29 June 2011

Blog business: The plane! The plane!

Tracing the Tribe has received numerous emails from devoted readers wondering where we've been.

The past few months have been filled with genealogy conferences in the UK, US and Canada.

During June, we were at the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 2011 in Burbank, California, spoke on creating virtual ancestral communities and staffed the MyHeritage.com booth. Back home for a few days and then to Montreal where we spoke on Sephardic research at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference.

With just a few days off between the two events, things began to quickly pile up! It didn't help that the flight home from Montreal took two somewhat chaotic days due to Chicago weather.

Our new iPad received a good workout at both conferences! And when stuck at the Montreal airport with a non-functioning phone, the iPad was my link to civilization and friends who informed my husband of the various flight delays, cancellations, hotel stay, re-routing through Dallas and finally back to Albuquerque.

This was the first time we have ever experienced weather-related flight delays and cancellations. Rather amazing considering the busy travel schedule these days and international travel of the past.

We met some interesting fellow travelers sharing the chaos: A fascinating biomedical professor at University of Texas-Austin, a Vietnamese couple from Southern California and others. All in the same boat (or should that be plane?), we were given hotel rooms, asked to be rerouted through Dallas instead of Chicago, and shared a nice dinner at the Montreal Trudeau airport Sheraton.

Family history research played its part with seatmates on the Burbank, Montreal, Dallas and Albuquerque flights and even with fellow airport shuttle passengers in Los Angeles and elsewhere. In Montreal, we spent a day with our Dardashti cousins before AJL began and, along with old friend and AJL attendee Barbara Krasner of New Jersey, enjoyed a short visit with our good friend Stan Diamond of  JRI-Poland fame.

We have finally read through what seems like thousands of emails and Google alerts, and we are coming back to blogging life once again. Still remaining to be tackled is a growing pile of books!

Future Events

--Sunday, July 17: Speaking on social media at the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society meeting at the Albuquerque Jewish Community Center.

-- Saturday, August 6: The newly-formed Sandoval County Genealogical Society, which will meet the first Saturday of each month, at the Rio Rancho Main Library.

-- August 14-19:   IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (August 14-19, Washington DC), where we will be speaking and staffing the MyHeritage.com booth, along with chief genealogist Daniel Horowitz and UK genealogy advisor Laurence Harris.

Seattle: Jewish genealogy society receives grant

Some time ago, Tracing the Tribe wrote about the grant program offered by Archives.com, and asked which Jewish genealogy group might be the first to receive one.

We are delighted to report that the newest $1,000 grant has been given to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State (JGSWS), to allow the group to begin a digitizing project of the 120-year-old Jewish Transcript newspaper.

Anyone with roots in Seattle or other Washington state communities will find a wealth of information on the Jewish community. JGSWS has wanted to work on this digitizing project for many years but did not have the resources to carry it out.

Tracing the Tribe is especially interested to learn about our JASSEN family, which arrived in Seattle around 1923.

The pages of this venerable publication contain community news; birth, marriage and death announcements, life cycle events and historical news. Currently, the issues are in bound volumes held in the Seattle Public Library. The goal is to digitize the pages and make the records searchable online and accessible to interested researchers around the world.

For those researching Sephardic families, this publication will be of great interest as Seattle has one of the largest Sephardic communities in the US, with origins in Rhodes, Saloniki, and Turkey.

According to the Archives.com blog post:
Archives is pleased to contribute to this project which will clearly have a positive impact on anyone researching their family history in Washington State.

JGSWS President Nancy Adelson notes, "Because of this grant, Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State will be able to start an important project that we've wanted to do for over seven years... Thank you so much for choosing us and our project! I can't tell you how much this means to the members of JGSWS and how it will help make Jewish genealogical research a bit easier."
For more information on JGSWS, view its website.

Is there a project that your group wishes to accomplish related to family history or preservation? Learn more and apply for a grant here.

