31 May 2011

FGS 2011: Official bloggers named for conference

Tracing the Tribe is an official blogger for the Federation of Genealogical Societies upcoming FGS 2011 event to be held September 7-10, Springfield, Illinois).

We are looking forward to two firsts: our first FGS event and the first time visiting Springfield!

Here's the official press release:

FGS Names Official Bloggers for FGS 2011 Conference
National Genealogy Conference Continues to Tap into Social Media

May 31, 2011 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), along with local host Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS), announce the Official Bloggers for the upcoming FGS 2011 Conference - Pathways to the Heartland – in Springfield, Illinois, September 7-10, 2011.

The Official Bloggers are:
With less than 100 days left before the start of FGS 2011, be sure to follow each of the Official Bloggers for their perspective on the upcoming conference. Many will be posting about research resources in the Springfield, Illinois area, what to pack for the conference and more. In addition, during the conference look to the Official Bloggers for live reporting via blog posts, Facebook and Twitter. Complete conference information can be found on the conference website. We look forward to seeing you in Springfield in September!

Learn More and Stay Connected

-- Subscribe via email to Conference eUpdates: (place “Subscribe” in Subject line).
-- Visit the Conference News Blog.
-- Follow the Conference on Facebook and on Twitter.
-- Discover Springfield.

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)

The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forum magazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more, click here.
Tracing the Tribe looks forward to attending FGS 2011.

LOC: New preservation blog launched

"The audience for us to interact with is potentially vast, as we are very interested in personal digital archiving: helping individuals and families preserve their digital photographs and other digital files that document their lives."

The new blog - The Signal - authored by digital initiatives manager Bill LeFurgy, who writes in the initial post that the official program name is the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, or NDIIPP (say N-DIP).

In 2000, Congress directed the LOC to undertake a national digital preservation program to address the large-scale challenge of digital preservation. Huge amounts of digital content were being created with no print equal, and that some content was needed to create records of the times we live in.

However, the amount of information was larger than what could made accessible. Because so much data could be lost, Congress created NDIIPP to lessen that risk.
Over the last 10 years we have built a national network of collaborative partnerships to help preserve important digital content, build new tools and develop best practices. The partnerships span different communities, including universities, federal and state government agencies and the commercial creative content industry.  This is a new approach. Libraries, archives and other memory institutions traditionally have worked separately to acquire and manage their collections. But digital is different—it calls for a new kind of capacity that is difficult for a single institution to build on its own. The only practicable way forward is collaboration: in building technical infrastructure, in sharing knowledge, in developing best practices and in assigning roles and responsibilities for stewarding digital collections.
Concerning preservation, he writes that technology is the easy part of digital preservation programs, but that social is the harder part. He talks about collaboration and the Internet, and mentions the LOC website digitalpreservation.gov which provides a rich collection of information and resources.

They have spoken to experts, list tools and services and shared global information. Future plans include looking at the spectrum of data, from large scientific databases to modest personal digital collections of documents. Interviews are planned with people from many fields.

Check out the new blog and provide feedback.

GeneaSpeak: New resource for geneabloggers

Tracing the Tribe had advance notice of the creation of GeneaSpeak.

Now that Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers.com has announced this resource, here's the official announcement:
GeneaSpeak is a community-driven resource that allows genealogy speakers to post their own profiles and speaking engagements in order to publicize their presentations.

It replaces the GeneaBloggers Speakers Bureau, which was located at Geneabloggers.com, since 2009. 

Additionally, it will provide news and insights valuable to the genealogy speaking community.

Speakers and presenters currently on the genealogy speaking circuit and who have a familiarity with blogging and using Google Calendars, can request author access by emailing geneabloggers@gmail.com.
Visit Geneabloggers.com and GeneaSpeak.com for more information.

28 May 2011

Russia: Lenin's Jewish roots on display

A letter by Lenin's sister claiming their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew is on display in Russia's State History Museum.

The Jerusalem Post - reporting on the AP story on May 24 - indicated that Stalin told the sister to keep quiet.
Among newly released documents displayed at the museum is a letter written by Lenin’s sister, Anna Ulyanova, claiming that their maternal grandfather was a Jew from the Ukraine who converted to Christianity to escape persecution in the Pale of Settlement and have access to higher education, the report said.

"He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of [the western Ukrainian city of] Zhitomir,” Ulyanova wrote in 1932 in a letter cited by AP.

In the letter written to Josef Stalin, who replaced Lenin after his death in 1924, Ulyanova wrote, “Vladimir Ilych had always thought of Jews highly. I am very sorry that the fact of our origin – which I had suspected before – was not known during his lifetime.”
Lenin, born Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov in 1870, adopted the name Lenin while in Siberian exile in 1901. Under Czarist anti-Semitism, he identified only as Russian.

According to the AP, he oversaw a brief period of promotion of Jewish culture ending in the early 1930s when Stalin encouraged anti-Semitic purges and planned to relocate Soviet Jews. Lenin's sister requested that her brother's Jewish background be made public to combat anti-Semitism.

Stalin ignored the request, telling her to “keep absolute silence," according to exhibit curator Tatyana Koloskova. Lenin's official biography (written by his niece Oga Ulyanova) refers to the family's Russian, German and Swedish roots.

