Mike Karsen, Marlis Humphrey

FRIDAY, June 16
-- The Global Jewish Genealogical Community: What does the 21st century have in store for the Jewish researcher? Warren Blatt, Ruth Behar

Click here to read the details, search for "breakfasts," and scroll to the day and time for more information. Some breakfasts ($28 each) begin at 8am, some at 7am, so make sure to note that in your calendars.

For all conference information, click here.

NARA: Secret agent man!

Did you know that the US National Archives has a specialist Archival Recovery Team staffed by special agents and an investigative archivist?

This Wall Street Journal story centered on the special team's activities to find lost documents. You can read the official press release here, with a quote from Archivist of the US David S. Ferriero:

"Thousands of researchers each year have access to our nation’s priceless documentary heritage, using original records at National Archives facilities across the nation. This allows American citizens to see for themselves the workings of the Federal government and the accountability of Federal officials. These priceless records must be protected and preserved.”

Remember the film "National Treasure"? Kind of like that without the cameras and the popcorn. The official team tracks down lost or stolen items. Their new weapon is a Facebook page.

The top entry on the page:

Each month the US National Archives Archival Recovery Team will feature an item (or related group of items) that we need your help to locate. Be sure to check back each month, as this album will be updated to reflect the range of missing items we are seeking to recover. This month’s featured National Treasures: Missing... Item-of-the-Month for May 2010 is the Wright Brother’s Flying Machine Patent, consisting of 35 documents, last seen at the US National Archives in 1979. Please take a look and notify the US National Archives Archival Recovery Team if you have any information regarding the patent file's whereabouts.
Over the years, items have disappeared including Whitney's cotton-gin patent drawing, the Wright brothers' "flying machine" application and more.

Other missing items include presidential Civil War correspondence, telegrams, and objects such as swords, daggers, portraits and presidential class rings. View images and descriptions of the missing items.

Read the WSJ article at the first link above, and visit the Recovery Team's Facebook page.

21 May 2010

JGSLA 2010: Calling all Litvaks!

If your family is from Lithuania, here are some excellent reasons to attend the 30th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, July 11-16, in Los Angeles.

LitvakSIG is is one of the largest Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and country-specific programs, given by SIG officers and other experts are set for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the conference week. In addition to these programs, conference-goers will be networking to share information and meet other researchers looking for information on common names and geographical locations.

For speakers, bios and all conference details, click JGSLA 2010.
Monday, July 12

8am: Rokiskis-Kupiskis Shtetl Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF).
A gathering for those with relatives from Kupiskis and Rokiskis in Lithuania, or researchers interested in learning more about this area. Also see presentation and panel discussion on organizing and integrating data from multiple sources in the “Beyond ShtetLinks to Interactive Groups” session at 2.15pm Wednesday.
1.50pm: How Helping our Cousins Emigrate from the USSR Uncovered the Colorful 250 Year History of a Litvak Family:

The Rostov-on-Don Cousins group organized 500 descendants of a Lithuanian-Russian family to help newly-discovered cousins emigrate from the USSR, following a reunion in Moscow featured in Billy Crystal’s HBO Emmy winning special “Midnight Train to Moscow.” Representatives of seven branches met monthly, raised funds for the new immigrants, produced a Family Newsletter/History Journal, held reunions, created a 50-foot Photo Family Tree, and in the process, re-created the family’s first immigration experience that began 125 years ago. Research on the 250-year history of the family included Interviews, autobiographies, diaries, Yiddish stories, newspaper articles, archival research in Lithuania and Rostov-on-Don. Dramatic stories include a shipwreck in the English Channel, escaping from Russia during the Revolution, founding organizations in New York and Los Angeles, brothers in top-secret positions on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and more. This research led to forming the Ariogala Shtetl Group, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Project, and the co-founding of LitvakSIG.
5pm: Litvak Seek - Finding Your One in a Million (Searching the ALD Successfully) (Computer Lab - fee).

A hands-on computer class to learn how to successfully navigate the LitvakSIG website with a focus on the All Lithuania Database (ALD) and other LitvakSIG-created databases to research your Litvak ancestors. Students will learn how to effectively search, analyze search results, acquire copies of the databased records and use the website to enhance knowledge and family histories. Basic understanding of Russian Empire history and geography, naming and spelling conventions, basic personal family history knowledge will prove helpful.

