New York: JDC Archival genealogy resources, May 16

The global archives director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will speak at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York, on May 16.

The event opens with networking from 12.30-1.45pm, followed by the main program, at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street.

JDC’s director of global archives Linda Levi is responsible for archival centers in New York and Jerusalem. She is also assistance executive vice president for global archives. An NYU graduate, she holds an MA in contemporary Jewish studies (Brandeis University).
Since its inception in 1914, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC, known popularly as “the Joint”) has borne witness to the greatest events of twentieth-century Jewish history. The JDC Archives documents the organization’s operations, overseas activities and serves as a record of life in Jewish communities around the world.
Its extensive holdings include eye-witness accounts, correspondence, reports, logs, passenger lists, emigration cards, photographs, and much more. Participants will learn how the Archives are organized, see examples of rich genealogical records in the JDC archival collections, and find out how to conduct research at its repositories. New efforts to digitize the JDC collections will also be included in the discussion.

For more information, visit the JGSNY website.

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.

Israel: Already preparing for 2014!

Every 10 years, the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is held in Israel and 2014 is the next one.

The Israel Genealogical Society is already preparing a list of documents to convert into databases to be available at the event.

IGS webmaster Rose Feldman says that many families or parts of families immigrated to Eretz Israel. Some remained and built their lives in the country, and some moved on to other places.

Databases available now may be viewed here. Those which have been completely funded are available for viewing by the public.

The Montefiore Censuses are being prepared as a joint project of IGS and London’s Montefiore Endowment.

The IGS is currently considering the following collections:

—  Names changes as published in the official government publication Yalkut Hapirsumim through 1954;

— 1928 Pinchas Habogrim –  which is the equivalent of electoral lists of those over 18 years of age. Currently, they have been located in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

They are already working on some early 20th century Mukhtar Ledgers of Jerusalem’s Ashkenazi population.

Readers who are aware of any other documents dealing with Eretz Israel covering the early 19th-century through 1930, are asked to contact Rose.

Colorado: Memoir writing workshop, May 13

If you don’t write the history of your family, who will?

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Colorado, under the leadership of Ellen Shindelman Kowitt, is an active group offering several programs each month.

The next program is a “Memoir Writing Workshop for the Family Historian,” with Susan Jacobs, set for 6.30pm, Thursday, May 13, at Temple Emanuel, Denver.

Discover the joy of memoir writing in Jacobs’ stimulating and fun workshop for family historians, regardless of whether or not they’ve written anything previously.

Jacobs holds a BA in oral interpretation of literature (USC) and an interdiscplinary gerontology certificate (University of Denver). She has 30 years of teaching experience and 18 years teaching memoir writing at such venues as Regis University and the Denver Jewish Community Center.

In addition to monthly programs, the JGS of Colorado also offers a community genealogy education series for which it received some interesting grants which could be duplicated in other communities. For more information on the JGSCo’s programs, including resources and useful links, see the website above.

For more information, click here.

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.

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.