In the early 1900s, Russian historians found the sister's letter, but questioned its authenticity.

Read the complete article at the link above.

Geneabloggers: 6 new blogs located

Tracing the Tribe doesn't know when Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.com gets the time to search out these new blogs every week, but we are happy that he does!

He's discovered another six genealogy and family-history related blogs, bringing the total number of genealogy blogs at Geneabloggers.com to 1,935.

This week's topics include: a society blog, Midwest, Ohio, individual family histories, UK and cemetery.

Hamilton County Genealogical Society
Genealogical society, Midwest, Ohio
Share genealogical or other articles with those researching in Hamilton County, Ohio. The society encourages readers to post local family history or start their own blogs. All contributions are welcome. To become a contributing member, email Kathy Reed (put HCGS in the subject line).
Leaves & Branches
Individual family history
Misadventures of a Genealogist
Individual family history (GUNTER, NC -> CA)

Sleeping Gardens
Cemetery blog, UK genealogy

Strawberry Shortcake
Individual family history

The Wiltsey Way
Individual family history (WILTSEY)

Read more about each blog here, in the original post.

Remember that writers of blogs for specific geographical areas may well be able to assist others with the same locations of interest, even if the families of interest are different.

Ask an Archivist Day, June 9

Ever heard of Ask Archivists Day? On June 9, readers around the world can ask questions of worldwide archivists via Twitter.

Readers will need a Twitter account to participate, and then remember #AskArchivists, the hashtag for the event. Already have a Twitter account? Then follow @AskArchivists.

Click here for the list of participating archives in North America (some 36 and growing). This list - at the AskArchivists Blog - also offers all the Twitter addresses for those archives.

Here's how it will work: Tweet a question, including the #AskArchivists hashtag, on June 9. Point your question to any archivist participating or to one archive (by including their Twitter address, such as the US National Archives @USNatArchives. Follow @AskArchivists and look for the answer.

Read more about the event at the AskArchivists Blog (link above). [Note: Be aware that there is another Archivists blog (International Institute on Archives) mostly in French, with some posts in English.]

What questions do you want to ask?

27 May 2011

Boston: Upcoming NEHGS programs, tours

The New England Historic Genealogical Society has several upcoming events on its calendar. Readers in Boston, or those who may be visiting, may be interested in these programs.

Events are at the NEHGS building, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, unless otherwise noted.

June New Visitor and Welcome Tour: Wednesday, June 1, 10-11am
Kick start your research with a 30-minute lecture and tour of the library and its holdings.

Come Home to New England: June 13-18, 9am-5pm
One of NEHGS’s most popular programs, “Come Home to New England,” is a fun-filled week of family history discovery and education. It features research, individual consultations, interesting lectures, group meal, and other activities.

Talking Back to Your Ancestors: Reweaving the Family History: June 22, 6-7pm
Dr. Barbara B. Reitt will describe what she learned in a four-year search for truths long hidden by the family and what compelled her to respond to her late father’s memoirs by researching and writing a biography of his grandmother.

Other locations:

A Tour Through Ireland and Irish History: July 5-15
Join NEHGS as it explores Irish immigrant ancestors’ native land, the rolling hills of Ireland. Discover scenery and enjoy Irish hospitality in famed hotels, restaurants and private homes. Email for more information.

Weekend Research Trip to Albany, New York: July 13-17
Join NEHGS to explore the vast resources of the New York State Archives. The weekend includes individual consultations, lectures and a group dinner.

English Research Tour: September 25-October 2
Discover the wealth of information available in London's repositories as NEHGS returns to London. Participants take part in two group dinners, consultations and guided research tours through the Society of Genealogists (SOG) and the National Archives (UK).

For more information about these events and tours, click AmericanAncestors.org for the registration form and instructions, call 1-888-296-3447, or send an e-mail.

25 May 2011

Southern California: Ron Arons to speak, June 5

Author Ron Arons will be making his sixth visit to the Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County, on Sunday, June 5.

The program begins at 1.30pm at Temple Adat Elohim 2420 E. Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. There is no admission fee.

Ron will speak on “Wrongful [Jewish] Wrascals of the West.”

And you thought Jewish criminals were just on the East Coast (mainly New York), the Midwest (Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit) and Las Vegas!

Well, Jewish criminals have made their mark in the state of California for nearly 150 years. Above and beyond Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky, Ron has found them – in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and elsewhere in the Golden State.

Along the way, he shows the large variety of genealogical sources available to research these characters. Ron will show you how to track down your black sheep ancestors! Sale of books and  'Black Sheep' products after the presentation.
Ron has researched his roots for more than a dozen years. In the process, he learned that one of his ancestors served time “up the river” at Sing Sing Prison. Along the way, he's become an expert on how to research historical criminals.

Ron has given numerous presentations across the country and internationally on conducting genealogical research, especially research on criminals.

In January 2008, he appeared on the PBS TV series, "The Jewish Americans," discussing criminals who operated on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. His book, "The Jews of Sing Sing," was published in June, 2008. In 2009, Ron published "WANTED! U.S. Criminal Records," a reference book listing where criminal records are located across the US.

For more information, click here or send an email.

