New York: JGSNY member brunch, Nov. 15

The Jewish Genealogical Society of New York will hold its membership brunch on Sunday, November 15, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan.

The kosher dairy buffet at 11am will be followed by guest curator Karen Franklin speaking on “Creating the Morgenthau Exhibition: a Family Historian confronts the Twentieth Century.” Karen will lead opening day tours of the exhibit after her program.

For more information, click here. The reservation deadline is November 6. Fee: members, $20; others, $25.

She will describe how a simple genealogy request resulted in her participation in an exciting reinterpretation of the family’s role in public service and service to the Jewish community.

Karen uncovered fascinating personal stories and documents through two years of research in dozens of archives, libraries and private collections, and she will describe these discoveries, many of which are not in this exhibit.

A co-chair of the Board of Governors of JewishGen, she is a past president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and a past chair of the Council of American Jewish Museums. She serves on the board of ICOM-US (International Council of Museums), and the International Committee of Memorial Museums of ICOM, and is an Obermayer German Jewish History Award juror. She also holds the distinction of being the Jewish museum director elected to the American Association of Museums board.

A researcher on looted art, she has worked on cases for the Origins Unknown Agency in the Netherlands, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, and the U. S. Treasury Department. In June she spoke at the Holocaust Looted Assets Conference in Prague as a member of the Judaica and Jewish Cultural Property Working Committee.

For more information, click here or send an email. The reservation deadline is November 6. Fee: members, $20; others, $25.

Seattle: Eastern European Jewry, Nov. 9

Eastern European Jewry up to the great migration, with Professor Natan M. Meir, will be discussed at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, on Monday, November 9.

Doors open at 7pm and the program begins at 7.30pm at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. The JCC offers Wi-Fi, so bring your laptops. The JGSW library will also be available for attendees.

Although many American Jews think that their Eastern European ancestors were “traditional” shtetl Jews until they left for the US, the historical reality was more complicated.

This program will survey the history of Eastern European Jews from the twilight of old Poland at the end of the 18th century through the vicissitudes of subjectship under the 19th century Russian Empire. Gain an understanding of the vitality of Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the multiple crises that Russian and Polish Jews faced at the turn of the 20th century – the age of the “Great Migration.”

Topics will include tsarist policies towards Jews, Jewish leadership shifts, the roles of pogroms and anti-Semitism, internal cultural and religious dynamics, as well as economic and demographic transformations.

The program will mainly cover the Russian Empire (Pale of Settlement) but will also refer to Russian Poland (Congress Kingdom) and Austrian Galicia.

Born in Jerusalem and raised in New Jersey and Quebec, Natan M. Meir is the Lokey Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies at Portland State University (Oregon). He holds a Ph.D in Jewish History (Columbia University), taught at the University of Southampton (UK), and was a Hebrew University Yad Hanadiv postdoctoral fellow.

His interest is modern Jewish history, focusing on the social and cultural history of East European Jewry in the 19th-20th centuries. His first book, “Kiev: Jewish Metropolis, 1859-1914,” is forthcoming from Indiana University Press, and he’s now working on a second project tentatively titled “Jewish Marginals in Eastern Europe.”

Admission: JGSWS members, free; others, $5.

For more information, visit the JGSWS website.

Chicago: Fragile family ties, personal histories, Nov. 12

Fragile family ties and conserving personal histories will be discussed at Chicago’s Spertus Museum in Chicago, on Thursday, November 12.

An exhibit viewing (see below) is set from 6.30-6.15pm, with the presentation following from 6.15-7.15pm.

This program should be required for anyone who has ever wondered about the importance of family objects in their home and, of course, for everyone interested in Jewish and genealogical history.

An artist and author, Chicago Conservation Center CEO Heather Becker will help participants understand the important role that conservation of family treasures play in family and cultural history.

Drawing on personal items conserved by the CCC, Becker will demonstrate images from before, during and after restoration. These items have a lasting impact on how families and communities understand themselves.

The related exhibit – What Does It Say to You? – presents more than 60 objects from the museum’s collection.

Related programs, such as the one by Becker (above) are an important component of the exhibit. On the second Thursday evening of each month, the public joins museum staff, community leaders, scholars, artists, performers and others to explore the roles objects play in our lives.

For more information, click here.

UK: Who Do You Think You Are? February 2010

Have you ever wondered what secrets lurk in your family’s past?

The next edition of the fabulous “Who do You Think You Are? LIVE” is set for London’s Olympia National Hall from February 26-28, 2010. It may be the place where you find answers to your questions about your family’s unique history.

Some 15,000 enthusiastic and passionate-about-genealogy visitors are anticipated over the three-day show. Sponsors include, and others.

The show has a new website with all the latest information. Readers should sign up for the newsletter to receive breaking news and more information. The sign up box is above the left sidebar menu.

Family history research is always an exciting ride down discovery road, and we’re never sure of what we might find along the way. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned researcher, the event will have something to enjoy and many experts to help.

The Society of Genealogists Family History Show, sponsored by, will feature UK family history societies, whose specialists with local knowledge will help find answers to questions, and provide information to help you discover your own unique story. The SoG workshop program will offer more than 100 workshops and seminars on many topics. Some 200 exhibitors will help even more. Everything’s under one roof, making it very convenient.

