Plan ahead: 2011 Jewish genealogy conference set

For people who like to plan ahead – really ahead – here’s something to put on your calendars.

The 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Washington, DC during summer 2011. Dates and venue are not yet set, but the event will be in July or August.

The 2011 event will be hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW), which has hosted four very successful previous conferences (1984, 1988, 1995 and 2003). I can attest to the talents of this society in planning and programming based on my attendance at the 2003 event.

The society’s members come from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC, and include many recognized experts with wide experience in numerous topics. The society puts together a program of the best speakers on subjects of great interest to the international Jewish genealogical community and combines that with access to rich area resources and respositories.

For more information on the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, click here.

Other future venues are Philadelphia (August 2-7, 2009), Paris (2012) and Jerusalem (2014).

Plan ahead: 2011 Jewish genealogy conference set

For people who like to plan ahead – really ahead – here’s something to put on your calendars.

The 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Washington, DC during summer 2011. Dates and venue are not yet set, but the event will be in July or August.

The 2011 event will be hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW), which has hosted four very successful previous conferences (1984, 1988, 1995 and 2003). I can attest to the talents of this society in planning and programming based on my attendance at the 2003 event.

The society’s members come from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC, and include many recognized experts with wide experience in numerous topics. The society puts together a program of the best speakers on subjects of great interest to the international Jewish genealogical community and combines that with access to rich area resources and respositories.

For more information on the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, click here.

Other future venues are Philadelphia (August 2-7, 2009), Paris (2012) and Jerusalem (2014).

Maryland: Jewish Museum and genealogy

The growth of Baltimore’s historic Jewish community was spurred on by a bustling port, the second largest port of immigration in the United States.

Researchers should remember to check Baltimore passenger arrivals for elusive ancestors. Not everyone came through Ellis Island in New York, and the ports of Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore should also be searched using online databases.

That said, The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center at the Jewish Museum of Maryland offers a wide range of primary source materials:

–Records of Greater Baltimore Jewish cemeteries (with online burial listings for Rosedale, Southern Avenue and four others)

–Baltimore Jewish Times obituaries, 1919-to-present

–Jack Lewis Funeral Home records, 1924-1939, 1956-1965

–Published and unpublished genealogies, Maryland Jewish families

–Baltimore City directories, microfiche/film, 1752-1930 (some years missing)

–US manuscript census, Baltimore and other parts of Maryland, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
–Passenger index for arriving ships, Port of Baltimore, 1820-1952

–Passenger manifests of arriving ships Port of Baltimore, 1840-1920

–Memoirs of Jewish Life, Maryland and Europe

–Records of Jewish cemeteries, Greater Baltimore area

–Circumcision (1836-1870, 1940-1967), midwife (1892-1919), and marriage (1850-1944) records of individual Baltimore-area mohels, midwives and rabbis

–HIAS arrival records (1911-1914, 1938-1953)

–Historical Database, Baltimore Religious Personnel

–Yizkor (Memorial) books, East European towns

–Hebrew Orphan Asylum records, 1873-1917

–Registries of Maryland military personnel, World Wars I and II

Additional resources include several area synagogue archives; records of local Jewish institutions and businesses; personal papers; locally published books; and files of biographical, institutional and subject topics related to Baltimore and Maryland Jewry; and oral histories of Maryland Jews.

Periodicals: Baltimore Jewish Times (1919-to-present), Jewish Comment (1895-1918), Jewish Chronicle (1875), Jewish Exponent (1887-1888), Sinai (1856-1860), Generations (1978 to present) and American Jewish Year Book (1899-1985).

Photographs: A collection related to immigration, Maryland Jewish life and Baltimore Jewry’s many institutions.

Library: Jewish genealogy books and journals, and a collection of publications and newsletters from genealogical societies.

I tried a database search, but there appears to be a glitch, with the search page marked “a work in progress.”

I plan to check back soon as I’m interested in finding what information may be available for my great-uncle, Dr. Louis Tollin (Leib Talalay), who lived in the Sparrow Point area for decades.