Wednesday, July 14

9.45am: The Development of Zionism in Lithuania (1906-1940):

From its beginning, the Zionist movement in Lithuania was an integral part of the World Zionist movement, but even with its international character, its development was necessarily different than in Poland, Germany or Russia. However the success of Zionism was not guaranteed by its specifically Litvak character. Lithuania never became a place where the Zionist ideas were inspired. Zionist organizations in Lithuania, while keeping the common ideology and political line, attempted to realize the ideals of the movement in their practical work, as well as trying to cover all spheres of Jewish daily life. Zionist leaders tried to provide answers to all questions that arose over time and changes of the geopolitical situation. The main focus of the presentation is on the underlying ideas and practices of Lithuanian Zionism, the means taken by Zionist leaders of the organization to improve Jewish life in Lithuania and repatriation to Palestine.
11:15: Researching Your Litvak Roots Using the LitvakSIG Website: An Overview of the Special Interest Group, Research Projects and Websites and 1 million Record All-Lithuanian-Database.
This presentation will provide a comprehensive tour through the LitvakSIG website and the many ways it serves as "home" to Litvak researchers. This will include the LitvakSIG All Lithuania Database (ALD), with nearly 1 million records, other databases to Litvak research; an overview of the LitvakSIG record translation projects currently underway, and the structure of LitvakSIG -- how researchers can help get the records from their towns translated.
12.45pm: Where is our Home? Lithuanian Forced Migrations Before and After WW I - LitvakSIG luncheon (fee).

The Jewish areas of settlement had been limited to the Pale of Settlement since the final partition of Poland in 1795 and later regulations in the 19th century Russian Empire. In May 1915, at the beginning of WW I, the Russian Army ordered the mass expulsion of Jews from most of Kovno Gubernia. Most Jews were settled in Yekaterinoslav (Southern Russia), Poltava, Mogilev and other provinces in the depths of the Russian empire. The long way back started right after the World War I and it was different from any other: Jews decided to return home of their own will, while their Homeland was divided into several newly independent states (including Vilna and other areas under Polish control). The paper describes the difficulties faced by the Jews who decided to return to the newly independent Lithuania after WWI, including arranging for permission to enter the country, getting permanent documents and once back in Lithuania, proving their rights of citizenship.

2:15pm: Town-Wide Research: Beyond ShtetLinks to Interactive Groups.

Coordinators of Jewish Community (shtetl) groups will discuss how they organized to obtain town-wide records, working with existing landsmanshaften, and focusing on the town and on the relationships between families who lived in the town. The panel will describe the sources they used to obtain many types of records including: archives, museums, national and local libraries, and cemeteries - in Lithuania - and in the countries Litvaks emigrated to (US, South Africa. Israel, Argentina, and others. Records include 18th, 19th, 20th century censuses, memoirs, the Eishishok photograph collection (USHMM), family stories, Yizkor books and the Interwar Community YIVO records; Yad Vashem’s Pages of Testimony, vital records, property, tax, rabbi electors and conscription lists; farmer’s applications, Internal Passports, court records, and stories in the Yiddish press and periodical literature. They will explain how they have cooperated with SIGs, and have stimulated group-interaction, using reunions, Birds-of-a-Feather gatherings at annual conferences, Internet groups. They will explain how they encouraged group interaction and the sharing and preservation of the history and family stories of their towns. These will be presented as models which others interested in focusing on entire ancestral towns, can follow.
3.45pm: Lithuanian research - past, present, and future.
Records that have been acquired, those in the pipeline, and what can be expected in the future. Court records, police records, foreign passport records, Teacher and Student School records, records of Jewish Prisoners in Lithuanian Prisons, etc. What are the possibilities of records that are presently unknown or have we reached the end of the line? Supporting a group effort to obtain records or just concentrating on acquiring records on your own? Using a private researcher or going through the archives? Doing your own research in the Lithuanian Archives. The advantages and disadvantages of each course of action. Archives outside of Lithuania that contain Lithuanian records such as those in Moscow and St. Petersburg: what do they contain and how accessible are they? The latest trends in LitvakSIG’s efforts to educate its members about records.
5.15pm: LitvakSIG Annual Meeting.

Board elections, past year achievements and reports on projects, translations, database search and overview and new content.