16 June 2011

Florida: Create a 30-minute ShtetLink, June 28

Learn how to create, set up and organize - in only 30 minutes - an online site for the town where your ancestor lived at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando (Florida), on Tuesday, June 28.
Speaker Marlis Humphry, Ukraine SIG Project Coordinator, and a JGSGO member, will speak at the Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando. The program starts at 2pm.  

She will use the congregation's online connections and website access to demonstrate how to develop elegant and professional web pages honoring ancestral towns. It is no longer necessary to know html to do that, if you can drag-and-drop and copy-and -paste.

JewishGen hosts websites that commemorate any town where Jews lived. and which can be created by anyone interested.  

Learn how to create one, if it doesn't already exist, in 30 minutes. She will demonstrate interactive examples and discuss tools, tips, guidelines and resources and create a site.
Humphrey is a foremost expert on next generation family history publishing. She has applied - to the genealogy world - more than 20 years experience in  communications, technology, marketing and strategic planning.

She is the Ukraine SIG project coordinator. Ancestor Road Show consultant at the Indian River County Library Genealogy Department and a member of the NGS, APG, FGS, JGSGO, IRGS and LitvakSIG.

She has discovered the towns of all her great-grandparents, contacted cousins in more than a 12 states, and found two great-aunts, ages 89 and 98.

Sounds like a great program! If you'll be visiting Orlando's many tourist attractions at this time - and get a bit tired of cartoon characters - this might be a good way to spend a very useful few hours.

15 June 2011

San Francisco: Publishing your family history, June 26

Publishing your family's history will be the topic at the next meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, on Sunday, June 26.

Doors open at 12.30pm; the program begins at 1pm, at the Oakland Regional Family History Center, 4766 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland.

Jeff Lewy will present "Book 'em, Dano!  Publishing Your Family's Story."

Learn how to create and publish a family history story without having to become a professional author first.  Jeff Lewy will explain how he wrote down the family stories he acquired from others, added old photos, filled in some of the gaps with his own research, and used an online publisher/printer to create an inexpensive book his relatives are buying and telling others about.  Learn how helpful it can be for your family research: documenting the family history, attracting other family members to share what they know, and sparking interest among younger family members to learn bout their family history.
Treasurer of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (SFBAJGS), Lewy became interested in genealogy to make sense of family photos going back four generations in the U.S. and Europe and to learn about the people in the photos.

Most of his family lines arrived in the U.S. in the 1840s and 1850s, mostly in Alabama, before settling in Chicago by 1870.  His family tree now includes seven or more generations for most of his families.

For more information, click here.

10 June 2011

Northern California: Hungarian research, June 20

Hungry to learn about researching your Hungarian roots?

If so, the next meeting of the Los Altos branch of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society on Monday, June 20, should answer many questions.

Doors open at 7pm and the program starts at 7.30pm at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Road (room 5/6) in Los Altos Hills. There is no admission fee.

"Family Research in Greater Hungary" will be presented by Vivian Kahn.

Kahn will provide an overview of the history of Hungary's Jewish community and discuss resources available to those researching roots from the current and former territory of Hungary,including archival records in Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, and Hungary and sources such as burial and military records.

She will describe and provide tips for searching JewishGen's All Hungary Database - with close to a million records about individuals living in areas today in present-day Hungary as well as Slovakia, Croatia, northern Serbia, northwestern Romania, and subcarpathian Ukraine.

In addition to describing the resources incorporated in that database, she will discuss some of the Hungarian SIG's current projects and identify other online resources.
Coordinator of JewishGen's Hungarian Special Interest Group (H-SIG), Kahn also moderates its discussion group. Her 18-year investigation of ancestral roots in pre-Trianon Hungary has taken her to Hungary, Slovakia, Israel and Salt Lake City.

Along the way, she has helped others investigate their roots, and become familiar with the wide range of resources available for learning about Jewish families from present-day Hungary as well as Slovakia, Romania and Trans-Carpathian Ukraine.