I’ve tried to attend the show for two years without success – something has always forced a change in plans – but I’m hoping this year I’ll really make it.

The Olympia National Hall in London is easily accessible by tube (subway for non-Brits), bus and other transport. It’s just a short bus ride from our cousins in Chiswick (and there’s a great Persian restaurant across the street from the hall!).

Tickets go on sale soon (show tickets, November; workshop tickets, January). Show hours are Friday (10am-6.30pm), Saturday (9.30am-6pm) and Sunday (9.30am-5pm).

Sign up for the newsletter! Answering some questions

Every time that an online site announces the addition of new collections, you can be sure that geneabloggers will chime in with questions and suggestions.’s recent announcement has produced responses by both Diane Haddad of the Genealogy Insider blog at Family Tree Magazine and Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings.

Diane asked Footnote’s Justin Schroepfer a few good questions about the recent interactive census announcement. Her post provided the questions (below) and Justin’s answers:

1. Is Footnote creating new census images and indexes? How is this being done?

2. When will we start seeing the new censuses added to the site? What states will be first? When do you anticipate the collection will be complete?

3. Looking down the road, how will the census addition affect Footnote’s subscription pricing ($79.95 per year or $11.95 per month)?

4. Will changes to the workings of the site be necessary to accommodate the added data, searches and traffic?

Check out Diane’s post at the link above for the answers.

On the same subject, Randy Seaver’s post on Genea-Musings offered an excellent suggestion for to consider.

The site offers Footnote Pages for the 1930 Federal Census (and many other collections), so visitors can create a page for each individual of interest. This means that each census can create a separate page for each person. The problem is that there will be multiple census pages created for one individual listed in many censuses.

Randy’s suggestion:

In my humble opinion, needs to find a way to combine the several records for a person so that there is only one Footnote Page for an individual. If they can accomplish that, then may well be the best place online to have a wiki environment collection of Person Pages, with user-submitted photographs, documents, stories, vital records, etc.

Excellent idea, Randy!

On the Radio: Susan King, Tracing the Tribe, Nov. 3

Tracing the Tribe will be featured on Susan E. King’s radio show – “Where genealogy and spirit connect” – on Tuesday, November 3 (see below for the times in your area).

All of Tracing the Tribe’s readers are invited to listen in and ask questions.

We’ll talk about many topics, including the IberianAshkenaz DNA Project at, which has already linked some 75% of ostensible Ashkenazi project participants to Hispanics with known or suspected Jewish roots; Persian Jewish genealogical research, Sephardic research, genealogy blogging, and many other subjects.

Additionally, listeners from around the world may call in with questions – toll-free – by calling 888-815-9756. We are looking forward both to our conversation and to receiving questions from listeners.

To listen live, tune in Tuesday at the following times:

US/Canada: Pacific Time 11am, Mountain Time 12 noon, Central Time 1pm, East Coast 2pm

International: Israel 9pm, UK 7pm. Check other times for your geo-location.

Click here or here to go to the show at the proper time, and there’s also information on how to connect for a better experience. Check out this link now so you’ll know what to do on Tuesday.

Listeners around the world can listen in live and also ask questions, toll free worldwide, by calling 888-815-9756.

For more information on this episode, click this link.

For those who cannot listen in live, the interview will also be available via podcast.

Call for Papers: Conversos in Spain Conference

The Fifth International Converso and Morisco Studies Conference has been organized by Saint Louis University (Madrid, Spain), in collaboration with the University of Alcale (Alcale de Henares), and will be held at the University of Alcale from June 16-18, 2010.

The Call for Papers is out now (deadline January 29, 2010) and it will focus on the Converso and Morisco experience in Spain, Portugal, their empires and in the Mediterranean diaspora communities.

The goal, since the first conference in 2004, is to bring together an international and multi-disciplinary group of scholars to examine not only Converso and Morisco topics but also the question of social identity.

Some of the conference papers will be published in the third volume of the series, “The Conversos and Moriscos in Late Medieval Spain and Beyond,” which is published by Brill Academic Press. Try to find this in your local libraries as the cost is prohibitive to the ordinary researcher.

To learn more about the Conversos, click here. It is a well-written piece on the origins, the persecutions and how they were forced to concoct elaborate false genealogies to obtain limpieza de sangre certificates for various purposes, identifying them as Old Christians, in order to leave for other countries, or for entry into the church, university, local government and military noble orders. The page answers why the Spanish rulers set up the Inquisition as well as the psychological pressures, impact of constant persecution and anti-Semitism on the Converso communities and, additionally, how the Inquisition contributed to the difficult economy of Spain after the 1492 Expulsion.

View the 2008 conference program here. Some abstracts are in English, most are in Spanish (use Google Translate if Spanish is not one of your languages), but do read through the 36-page document. There are some fascinating topics addressed, including the rarely-referenced situation of the Moriscos (Moslems whom the Inquisition also forced to become Christians).

Take a look at the other previous conference programs, which address many topics, such as the Conversos in Sicily and much more.

Interested in submitting a proposal for the event? Send Kevin Ingram a 250-word abstract in English or Spanish.

For more details, visit the website.