New York: Center for Jewish history

The Center for Jewish History in New York City houses the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and presents many interesting exhibits and programs. The Jewish Genealogical Society (New York) also meets at the CJH.

Upcoming programs of possible interest to Italian, Belarus and Eastern European researchers include:

Tuesday, October 17: “The Banality of Good” will present a panel of historians, survivors and rescuers, who will explore various aspects of Italian citizens and public officers who chose to help persecuted Jews by opposing anti-Semitic policies.

Wednesdays, October 25 and November 15: 2005 CJH Fellows will present papers based on their research last year.

The first will feature Stanford University PhD candidate Elissa Bemporad’s “The Yiddish Experiment in Minsk, 1920-1938,” while the other will present Maya Benton, PhD candidate in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, on “Shuttered Memories of a Vanishing World: the Deliberate Photography of Roman Vishniac and its Effect on Modern Jewish Self-Consciousness.”

Epidemics and lost branches

Why do individuals and entire family branches suddenly disappear?

Dick Eastman has provided researchers with some fascinating information on epidemics.

The rampant spread of disease was common in the days before penicillin and other “wonder drugs” of the twentieth century. Our ancestors lived in fear of epidemics, and many of them died as the result of simple diseases that could be cured today with an injection or a prescription.

If you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, you may want to investigate the possibility of an epidemic. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area.

You’ll have to subscribe for the rest.

I first became aware of the genealogical impact of the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-19 when searching for family in Philadelphia a few years ago and I posted about the possibilities to JewishGen.

According to experts, Philadelphia was one of the hardest-hit cities. On one day, some 10,000 individuals died. The story goes that city services were so overwhelmed that individual graves could not be dug and victims were buried together.

Earlier worldwide flu epidemics took place in 1775-6 and again in 1857-9.

Dick’s story, on his newsletter’s Plus Edition (subscription required) provides dates and locations of worldwide and U.S. major epidemics, such as flu, cholera, yellow fever and typhus.

Never too early: The 2010 census

It’s only 2006, but the 2010 census is just around the corner, relatively speaking.

The Genealogue’s Chris Dunham offers a sneak peek at what we may expect.

I discussed this with Steve Morse, who says he’s already working on a One Step page for the 2010 census.

Chris previously posted another item featuring Steve’s popular Web site.

Thanks, Chris, for always providing light-hearted looks at genealogy.

Steve has a great sense of humor … fortunately.

Did I mention that Steve received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies at the August conference? In his acceptance remarks, he noted that this may have been the first Lifetime Achievement Award granted to someone who began developing his resources only five years ago.

Aden’s Jewish cemeteries

For two very interesting articles from the Yemen Times, look for “Jewish Tombstones in Aden, Parts 1(link) and 2(link).”

The author is Professor Aviva Klein-Franke of the Martin-Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany.

Four Jewish cemeteries in the Aden area have been documented. Two ancient cemeteries were closed to burials prior to the 19th century. A third one, in the Crater area of the city center, was still in use during the British occupation. The newest cemetery (1860-1967) is Ma‘ala.

Among Aden’s Jews, and in Yemen, the word for cemetery is me‘ara (pl. me‘arot, cave, caves). The ancient Aden cemetery was called me‘ara yesana or old cave. The old cemeteries had been abandoned for many generations before the British arrived, although the Crater cemetery near the Jewish quarter was in use until about 1860. Many tombstones bearing Hebrew inscriptions were scattered over the area.

Ma‘ala was used until the Jewish community was dissolved in 1967, and has hundreds of graves.

The articles discuss the researchers (Sapir, Harkavy, Ben Zvi and others) who visited Aden and what they discovered.

Watching for Warszawa

Steve Lasky’s Museum of Family History has a nice New Year’s present for those searching for links to Warsaw.

He’s added a list of more than 16,000 names of passengers from the Ellis Island Database who last resided in Warszawa, Poland. Alphabetical entries include surname, given name, birth year and immigration year.

For more information, you can look up names at the Ellis Island Web site, or use Steve Morse’s One Step Web site.

Variants of that city’s name are many, due to misspelling by ship officers, bad transcriptions and simple spelling errors: Varsava, Varsavia, Varsaw, Varschau, Varsevia, Varsevie, Varshaw, Varsovia, Varsovie, Warsaw, Warszawa and Warschau,

Steve’s main Warszawa page is very useful for researchers.

In addition to the list of 16,000 individuals, it includes maps, a unique surnames list from landsmanshten societies in New York/New Jersey, photographs of Warszawa cemetery gates, pre-war photos of families who once lived there, current city photos and Holocaust memorials.

Steve has lists for former residents of other areas, among them Vilnius, Suwalki, Lodz, Krakow, Bialystok and Lomza.

An Ancestry.com test-drive

Chicago Sun-Times business writer Howard Wolinsky, who has Lithuanian and Latvian roots, met recently with MyFamily.com’s new chief executive Tim Sullivan to review Ancestry.Com’s expanded resources.

Wolinsky wanted to see if there was any new information about his grandfather Henry Wolinsky, born Hillel Sragon in Lithuania, though he believed he had thoroughly shaken the family tree “from the National Archives Regional on the South Side to national and regional archives in Kaunas and Riga.”

Click here to read the story, and find out whether he won his bet with Sullivan that Ancestry.com wouldn’t discover any new relatives of Wolinsky’s.

A true pioneer, Wolinsky was also among the very first individuals to test his Y-DNA with Family Tree DNA in Houston, TX.

The New York Times published (October 9) “Genealogy for the Living, the Dead, the Far Away,” an interview with MyFamily.com’s chief executive Tim Sullivan, who touched on upcoming new features, including DNA connections.

New York: Center for Jewish history

The Center for Jewish History in New York City houses the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and presents many interesting exhibits and programs. The Jewish Genealogical Society (New York) also meets at the CJH.

Upcoming programs of possible interest to Italian, Belarus and Eastern European researchers include:

Tuesday, October 17: “The Banality of Good” will present a panel of historians, survivors and rescuers, who will explore various aspects of Italian citizens and public officers who chose to help persecuted Jews by opposing anti-Semitic policies.

Wednesdays, October 25 and November 15: 2005 CJH Fellows will present papers based on their research last year.

The first will feature Stanford University PhD candidate Elissa Bemporad’s “The Yiddish Experiment in Minsk, 1920-1938,” while the other will present Maya Benton, PhD candidate in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, on “Shuttered Memories of a Vanishing World: the Deliberate Photography of Roman Vishniac and its Effect on Modern Jewish Self-Consciousness.”