She also serves as JewishGen's Vice President for SIG Affairs.

Enjoy brainstorming about genealogical questions before and after the program. Light kosher refreshments will be served.

For more information on SFBAJGS and directions, click here.

08 June 2011

MyHeritage: Win a reunion with a long-lost relative!

Have you discovered a long-lost relative - who may live anywhere in the world - but you haven't met him or her yet? Don't you want to meet them in person, share your research and reconnect your family?

MyHeritage.com has organized an online contest with Family Tree Magazine that will allow you and your relative to meet - IF YOU WIN.

The grand prize winner will receive a free, expenses-paid reunion with them, a year-long VIP subscription membership with Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-Plus subscription with leading family history site MyHeritage.com. Two runners-up will also receive subscriptions to Family Tree Magazine and MyHeritage.com.

While entrants must live in the US, the long-lost relative may reside anywhere in the world.

Remember: You can't win if you don't enter - so read on for the details

What better time to announce such a great opportunity than just in time for the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 2012?

Here's the MyHeritage Blog post, with entry guidelines and rules:

Participate in the contest and win a free family reunion! We're very excited to launch a joint contest with Family Tree Magazine, the leading family history magazine in the USA, to celebrate long-lost relative discoveries! Lots of amazing prizes to be won! Read on

Ever discovered a long-lost relative through your family history research?
Share your “long-lost relative discovery” with us and enter a contest to win a free, expenses-paid reunion with them, a year-long VIP subscription membership with Family Tree Magazine and a three-year Premium-Plus subscription with leading family history site MyHeritage.com (among other prizes - a digital subscription to Family Tree Magazine and a 3-year Premium-plus subscription on MyHeritage.com for the two runners-up!).

It takes just a few moments to write a sentence or two about your discovery of a long-lost relative and what this meant to you- either in the comments section below this blog post, on the MyHeritage.com Facebook page or the Family Tree Magazine Facebook page.

This is all you need to do to enter the contest and win a chance to meet your long-lost relative for the first time!

A few tips regarding your entry:
  • What relation is your long-lost relative?
  • Did you actively search for them or find them by chance? Or did they find you?
  • When was the discovery made?
  • Describe the personal impact of this discovery. Did it change you or cast new light on your family's legacy?
  • What would it mean to you to be able to meet your long-lost relative?
We'd love to hear from all of you - regardless of your location. Sharing family history discoveries and personal stories provides a great source of inspiration for others researching their own families. However, to enter the contest, there are a few rules:
  • No purchase necessary.
  • Each entrant takes responsibility for any third-party consent.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly by Family Tree Magazine - although Facebook likes will be taken into account.
  • Odds of winning are directly related to how many people enter the contest.
  • One winner will be chosen to win the grand prize. Two will be chosen to win the secondary prize.
  • The timing of the reunion trip will be scheduled during summer 2011.
  • Restrictions apply to the paid-for reunion: Paid expenses include a round-trip economy flight ticket for one person to meet with the long-lost relative in the US (or alternatively, if the long-lost relative resides outside the US, an international return flight for the relative to the US), a two-night stay at a selected hotel and $300 personal expenses.
  • Only those with no prior meeting with the long-lost relative are eligible for the grand prize – and must be willing to participate in a family reunion.
  • The winning entry and long-lost relative (s) are required to participate in any related media opportunities/interviews.
  • The contest begins at 12AM ET June 8, 2011, and ends at 12AM ET June 15, 2011.
  • The entrant is responsible for anything in regard to the legality of entering a contest in the area in which the entrant lives.
  • Rules may be updated at any time without notice.
  • Winners will be notified via their provided contact information the week following the end of the contest.
  • Winners have seven days to claim their prize.
  • One entry per person.
  • To be eligible to win, the entrant must live in the United States. There are no restrictions on the residential location of the “long-lost relative.”
There'll be three lucky winners (one grand prize winner and two runners-up)! If you have a favorite tell us by either commenting below (at the MyHeritage Blog post) or clicking on the “like” button on entries on the two Facebook pages: MyHeritage.com Facebook page or Family Tree Magazine Facebook page

Good luck!
Hmmmm. There are those Talalay cousins in Germany who found me on Facebook, and my scientist cousin who lives in Siberia.

