San Diego: Using Ancestry.com, May 16

Our geneablogging colleague Randy Seaver will speak on “Using Ancestry.com Databases and Family Trees Effectively,” at the next meeting of the San Diego Jewish Genealogical Society, on Sunday, May 16.
The program runs from 1-3pm, at the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla.
Randy will discuss and demonstrate these topics and more and will offer recommendations.

The Ancestry.com subscription website has many wonderful features – it’s like a lavish buffet where it is difficult to choose! What is best to do and how do you use it?
Searches: basic or advanced search; new or old search screens; exact or ranked matches; full names or wild cards; specific or all databases; restricted collection or whole collection.

For family trees: public or private; one-editor or group editors; GEDCOM upload or enter-by-hand; upload photos and documents; attach historical documents; add stories; “collect” data from others; synchronization with software; etc.

A native San Diegan, Randy is a graduate of San Diego State University in Aerospace Engineering, and is a retired aerodynamics engineer with a 38-year career at Rohr/Goodrich in Chula Vista. His ancestry is mainly colonial New England and Upper Atlantic, with some colonial German, French and Dutch forebears, and several 19th-century English immigrants.

Randy is one of our master geneabloggers, authoring Genea-Musings, The Geneaholic and the Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe.

His many genealogy activities include the Chula Vista Genealogical Society (former president, current newsletter editor and research chair); speaking to Southern California societies, libraries and groups; teaching OASIS senior adults beginning computer genealogy classes; authors the Genealogy 2.0 column for the FGS’s ForumMagazine; and is a member of NGS, NEHGS, SDGS and CGSSD.

Ohio: Cleveland’s cemetery database, May 5

Do you have roots in Cleveland, Ohio?  There’s a new database that may help you document individuals of interest in some 71,000 burials from 16 Cleveland-area cemeteries.

The project was carried out by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s Commission on Cemetery Preservation. The Federation staff person coordinating the project is Susan Hyman and she will be the speaker at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland on Wednesday, May 5.

The program begins at 7.30pm, at Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood, Ohio.

The topic is “Using 21st Century Technology To Find Your 19th Century Ancestors – Jewish Cleveland’s New Cemetery Database.”

She has been, since 2007, the Federation’s Information and Referral Specialist in the Community Planning, Allocations and Community Services Department. In addition to helping those affected by the economic downturn, sharing information about community programs and services, her portfolio includes cemetery preservation and other areas as well.

On March 13, a story – “A new database helps Jewish families find graves of ancestors” – by Grant Segall appeared on Cleveland.com detailing the project and successes.

According to the story, genealogists in Cleveland and elsewhere are networking via computers to share and collaborate on family history.

A California woman slogged through Cleveland snow this month and found more than 50 family graves.

In a way, the snow helped. Ricki Lee Davis Gafter of San Jose used handfuls to moisten headstones and make the letters stand out in her photos.

Gafter got much more help from a new database compiled by the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland’s Commission on Cemetery Preservation. A dozen volunteers, some of them from the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland, spent about six years compiling some 71,000 records of burials in 14 Jewish cemeteries and in Jewish sections at two other cemeteries.

“It’s been really helpful,” said Gafter, who spent a few days here in her hometown visiting the living and finding the dead. “My family came to Cleveland in the late 1800s, and no one knew where everyone is. There was no record.”

Using the database, she discovered not just stones but facts. “I just found my great great-grandma, who I didn’t even know had made it to the U.S. Now I know who paid for her plot.”

While some area Jewish cemeteries are professionally staffed, others are run by volunteers and there are no burial lists.

The project brought together data from cemeteries, synagogues and other sources. In one example, someone had filled a scrapbook with Jewish obituaries.

There are some estimated 85,000 area plots, so the 71,000 records in the database offer a good sense of history. Volunteers will continue to expand and update it, and it is expected to be online in a few months.

If your family comes from the Cleveland area and you’d like more information, email Hyman.

JGSLA 2010: New programs, classes, workshops!

In addition to lectures, JGSLA 2010 will offer programs on maps, roots travel, films and filmmakers, classes and crafts.

“This year in LA” is the 2010 mantra for Jewish genealogists around the world.

Don’t miss the early registration discount for the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, July 11-16, in Los Angeles. Discounts end April 30, don’t miss out. Go to JGSLA 2010 and register today.

Two fascinating speakers have been added to the program, and see further down for even more additions to the program.

Holocaust

USC Shoah Foundation Institute executive director Dr. Stephen Smith will speak on Wednesday evening, July 14.

He was founding director of The UK Holocaust Centre, the UK’s first dedicated Holocaust memorial and education center. For this work, he was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.). Additionally, Smith co-founded the Aegis Trust, withe the goal of prevention of crimes against humanity and genocide. He chairs the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, which organizes the UK national Holocaust commemoration.

A dynamic speaker, he is dedicated to bringing the Shoah Foundation’s survivor testimonies into the 21st century by making them accessible to a worldwide audience. His talk will address this topic.  The conference resource room will offer streaming Shoah Foundation survivor testimonies daily during the conference, beginning on Sunday, July 11, at 10am.