Thursday, July 15

7am: Breakfast With the Experts: A Baltic Road Map - Travel & Research in Lithuania and Latvia.
Hit the road with Howard Margol, Bruce Dumes and Aldona Sudeikiene (a teacher residing in Vilnius) to find out the current state of travel to - and research in - Lithuania and Latvia.
Friday, July 16

11.15am: The Dramatic Expulsion of Jews from NW Lithuania in 1915.

The year is 1915, the second year of World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm II decides to turn his troops eastwards to Russia. His English cousin, King George V, is overjoyed by this diversion. But his Russian cousin, Tsar Nicholas II, is dismayed: The Germans would be using the same route as Napoleon - across the NW corner of Lithuania, river Neiman, Kovno Gubernia. The Jews living in this part of the Pale were believed to be hostile to their Russian masters, and perceived as likely to support the advancing Germans, whom many Jews regarded as kith and kin. (There were upwards of 100,000 Jewish soldiers in the German armies, including Generals and Field Marshalls.) Jews were given 24 hours or less to evacuate: pots and pans, grannies, babies, bundled onto carts and headed to railway stations to travel thousands of miles east to new lives in Ukraine and Crimea. Who were they? From which shtetls? What records exist of their names? How many died? How many were born? How did they settle in their new homes? Why did so many of the successful ones return home in 1921-22?

For all conference details, programs, speakers, and registration, click JGSLA 2010.

Jewish languages: Juhuri is dying

When we lived in Teheran, I was always interested in how some relatives and friends spoke in what seemed to be an undecipherable language. Although I was fluent in Farsi, I couldn't understand a word that some of these people said.

Along the way, I learned that Persian Jews also spoke dialects. Isfahani is used for comedic impact. There was Kashi (from Kashan), of which I know only one two-word phrase. Regardless of where their families originated - be it Hamadan, Shiraz, areas around the Caspian Sea, or the Aramaic-speaking Jews from Urmia - each group had its own language.

However, most of these were lost after decades of living in the big city of Teheran. My husband's grandmother knew only a few words of the original Isfahani Jewish dialect, and her children and grandchildren recognized even fewer words and their meanings.

When I was involved in the US working with new immigrants from Russia, I had an immediate connection with those from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Many spoke Bukharan or Kavkaz, both with roots in Farsi, so it was easy to communicate - well, much better than in my non-existent Russian.

Years ago, I visited a newly-resettled family from Uzbekistan in Tucson, Arizona. They were religious and invited me for Shabbat. I was surprised to see that all their siddurim and other religious books were printed in Cyrillic.

At an international Jewish genealogy conference in London several years ago, I met a Baku (Azerbaijani Iran) University professor - a Mountain Jew from the city of Kuba, home to several thousand Mountain Jews who speak Tat, also called Juhuri. We were also able to communicate, once I got my ears around the different accent.

Haaretz had a recent article on Juhuri, another Iranian dialect spoken by the Jews of the Eastern Caucasuses and how the people are trying to preserve it.

Juhuri - an Iranian language sometimes called Judeo-Tat - is the language of the eastern Caucasus Mountain Jews, who live mainly in northern Azerbaijan and Dagestan.

Traditions indicate that the Jews of the Caucasus are descendants of the Kingdom of Judea's exiled tribes after the destruction of the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. The exiles settled in Persia, where they acquired a Farsi dialect and preserved Hebrew words.

Until the 20th century, Juhuri was the common spoken language, while Hebrew was written and for prayer and study. When Juhuri began to be written, the typeface was like Rashi. A prayerbook (1908) and a book about Zionism (1909) were the first two printed in Juhuri using Hebrew script.

Russia annexed the area in the 1850s, and the Russian language became more commonly used. It was also bolstered by business ties with Russians and increased as people moved from small population centers to cities, where more Russians lived.

The communist government, in 1929, tried to supress religion and people stopped using Hebrew to write Juhuri. A decade later, they were writing Juhuri in Cyrillic, which caused problems as the transliteration was difficult.

Although the Jews had preserved Juhuri for centuries, the new developments nearly killed the old language. An expert quoted in the article says the language will be extinct in 40 years.

