Survey: Genealogists, historians and copyright issues

From the National Genealogical Society blog, comes this nugget:

Dear Genealogist,

A research project at the University of Maryland aims to learn more about how historians and genealogists deal with copyright issues when using online archival sources.

In particular, we are looking for genealogists who have used the online holdings of American archival institutions in their research, and who are willing to participate in a focus group or telephone interview to discuss how you deal with copyright issues that arise in your uses of online archival material.

Focus Groups: will be held on a weekday in the Washington, D.C., area will last for approximately 2 hours will consist of 5-8 participants. Participants will receive a $50 honorarium.

Interviews: will be conducted by telephone will last for approximately 1 hour. Participants will receive a $25 honorarium.

Interested? Contact Dr. Jean Dryden, principal investigator, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland College Park.

Cairo Geniza: Digitizing project underway

The Cairo Geniza, with some 200,000 documents and fragments, was discovered in the late 19th-century, in Old Cairo’s Ben Ezra Synagogue annex in Fustat.

It is a rich source of genealogical information as well as documents – from the 9th-14th centuries – which include rabbinical court records, leases, deeds, endowment contracts, debt acknowledgments, marriage contracts and private letters.

The collection demonstrates the history of Jews in the region during the Middle Ages as well as information on religious beliefs and practices, economic and cultural life.

Today, technology is making it possible for everyone to access these treasures as the collection is being digitized.

Autograph draft of Mishneh Torah, the legal code compiled by
the rabbinic authority, philosopher and royal physician
Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides, 1137/8-1204)
MS.Heb.d.32, fols.50b-51a

Learn more here.

The project is important because pieces of the Geniza are today in many institutions; even manuscripts were separated by single leaves and located in different places, making it difficult to understand the importance or significance of the whole item.

One major collection of 25,000 items, is at Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, which possesses liturgical manuscripts and rare Talmud fragments among its holdings. These are unusual because 16th-century Europe experienced mass burnings of Talmud manuscripts.

Technology contributes to the study of these fragments and major libraries are, or have completed, digitizing their collections. The goal is to generate a worldwide database of digitized images, thereby enhancing the accessibility of the various collections and bringing them together. Other institutions involved are Cambridge University, Jewish Theological Seminary, John Ryland Library and the University of Pennsylvania.

Digital communications pioneer and philanthropist George Blumenthal of New York ( president, Center for Online Jewish Studies) and donated his organization’s professional services to this project.

The ability to compare fragments in Oxford with those in Philadelphia, New York, Cambridge and Manchester will enable global scholars to access these collections and to identify matching fragments in different collections.

California: Imperial Russia Jewish geographies, Feb. 10

The Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz will present a colloquium – “The Right to Remain: Jewish geographies in Imperial Russia” – on Wednesday, February 10.

The event begins at noon, in room 210 of Humanities 1.

Professor Nathaniel Deutsch (Literature, History and Jewish Studies) is the speaker.

Unlike others who became a part of the Russian Empire as a result of the partitions of Poland, Jews were not viewed as native to the newly colonized territories.

Many accepted their doubly alien status; however, there also emerged Jewish views that rejected the assumption that they were necessarily alien.

Professor Deutsch will discuss the significance of these views against the backdrop of internal Jewish politics and Russian policies.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, click here. See future events in the top bar – click the small red arrow at right or left to move back or forward.

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.

Tel Aviv: Italian Jewish conference, Jan. 3-5

The Italia Judaica Jubilee Conference starts today (Sunday, January 3) and runs through Tuesday, January 5 in Tel Aviv. If you had family living in Italy, some of these topics may be of interest to you and your research.

The opening session begins at 5.30pm today in the Cymbalista Jewish Heritage Center, while Monday and Tuesday sessions are in the Gilman Building. All lectures will be in English.

Sunday, January 3
5.30-7.30pm – Session I
Chair: Dr. Simha Goldin

Prof. Ehud Gazit, Vice-President for Research and Development, Tel Aviv University Prof. Shlomo Simonsohn, Prof. Moises OrfaliMons.

