06 August 2009

Philly 2009: A thousand family detectives

Attendees at the international conference of Jewish genealogy ran the gamut of age, experience, family status, ancestry origins and more.

According to The Forward's story on the event, everyone's a detective!

Some, like Ann Francesconi, of Tavares, Fla., have been on the trail of their extended family’s past, as she said, “pretty much all my life.”

Francesconi’s most recent discovery was the passenger manifest that pinpointed her son-in-law’s Italian roots. “And when I found it, I went: Yes! Yes!” she said, reliving the wow moment of even the smallest find that can lead to the next, larger discovery and, in turn, to sites that were towns before the
Holocaust, or to places around the world where newly discovered family members

“Genealogists never die,” declared the slogan on the T-shirt she
was wearing. “They just lose their census.”

Others, like Philadelphia freelance writer Stacia Friedman, have been tracing their roots for little more than a year. Friedman struck gold on her first trip to Philadelphia’s National Archives office when curiosity about her paternal grandmother led her to a document that listed the place where her great-uncle was born.

There are some moving borders; it might have been in Ukraine one day and Russia the next,” she said. No matter. The information placed a part of her family in a locale two generations back, and gave her more of a perspective. In little time, Friedman was hooked and volunteering at the conference.

A common refrain is that we all come from somewhere, no matter what area we research. How we got into this pursuit of finding family also demonstrates diverse reasons.

New resources and technology help in this process.

“This is an attempt to connect with something larger than yourself,” said David Mink, a Philadelphia restaurateur and international conference co-chair who wanted to give his children a sense of their ancestry, and then began researching his family four years ago. “I felt a desire to give the people not just names, but personalities,” he said. “We are the results of everything that preceded us, I believe. There’s probably a lot of my grandparents in me.”
Read the complete article at the link above.

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