24 May 2011

Ohio: 20th-century black sheep in Cleveland, June 1

Learn about Cleveland, Ohio's Jewish black sheep at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland, on Wednesday, June 1.

The meeting begins at 7.30pm at Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood. There is no admission fee.

The speaker is Sean Martin, associate curator for Jewish history of the Western Reserve Historical Society. He will speak on "The Jewish Connection: Jews and Crime in 20th-century Cleveland."

For more information, click here.

23 May 2011

MyHeritage.com: New FTB 5.1 version available

MyHeritage.com has just released its new Family Tree Builder 5.1 version and is also offering a limited-time 25% discount on all subscriptions.

If you've ever considered a subscription, this sounds like a good time to sign up.

Millions of people around the world are using the free Family Tree Builder to construct their family trees. According to the site, more than 21 million people have downloaded FTB, which runs in 36 languages.

Readers who have tried an older version some time ago, or have never used it, or even if they are using another software product, may wish to try the new 5.1 version. Import a GEDCOM  and other genealogy files from whatever program you are currently using and see how the new version works.

Readers who are using older versions (3.0, 4.0, 5.0) may download the new 5.1 version, and install it on top of the existing version. The update will not affect existing data, and is safe and recommended.

Download the new version for free.

Although a Mac version is not yet available, it is planned.

According to MyHeritage.com:
MyHeritage also writes that the summer special of 25% will be available only for the next few days:

Tracing the Tribe particularly likes the idea that it can now import various genealogy files, in addition to GEDCOMs.

When my old PC was smashed in moving, my hard drive files were put onto an external drive, but the programs themselves were lost. This upgrade to 5.1 has meant that all my old Family Tree Maker files - and others - could be searched for and incorporated. Tracing the Tribe likes improvements that save time and hassle.

Another reason to use more than one software program, and to keep one online in a safe and secure environment, is simply to be proactive.  We never know when we may experience serious computer problems or when a natural disaster may impact access to years of research.

Tracing the Tribe always recommends that - in addition to a software program housed on a personal computer - the information also be online in a secure and private environment, keeping it safe. At MyHeritage.com, your entire family tree can be housed on a family site as completely private as you wish, or as public as desired. Your private data will be protected, safe and accessible, no matter what happens to your personal computer at home.

The Boy Scout motto - "be prepared" - should also be the mantra of all genealogists and family history researchers.
For the next few days only, enjoy a massive 25% discount on all our subscriptions!

With a Premium subscription, you'll get:

  • All Premium features of Family Tree Builder 5.1 (current and future). These include Smart Research results, Smart Match merging, all-in-one charts and interactive maps.
  • Up to 2500 names and 500MB of storage for photos and documents in your family site.
  • Enhanced Smart Matches.
  • Priority support.
Our PremiumPlus subscription offers all the benefits of Premium listed above, plus unlimited family tree size and unlimited storage capacity for photos and documents in your family site.

What's new in version 5.1

Version 5.1 adds a technology licensed from Wholly Genes , Inc. that makes it possible for Family Tree Builder to directly import existing family tree files from other genealogy programs you may have used before, such as Family Tree Maker (FTM, FTW, FTMB), Personal Ancestral File (PAF), Legacy (FDB), The Master Genealogist (TMG) and Family Tree Legends (FTL). Good old GEDCOM files are supported and can be imported too.

If you've used any of those other programs in the past, you can now download Family Tree Builder 5.1, import your family tree and photo data easily and move up to one of the best programs available today, and build a tree of unlimited size on your computer, for free. After installing Family Tree Builder 5.1, import your existing genealogy files using "Import GEDCOM or genealogy file" in the File menu. You can browse and upload a specific family tree file, or choose to scan your computer for all genealogy files, and then select any file to import it.

The new version also incorporates many bug fixes so it is a recommended update for all users.

Family Tree Builder 5.1 includes all new features introduced in version 5.0, that you may not be enjoying yet: enhanced, better-looking family tree charts, built-in poster printing for charts, family tree consistency checker, to-do lists, better privacy controls, easy restoration of family trees from your family site, search and replace function for the entire family tree, and many other improvements and fixes. All those new features are described in detail and with screenshots,
on our blog.

NGS 2011: Some stats

Tracing the Tribe spoke at the National Genealogical Society conference this year for the first time.

The NGS has distributed a short informational release with statistics pertaining to this year's event:
-- Attendance was 2,270 at NGS 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina.

-- More than 1,500 purchased full conference registrations, with more than 100 attending on daily registrations. Conference attendance included speakers, vendors, booth staff and volunteers from the South Carolina Genealogical Society (SCGS) and its local chapters.

--Ancestry sponsored a Saturday "Ancestry Day" program which brought in 575 people to the venue.

-- More than 2,000 meals were served at the convention center and social events sponsored by the SCGS.

-- Mark your calendars for the NGS 2012 Family History Conference (9-12 May 2012; Duke Energy Convention Center, Cincinnati, Ohio). The Hyatt Regency Cincinnati is the conference hotel; conference registration will open 1 December.
As a first-time NGS speaker, I found the experience excellent, and my DNA talk was well-received. A highlight of the week was staffing the MyHeritage.com booth, which provided an opportunity to meet with so many attendees and discuss matters of mutual interest.