The possibilities are endless, but the contest is only running from June 8-15!

Whom do YOU want to meet? How would it impact your family history?

07 June 2011

New website for Cyndi's List

Cyndi Ingle Howells has been providing great genealogy resources on Cyndi's List site for some 15 years. Now, she's launched a new website with many improvements.

Here's some of the press release:

Cyndi's List is proud to announce a newly upgraded web site. With improved navigation, a custom database, and a custom administrative interface, the upgrade means that everything will be quicker and easier for both visitors and for the site's owner and administrator, Cyndi Ingle Howells. The upgrade has been done by fusionSpan of Maryland. Their staff worked closely with Cyndi to make improvements and to implement new technology and new ideas designed specifically for Cyndi’s List and for the genealogical community.
Part of the upgrade - 20% - was made possible by donations from generous users of the site. Donors have been listed on the web site.

What's new:
  • The front page of the Cyndi's List site has a rolling genealogy news feed and a link to The Cyndi’s List Daily, a daily dose of family history news as tagged in Twitter and Facebook. Start each day with the front page of Cyndi's List and read the current genealogy news stories.
  • The links are now contained within a database and pages will be dynamically loaded on each visit.
  • The custom database and administration interface means that maintaining the link list will be much easier for Cyndi, which ultimately benefits the user with faster and more frequent updates.
  • The new interface means that the backlog of uncategorized links can be processed much faster. The goal is to get the entire backlog done by the end of this year.
  • New links will be reviewed, approved, and categorized within 24-72 hours after submission by visitors.
  • Updates made to Cyndi's List will be immediately available to the public.
  • Previous to the upgrade, the "What's New" page and mailing list post contained only new links submitted by visitors. The new "What's New" page and e-mail will contain those, as well as links added to the site during the day by Cyndi, *and* existing links that have been updated throughout the site (new addresses, updated descriptions, etc.).
  • Across the site links have been labeled with graphics as "new" or "updated" when appropriate. With the upgrade these will now be text-based notations (easily spotted in green), which means that you can search on a page for "new" or "updated" with the Edit>Find function in your web browser.
  • Now sub-categories within a category heading each have their own page. And each page displays 20 links, with pagination in place to go to the next page and so on. This means there will be a lot less scrolling through long pages as in the past. Shorter pages mean faster load time in the browser as well.
  • Intuitive navigation at the top of the category makes it easy to find your way to previous category headings.
  • The number of links within each category/sub-category is displayed at the top right on each page.
  • Each of the U.S. counties (more than 3,100) now has a designated page of its own.
  • URLs (addresses) for the pages have changed so bookmarks, favorites, and links to Cyndi's List will need to be updated.
  • Opportunities to shop, support, or donate are highlighted on each page.
What's the same:
  • The category and sub-category names are all the same.
  • Related Categories are highlighted at the top right on each category.
  • The layout and format of the links are the same.
  • The policies, procedures, and disclaimers for maintaining the link list are the same.
  • The Cyndi's List Mailing List will still distribute a daily What's New e-mail and a daily Link Activity e-mail. However, the What’s New e-mail will contain information about all new and updated links.
  • You can still follow Cyndi's List on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The purpose and intent of Cyndi's List is to be a free jumping-off point for your daily genealogical research.
  • Cyndi’s List remains free for everyone to use just as it has for the past 15 years.
  • This is still just a one-woman show!
About CyndisList.com
CyndisList.com is the world's largest one-woman family history resource, with more than 300,000 categorized links for genealogical research. For more than 15 years Cyndi's List has helped hundreds of thousands of people with their online journey to trace their family history. The site averages 275,000 unique visitors and 5,000,000 page hits every month. Cyndi's List has won numerous awards and consistently remains one of the top genealogical portals for beginners, intermediate, and veteran researchers.
Cyndi has long been on Tracing the Tribe's "go-to" list. The upgrade will make it much easier and more relevant for both researchers and suppliers of relevant information.