Sephardim

Professor Delores Sloane will discuss her new book, “The Sephardic Jews of Spain and Portugal: Survival of an Imperiled Culture in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” a storyteller’s account of what happened to the expelled Iberian Jews who built new lives in exile after leaving what had been their home for 1,500 years.

Sloan believes that history is best understood through the experiences of those who lived it.

In 1996, she traveled through Spain and Portugal for five weeks, by train, bus and by foot, looking for footprints left by the remarkable Jews who had created a golden age of learning and discovery.

Her new book offers a compelling portrait of Sephardic Jews, who created a Golden Age on the Iberian Peninsula under Moslem rule for nearly seven centuries, and continued to advance science, medicine, political economy, government and the arts under Christian rule that followed. See the link above for more information.

Here’s even more to absorb:

Maps and more

Ukraine and Galicia are on the menu with the famous Brian Lenius speaking on cadastral maps and landowner records; Alexander Dunai (from Lviv) on maps in the Ternopil (Tarnopol) archives; and Alexander Denysenko (from Lviv), on roots travel. Dunai and Seattle’s Sol Sylvan will present how you can plan the trip of a lifetime. Other experts will be able to discuss roots travel to Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia and Lithuania.

Films

Filmmaker, researcher and travel planner Michael Masterovoy of Moscow is flying in to  speak at the Belarus SIG luncheon (don’t forget to sign up for this added event!). He’ll speak about his recent trip to several Belarus towns, including Vitebsk, home to Movsha Shagal (AKA Marc Chagall).

He has created documentary and campaign videos for North American Jewish organizations and the film festival will screen several of his films, including “Brailov: A Town Without Jews.”

In about two weeks, the complete Film Festival schedule will be online.

Arts & Crafts, Workshops, Classes

Frequent conference-goers know we all need breaks from lectures.

Some classes and workshops:

  • Sunday, Lil Blume will offer a two-part workshop on “Writing Family Stories and Memoirs.”
  • Monday-Thursday: Lynn Saul – “Creating and Retelling Your Family’s Stories: A Participatory Writing Workshop;” Mike Karsen – “How to Create Your Family History;” and Marlis Humphrey – “I Couldn’t Put it Down! New Ways to Publish Family History.”

Crafts:

  • A Tallit–making class will cover the history of the Jewish prayer shawl, the Hebrew prayer for the atarah (or collar), the aleph bet chart with various Hebrew fonts, images to stitch to decorate the tallit, how to tie tzitzit (corner fringes), and sha’a’tnez. (prohibition of using two different fibres in the same textile).
  • “How to Create a Genealogical Quilt” using ancestral photographs as the artwork.
  • “Pomegranate Jewish Papercut” session to learn the art of Jewish paper cutting, using scissors. References to Jewish paper cutting date from 14th century and it became an important folk art among both Ashkenazim and Sephardim in the 17th-18th centuries. Each participant will have a papercut that they can display at home. There’s a $10 kit fee for the project materials.

Holocaust, Sephardim, maps, roots travel, writing, films and filmmakers, along with arts and crafts! No matter your specific interests, there will be something – and lots of somethings – for you.

Tracing the Tribe looks forward to greeting you in Los Angeles.

California: Jamboree mini-course registration begins May 1

In the Los Angeles area? Here are 14 more reasons to attend the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree (June 11-13), in Burbank).

Registration opens May 1 for these 14 mini-course workshops (one or two hours each) – a really good line up of classes and instructors. If you are interested, sign up fast (only online as of May 1). These will likely fill quickly with only 17 seats per class.

You may sign up for the workshops only if you’ve already registered for Jamboree, but you can do both at the same time. Each registrant may sign up for only one workshop. All workshops (except one) require attendees to bring laptops or netbooks.

Download the complete Jamboree program grid here, so you’ll be better prepared to organize your time.

Read instructor bios, class descriptions and whether there’s an advance assignment to complete. Some courses require attendees to download something, register for an account, bring family details, have a specific program on your computer.

Seating is limited, so choose a second if your favorite has already filled. 

Course times, titles and instructors:

  • Friday: Using Google Earth to Map Your Ancestor’s Home, Google Docs for Beginners, Using Excel in Genealogy.
  • Saturday: Platting Your Ancestor’s Land, FindAGrave, Skype – The Cool New Way to Talk to the Grandkids, Blogger for Beginners, WordPress for Beginners, Writing Your Family History Using Microsoft Word.
  • Sunday:  Using Your Computer, Video Camera and YouTube, Second Life: A New World of Online Genealogy, Using Excel in Genealogy, Scanning Tips and Tricks, Google Reader for Beginners.

For complete mini-course descriptions, instructors and requirements, click here.

New Resource: SCIRUS finds people!

Are there academics or scientists in your family? Would you like to know? Do you want to cast a wider family search net? Here’s a new resource to help you.

SCIRUS.com is considered the most comprehensive science-specific search engine on the Internet, it searches more than 380 million science-specific Web pages. Researchers can pinpoint scientific, scholarly, technical and medical data; find the newest reports, articles, patents, journals, websites, homepages, courseware and repository information that other search engines might miss; and help scientists and researchers.

