Florida: Share success, May 12

Researchers are often frustrated by brick walls and remaining gaps in family history, but we also love to hear about colleagues who have made considerable progress and to share their success.

Some 15 years ago, Tracing the Tribe was looking for relatives from Mogilev, who had settled in Detroit, Michigan. The strategy included sending out, via snail mail, a stack of letters to those with the same or similar names. The letter explained why I was looking for those family members and included my contact information. I received quite a few answers.

My favorite response: “I’m not a member of that family, but I do know them. Here’s their contact information.” While some may consider this strategy a long shot – only one good response is needed to find those whom you seek.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County – celebrating its 19th year – will hold its annual SOS (“Share Our Success”) membership meeting on Wednesday, May 12. The day runs from 12.30-3pm at the South County Civic Center in Delray Beach.

The agenda includes a Brick Wall Session, election and installation of officers and the main program starts at 1pm.

Three members will share their successful research stories and explain the methods used to trace their families:

  • Dr. Gary Stone will give a PowerPoint presentation “Barney’s Story,” a moving narrative of a family member who was responsible for bringing most of his family (more than 50 persons) to the USA.
  • Dorothy Bernstein will share her research success finding family members despite the many changes in the spelling of the family name. Her persistence in searching for vital records enabled her to discover the various spellings were actually in the same family.
  • Glenn Segal will discuss how to make successful research contacts through phoning.

The annual program provides a wealth of genealogical research information. It is always one of the most popular events of the year. Q&A follows the presentations; members are invited to discuss their own success stories.

For more information on the program, or to submit questions for the Brick Wall discussion, e-mail program chair Helene Seaman.

Florida: ‘Googling Goodies for Genealogists,’ April 25

“Googling Goodies for Genealogists” will be presented by Paul L. Enchelmayer at the next meeting of the  Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida), in conjunction with Nova Southeastern University (NSU), on Sunday, April 25.

The free program begins at 1pm at NSU’s Alvin Sherman Library, 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd, Davie.

Enchelmayer has spoken to nearly two dozen societies and clubs, presenting programs to help others learn how technology can aid in family history projects.

He is chair of the Genealogy Group, University Club, Winter Park; past president and current webmaster, Central Florida Genealogical Society, Orange County; member and webmaster, Florida State Genealogical Society’s Speakers Bureau; member, National Genealogical Society; and member, Hamilton County Genealogical Society, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Seating is limited, pre-registration required, so click here to let them know you’re coming.

For more information, click on the JGSBC site, or send an email. A link on the JGSBC site will lead to the library site, with a map and directions.

South Florida: Third Genealogy Fair, April 10

What are you doing tomorrow?

South Florida residents can discover their roots at Nova Southeastern University’s Third Genealogy Fair, set for Saturday, April 10, from 9am-4pm.

The free event takes place at NSU’s main campus – 3301 College Avenue, Davie (Broward County) – in the Alvin Sherman Library, Research, and Information Technology Center.

Local genealogy experts will assist with all research topics, including Revolutionary War lineages; African, Spanish and Jewish roots; research methods and locating tombstones. Participating organizations include the JGS of Broward County, Cuban Genealogy Club, DAR, FamilySearch.org, Genealogical Society of Broward County, International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), Mayflower Society and the Guild of One-Name Studies.

The program includes genealogy database demos, breakout sessions, genealogy-related exhibitors and individual consultations throughout the day.

Speakers include:

— Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, chief family historian for Ancestry.com, and author of the NBC show’s companion book. Her other claims to fame: Cold case researcher for the FBI & US Army; discoverer of the “real” Annie Moore, the first immigrant processed through Ellis Island; expert on genetealogy – DNA and genealogy; and founder and president of Roots Television.

— J. H. Fonkert, Certified Genealogist (Dutch and English ancestry); president, Minnesota Genealogical Society; columnist, The Septs; director, Association of Professional Genealogists, Midwest Region; and recipient of the American Society of Genealogists Scholar Award in 2009.

Attendees will receive a free genealogy workbook and materials to begin and continue their family history and free access to and lessons on using such genealogical databases as Ancestry Library, Heritage Quest and Family Search, and Family Tree Maker software.

They’ll also have time to explore the Genealogy Room and browse the library’s specialized books, journals and how-to manuals

The Sherman Library’s 4,000+ item collection was donated two years ago by the Genealogical Society of Broward County. There are also printed materials, periodicals and personal family histories to benefit patrons of all skill levels. This gen collection is in addition to digitized holdings at the library’s two primary gen databases – Ancestry Library and Heritage Quest Online.

For more on the event, click here.

Florida: Orlando’s online computer research forum, April 27

As Tracing the Tribe has often said, genealogy is the great equalizer. It crosses all boundaries of faith, ethnicity, cultures and other issues that might divide us.

Genealogy doesn’t care what you eat, how or when; what you wear on your head or not; or any other issues that often separate communities and cause tension within even similar communities.

All of us are joined by our common interest in learn more about our ancestors and our unique family history.

The Internet can also be considered a great equalizer, and an online computer research forum sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando will help to break down brick walls, on Tuesday, April 27.

The program begins at 1pm in the main social hall of the Congregation of Reform Judaism, 928 Malone Drive.