On a personal note, it was enlightening to speak with numerous individuals who, while not Jewish today, know about their Jewish ancestry. Quite a few had only recently discovered that connection and needed guidance on where to go for more information.

If you haven't already visited Charleston, consider it for a vacation. It is a quaint town, with major Civil War history, Jewish history, very friendly people and fantastic food!

The only criticism pertained to the conference center's spotty internet connection and non-existent ATT cellphone signal. Other than that - and the $3.50 charge for a small bottle of water (there's nothing like a thirsty captive audience!) - things went swimmingly.

I'm looking forward to next year's edition.

22 May 2011

Geneabloggers: 19 new blogs

Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers.com has located another 19 newly-discovered genealogy and family-history related blogs, bringing the geneablog total to 1,929 genealogy blogs at the site.

Here are the highlights of the new list. Read more here.

This week's collection offers blogs focused on individual family histories, Australia, UK, professional genealogists, genealogy conferences, African-American, genealogy education, Florida, genealogy society, genealogy industry and surnames.

The list includes a Jewish family history blog:

Everything I Know About Hyman Victor
Individual family (VICTOR), Jewish genealogy

Everything I Know is a repository for information about the life of my late great grandfather Hyman Victor, a Jewish immigrant who came to America in 1913. The exhibits at left tell the story of his life, through the vital records, photos, and oral history he left behind.
The other new blogs are

Claiming Kin
African-American, individual family history

Marlive Taylor-Harris has been hooked on genealogy since her son, now with children of his own, brought home an ancestral chart to complete for his “All About Me” project in third grade.
Diggin for Family

Florida State Genealogical Society Blog
Florida, Genealogy society

Founded in 1977 to promote the study and research of genealogy and local history, the society publishes source materials and family history, encourages seminars, workshops and similar educational meetings and - since 1978 - has held an annual conference with well-known speakers.
Forget-Me-Not Ancestry
Professional genealogist

... I love the detective work ~ the sleuthing ~ involved in genealogy research. I know how to find the sources that provide clues and answers to ancestry questions, and more importantly I know how to analyze the data. I have a gift for seeing relationships and noticing bits of information that many others do not. ...
Australia, Genealogy conferences

Events of interest to Australian genealogists including conferences, excursions, family reunions, lectures, open days and seminars. ... Readers are encouraged to submit details of events for publishing on this blog.
Green Eyed Look-a-Like
Individual family history

Jottings, Journeys and Genealogy
Australia, Individual family history

Online Gen Guy
Genealogy industry

Author Mark Olsen is a genealogist and an online marketer. "As the current affiliate program manager at FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com and the former affiliate manager of Ancestry.com I have some great experience helping people make a lot of money in Genealogy Affiliate Programs. Here I will talk affiliate stuff, blogging, genealogy."
Onwards to Our Past
Individual family history

A genealogy blog focused on Bohemia, Czech community of Cleveland, Cornwall in the UK, Italy and Italian immigration all with a good dose of fun!
Search Tip of the Day
Genealogy education

This is my newest “tip of the day” blog–geared towards online sites, not Ancestry.com, but any online database site (fee and otherwise) that genealogists use. Every day we will have a search tip for using a site or a database.
Reflecting on Genealogy
Genealogy education, Genealogy industry

Steers ONS (One Name Study)
Surname blog (STEERS), UK

For those of you who are not aware of the concept of a One Name Study may I suggest that you head over to the Guild of One Name Studies homepage for a breakdown of what they do. ...
The Heritage Files
Individual family history

Authored by a 30-something daughter of a long-time genealogy researcher, recently bitten by the genealogy bug, who thought it would be fun, and perhaps even helpful, to write about her discoveries, frustrations, insights, and adventures. ...
The Leaves on the Trudgian Tree
Individual family history (TRUDGIAN)

Exploring the lives of one Trudgian family in Galena, Illinois through the eyes of their daughter, Lillian, from 1913-1931. Lillian’s diary entries explore the family, neighbors, what is happening in Galena, national events, the weather and the crops!
Theories of Relativity
Individual family history

Updates Genie
Australia, Genealogy industry

Tips and news from all over the world (Australia, UK, Ireland, NZ, Canada, USA etc), about indexes, Web sites, publications and other resources, discounts, events etc. There are also links to longer articles on ‘Queensland Genealogy’, ‘UK/Australia Genealogy’ and ‘Genealogy Leftovers’.
Weeks Family Research
Individual family history (WEEKS)

Will the real Ursula Wright please stand up!
Individual family history (WRIGHT)

Click on the Geneablogger link above to read Thomas' complete post on the new blogs. You might find something of interest in this week's list.

Looking for a blog covering a specific geographical location or topic? Check out the previous weekly editions of Thomas' discoveries as well as the categories for the nearly 2,000 genealogy blogs at the site.

20 May 2011

London: Jews of Parma and beyond, June 1

What links Alberto Moravia to Lorenzo dei Medici's dancing-master? Or Mozart's librettist to the founder of Olivetti?

Learn about the Jews of Parma (Italy) and beyond at the Spiro Ark Centre, 25-26 Enford St., London W1, at 7.30pm on June 1. The fee is £10 + £1 Internet booking fee

Jews have lived in Italy for more than 2,000 years. Rome is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish community.

