Illinois: Midwest Jewish Genealogy Conference, June 6

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois has organized a one-day Jewish genealogy conference, “From the Shtetl to the 21st Century,” on Sunday, June 6, in Skokie.

The full-day event features experienced instructors on topics to expand knowledge of genealogical resources, including a two-part Beginners’ Workshop. Five time slots each feature three concurrent programs.

This event can also be considered a great lead-in and preparation for the main event of the Jewish genealogy year, the 30th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy – JGSLA 2010 – which runs from July 11-16, in Los Angeles.

Speakers at the Illinois event include Ron Arons (keynote speaker), Judith R. Frazin, Harriet Rudnit, Abby and Bill Schmelling, Ralph Beaudion, Leslye Hess, Robin Seidenberg, Irwin Lapping, Alvin Holtzman, Louisa Nicotera, Everett L. Butler and Mike Karsen.

Topics include: Beginners’ Genealogy Workshop, Using the Internet to Research Your Family History, Travel to Your Ancestral Shtetl, Find That Obituary Online, Holocaust Research in Libraries and Internet, Polish Translation Guide, Mining for Gold: Online Newspapers, Waldheim Cemetery, Basics of DNA Testing, Mapping Techniques, Cook County Genealogy Online, Genealogy Research Reasoning, Write Your Family History Now, Ask the Experts.

Before May 15, fees are: Members (of any Jewish Genealogical Society), $45; others, $50, Conference plus JGSI membership (new member only), $70. After May 15, each category increases by $10.

Download an event brochure, and find more program details, at the JGSIllinois website.

Chicago: ‘My Uncle, The Hollywood Producer,’ April 25

Robin Seidenberg will present “My Uncle, The Hollywood Producer: A Fabulous Tale,” at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, on Sunday, April 25.
The program begins at 2pm at Temple Beth Israel, in Skokie.
Seidenberg, who will present this topic (with a slightly different title) at the upcoming JGSLA 2010, will demonstrate how she used online historical newspapers and other research tools to separate fact from fiction about her famous uncle.

Family whispers captured Robin’s curiosity about her uncle, the Hollywood producer. Having made millions in real estate and radio manufacturing, he was known as the zipper king when he arrived in Hollywood. Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Charles Laughton, Barbara Stanwyck, Angie Dickinson, Jane Powell and a future president of the United States starred in his productions.

Always amidst a bevy of beauties, he had several wives, including a Ziegfeld Follies star, a society heiress, and an actress called one of the most beautiful women in the world. Hear this fascinating story and learn how can research your family using online historical newspapers.
A former college French teacher, Seidenberg earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees (University of Chicago) and completed most of her PhD requirements (University of Illinois). A member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild, Robin has been researching her family history since 1997. She is the JGSI’s executive vice president and Lake County Area Computer Enthusiasts president.

The day begins at 12.30pm, so members can access the JGSI library, and receive help prior to the program.

For more information and directions, click here.

Illinois: Digitizing the records

The availability of digitized records spurs interest in genealogy research.

More people, regardless of where they live, will be able to access more records and find the information required to advance their family’s history.

In Pekin, Illinois, a project is making general research easier for Tazewell and Mason counties.

This week, Tazewell County Genealogical & Historical Society member Carol Hiller finished scanning in the last pages of two large history texts and converting them to CDs: “The History of Tazewell County, 1879” and “A Portrait and Biographical Record of Tazewell and Mason Counties, Illinois, 1894.”

Both books, which are 794 pages and 712 pages respectively, are now available on CDs, which the Genealogical Society is selling to any history buff who fancies one — or anyone who knows a history buff who would fancy one.

Both digitized books are searchable by name and are in PDF format, which can be read by the commonly used program Adobe Reader, Hiller said.

The article, by Tara Mattimoe, covers the advantages of such projects, covering the cost of reprints versus inexpensive scanning to CDs. With budget problems facing many groups, the for-sale CDs ($20 each) are expected to bring in needed funds.

The books offer personal accounts and memories, biographies, drawings, geographic features, houses and settlements, soldiers and more.

It took several months to scan the books and convert them to PDF format.

The project could be replicated by other societies using rare materials from their own libraries.

Read the complete story for more details.

Cleveland: All about Chicago resources, Jan. 3

Chicago genealogy resources are the topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland on Sunday, January 3, 2010.

The meeting begins at 1.30pm, at Park Synagogue East. There is no fee.

“Another City by the Lake: Jewish Genealogy Resources in Chicago,” will be presented by Chicago historian, genealogist and attorney Charles B. Bernstein, who has been involved in Jewish genealogy since 1965.

Bernstein’s great-grandfather founded a congregation in the city in the 1880s. In 1977, he was a founding member of the Chicago Jewish Historical Society, the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York),; he’s a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois.

For three decades, Bernstein has conducted personal research and private research for clients, in addition to lecturing widely, teaching Jewish genealogy and serving as scholar-in-residence.

He has authored or co-authored six books: “The Descendants of Moritz Loeb, A History of Community Service,” “Torah and Technology: The History and Genealogy of the Anixter Family,” “The Rothschilds of Nordstetten: Their History and Genealogy,” “From King David to Baron David: The Genealogical Connections between Baron Guy de Rothschild and Baroness Alix de Rothschild,” “Chaya Ralbe Hovsha and Rabbi Yechiel Michel Hovsha and Their Descendants,” and “The Loeb Family of Trier and the Myer Family of Illingen.” He has contributed to both the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy” and the “Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy.”

This should be a fascinating meeting with one of Chicago’s true Jewish genealogy experts.

Illinois: Maxwell Street film, Nov. 22

If you can get to Skokie, you’ll be able to see a great documentary called “Maxwell Street: A Living Memory,” on Sunday, November 22.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is hosting the film at 2pm, at Temple Beth Israel.

I saw the 2001 film when it was shown at Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv several years ago and interviewed filmmaker Shuli Eshel. Whether or not your family’s roots are in old Chicago, it is a wonderful homage to long-ago days.

Read about the Maxwell Street Foundation, dedicated to preserving, interpreting and presenting the multicultural history of some 150 years of the old Maxwell Street Market and neighborhood in Chicago.

In 1994, when the University of Illinois at Chicago and the City of Chicago teamed up to move the market and begin the neighborhood’s final destruction, there were many pockets of resistance. A coalition formed consisting of property owners, neighborhood businesses, street vendors, residents, blues musicians and fans, and historic preservationists.

The group was formed in 1997 as the Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition. In 2004, with the destruction and redevelopment of the neighborhood nearly complete, it became the Maxwell Street Foundation. When the last residents and businesses were remove, the new focus became preserving the area’s history.

With Eshel, it co-produced the 30-minute documentary which captures the Maxwell Street Market through memories of the children and grandchildren of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who built it, incorporating some rare film and photographs.

In association with the Chicago Historical Society, the group also produced a book of photographs – “Chicago’s Maxwell Street,” and a book of oral histories, Jewish Maxwell Street Stories. (both by Arcadia Publishing).

The JGSI meeting will open at 12.30pm, so that members and guests can use the genealogical library, get help with genealogy websites or ask related questions before the film is screened.

For more information, view the JGSI website.