Poland: MyHeritage acquisition of Bliscy.pl will help researchers

Readers searching their Polish ancestry should be delighted by the latest MyHeritage.com acquisition of Bliscy.pl from Wirtualna Polska S.A., strengthening its leadership in the family history market and expanding its international community of users.

The most popular family network on the web, MyHeritage now offers 18 million family trees, 56 million registered users and 760 million profiles in a private and secure online environment. The move added more than 500,000 Bliscy.pl users to the global MyHeritage.com family network, which now has a Polish user base of more than 2.6 million users.

Translation: Finding relatives in Poland is now easier than ever!

Tools and technologies for managing family connections online with MyHeritage.com include the free software Family Tree Builder (available also in Polish); Smart Matching™ technology to discover matches between family trees across different languages, pronunciations and spellings; and advanced facial recognition technology for automatic tagging of family photos.

The acquisition was announced this morning on TechCrunch, and here is the MyHeritage Blog post. Here's some of the official press release:
“Having established ourselves as the leading international destination for families to connect to their past and to one another – acquiring Bliscy.pl is a natural step that enriches our global family network" said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com. "Our service and flagship Smart Matching™ technology enjoy a network effect, providing more value as more people use them. For this reason, this acquisition delivers great value both to the Bliscy.pl users and to the users of MyHeritage.com. Our international network of users consists of millions of families with roots in Poland, who will now find it even easier to connect to long-lost relatives and discover more about their unique family histories”.

MyHeritage.com holds a formidable international registered member base of more than 56 million and offers its services in 36 languages. As a market of increasing strategic and economic importance, the acquisition reaffirms the company’s foothold in Central Europe.  As Europe’s sixth largest economy, Poland is an economic power house within Central Europe, possessing more than 40% of 500 of the region’s largest companies measured by turnover. Since the end of the communist era in 1989, Poland has demonstrated significant development potential – with a high-income economy and ranking amongst the highest GDP growth rates in the EU.

Following massive migration, the number of ethnic Poles living abroad is estimated to be some 20 million, with the largest concentrations of 10 million and 1.6 million living in the USA and Germany respectively, countries where MyHeritage.com enjoys a mass-market following. 

The acquisition of Bliscy.pl marks the third major acquisition by MyHeritage.com within the last 18 months, following the acquisition of European family network OSN GmbH and its network of 10 market-leading family sites including verwandt.de, moikrewni.pl and verwant.nl, and Dutch Family Network ZOOOF. By merging the family networks into one international platform, MyHeritage.com is building a worldwide Family Graph that has grown to more than 18 million family trees and 760 million profiles.
According to Wirtualna Polska director of business development Anna Kesicka:
“The sale of Bliscy.pl is a continuation of our strategy to focus on expanding content, a key company goal for 2011. We place high value on cooperating with companies who are an ideal fit from a strategic business perspective. As the world’s largest family network, MyHeritage.com fits the bill, providing Bliscy.pl users with vast international platform for exploring family connections and a feature rich site to help users keep in touch with their family in Poland and around the globe.”
Definitely a big plus for researchers of Polish ancestry

Jamboree 2011: Five free streaming sessions

Tracing the Tribe is getting ready to travel to the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 2011, one of my favorite events. Jamboree is always on the cutting-edge of genealogy conferences and is the first conference to offer an IPad/iPhone app.