But Italy has been a united nation only since 1861. Before then it was a collection of duchies, republics, kingdoms and Papal States, each with its own unique history and character.

The history of the Jews in Italy also varied according to the area in which they lived. As boundaries and rulers changed, so did their fate.

This talk will begin with snapshots of some of the more significant Jewish communities in Italy, to illustrate their differences in origin and destiny, before focusing on Parma, in Emilia Romagna, the heart of Italy, now a dying community of barely 20 families but still home to one of the most important collections of Hebrew Manuscripts in the world.

Click the link above for more information on Spiro Ark events and to purchase tickets.

19 May 2011

Calling all artists: International Jewish Genealogy Month poster contest

International Jewish Genealogy Month is celebrated during the Jewish month of Cheshvan. This year, it corresponds to October 29 - November 26, 2011.
It offers an opportunity for Jewish genealogical societies to plan special programs and raise awareness of the possibilities inherent in family research.
Each year, there is also a poster contest. The winning entry is used in conjunction with genealogy month activities. The entry deadline for the 2011 poster is June 15; read below for more information.
Tracing the Tribe chaired the 2010 committee, which selected this winning entry:
Scout out your artist friends and let students at local high schools, colleges and other institutions know about the opportunity. There is excellent graphic art talent out there at all age levels.
Entries may only be made by member organizations of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, but the artist does not need to be a member of the submitting organizations, which may submit multiple entries. There is no age requirement for the artist.
The creator of the winning entry receives free registration for the 2011 conference (August 14-19 in Washington, DC). The winner will be acknowledged at the conference, on discussion lists and on the IAJGS website.
For more details and the entry form, click here or email this year's committee chair Nancy Adelson (Seattle, Washington).
The members of this year's committee are: Rabbi Gary Gans (New Jersey), Howard Morris (Massachusetts), Garri Regev (Israel), Jeanette Rosenberg (UK) and Janice Sellers (California).

New York: Galicia, Hungary, Lithuania on the menu, May 22

The Jewish Genealogy Society of New York has two programs planned for Sunday, May 22, covering Galicia, Hungary and Lithuania.

Both sessions will be held at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, Manhattan. Admission is free for NY JGS members, $5 for others.

11am-12:30pm: Gesher Galicia regional meeting.
  • Pamela Weisberger will begin with a virtual tour of the new Gesher Galicia website, a review of the Cadastral Map Landowner Records Project and an introduction to the new Galician 20-century voter records initiative.
    • Israeli researcher Hanna Palmon will discuss her fall 2010 trip to the Lviv and Ternopil Archives and visit to the Busk, Ukraine cemetery.
      • David Semmel will introduce his new historical novel, “The 11th of Av,” set in Przemsyl, and based on the lives of his Galician grandparents.
        • Mark Halpern will update attendees on JRI-Poland's Galician records indexing.
          • A preview of the IAJGS 2011 Conference program (August 14-19, Washington DC) preview, focusing on the “Galicia Jewish Museum” in Krakow and Jewish life from the earliest settlements to the present day.
          2pm: JGSNY program: "Methods from the Mavens: Researching Galicia, Hungary and Lithuania" will feature a panel moderated by Linda Cantor, with researchers Jordan Auslander, Eden Joachim, Mark Halpern.

          Each panelist will share expertise and experience. Learn what types of historical documents and vital records are available and how to access them. Learn what you can do from home and how to prepare for on site visits to ancestral homes.
            • Jordan Auslander: Hungary. His history BA degree had seen practical use in title search, real estate and other research contracted for various literary projects, before he got into genealogy, like everyone -  too late. A former urban transportation planner, he is now a New York-based professional genealogist, lecturer and expert witness. He has pursued case research across the United States, Europe and Israel. He contributed the Hungarian chapter in the "Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora;" translated, created and published an index to vital records in the Slovak State Archive system, and "A Genealogical Gazetteer of the Kingdom of Hungary." See the Hungarian ShtetLink.
              • Eden Joachim: Lithuania. She has spent more than 30 years in finance and human resources, and has been tracing her family roots since 1991. Her research resulted in connections to Lithuania, Belarus, Congress Poland, Galician Poland and Prussia. She helped establish a Genealogy Center at the Holocaust Museum and Study Center in Spring Valley, NY. On the Litvak SIG board 2007, she serves as treasurer and vice president and is archive coordinator of two Polish State Archives for JRI-Poland. She has held leadership positions in the Vilna District Research Group, Gesher Galicia, the JGS of Bergen County and on the JGSNY executive committee.
                • Mark Halpern: Galicia. A retired chemical company executive, he's been researching his Galitzianer and Litvak roots since 1996. Mark is a member of the executive committee and board of directors of Jewish Records Indexing – Poland and also serves on the Gesher Galicia advisory board. He was program chair for the 2009 Conference on Jewish Genealogy (Philadelphia) and is immediate past president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia. Mark is the originator and coordinator of BIALYGen, the Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group and coordinates a project to index and restore the Jewish Cemetery in Bialystok, Poland. He lives in West Chester, but was born in Paterson, New Jersey and is a long-time member of the JGSNY.
                • Moderator Linda Cantor is JGSNY past president. A retired New York City teacher, she's been researching her family history for more than 25 years on her Lithuanian, Galician and Volhynian roots. She is a former JGS of Long Island president, a former IAJGS board member, and coordinator of several Lithuanian town SIGs. Linda was the 19th Annual Conference on Jewish Genealogy registration chair, the 26th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy co-chair, JGSNY secretary and member for more than 25 years.
                Join the experts for two excellent sessions on Sunday, May 22.