A curious note: For a center focusing on genealogy, why is it spelled “geneOlogy” in the URL?

GenealogyBank: Historic papers and more

Historic newspapers are the researcher’s friend. We may find articles detailing our families and individuals on our family trees. And, even if our ancestors are not specifically mentioned, we can still learn about the times and places in which they lived.

GenealogyBank bills itself as the fastest growing newspaper archive for family history research. It offers more than 3,300 US newspapers in all 50 states, from the 1600s through today, for some 106 million newspaper articles and 26 million obituaries.

Latest additions features big city dailies and regional weeklies including: San Jose (CA) Mercury, 1886-1922; Baltimore (MD) Sun, 1837-1901; Kansas City Star (MO), 1815-1922; NY Herald, 1844-1863; Philadelphia (PA) Evening Post, 1804-1912; Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, 1860-1922; and more. In February, Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980, will be added.

The site is celebrating with a 30-day trial offer for only $9.95. This is a great way to see what you can find in this growing database. I’ve found some interesting items which I’ll detail in a later posting.

The site’s genealogy director is Tom Kemp, who also writes the site’s blog, detailing new resources and developments.

“We are excited about the rapid growth of our newspaper collection and the vast breadth of family history information we now have available” says Genealogy Director for NewsBank, inc., Tom Kemp. “GenealogyBank provides exclusive access to more than four centuries of important genealogical information such as obituaries, marriage and birth announcements as well as interesting and often surprising facts about our ancestors.”

How can you go wrong with this search-til-you drop 30-day deal?

Nevada: Jewish history of the Silver State

Northern Nevada’s Jewish history covers ranchers, silver miners, Eastern Europeans, Syrians, merchants, politicians, gamblers, lawyers, mobsters and more. Today, the state is home to a Jewish community of more than 100,000 Jews, according to an article about John Marschall’s book “Jews in Nevada: A History.”

Iranian Jews are highlighted as well, as Marschall relates how David Farahi and his family became successful in the casino industry, remain observant Jews and help to build Northern Nevada’s Jewish community.

Some interesting facts:

–Albert Michelson, the son of a Virginia City merchant, was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in physics (1907).

–Copper-riveted jeans were invented by Jacob Davis, a Jewish tailor on Reno’s Virginia Street.

–The first native female attorney was Felice Cohn from Carson City.

–The state’s first permanent synagogue was Reno’s Temple Emanu-El in 1921.

–Reno’s Hotel El Cortez was built by Abe Zetooney (from Damascus, Syria) and taken over by the Bulasky brothers (from Russia).

–Before synagogues were organized, Northern California rabbis traveled to Nevada for weddings and High Holiday services.

When John Marschall walked through Reno Hebrew Cemetery almost 30 years ago and looked at the names on the headstones, he saw a rich Jewish history that needed to be told.

Marschall, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Nevada, Reno, told that history in “Jews in Nevada: A History,” a book recently released by the University of Nevada Press.

Jews were among the immigrants who swarmed what was then part of Utah territory around 1860 with the discovery of silver on the Comstock. The book traces Jews settling in towns along the paths of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads and ends highlighting the burgeoning population and development, especially in Las Vegas.

Three Jewish men served in the first (1864) state legislature: Reform Rabbi Herman Bien, Storey County; Pony Express rider, rancher and musician, Henry Epstein, Carson Valley; and Austin merchant Meyer Rosenblatt.

A former Roman Catholic priest, Marschall says that writing the book became a mitzvah (good deed). Thirty years ago, when he was doing a bibliographical study, he saw nothing had been written about Nevada’s Jews.

There’s more here.

A million dollars for your research?

What would you do if an eccentric rich old uncle offered you a million dollars to do your family’s genealogy research? That’s the question posed by Robert Ragan at Treasure Maps Genealogy.

Your uncle further specifies that “YOU have to do the research without hiring someone to do it for you. And, you have to keep it quiet so that other family members or friends don’t have any motive to help you any more excitedly than they normally would.”