This year, several Jamboree sessions will be available free to genealogists and family historians around the globe, and made possible via sponsorship of RootsMagic. Five sessions will be streamed live on Saturday, June 11, with the first starting at 8.30am and the last ending at 4.30pm.
The Saturday sessions to be streamed are below. Click on each link to read more about each session and register. 

These records are an extension of the SCGS online "webinar" (web-based seminar) series.

Viewers can listen and watch a presentation by registering and then signing on to a website. The original webcast of the streamed video sessions and webinars are available to the global genealogical community at no charge. Following the original broadcast, the sessions will be archived and available to SCGS members at the SCGS website.

Other Jamboree conference sessions will be available through GoToWebinar. Watch for that announcement.

06 June 2011

Geneabloggers: 17 new family history blogs

There are 17 newly-discovered genealogy and family-history related blogs on Thomas MacEntee's newest list, bringing the total of geneablogs to 1,952 at Geneabloggers.com.

This week's topics include Jewish genealogy (two!), individual family history, California, vendor, education, professional genealogist, New York, African-American, Canada, geographic and cemetery.

Here are some highlights of the new finds:

A Jewish Genealogy Journey
Individual family history, Jewish genealogy

I have been researching my family history since before 1990. See my family history blog at From Maine to Kentucky for my ancestry. I’ve found my husband’s recent ancestors in New York, New Jersey and Ohio. However, because all of his immigrant ancestors are Jewish and came through Castle Garden or Ellis Island, it has been a different kind of genealogy journey. I have decided to create a separate blog to share my findings of his ancestors.

If you want to share anything about common ancestors, contact me at elizhandler -at- gmail.com.
Eliyahu’s Branches
Individual family history, Jewish genealogy

Chaim Freedman is updating his database of descendants of the Vilna Gaon and his siblings, published in his book ”Eliyahu’s Branches – the Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family” (Avotaynu 1997).

"In the light of additional material received from many families and with resource to new archival records which were not available when my book was published, I am reassessing the data.
I invite those, whose families appear in my book, to send updates of children born since the book’s publication twelve years ago, and any corrections. I would also like to hear from all families who hold a tradition of a relationship with the Gaon."
Alvispat's WebBlog
Individual family history (ALVIS, PATTERSON and more)

Apprentice Genealogist
Individual family history

Anne’s Genealogy and Family History Blog
Individual family history

Healdsburg Heritage Hound
California genealogy (HILES)

A weekly view of our town Healdsburg, CA and then articles of interest to folks who reside in the HILES FAMILY TREE (includes a link to personal family website: www.danhiles.com).
How Did I Get Here? My Genealogy Journey
African-American genealogy, Individual family history

Individual family history (LUND and others)

Maiden Aunts and Dutch Uncles: Family Stories and Ancestor Biographies
Individual family history

My Family’s Tangled Roots
Individual family history

My Johnson Family Line
Individual family history (JOHNSON)

Our Family Vine
Individual family history

Progeny Genealogy
Genealogy vendor blog

Southern Tier Cemeteries
Cemetery blog, New York genealogy

Spotlighting cemeteries in the Southern Tier region of New York State. Includes the counties of Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben, and Tioga.
Susan’s Genealogy Blog
Genealogy education blog, Professional genealogist

Authored by Board-certified genealogist Susan Farrell Bankhead.
Teri’s Blog – Genealogy Jottings
Individual family history

A researcher for more than 30 years, Teri has family in the US, UK, Norway, Finland and Germany.
The Forest City
Canadian genealogy, Geographic genealogy blog

London ("The Forest City") is in southwestern Ontario, about halfway between Toronto and Detroit. It was founded in 1826 and incorporated as a city in 1855.
For complete details on the new blogs, read the original post here.

04 June 2011

Contest: AARP 'Discover Your Roots'

There's a family history sweepstakes contest for the 45-and-over crowd, sponsored jointly by AARP and professional genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak.