Until the outbreak of WWII, there were schools in which Juhuri was the language of instruction. This stopped during the war. In 1988, a poet organized a Jewish cultural center in Derbent and convinced the government to renew Juhuri lessons.
"Beginning in the 19th century, the prestige of the Russian language increased steadily, and fluency in it was considered a path to success. The Mountain Jews found themselves in an uncomfortable situation. Although they gave the Russians a friendly welcome, certainly compared to other communities in the Caucasus, the attitude of the Russian government toward them was not significantly different than its attitude toward the other inhabitants of the region. The Russians considered the Jews, like the other Caucasian communities, uneducated, inferior and lacking professions.
"The main reason for this attitude was the Mountain Jews' ignorance of Russian. Even the Ashkenazi Jews in Russia [Jews of European origin] looked down on them. The key to success in the new world in which they found themselves was the ability to speak Russian without a trace of a foreign accent. Knowledge of Juhuri was considered an obstacle that was liable to prevent the people of the Caucasus from speaking perfect Russian. The attitude of the speakers toward their language changed, and they even stopped speaking to their children in Juhuri."
Today, in Israel, there are some 100,000 immigrants - about half still speak Juhuri - who are trying to preserve their culture and language, through theatre, music and poetry.

Read the complete article at the link above.

Louisiana: Historic Jewish cemetery vandalized

In 1873, a Yellow Fever epidemic struck Shreveport, Louisiana.

In 2010, vandals struck the Jewish cemetery called Hebrew Rest where those Jewish epidemic victims and many other deceased individuals have been buried since.

According to an article in the Shreveport Times, the vandals could face hate crime charges resulting from the recent desecration of several historic graves in the Jewish section of Oakland Cemetery.

Nine headstones were overturned or broken.

Local historian Gary Joiner is working with a group of LSU-Shreveport students who are electronically cataloging the historic graveyard.

A student in the group called the desecration anti-Semitic, and said the cemetery was like a museum and the vandals destroyed history.

Fortunately, the group had already recorded those graves. A group of vandals is suspected, as the size of the stones would have made it difficult for one person to desecrate. Most of the stones date from the 1873 epidemic, which killed 25% of Shreveport's residents.

The police are working on the case. Those arrested will face a felony charge, and other penalties of up to a $5,000 fine, five years in prison or both.

For an exhaustive history of Jewish cemeteries in Shreveport, click here for the specific entry at the IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project. There are three Hebrew Rest sections (established 1858, 1886 and 1993). Earlier burials were in the non-sectarian Oakland Cemetery.

New Jersey: Sephardic Jews and Holocaust, June 6

Devin E. Naar will speak on "Sephardic Jews in America and the Holocaust" at Rider University (Lawrenceville, New Jersey) on Sunday, June 6.

The 10th Dorothy Koppelman Memorial Holocaust Lecture, of the Koppelman Holocaust/Genocide Resource Center, will begin at 1pm, in the Luedeke Student Center.

Devin is a Stanford University doctoral candidate in history. His surname also figures prominently in Caribbean Sephardic life.

His talk will focus on the responses of Sephardic Jews in the US to the destruction of their native communities in Greece and the Balkans during the Second World War - a theme previously unexplored by scholars.

He will draw on a variety of textual and visual sources, including Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) newspapers, institutional records, private correspondence, memoirs, poetry and photographs.

Devin is one of the few scholars who have mastered solitreo, handwritten Ladino. He has specialized in the Jewish history of Salonika in the 20th century with emphasis on the effects of the 1917 Great Fire , which left some 50,000 Salonika Jews homeless. Naar’s great grandfather was a rabbi in Salonika.

For a truly fascinating and very detailed journey through Devin's own genealogy, "Tracing the Origins of the Naars of New Jersey: A Personal Odyssey," click here for the article at the Jewish Historical Society of Central Jersey website.

His ancestral Jewish community of Salonika, with a pre-war population of some 60,000, was destroyed during the Nazi occupation; 95% of the city's Jews were killed in Auschwitz in 1943.

Readers interested in attending should send an email to the Holocaust Center administrator.

20 May 2010

50 Best Blogs for Genealogy Geeks

Everyone's making a list!

Here are the 50 Best Blogs for Genealogy Geeks, compiled by OnlineUniversities.com.

Tracing the Tribe was happy to see many of our geneablogging colleagues listed - as well as ourself.

