Washington DC: Following false trails, May 16

False trails are common in genealogy, and many of us have followed them as we delve into documents and family stories.

Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus, PhD will discuss this topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, on Sunday, May 16.

The program begins at 1.30pm, at B’nai Israel, 6301 Montrose Road, Rockville, Maryland.

Attendees are invited to share similar “false trail” experiences – email them to the JGSGW – and they will be discussed at the meeting.

Sallyann was instrumental in founding the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, and Avotaynu. She has chaired or co-chaired six of the annual international Jewish genealogy conferences, authored or co-authored seven books for genealogists and has consulted on numerous projects. Click here for more.

Fee: JGSGW members, no charge; others, $5.

For more information and directions, click here.

Hong Kong: On a clear day….

Doesn’t it always happen like this?

You visit a new place and weather conditions are such that you can’t see more than a few buildings down the road. Then, on the last day, everything is beautiful and clear.

On both my visits, I could barely see the harbor from the hotel window. Today, I could see the hills on the far side.

At least I have this great shot!

Hong Kong has been a great experience and I am grateful to the Jewish Community Center events committee for making it happen. Mira, Tara, Erica, Howard and everyone else were most gracious and very kind.

This trip afforded many opportunities to talk genealogy with so many diverse individuals and I hope that they may go on searching their own ancestry, whatever it might be.

My visit to Australia was a dream come true as well. Ziva and Sam Fain were very caring hosts and it was hard to tear myself away from them (and the two dogs); the conference was excellent and I thank everyone on the committee who made it possible.

Meeting my Melbourne cousins from Bobruisk (Alex, Jenny, Nelly, Leon, Fleur) was a wonderful experience, and my Sydney cousins Bob and Di were delightful, as usual.

Meeting up with geneablogging colleague Randy Seaver and his wife just added to the overall good memories of Sydney. That’s Randy and me on beautiful Manley Beach (right).

It was a great pleasure making in-person connections with gen colleagues Kerry Farmer and Carole Riley in Sydney, and finally meeting Linde Wolters, a member of MyHeritage.com’s farflung family.

I will always remember the great people I met on this trip, talking genealogy in two countries and with fellow passengers. I’d like to travel there again for the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival in November. We’ll see!

For now, it is back to Tel Aviv tonight, attempt to get ready for Pesach, and to catch up on a huge pile of work for upcoming conferences and other events.

Tracing the Tribe wishes a Happy Pesach to all readers who celebrate this special holiday.

Webinar: Make the most of a gen conference, March 27

Are you a first-timer planning to attend a genealogy conference? If so, don’t miss this free expert webinar on Saturday, March 27.

Participating in a large-scale event can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect or what to do.

Whether you’ll be attending the Southern California Jamboree, the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, or any other gen conference, learn how to get the most out of such an event.

After all, you’re making an investment of your time and money!

George C. Morgan of The Genealogy Guys Podcast will present a free webinar to help you get the most out of any genealogy conference – one of the best ways to enhance your research skills, learn new techniques, resources and strategies for finding ancestors.

It may even provide new ideas to those who have attended conferences in the past.

George will cover the folowing:

— Registering for the conference

— Planning your conference schedule

— Planning your attack on the exhibit hall (from preliminary research on company websites to a shopping list)

— Utilizing the program and syllabus in the best use

— Networking and socializing to make connections

— Encouraging cousins to attend.

— Travel arrangements

George will also provide activity suggestions once your at the conference: meeting other attendees, arranging one-on-one time with favorite speakers, and how to work exhibit hal vendors to gather new information.

The original broadcast of the March 27 webinar is limited to 100 “live” attendees, but the program will be available for download or viewing anytime at the Southern California Genealogical Society.

“How to Get the Most out of a Genealogy Conference” is set for Saturday, March 27, from 10-11am PDT. Register here. After registration, you’ll receive a confirmation email with detailed information on how to participate.

Wanted: Tracing criminal records

Ron Arons was surprised to learn that his great-grandfather had done time in Sing Sing Prison.

Maybe there’s more to your own family history than you know! Search the Sing Sing Jewish Inmate Database for what might surprise you.

His first book, “The Jews of Sing Sing,” was a resounding success, and his new book, “Wanted! US Criminal Records,” should be just as successful.

The 380-page book covers 50 states and the District of Columbia, federal records (state by state), where to find prison records, parole, execution, a short primer on considerations for criminal research. Ron’s years of experience have certainly contributed to this new field of genealogy.

While Ron says the price ($49.99) might shock some people, he believes that if he can save anyone even one hour in their search for information, the price is justified. “I think I can save people hours and hours of time,” he added, during a phone call when we discussed the new book.

The book should be of interest to professional genealogists, libraries, social sciences, true crime, mystery writers – in short, anyone who wants to research criminals for many reasons.

“Wanted! U.S. Criminal Records Sources & Research Methodology” seems to be a one-step reference for information sources about criminals from America’s past.

It lists archives, libraries, courts and online sites containing numerous sets of criminal information, such as prison records, criminal court records, parole records, pardon records, execution information and more. There are also examples of documents in repositories and how to conduct genealogical research on criminals.

The new book is for sale on his website. Go to STORE and scroll down to the book ($49.99, including $5 S&H, but not taxes).

Ron will also be speaking at various venues across the country, such as Jamboree 2010.

In March, he’ll appear March 15 at the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston and March 16 at the New York Public Library (NYPL). See his website for his current list of appearances.

Genealogy: Grab the good

How do genealogists stay on top of the field? How do we learn what we need to learn?

It’s important to know how to access resources providing the information we require.

As a genealogy blogger – excuse me, geneablogger – I feel that everyone can find information in our myriad blogs. Each of us have particular niche interests and if we follow those specialized blogs (or write them!), all will be revealed. Well, a good part of it, anyway.

What else is out there? Here are some resources to ponder.

We need to know about new genealogy books, magazines and online resources. These resources may be in the collections of our local genealogical or historical societies or libraries.

Roots Television and YouTube are good sources for gen videos online. Our libraries also offer videos, DVDs and free online access to sometimes pricey databases.

For Jewish genealogists, the annual IAJGS conference on international Jewish genealogy is a must (July 11-16, 2010 – Los Angeles), JGSLA 2010. This year’s location in Los Angeles and hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles, ensures creativity in programming and activities. It is the only annual event where worldwide researchers of all skill levels, archivists and experts come together for nearly six days of high-powered events running from early morning to late at night. Subscribe to the conference newsletter and blog.

Local regional conferences, such as the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree 2010 (June 11-13, 2010 – Burbank), are excellent learning opportunities. Jamboree attracted some 1,500 attendees last year and will likely exceed that number this year. It is the crown in the jewel of local/regional conferences. Hundreds of proposals submitted for a limited number of presentation slots indicate that it is a coveted conference for major speakers. Subscribe to the conference blog.

Want to learn something genealogical (many diverse topics) via an information-packed short-term practical course? Why not try GenClass.com?

For close-to-home help, get involved with your local genealogical society. Attend monthly programs, mini-workshops or conferences. Utilize their reference libraries available and the skills of society experts.

There’s a lot of help out there for those who are beginning researchers, or for more advanced people who want to learn something new or brush up on a new skill.

As we journey down discovery road, the highway takes various twists and turns. A new branch may mean we need more information in another country, ethnicity or religion. Don’t get lost on the road. Stay sharp, stay focused and ask for directions.

There is no shame in asking for directions and assistance. We were once all beginners and were helped by others who knew more than we did.

There are so many resources to provide help for whatever topic you require.

Make sure to utilize everything you possibly can for the most successful experience in tracking your ancestors.