The grand prize - aimed at helping readers uncover the mysteries of your family's history - includes
•  Five hours of private consultation via phone with Megan, an internationally-renowned professional genealogist.

•  Signed copies of Megan’s books: “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Trace Your Roots with DNA.”

•  One-time DNA ancestry testing through FamilyTreeDNA.com

•  A one-year subscription to Ancestry.com

•  $1,000 gift card
The grand prize value is $2,500.

The sweepstakes began May 24 and runs through August 15, ending at 11.59pm ET.

To enter, click here. Follow the links and instructions to complete and submit the free registration form. It is open to legal residents of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia who are at least 45 years old at time of entry.

Each entrant automatically receives one entry into the sweepstakes. Each entrant may enter only one time. Note that the rules preclude using methods to enter multiple times.

There's free registration, nothing to buy, and you just might win, so why not enter?

Seattle: Cemetery research tips, June 13

Cemetery research tips will be the next program of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, on Monday, June 13.

"Carved in Stone: Tips for Cemetery Research" begins at 7pm at the Stroum JCC, on Mercer Island. The library and Wi-Fi will be available.Admission: JGSWS members, free; others, $5.

Deb Freedman of Tacoma will share tips for doing genealogical research in cemeteries, including cemetery etiquette and how to read a tombstone. She will reveal her recently discovered method for photographing headstones.

Deb will bring ideas for accessing mortuary records and obituaries, and for making virtual visits to cemeteries. You’ll learn basic abbreviations used on many stones, plus methods for figuring out Hebrew names and dates.

Freedman retired from a 20-year career as a youth services specialist for the Tacoma Public Library, which helped her to develop research and genealogy skills to dig into original research. She is a charter member of the JGSWS, past board member of the Tacoma Historical Society and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society, and current board member of Tacoma’s Home of Peace Cemetery Association and has completed a book of transcriptions of its tombstones.

An award-winning author, Freedman received the Pierce County Heritage League’s Individual Achievement Award for writing a third-grade local history supplement - "Tacoma’s Twenty-One Tales" - and is currently writing a book on Tacoma’s 19th-century Jewish merchants - tentatively titled "Dry Goods and Wet Goods."

For more information, click here.

03 June 2011

Digital Preservation: What do teens know about it?

What do teenagers know about digital preservation?

Learn more on the new Library of Congress digital preservation blog, The Signal.

The first line - "It’s many adult’s worst nightmare: how to entertain and (try to) educate 30 8th graders for an hour?" - brought back memories.

As co-founder of the Las Vegas (NV) Hebrew High for post-bar/bat mitzvah students, I had major misgivings about teaching family history to a class of eighth-graders. Having taught English to this age group at the Iran-America Society in Teheran long ago, I knew it wasn't easy.

However, the Las Vegas class turned out to be one of the best I've ever had. Students used the major reference works from day one and understood how to navigate the sometimes strange phonetic spellings in Alexander Beider's books. They contacted grandparents and long-lost relatives and asked questions, wrote reports, created family trees and they involved their parents and extended families.

So I was intrigued by digital archivist Butch Lazorchak's post today in The Signal.

He advises that the first thing to do is to try and think like the teens, and used the example of a Florida middle school class trip to Washington, DC.

It wasn't the first time the LOC has worked with students on digital culture. In 2009, high school students from Virginia visited. The “Digital Natives Explore Digital Preservation” video illustrates their knowledge, ideas about preservation and who should do it.

The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIPP; say it "n-dip") at the LOC has participated in the National Book Festival and hosted Personal Archiving Day events, but there are differences in outreach to adults, teens and eighth-graders. Here's the program that focused on digital photos.

There were some interesting items in a 2010 Pew study of myths about how teens use cell phones and social networks. It indicated that after texting, the most popular features were taking and sharing photos. The middle-school students' program focused on helping them understand "how to capture, describe and preserve their own digital photos," About half the group used digital cameras, while the others used phones.