Americans are proud of their melting-pot culture, but genealogy is also a popular past-time and even profession, as family ancestry is complex and often hard to define. It takes a lot of research to untangle the web of genealogy in order to create a clear family tree, but as an online university student, you’re probably used to taking on similarly large projects. Either as a break from studying, a supplement to your history classes, or even for inspiration to start your own family ancestry research, check out these 50 blogs on genealogy.
General: Here you can learn how to get started with a genealogy project and read about the extraordinary stories that more seasoned researchers have to share.

DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Blog
Ancestor Search Blog
The ProGenealogists Genealogy Blog
Genealogy Gems
Tombstone Territory
Genealogy Lines
The "You Go" Genealogy Girls
Renee’s Genealogy Blog
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog
Those Old Memories
Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica
Family Tree Tips
Specific Research Projects: From African American genealogy to Cape Cod family ancestry, learn about specialized research here.
AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors
Anglo-Celtic Connections
Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society New
Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Blog
Nebraska Roots and Ramblings
Cape Cod Genealogical Society
Steve’s Genealogy Blog
The Accidental Genealogist
Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog
Rowan’s Family Tree
Upstate New York Genealogy Blog
Genealogy in New South Wales
Runaway Slave Blog

Libraries and Resources: These blogs are from larger genealogical societies, libraries and other family history resources that can help you learn about the process or find specific information.
Ancestry.com Blog
Florida Genealogical Society
Indiana Genealogical Society Blog
Creative Gene
Genealogy Roots Blog
MoSGA Messenger
Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree
The Ancestry Insider
Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Blog

News: Keep up with news, conferences, databases, data releases and more when you read these genealogy news blogs.

Family Curator
Arlene Eakle’s Genealogy Blog
2010 NGS Family History Conference
Birmingham Genealogical Society Blog
Family History Expos
Legacy News
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter
Genealogy Insider
Genealogy Blog – GeneaNet
See the links above for descriptions of each blog, and look at those which are less familiar. Of course, check all the categories as many blogs do not fit neatly into a single category.

Seattle: New building history guide

If Seattle, Washington is important in your research, there's a new Seattle Building History Guide that may assist you.

The information was detailed in the Seattle Public Library's Shelf Talk blog.

Now, Seattle history detectives are armed with a new arsenal, a comprehensive compilation of Seattle history resources created by our own Special Collections Department. The new Seattle Building History Guide annotates a wealth of Seattle history research tools and places them in a broader context than ever before. We'll be rolling it out on May 19th at the Third Place Books History Cafe. Afterwards, the guide will be available from our website.
If you only recognize the term "cadastral records" from Polish research, know that similar surveys were done in the early days of Seattle; as well as topographical charts from 1879 and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps from 1893.

Other resources noted:

-- King County Property viewer for building research.

-- There's also information on obituaries, census records, marriage licenses, birth records and more, along with information on Seattle Parks Department , HistoryLink.org, Seattle Municipal Archives Photograph Collection .

Readers can download the Guide as a PDF file with hyperlinks, or print it. The blog post recommended two books as well: Native Seattle: histories from the Crossing Over Place by Coll Thrush; and House Histories: A Guide to the Genealogy of Your Home by Sally Light.

Check the library site today for the new resource.

Australia: Jewish Museum to receive major funding

The Jewish Museum of Australia, in St. Kilda (Melbourne), will receive major government funding to create a new gallery and online learning portal.

The state of Victoria will provide AU$400,000 to the Museum, according to an article on J-Wire.

Two major museum projects are planned. The Zelman Cowen Gallery will tell the Australian Jewish story, from the First Fleet's Jewish convicts through today. The museum will also develop a new online learning portal which will make the collections and education resources more accessible.

The new museum director, Rebecca Forgasz, said the government contribution will enable work to progress on curating, designing and building the Zelman Cowen Gallery of Australian Jewish History. It is a story that is not well known even within the Australian Jewish community.

Additionally, the new Gallery will create a hub for education and discussion on the issues of community, identity and civics in a multicultural society, and to tell that story to school students using accessible exhibits.

Learn more about the Museum here.

New York: Center for Jewish History expands hours

The Center for Jewish History in Manhattan holds excellent resources and books for family history researchers.

From Sunday, June 6, access will be even better as the Lillian Goldman Reading Room and the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute will be open six days a week enabling more people to use it. Sunday hours will be from 11am-4pm and all electronic resources and reference collections will be available.

