Boston: Jews of the American Revolution

In Concord, Massachusetts, Dr. Joseph L. Andrew, a retired physician and local historian, is descended from several Jewish colonists who battled the British during the American Revolution: Haym Salomon (left), Colonel Isaac Franks and Major Benjamin Nones.

Read a fascinating article (Boston Globe’s Boston.com) on minorities who fought in the war.

The American Revolution is 235 years old, but information on the country’s first patriots is still being brought back to life. The Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are lineage organizations and accept everyone who qualifies via lineage to patriots of the Revolution.

Andrews, 71, is working to present the role that minorities – women, African-Americans, Native Americans, Jews and children – played in the battle for independence.

According to the story, he says “The American Revolution is not just for white, British guys anymore.

“There is this idea out there that it was only a very small, homogeneous group, and I think the time has come to recognize the diversity of everyone who played a part.’’

His guidebook, “Revolutionary Boston, Lexington, and Concord: The Shots Heard ‘Round the World!” is in its third printing and, 12 years ago, he founded Concord Guides Walking Tours, which provides two-hour warm weather walking tours of local landmarks.

Not mentioned in most school books are those who wanted freedom but were slave owners, that many of the Minute Men were young teenage boys and that a number of native Wampanoag fought for the cause.

The story touches on the Old Hill Burying Ground and John Jack, an African-born slave who died in 1773. He purchased his freedom and was an active member of the community before the war.

Andrews is connected to Jewish patriot-financier and member of the Sons of Liberty Haym Salomon. He organized loans from France, Holland and Spain to pay George Washington’s Continenal Army. Salomon escaped from the British before he could be hanged.

He also has a two other Jewish Revolutionary War soldiers in his tree: Colonel Isaac Franks, an officer of Washington, and Major Benjamin Nones (Nunes) who fought against the British in the South and was captured in the siege of Charleston SC.

But because only one Jewish patriot fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and none were present during the action in Lexington and at the North Bridge, the role of Jews is not explored in any detail at nearby Minute Man National Historical Park, which was visited by more than 1 million people last year, said Lou Sideris, the park’s chief of planning and communications.

“We’d certainly be interested in Jewish patriots, if they were there,’’ Sideris said. “We mostly hear about Congregationalists.’’

Andrews hopes interest in the Jews of the American Revolution will spark more research interest. His younger relatives are now interested in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

“For years, Jewish people had the idea that they wouldn’t be welcome, but things fell much more wide open now,’’ said Andrews, a member of the SAR’s Old Middlesex chapter in Concord, and one of just two Jewish members of the organization in Massachusetts.

Recently, he lectured on “George Washington’s Jewish Soldiers,’’ at his Concord synagogue, Kerem Shalom, and is working on another book – with the working title of “Moses and Miriam in America” – about Colonial life for the first Jewish immigrants.

The story also mentions the 2002 program at the Bunker Hill Monument to recognize more than 100 Native American and African-American patriots who fought at the battle.

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. is overseeing the Black Patriots Project, which will be a theme of 2011’s annual Sons of the American Revolution conference.

Read the complete article at the link above.

JewishGen: ViewMate improvements

New social networking features will be added to JewishGen’s ViewMate feature from February 20.

Participants submit letters, documents and photos for translation and to identify people, clothing, artifacts, etc., to ViewMate and post about the item on the discussion group lists. Readers can then go to the link and provide assistance.

— Visitors to the ViewMate Image Gallery will see the number of responses each item has received.

— When visitors view any image, they will see responses submitted — just as users of blogs and other social media sites see comments posted.

— Volunteers will see immediately if they need to add a different translation or another response.

The online response form is available after logging in to JewishGen.

— Submitters of documents and other images will be able to select which responses to display on a submission’s page in both the Image Gallery and the Archive. They will also be able to close a submission to additional responses whenever they choose.

These functions will be available in a user’s “My ViewMate” after login to JewishGen.

ViewMate will become a more usable and dynamic site.

Los Angeles: The Jewish Body, Feb. 15

Emory University professor anthropology Melvin Konner will explore traditional Jewish and non-Jewish views about the Jewish body at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Los Angeles, on Monday, February 15.

The free event begins at 7.30pm, at Sha’arei Am -The Santa Monica Synagogue, 1448 18th St., Santa Monica.

The Jewish Body: An Anthropological/Genealogical View” will explore such issues as circumcision, menstruation and other religious issues, Jewish strength and weakness, anti-Semitic ideas about Jewish physique and diseases, the revival of the body in Zionism, cosmetic surgery and the myths and realities about Jewish genes.

Konner will trace the historical trajectory from strength (the great warriors of ancient times) to weakness (the deliberate submission of the Diaspora), back to strength (the “muscle-Jews” of Europe, the people’s army of modern Israel). While the Jews invented Hollywood, they held up to the world an Aryan ideal of beauty.

His new book “The Jewish Body” examines the “body Judaic” through the prism of Jewish culture and provides an anatomical history of the Jewish people with insights into how our ancestors viewed their bodies and themselves in the scope of Jewish history.

There will be a book sale and signing.

Konner (PhD, MD) is the author of nine books and is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology at Atlanta’s Emory University.

For more information, see the JGSLA site.

TV: Genealogy shows we want to see

Our favorite creative geneablogger, Thomas MacEntee, has produced a list of genealogy shows that we’d all like to see.

Do we have a T-shirt entrepreneur out there who can see the possibilities of producing some of these for sale at upcoming genealogy conferences?

Although his post at “Destination: Austin Family” called these “failed genealogy television shows,” Tracing the Tribe believes it’s just because no one in TV Land is smart enough to actually produce these!

CAVEAT: Do not read this list or his original post while eating or drinking. At the least, cover your keyboard with plastic!

There’s a long list, so here are just some that Tracing the Tribe really liked. Visit Thomas’ blog to see the complete list.

Survivor: Ellis Island
Genealogists at the Apollo
America’s Funniest Genealogists
Genealogists Gone Wild!
The Microfiche Reader Endurance Hour
When Cemetery Fanatics Attack!
MTV’s Rock The Census
Who Wants To Marry A Genealogist?
Escape From The Archives
Not Without My Ahnentafels!
Valley of the Deeds
Touched By An Ancestor
Addicted To Genealogy Conferences
The Insatiable Family Historian
Ancestry Peep Show: Grannies Give It Up
The Secret, Mysterious Life of Genealogists
Dude, Where’s My Pedigree?

Not to be outdone, Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings offered some from his talk on “Genealogy is Fun! Seriously!”

Desperate Genealogists
Are You Smarter Than a Genealogist?
Genealogy Idol

My suggestion: “I’m a genealogist – Don’t get me out of here” (set in an archive, of course!).

Sheri Fenley suggested Thomas could sell these as bumper stickers or coffee mugs. Personally, I think they’d make great T-shirts to wear at those conferences to which we are so addicted.

Perhaps Thomas will surprise the geneabloggers at Jamboree 2010? Last year, we received “rock star” ribbons for our badges. Anyone taking bets on what our ribbons will read this year?

Do you have shows to add to the list? Please post them below in comments.