                Australia: False Holocaust memoir?

                Forensic genealogist Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick is featured in an Australian story concerning allegations that a wartime memoir is false.

                The Herald Sun story on Alex Kurzem, 75, who authored an international best-selling book ("The Mascot") describes the investigation by Fitzpatrick and her team.

                She was instrumental in exposing Holocaust fakes Misha Defonseca and Herman Rosenblat some three years ago. Defonseca was forced to admit that "Surviving with Wolves" was false, and Rosenblat confessed he made up much of his "Angel at the Fence."

                Kurzem has refused the newspaper's offer "to organise and pay for medical and DNA tests to help prove his identity and whether or not he is Jewish." He has refused unless he is paid $100,000 to undergo those tests.

                His book allegedly describes his life as a Russian Jewish child, age 5, who survived the Holocaust by becoming the mascot of a Latvian military unit. The story was an award-winning 2004 ABC documentary and a movie about his life is being made by a French company.

                According to the news story, Dr. Fitzpatrick's team also includes Melbourne Holocaust Centre senior staff and US psychologist Dr. Barry Resnick. Their files detail doubt about Kurzem, which has sparked three investigations by the Jewish Claims Conference, the German government compensation and pension department and the US Attorney's office.

                Kurzem claims he watched his Jewish mother and siblings executed by the Nazis.

                Read the complete story at the link above.

                NY Times: Thomas MacEntee, Geneabloggers mentioned

                Read an interesting story on family history resources online in the New York Times.

                "Finding Family History Online," by Mickey Meece, can be read here.

                The article included Ancestry, WikiTree, FamilyLink, Footnote, Tpestry, Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

                Unusually, for a story dedicated to family history social networking, it did not mention MyHeritage.com.

                Geneabloggers' own Thomas MacEntee was quoted:
                Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy educator, writer and speaker, said the explosion of interest in genealogy was because of “an alignment of technology planets.” First came software, then the Internet and now social networks, he said.

                “In the genealogy world, we have always been a social group,” said Mr. MacEntee, founder of GeneaBloggers.com, a community resource hub. “In a way, social media is a natural progression.”

                ...“This is a great time to be in genealogy,” said Mr. MacEntee, who became interested in the field after watching the 1977 television miniseries “Roots.”
                Way to go, Thomas!

                17 May 2011

                Three conferences in 10 days!

                Tracing the Tribe has just arrived home after speaking at three conferences in two countries in 10 days!

                Each was very different in format and topics addressed, and Internet access - on a personal level - varied, significantly curtailing communications. Jet lag, surprisingly, wasn't an issue on this trip. Along with the events themselves, Tracing the Tribe also connected with family, old and new friends.

                The Society of Genealogists' Centenary Conference (London, UK; Saturday, May 7), was followed by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain's Northern Regional Conference (Manchester, UK; Sunday, May 8). Just two days later, I flew to the exciting National Genealogical Society's event in Charleston, South Carolina.

                At the SOG and NGS, my topic was the IberianAshkenaz DNA Study as a case study - administered by Judy Simon of New York and myself - at FamilyTreeDNA.com. Each time this topic is presented, there is more to update on results and participants. It aways changes.

                In Manchester, I spoke on social media for 21st-century genealogists, also an evolving topic.

                At SOG and NGS, DNA was an interesting topic as the number of Jewish attendees is traditionally rather small, although there were more who had Jewish ancestry, some recently discovered. It was a different audience, with different questions, and we believe that these two opportunities helped to raise awareness of genetic genealogy - and FamilyTreeDNA.com.

                From questions asked in session Q&As to those fielded during the rest of the events (and later emails), it was obvious that people are fascinated by this rather amazing tool available to us. The presentation includes the nuts and bolts of creating a DNA project applicable to any ethnicity, religion or geographic region.

                At the JGSGB event - with some really excellent topics presented - it was a privilege to help explain how genealogists (as well as genealogy societies and other institutions) can benefit from today's social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and more.

                Watch for separate posts on each conference.

                Now back home in New Mexico, I still have a few weeks before the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree 2011 (speaking on creating online ancestral communities) and the Association of Jewish Libraries' event in Montreal (speaking on Sephardic research) soon after.

                What do I do when at home, other than reading accumulated email, getting some needed sleep and generally not travel farther than the supermarket? Well, there are articles to write, a stack of books to review, and local genealogy goings-on, including genealogy presentations at local senior centers.

                The schedule includes even more as I am genealogy co-chair of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, and involved in the creation and organization of the new general Sandoval County Genealogical Society.

                Tracing the Tribe firmly believes that all Jewish historical societies should join the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS), as the NMJHS has recently done. It always seems that genealogists understand the connection between what we do and history, but that historical societies don't always see that essential connection. More cooperation between local genealogical and historical societies provides more learning opportunities for members of both.

