04 August 2009

Philly 2009: JewishGen's presentation

JewishGen's presentation on what's new at the site is always a big draw evening at the annual conference.

Managing director Warren Blatt welcomed people from all over, from Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities, to JewishGen's resources.

There have been changes (the logo, a new stable platform using six new servers at Ancestry, a new Board of Governors) in a year of transition, while the commitment to resources continues. Volunteers are still needed and contributors are sought as well to fund the site.

Warren provided a general overview of the multi-faceted JewishGen

Founded in 1987 as a dial-up service (an electronic forum for PC users) with 150 members, founded by Susan E. King, to an Internet presence in 1993, with databases online in 1996. Thousands of people worldwide centered on Jewish roots and history. Staffed by volunteers until 2004, when it became part of the Museum of Living Jewish Heritage, it is still dependent on volunteers for contributions and projects, while the museum partnership provides viability and stability.

The most popular components of JewishGen include the discussion groups with the general one attracting 30-40 messages per day as well as 30 SIGs and specialized discussion groups, InfoFiles, how-to, FAQ, Yizkor books (translations, necrologies), many important resources, how-to, ShtetlSeeker, Family Tree of the Jewish People, Jewish Online World Burial Registry (JOWBR), All-Country Databases, Holocaust Database (with some 2 million records), and some 450 other databases.

Warren said that he spent a week in the winter to relaunch and transit all of JewishGen to six new servers. Since January, JewishGen has been down only one hour, he added. There are still many software issues and they need techie people to help out. The Ancestry/JewishGen agreement also provides for transcription and scanning.

An overview of the new website design, which now includes the home page and a few top level pages. Soon the Kingdom of Poland Duma voter lists will be added as well as the Yizkor book master name index.

This week the new Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching (BMPM) will be added, which produces fewer false positives, improved soundex and determines the source language. In an example provided by Michael Tobias, a search for his own name written in the original Polish produced 12 hits with the regular soundex, but with BMPM, only 5 hits.

Visit JewishGen.org for more announcements.

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