So you can’t make it easy on yourself and hire someone. What steps would you take? Where do you go from here?

Use your imagination and be honest with yourself… It would be a safe bet to say that you would become known as “Mr./Mrs./Ms. Genealogy” very quickly. You would probably be motivated enough to develop a bounty hunter’s attitude towards your research.

Robert asks, seriously, what would you do differently than now? Would your approach to research change? Would you actually get going on your “to-do” list and get over your procrastination?

Do read the complete post and his suggestions here.

What would I do first?

Well, I’ll assume I could use some of the million to pay household bills (and a gourmet home chef for my husband) while I’m travelling the world for research. I’d take those trips I’ve been putting off for years to Belarus, Lithuania, Ukraine to visit my ancestral shtetls and visit archives I haven’t accessed yet. I’d backtrack a bit and get either digital photos or photocopies of several rounds of research in these archives. I have the extensive reports but couldn’t afford the photocopies then. These are the easy ones. There would be a trip to Poland to visit the Talalai still there and research archival records to attempt to find the connection between the Jewish and the Catholic branch.

I’d like to include Iran on this jaunt, but I’m not so sure at this time whether it’s such a good idea, although many people do go back and forth easily. My husband says he hopes I have a back-up plan, as he’s not going back to get me if there’s trouble.

There are records to be copied in the Chief Rabbi’s Office in Teheran, and I’d visit the Jewish cemeteries in Teheran (most of Beheshtieh has been photographed and is online now) and Isfahan. While I’m in Isfahan – my last trip was in 1976 – I would certainly photograph as many of the headstones in the Pir Bakran Jewish cemetery as possible for posterity.

I’d fund extensive Y-DNA and mt-DNA testing at Family Tree DNA for all my families of interest, as there are many individuals who either can’t or don’t want to pay for testing. I’d like to just give them the kit and get the results.

All of this is just a drop in the proverbial bucket, however.

What are your top three ideas?

Dachau database available

Steve Morse and Peter Landé have created a One-Step search application for the 160,000 people at Dachau Concentration Camp. JewishGen volunteers initially developed the database, and Landé edited and revised it.

Volunteers cited often poor legibility of records, and efforts have been made to correct some errors. Periodically, the database will continue to be revised and supplemented.

While many of Steve’s wide array of helpful tools handle searching on other sites, this database is on his own site, in the Holocaust and Eastern Europe section.

When available, information may include: Family name, given name, date of birth, place of birth, last place of residence, street or provincial location, prisoner number, category of prisoner, date of arrival in Dachau, ultimate fate of prisoner in Dachau.

“The extent of records for concentration camps varies widely, with the most extensive files available for camps located in Germany (Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen), France (Natzweiler), the Czech Republic (Theresienstadt) and Austria (Mauthausen), with partial records for such Polish camps as Stutthof, Auschwitz, Gross Rosen and Majdanek. Some of these records are available on the web thanks to the efforts of Jewishgen, but access to most remains restricted to major museums or memorial sites at camp locations. As noted above, there are virtually no records for the death camps such as Sobibor and Chelmno and extermination sites in Lithuania and the former Soviet Union.

The purpose of making this Dachau collection available was to illustrate the vast diversity of persons who became victims of the Nazi system. Dachau was the oldest concentration camp (see below) but it was chosen less for its historical interest than because its records are available without restriction, having been located at the United States National Archives and Records Administration and the United States Holocaust Museum.”

Dachau was the first camp established (March 1933) by the Nazis. Some 200,000 prisoners from 30 countries (most from Poland) were in the main camp or sub-camps. Some 35,000 prisoners died in Dachau, tens of thousands were released at various times between 1933-1945. In April 1945, thousands of others were liberated by American troops. Many prisoners were transferred from Dachau to other camps; this database does not include their fate. While tens of thousands of the prisoners were Jews, the overwhelming majority were imprisoned for other reasons.

Thanks to Joy Rich of New York for the pointer to this addition to Steve’s site.

For more information, see the introduction to the database.