Hebrew Books in the Libraries in Italy in the 17th-century (Professor Pier Francesco Fumagalli, Biblioteca Ambrosiana)


Monday, January 4
10am-12:15pm – Session II: Economy
Chair: Moises Orfali, Bar-Ilan University

— International Trade and Italian Jews at the Turn of the Middle Ages (Shlomo Simonsohn, Tel Aviv University)

— The Jews and the Trade in Wheat, Oil and Wine in Apulia, 15th-16th-centuries (Cesare Colafemmina, University of Bari)

1:45-4:45 -Session III: Sources and Archives
Chair: Manuela Consonni, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

— The Publication Project of Corpus Epitaphiorum Hebraicorum Italiae (CEHI): A Precious Archive on Stone and a Treasure of Jewish Poetry (Mauro Perani, University of Bologna)

— The Conservation of History: The Archives of the Jewish Communities in the Veneto (Ariel Viterbo, National Library of Israel)

— The Material Context of Hebrew Manuscripts as a Source of Information Regarding Jewish-Christian Contacts in 15th-Century Florence (Nurit Pasternak, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

— Rhymes to Sing and Rhymes to Hang: Some Remarks on a Lampoon in Yiddish byElye Bokher (Venice 1514) (Claudia Rosenzweig, Bar-Ilan University)

The Types of Community Minute Books: Some Preliminary Conclusions (Yaakov Andrea Lattes, Bar-Ilan University)

5-7:30pm – Session IV: Jewish Literature in Italy
Chair: Marina Arbib, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya

— The Escape from Vasto: Complaints of a 15th Century Italian Rabbi (Dvora Bregman, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

— Re-creating Creation in Early Italian Yoẓerot: A School of Poetry in the Making (Yehoshua Granat, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

— Azariah de’ Rossi and the Amaziah Tombstone: The Past in Medieval and Humanist Jewish Thought (David Malkiel, Bar-Ilan University)

— Italy: The “Breadbasket” of Hebrew Manuscripts (Benjamin Richler, National Library of Israel)

Dante’s Role in the Formation of a National Identity Among Jews in Italy (Asher Salah, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design

Tuesday, January 5
9am-12 noon: Session V: Jewish Art
Chair: Simona Cohen, Tel Aviv University

Jewish Book Collection and Patronage in Renaissance Italy (Andreina Contessa, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Salom Italia and Maniera Italiana (Emily Bilski, Adi Foundation, Jerusalem/Jewish Museum, Munich; Sharon Assaf, Jerusalem)

The Order of Circumcision of Salomone Leone: Chronicle of a Ceremony in 17th-century Italy (Gioia Perugia Sztulman, Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

A Shrine within a Shrine: A Unique Depiction of the Motifs Symbolizing the Future Temple in Jerusalem on the Torah Ark of the Trino Vercellese Synagogue, Italy, Mid-18th Century (Nitza Behroozi-Baroz, Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv)

Changing Directions: The Synagogues in Piedmont, Before and After 1848 (Ariella Amar, Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University)

1:45-3:45pm – Session VI: Intellectual Figures
Chair: David Katz, Tel Aviv University

About the Use of Hebrew in the Medieval Southern Italian Jewish Renaissance (Peter Sh. Lehnardt, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)

Figures of Freedom in Don Isaac Avravanel’s Italian Works (Cedric Cohen Skalli, Tel Aviv University)

From Sicily to Rome: The Cultural Route of Michele Zumat, Physician and Rabbi in the 16th Century (Angela Scandaliato, AISG)

Joseph ha-Cohen’s Negative Attitude Toward R. Meir Katzenelenbogen of Padua (Abraham David, National Library of Israel)

R. Azriel Diena: Halakhist at the Crossroads (Jeffrey Woolf, Bar-Ilan University)

4-6.30pm – Session VII: Mobility and Presence of Jews in Italy
Chair: Benjamin Arbel, Tel Aviv University

The Mobility of Italian Jews between the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Michele Luzzati, University of Pisa)

The Angevines of Naples and their Jews (Joseph Shatzmiller, Duke University)

Jewish Presence in Sicily as Reflected in Medieval Sicilian Historiography (Nadia Zeldes, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Towards Jewish Emancipation in the Grand-Duchy of Tuscany: The Case of Pitigliano through the Emblematic Figure of David Consiglio (Davide Mano, Tel Aviv University)

6.30pm Concluding Remarks