                What's on the menu for these two societies? We'll soon begin working on the new program year for both groups and contacting prospective speakers.

                The Sandoval County society will be meeting the first Saturday of each month, from 10am-12.30pm, and we are working on the timing for the NMJHS events, which will be on Sundays (to be scheduled) at the Albuquerque JCC.

                Back to email!

                06 May 2011

                JDC Archive: Finding gold!

                Looking for lost relatives? Try the searchable, online archive of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) launched earlier this week. Even more documents will be added during the summer.

                Read about the goldmine of records in an NPR story, which mentions the work of volunteer transcribers and how the past president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York - Linda Cantor - found a relative.

                JDC has made a collection of its historic records and photographs from the Holocaust period available online on its Shared Legacy website. During and after WWII, the organization cared for hundreds of thousands of Jews in many places around the world. JDC supported Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler in Kobe, Japan until 1941, and supported Jewish refugees in Yokohama (1918-20), most fleeing Russia. It supplied free parcels to thousands of Jewish individuals and families in the Soviet Union, 1943-45. And that's only scratching the surface.

                JDC was also active in Iran until 1978 or so. It supported schools, an old-age home, kindergartens and the Jewish hospital, particularly in the 1950s and earlier. But this current collection focuses on Holocaust records.

                The online database has more than 500,000 names; more will be added. There are some 1,500 photos from 14 countries - readers help in tagging the photos is sought.

                Among those receiving assistance from the JDC was number 665 on page 2 of a list of beneficiaries of JDC’s free parcel service in the Soviet Union, 1943-1945:

                There is a list of more than 6,300 individuals and families who received these packages. An addendum lists name and address changes for those in the main list. This was an interesting find in their new online archives.

                When searching for BANK, my maternal great-grandmother's family near Kovno, my first search brought up a list of 270 names -  but only a few were Bank, many others were Band, Blank and others. There is no provision for "exact" searches.

                I tried to go through the many pages, clicking on names to see the birthplaces of individuals in various lists, but when I tried to return to the search results there was often an error page ("There are no results matching your query. SEARCH AGAIN"). Whether this is due to high traffic, I don't yet know. I tried several times, sometimes reaching the list, more often not.

                A second try brought up the list again. People were listed as going to Uruguay, Australia, the US and many other locations. I haven't yet found any on the list from around Kovno, but I'll keep looking.

                For FINK (my maternal grandfather), there were some 135 results with geographical locations of Shanghai, Israel, Brazil, Australia and more. Some were from Galicia - I was looking for Skalat and Suchostaw and have not found those yet, although I did find Grybow, Lemberg (Lviv) and other towns I knew relatives had lived in, according to JRI-Poland.org.

                Tracing the Tribe believes this information may be a goldmine for many researchers. Unfortunately, the search engine is far from ideal. Where is Steve Morse and his One Step programs when we need him?

                To search properly through these valuable records, there should be provisions for "sounds like," "begins with," "exact," etc. To avoid going through a list of hundreds of names, it would have been good to put the person's birthplace with his or her name in the list of results. Thus, a search could be narrowed down more usefully. There should be a way to search for birthplace or other geographical locations to narrow down results for a more practical search. There is only one search field - last name or first and last name.

                To see what JDC has done in its history, click here for a roundup by decades.

                This is a very valuable collection of records but somewhat difficult to negotiate because of the current search engine. So grab yourself a cup of something, and settle down for a long search.

                05 May 2011

                JTA: Online news archive launched

                The Jewish Telegraphic Agency - known simply as JTA - has launched a free, searchable online digital archive with some 250,000 articles dating from 1923.

                JTA is near and dear to Tracing the Tribe's heart as that organization, in 2006, contacted me and requested that I begin a genealogy blog. A year later, due to reorganization, Tracing the Tribe became independent.

                In my talks with various JTA people over the years, I always stressed that its archives would be of immense value to genealogists and family history researchers. As plans were made to make the archive available, I was delighted.

                On Tuesday night, May 3, the archive was launched at a celebration held at the Center for Jewish History, in New York.

                What can you find in the archive? Here are some tidbits from just a simple search.
                --The first article on the the Babi Yar massacre 
                -- The founding of Israel.
                -- Many articles on Jewish women through the decades.
                -- The Holocaust.
                -- A 1930 story on how upper class Persian Jews were becoming Bahai.
                -- A 1932 story about a 1,000-year-old Polish synagogue formed by Portuguese Jews in the year 933 (Hebrew year 4693) in Wronke - on the river Warthe - in Posen.
                -- A 1924 article about elections in a village near Mogilev, Belarus - spelled Mogileff in the article - named Slobodoa Davidovka, Mozyr district, and the agricultural colony Kormi, in Mogileff district.
                (NOTE: There seem to be some search engine vagaries - JTA should have consulted with Steve Morse! - which the last article above showed. Searching for Mogilev did not show that election article - although there were many more modern ones. I used an old spelling, Mogileff, to see if there were other articles for the town and that spelling brought up three. A search for "Persia" showed that at some point in time, Hamadan was spelled Amadan and Isfahan was Ispahan (useful information for future searches). A phonetic parameter would be a useful addition to the search engine. For now, if you know other spellings of the towns you are looking for, try all of them.