The focus will be on breaking through brick walls, aided by five experienced computer genealogists – Herb Adler, Irwin Feldman, Paul Enchelmayer, Larry Morrell and Jose Valle – who will attempt to resolve difficult problems by demonstrating online techniques.

JGGO program chair Jerry Kurland established a working committee in early February to set up the Forum, with Carl Migden as a special advisor. Kurland surveyed society members and requested that they submit their major stumbling blocks.

Among the problems received:

— A member cannot find any trace of his great-grandfather despite the fact that he died in 1898 and is buried in Oak Woods Cemetery, Chicago.

— A member is looking for the date and port of entry of his parents from Austria.

— A third person had been trying for years to find his mother-in-law on a passenger list.

Kurland says that the forum should provide some successful results and that, as a result, researchers should become more comfortable in browing the Internet and sampling websites from home.

Society members and guests will be able to view a large screen projection on how to connect to various websites.

For more information, address, directions, visit the JGSGO site.

Florida: Genealogy beyond the Internet, April 14

Genealogy beyond the Internet is the program at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County on Wednesday, April 14.

The meeting runs from 12.30-3pm, with a brick wall session, business meeting and main program, at the South County Civic Center, Delray Beach. Members are free; others, $5. SIG groups for Hungary and Ukraine will meet from 11.30am-12.15pm.

Mark Jacobson, Jerry Naditch and Dennis Rice will present the main program, as they discuss genealogy resources not generally available online.

Researchers tend to forget that genealogists discovered useful sources of information well before the internet existed!

The presentation will focus on several “hard copy” resources such as: vital records, grave markers, published obituaries, city directories and Social Security applications.

The speakers will demonstrate examples of source material; how and where to obtain it. They will review resources of the Family History Centers (FHC), sponsored by the Mormon Church.

Many valuable genealogical documents are available only on microfilm, which can often be ordered and read at the Boca Raton Family History Library and other Palm Beach County sites.

Submit questions in advance for the Brick Wall program.

For more information, visit the JGS of Palm Beach County.

Miami: "I chose life," April 4

Author Mildred Nitzberg – “I Chose Life” – is the speaker at the JGS of Greater Miami’s meeting on Sunday, April 4.

The meeting begins at 10am at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.

Nitzberg’s riveting story is about her husband who survived Auschwitz and the Holocaust and his 33-year search to find his missing brother. It also describes how her husband experienced a world of unmitigated evil and yet emerged with his sense of humanity intact.

“I Chose Life draws a picture of the struggle of my husband, Saul I. Nitzberg, M.D., as his privileged and peaceful life in a small town in eastern Poland was shattered by the inferno of World War II. From 1939 to 1945 he experienced life under Russian occupation, the Pruzhany ghetto, and Auschwitz. Following liberation from the concentration camp he worked prodigiously to rebuild his personal and professional life. Yet he was left with a lingering sense of a life not quite fulfilled, a gnawing ache that led him on a daunting journey to the Soviet Union in search of an elusive peace. He sought to find his brother, the sole remaining member of his family. Still unresolved, he returned to Auschwitz to face his nightmare years, to recite the Kaddish at that vast gravesite where his beloved parents were buried.”

Nitzberg has been collecting oral histories of survivors for many years, and has spoken to other JGSs, the Miami Book Fair and Meet the Author at the Holocaust Center in Hollywood.

For more information please see her website.

If available, David Hirschorn will also be here to discuss the latest on Yad Vashem. He is also very involved with Pages of Testimony. Guests and friends are always welcome. There is no admission fee.

Florida: John Martino, ItalianGen, March 7

You don’t have to be Italian to be in the Italian Genealogy Group’s database!

John Martino, a founder of the Italian Genealogy Group (IGG), will speak on just that topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County (JGSPBC) on Sunday, March 7.

The JGSPBC’s annual “Lunch and Learn” is set for 11.30-3pm, at the Crown Plaza Hotel, West Palm Beach.

Now IGG vice president and Special Project Coordinator, John has received an award from the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York (JSNY), and ItalianGen also received the Malcolm Stern Award from the IAJGS for its work in developing research databases.

Tracing the Tribe remembers the excellent talk John gave at the IAJGS annual conference (New York 2006), where his society received the Stern Award.

John will discuss how his 1,200 worldwide volunteers – of all ethnicities and religions – have created a variety of databases in New York and New Jersey, and how the same can be done in Boston, Detroit , Philadelphia Chicago and elsewhere.

He’ll address the many naturalization records, and county, federal, and NYC vital records now in the IGG databases that have helped many genealogists in the US and around the world, how to use these databases and how they were created. The information contained includes data for Jewish genealogists not found elsewhere.

Tracing the Tribe has found many items of value for her New York-based families in IGG’s resources.

IGG was organized in 1990 and John was one of its founders. He has visited Italy twice and has traced his family back to 1572. Since he retired in 2000, he hs devoted most of his time to organizing volunteers to create databases.

He first helped the JGSNY with Kings County naturalizations, followed by Suffolk, Nassau and Bronx counties. The federal records came next, including the Southern District Naturalization and now he’s working on the Eastern District.

Brian Anderson, Department of Records and Information Services commissioner, asked John to computerize the Municipal Archives’ vital records. John and the IGG team have computerized New York City’s death records (1891-1929) and the Groom Index (1895-1936).

Fee: members, $25; others, $30. Free valet parking. Reservations required by February 27. See the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County website for information and reservations.