29 January 2008

Maine: Jewish database project

The Maine Jewish History Project, has data on more than 20,000 Jews. It began in 2004, as researchers began to improve Mount Sinai Cemetery's records. They then added data on Jews in and around Portland since the 1800s, and it expanded to a statewide database.

Information has currently been entered for 250 Maine cities and towns - the largest being Portland, Bangor and Lewiston - and information on at least 120 Jewish organizations. There are 1,400 photographs of headstones; although the first known Jewish burial was in 1860, most deaths in the database are in the 20th century.

Future plans include collecting oral histories from elderly community members.

Organizers say the project's growth illustrates the power of the Internet in compiling genealogical information and history. For security reasons (information on living persons), full access is available only on request, However, the full burial index is available publicly, searchable by person's name, organization or cemetery (there are seven in Maine).

The project is mainly fueled by volunteers, although it hopes to raise $20,000 by the end of 2008, triggering a $40,000 grant from the Sam Cohen Foundation.

Read more here.

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