Importantly, it is also great for genealogists and family researchers looking to cast a wider net.

My search centered on our TALALAY and DARDASHTI families, and I was very pleased with the results.

There are quite a few academics and scientists in our TALALAY family, and this search engine found them. From Dr. Paul Talalay of Johns Hopkins Medical School, to Dr. Mikhail Talalai (a Russian historian who lives in Italy), Dr. Pavel Talalai (Misha’s brother in Saint Petersburg, a specialist in deep-sea ice), Dr. Alexander Talalai (communications) and many others, including Dr. Boris Talalai (originally of Saint Petersburg, now Beersheva University). Paul’s daughter Rachel, a film/documentary producer, even got a mention.

Results: For TALALAY, there were 9,835 hits;  for TALALAI, 58 hits (this is the Russian spelling and also for a family of Polish Catholics in New Jersey and elsewhere). There were even 261 hits for TALALLA (sometimes the Spanish spelling as LL=LY, which can also be Talalya). A search for TALALAJ (a variant Polish spelling) produced 274 hits for people in Poland, the US and elsewhere. TALLALAY produced 13 hits, seemingly with TALALAY misspelled (I knew the people referred to, such as cousin Paul).

Our DARDASHTI family is also well-represented: Cardiologists Drs. Iraj Dardashti and Omid Dardashti; musician/anthropologist Dr. Galeet Dardashti; some in Iran (although I have no way of figuring out how they might be related at this point in time); some in Germany, Sweden, Norway; Dr. Kambiz Dardashti, our Philadelphia cousin Ephi Dardashti, and more. Tracing the Tribe even got a mention on a posting on the Sephardi Studies Caucus. There were 1,055 hits, with just one for DARDASHTY (a variant rare spelling).

Areas represented cover medicine, research, patents, culture, technology, anthropology and much more. It is well worth a visit and a search, particularly if you are dealing with an uncommon name.

Tracing the Tribe is not sure if a search for COHEN will turn up useful information for a particular family. Non-family names, such as my old New York pediatrician, Isaac Newton Kugelmass – who was in his 90s when I last knew him – got six mentions.

It is so successful at locating these types of results that it was voted Best Specialty Search Engine (2001. 2002) and Best Director or Search Engine Website (2004-2007).

And, since Tracing the Tribe often brings readers more than esoteric bits of information, here’s the background on how the organizers selected the name SCIRUS:

“To the Eleusinians who were warring against Erechtheus, came a man, Scirus by name, who was a seer from Dodona, and who also established at Phalerum the ancient temple of Athena Sciras. After he had fallen in the battle, the Eleusinians buried him near a winter-flowing river and the name of the region and the river is from that of the hero.”

We chose the name Scirus because seers and prophets are said to judge the signs of what is to come. And science is a visionary discipline in which you are continuously working on new ideas and developments. The Scirus search engine will pro-actively support your role as a seer.

*Excerpt from “The Description of Greece” by Pausanias, translated by August A. Imholtz, Jr., CIS Executive Editor

Check it out and see if Scirus can help you. See what you can find.

Los Angeles: Changing Eastern European Borders, April 26

To understand in detail where our ancestors lived requires knowledge of the changing borders of Eastern Europe.

If you’re in or near Los Angeles, try to attend the next Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles’ meeting tomorrow (Monday, April 26), which will focus on “The Changing Borders of Eastern Europe,” presented by Hal Bookbinder.

The program begins at 7.30pm at Tracing the Tribe’s former home synagogue – Valley Beth Shalom – in Encino.

I’ve seen Hal’s border changes presentation several times. It is excellent and puts everything into perspective. Researchers are likely to learn details that they never knew before. At left, compare only two screens for 1914 and 1937 to see some very major differences.

While the towns didn’t move, the borders moved around them. My grandfather, born in Suchostaw (Galicia->Poland>Ukraine), used to say that he never knew where they were living until they heard how the teacher said good morning to the class.

Some towns have been in several countries, and this impacts archives and extant records, depending on  which government was in charge when. Border changes – country changes – also impacted the lives of our ancestors and knowing about those changes also helps. Changes impacted the languages in which records were kept, where the records may be found, migration patterns and more.

Hal uses his own ancestral town of Dubno as an example of these changes.

A past president of the IAJGS and a current JGSLA board member, he’s been researching his family for more than two decades, has traced two lines to the mid-18th century and identified more than 3,000 relatives.  He’s written several Jewish genealogy articles and contributed to several books. In his professional life, he directs computing for UCLA Healthcare and teaches university-level Information Technology.

Fee: JGSLA members, free; others, $5. The group’s traveling library will be available at 7pm.

For more information, visit the JGSLA website.

Israel: US-version of WDYTYA air times set

According to YES, the American version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” will air Thursdays at 11pm and Fridays at 7pm on YES Docu (channel 8).

Tracing the Tribe believes the Friday screening will be the repeat of the previous evening.

Set your recorders!