The split is important, because the primary distribution (and possibly only long-term storage) strategy for many of the phone users was to upload their photos to a social networking site such as Facebook.

We explained some of the issues with using a social network site as a primary storage option (history has shown that those sites don’t stick around forever), and talked about how it’s best to save your photos across a range of devices (thumb drives, CDs, external hard drives, online storage) and geographies (your house in Florida, your friend’s house across town, your grandma’s house in Seattle).

And we were pleasantly surprised by the student’s degree of knowledge on the issues. Most of them recognized that their digital photos were “at-risk” in some way (one had filled her camera by shooting 800 photos in one day and was worried about how to save them when she ran out of space), and many had perfectly reasonable back-up and replication strategies already in place. Our presentation “teased-out” more detail on these strategies, and got both the students and their parental chaperones to think a little harder about saving their photos with something that resembled a long-term strategy.

NDIPP attempts to raise awareness of digital preservation issues and encourage people to take personal action to preserve their own materials in today's absence of comprehensive tools to help them do so. According to the author, "the personal photographs of the students at South Lake could become the valuable cultural heritage materials of tomorrow, but only if the students take care of them first."

Read the complete article at the link above.

New York: The Tree of Life, June 12

A film - "Tree of Life" - on a Jewish Italian family will be the focus of the next Jewish Genealogy Society of New York on Sunday, June 12.

The film celebrates the passion for life, love and family that unites Jews and Italians, as Israeli-born director Hava Volterra traces her roots in Ancona, Italy.
Beginning in the ancient Adriatic city of Ancona, Volterra and her feisty 82-year old Aunt Viviana travel extensively through Italy, digging up rare historical manuscripts, interviewing an array of quirky historians, and discovering the astonishing and humorous stories of their ancestors, including the da Volterra family of bankers in Florence of the Medici; Ramhal, a Venetian rabbi and mystic involved in the Kabbalah; renowned scientist and mathematician Vito Volterra; New York City’s legendary mayor Fiorello LaGuardia; and Luigi Luzzatti, Italy’s first Jewish prime minister.
The program - a joint meeting of the JGSNY and the Primo Levi Society - begins at 2pm at the Center of Jewish History, 15 W. 16th Street, Manhattan. The Levi Society's deputy director Allesandro Cassin will facilitate the post-screening discussion of this personal family saga that illuminates the fascinating history of Italian Jewish people.

Admission: JGSNY members, free; others, $5.

Read the NJ Jewish Standard's review here, and a review in The Forward here.

01 June 2011

Generations Maps becomes Family ChartMasters

Janet Hovorka announced that her company - Generations Maps -has changed its name to Family ChartMasters, as of June 1.

Located in Cedar Hill, Utah, the company was founded in 2004. The press release states:
“We’ve decided to rename in order to simplify and focus our message on exactly what we do the best, “ said Kim Hovorka, CEO, Family ChartMasters.  “We’re proud of the excellent customer service we provide and the way we can customize any family’s information to any design a genealogist is looking for.  Future users will be able to easily find us now, and future generations will benefit from the family history we are able to display for your family.”

The name Family ChartMasters also comes with a new concentrated tagline, Share•Honor•Inspire, expressing how a genealogist can use a genealogy chart to further their research.  Users are encouraged to Share their research, Honor their ancestors, and Inspire their family members with their family’s heritage.  Family ChartMasters continues to be an inexpensive, beautiful way to make your genealogy chart ideas a reality.
The company is the premier printing service for any kind of genealogy chart imaginable.  In addition to the design-it-yourself online Family ChArtist program, Family ChartMasters continues to offer a multitude of custom chart printing services, including both decorative and working genealogy charts.

The charts literally come in any size, and the company has printed working charts up to 800 feet long with information on more than 30,000.  Charts are over sized, inexpensive and can display family-reunion type charts with space to write on and add information.

For more information, click here, visit them on Facebook and Twitter.