The center is at 15 West 16th Street, New York City.

CJH also holds the archival and library collections of American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute and the library of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. These resources will be available on Sundays upon request.

To request Sunday access, apply by 5pm on the prior Thursday. Click here to learn more or become a registered user. Search for the materials to request; click the "Reserve" link (left side of record item). Fill out the fields and the request will be processed. If you have a problem in regard to materials or a request, send an email or call 212-294-8301.

The CJH is also open Mondays, 9.30am-7.30pm; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 9.30am-5.30pm; and Fridays, 9.30am-1.30pm. YIVO archival collections are available Monday-Thursday, 9.30am-5pm.

For more information, click here.

19 May 2010

Washington DC: Civil War Jews, May 27

Are you familiar with Civil War General Ulysses Grant’s Order No. 11? It called for the expulsion of all Jews in his military districts comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

On December 17, 1862, Major General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Orders No. 11. The New York Times called it "one of the deepest sensations of the war."

The order read:
The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.

To commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month, a panel will discusses the contributions of Jewish men and women during the Civil War, including the infamous order above. Each panelist will discuss a key text, including documents and events.

The program takes place Thursday, May 27, at 7pm, in the William G. McGowan Theater

The moderator will be Dr. Gary P. Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institution of Religion.


-- Eli Evans, former president of the Revson Foundation and author of "Judah P. Benjamin: The Jewish Confederate;"

-- Dr. Pamela S. Nadell, director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University and co-editor of "Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives."

For more information about the program, click here.

For more information on Grant's Order, click here for images of the document and here for the background and chronology of the order and its revocation.

Historic Newspapers: 40 million pages to digitize

A partnership between the British Library and online publisher brightsolid will digitize some 40 million pages of historic newspapers over 10 years.

According to the press release, brightsolid (FindMyPast, AncestorsOnboard, Friends Reunited and GenesReunited) is taking on the project's commercial and technical risks, with no direct costs to the British Library.

Some important points from the press release:

-- The firm will digitize content from the British Library Newspaper Library, which it will then make available online via a subscription website to launch next year. It will be available for free to users onsite at the British Library.

-- The goal, according to the press release, is to build a ‘critical mass’ of material for researchers – particularly in the fields of family history and genealogy."

-- The project will include out-of-copyright material from the
newspaper archive – pre-1900 newspaper material – and the partnership will also seek to digitize in-copyright material, with the agreement of relevant rightsholders. This copyrighted material will, with the publishers' express permission, be made available on the planned website.

-- The Library’s newspaper hard-copy collections will be moved from the current building at Colindale to a purpose-built storage facility (£33m funding) in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. Access to the collection will be via microfilm and digital copies at the Library’s main site at St Pancras from 2012. Read more here.

-- It will help the collection remain relevant for a new generation of researchers, who are more used to accessing information via laptops than travelling to a physical location.

Copies of scanned materials will be held in the library in perpetuity.

Parts of this resource will be available online for the first time. The Library's collection spans 350 years and includes 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles. Its Newspaper Library in North London is used by 30,000 researchers in many subjects, including family history and genealogy, and the resources are mostly hard copy and microfilm.

A minimum of 4 million pages will be digitized in the first two years.

The Library's Dame Lynne Brindley outlined how the partnership will transform access to this collection and added that the success of the 19th Century British Library Newspapers website demonstrated the public’s huge appetite for digitized historic newspaper content:

“Historic newspapers are an invaluable resource for historians, researchers, genealogists, students and many others, bringing past events and people to life with great immediacy and in rich detail. Mass digitisation unlocks the riches of our newspaper collections by making them available online to users across the UK and around the world; by making these pages fully searchable we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print. brightsolid have an excellent track record of digitising archive materials and making them available to new audiences – I look forward to announcing the web service resulting from this partnership, which will launch and then steadily grow from next year.”
Digitized material will include extensive coverage of local, regional and national press across some 350 years, and will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911. Other categories will be developed.

It will help the newspaper collection to remain relevant for a new generation of researchers, more used to accessing research information via their laptop than travelling to a physical location.”

Chris Paton's Scottish Ancestry has a five-minute video of the announcement.

Tracing the Tribe looks forward to more information on the planned new subscription website.