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.

Cleveland: Preserving photos, April 7

Professional photographer Rich Santich will cover copying and preserving old photographs at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland, on Wednesday, April 7.

The program begins at 7.30pm in the Miller Board Room at Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood.

Santich runs MotoPhoto in Shaker Heights and will demonstrate what individuals can do themselves and what can be done professionally.

MotoPhoto is a photo processing firm and provides other professional photographic services.

He will demonstrate how to copy and/or preserve old family photographs that researchers find among our family possessions.

Those individuals who are so inclined, or willing to learn, a few basic computer skills can often do much of the work themselves when it comes to copying old photos.

Others may be more inclined to have the duplicating done professionally.

Santich will cover the various options as well as offering basic tips on the preservation of historic family photo heirlooms.

Click here for more information on the JGS of Cleveland. Check out their online resources, such as grave photographs and obituaries.

Cleveland: The Cleveland Jewish News Archive, Feb. 7

The Cleveland Jewish News archival digitization project is the topic at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday, February 7.

The program begins at 1.30pm at Park Synagogue East, 27500 Shaker Boulevard, Pepper Pike, with Cleveland Jewish News publisher and editor Michael E. Bennett and archives project consultant Susan Rzepka,

They will speak on “The CJN Archives Project; Putting 45 Years of Cleveland Jewish History Online.”

The search tool for the Jewish Independent Obituary Index has been modified and several hundred entries have been added.

This database is mainly composed of extracts of vital information from obituaries. Pre-1906 information mostly comes from the Jewish Review & Observer, another weekly, which began publication in 1899.

Post-1964 information was extracted from The Cleveland Jewish News. This database covers about 1898-1982. It evolved as it grew – therefore not every single entry coincides with an obituary. Click here to go to the search tool.

For more information and directions, see the JGSC site.

Cleveland: Three-session gen course starts Feb 22

A three-session basic genealogy course, sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Cleveland (Ohio) and the Siegel College of Judaic Studies, begins in February.

Sessions run from 7.30-9.30pm on Mondays, February 22, March 1 and March 8, at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies, Beachwood. The fee is $66.

Instructors are experienced genealogists from the JGS Cleveland, including the group’s new president Ken Bravo, Richard Spector, Vicki Vigil and Cynthia Spikell.

The three sessions will help participants begin their own voyage of discovery, with special emphasis on Cleveland and Ohio resources, along with the broader rewards of finding new or long-forgotten family.

Call 216.464.4050 to register.

Ohio: Bravo to Bravo!

Attorney Kenneth A. Bravo is the new president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland.

A partner with Ulmer & Berne, he has extensive experience in both business litigation and white-collar criminal defense, holding a J.D. cum laude (Ohio State University Moritz College of Law) and BA (Rutgers University).

The nonprofit JGSC was formed in 1982 and is dedicated to encouraging local Jewish family history and genealogical research.

The society maintains a research library, encourages the collection of genealogical material and family histories, and its meetings are free and open to the public.

The society’s next meeting (Sunday, February 7) will provide information on and a demonstration of the Cleveland Jewish News digitized collection, such as the Jewish Independent Obituary Index.

Click here to go to the Index search tool; read the notes to understand what is included in this index. Tracing the Tribe has previously reported on the CJN’s digital archives and has a personal connection (TAYLOR/TALALAY) to the city.

For more information on the group and its future programs, click here.

Ohio: 18th century records online

More county documents are going online.

This time, Hamilton County, Ohio is in the news with its project putting documents – some back to 1791 – online.

The story detailed some 1.1 million Probate Court documents that will make research life easier for genealogists and historians.

To see the documents – including birth, death, marriage, estate, naturalization and other records – click here, then -> Records Search -> Archive Search.

Records and dates:

Estates 1791-1984
Wills 1791-1973
Trusts, 1791-1984
Guardianships, 1791-1984
Marriages, 1808-1983
Minister’s Licenses, 1963-1975
Birth Records, 1863-1908
Birth Registrations/Corrections, 1941-1994
Death Records, 1881-1908
Naturalizations, 1856-1906

Probate Court Journal Entries, 1791-1837
Physician Certificates, 1919-1987

Some records are only for the index books (some are standard alphabetical, others only by first letter of last name), others require a search by volume or other methods.

The initiative is that of Probate Court Judge James Cissell. This isn’t his first project using technology to preserve and make accessible public records.

In the 1990s, he was Clerk of Courts when that court created a Web site that made available online millions of pages of criminal and civil court cases and won national awards. Today, the site has further evolved, allowing access all the time to court documents, and also allows attorneys to electronically file suits and other documents.

Cissell, who took office in 2003, says the new site contains some of the oldest state records, such as birth, death, marriage, estate, naturalization and other records. Researchers may find anything from late-18th century guardianship records to personal moments of Hollywood stars, such as actor Spencer Tracy’s marriage license.

“There are many, many folks who wish to trace their genealogy. By doing this, people will not have to come to our office in Cincinnati,” Cissell said.

Prior to Cissell’s new project, only records from 1983 were online. Cissell decided to preserve 1,600 books (each weighed 30 pounds) with 1.1 million pages by digitizing them and putting them online.

The Probate Court is partnering with the University of Cincinnati, which had stored some of the old records after fires. The court staff did all the work to place the documents online except for $95,000 for the digitization.

According to Cissell, the documents will also have to be stored on microfilm because that’s the official way such records are to be kept.

“It’s going both directions. By the time we’re done with this, we may be the only court in the country that has all of the records in both formats, which, I think, is a hell of an accomplishment,” Cissell said.

More than 10 million pages must be digitized and microfilmed. Cissell further added that it was necessary as “all that microfilm is wasting away,” and that “we have 4,000 rolls of microfilm of records which are quickly disintegrating.”

Tracing the Tribe did a cursory check for naturalizations and found more than 30 for COHEN and COHN in the very first register. If your immigrant ancestors spent time in Hamilton County, Ohio, you might find interesting information in these newly accessible documents.

For excellent details on how to work with this collection, view Diane Haddad’s Genealogy Insider post.

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.