                However, you can search by keyword, by date/decades, and there are additional search tips. You can also save your searches by registering at the archive. It's free; click the Sign Up logo on the upper right of the archive home page. Do check out your ancestral towns, surnames and more!)

                JTA was founded in 1917 towards the end of World War I by Jacob Landau to transmit vital information about what was happening in Jewish communities around the world. It was originally called the Jewish Correspondence Bureau and, was the first news agency that gathered and also disseminated news around the globe.

                JTA correspondents, since that date, have reported what they could confirm at the time, although some facts in their articles were later corrected through research. Events covered by the agency would never have been documented.

                The JTA Jewish News Archive is a powerful reference tool that offers a perspective on current events and modern Jewish history that is not available anywhere else. With free access to nearly a century of reporting about global events affecting world Jewry, the Archive will not only serve as a rich resource for both the casually curious as well as students and scholars of modern Jewish history, it will also transform the way the next generation of Jewish leaders and activists learn about their heritage.

                Until now, there has been no authoritative site that provides a comprehensive chronicle of modern Jewish history, as seen through the eyes of journalists. From the aftermath of World War I, to the rise of Nazi Germany, through the Holocaust, the creation of the modern State of Israel and right up to today, JTA journalists have been reporting on stories and issues affecting Jews around the globe. The JTA Jewish News Archive holds over a quarter-million articles They provide a unique lens through which to view world events that no other news organization provides.
                Read the bulletins that were sent out during the Holocaust and see the information that was available, contrary to conventional wisdom that said Americans didn't know about that tragedy while it was happening.

                The digital archive effort was spearheaded by Brandeis University professor of American Jewish history Jonathan Sarna, who is also a JTA board member. He said that "The JTA Jewish News Archive has the potential to spark an interest in the past that will transform the future."

                According to a JTA article, the nonprofit Digital Divide Data helped create the archive. The group serves Southeast Asian disadvantaged youth. Young Cambodians digitized the files.

                The effort was also supported by the Gottesman Fund; The Righteous Persons Foundation; The Charles H. Revson Foundation; Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen; George S. Blumenthal; and the Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund.

                See a video about the archive here.

                DNA: Do you hold the Gift of Life?

                In the past, Tracing the Tribe has written about the Gift of Life Foundation, which attempts to match donors of bone marrow with patients who need a life-saving match.

                The best matches are often from those individuals who are genetically related. But only rarely do the families  looking for potential donors post the relevant geographical areas or surnames.

                There is now a call for a bone marrow match for a New Jersey toddler, age 2. Fortunately, his grandmother - Karen Lefkowitz - is a long-time genealogist (her JewishGen researcher number has only four digits!).

                She understands the need for ancestral information as tissue type is inherited. The best chance of finding a donor for her grandson lies with those of Eastern.European ancestry, particularly Polish and Hungarian.

                Here are the towns and surnames associated with the child's ancestry:

                Turkey: FRIEDMAN, SHAPIRO

                Poland: Stopnica area: BORKENSZTAJN, ZISSER, SUSSER, KAFEL, LINDER; Tarnow and Szczucin area: SUSSER; Bialystok, Trzcianne, Goniadz area: BLACHER, PERLIS, BALABUS, BLOCK, LEVIN, DUDINSKY, GEDRES, COHEN; Nowogrod and Dobrylas area: LEFOWITZ (LEFKOWITZ), KIEK or KIJEK, COHEN, RUDZKA; Przasnysz: BLANK, MONKAR, MAKA

                Moldava: Kishinev (Chisinau): FRIEDMAN, MEISENBERG, SHAPIRO, LEVITT

                Ukraine: Zhitomir: MEISENBERG, TAUB; Chermerivtsi: GREENBERG

                Hungary: Elmialfulva (Endrefalva or Ermihalyfalva?): KLEIN; Eger: BRAUN; Szikeoy (Cejkov?): BRIER; Balaton (Veladin?): BRAUN

                Lithuania: Vilnus: VERSHOFSKY, BAUSC

                Anywhere: LITTENBERG, STRASSNER
                If these places or surnames are familiar, here's how you can help. Even if the names or places are not familiar, consider testing and joining the bone marrow registry so that others may receive the Gift of Life.

                -- Potential donors must be age 18-60 and in general good health to join the registry.

                -- Cheek swab test kits can be ordered online through Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. Or find a bone marrow drive near you.

                -- If you are above age 60, encourage family members and friends to join the registry.

                -- If you live outside of the United States and Canada, send an email for more information.

                -- For more information, click here or send an email.

                --Shayne Pilpel is this project's Gift of Life coordinator and will be happy to answer questions about the Foundation.

                Check the list of towns and names again. Do you know someone with those surnames from those areas? If so, ask them to get involved and join the registry.

                Holocaust: New victims' assets database

                A comprehensive archive of Jewish Holocaust victims' assets has been made public. The searchable, user-friendly database - known as Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce) - will help victims and heirs reacquire losses.

                The database may also assist genealogists and family history researchers to learn more about their families.

                The database includes property addresses, insurance policies, lists of homeowners, professions, lists of known confiscated properties, business directories, and other archival information that can assist potential applicants in their research.

                Archivists plan to release several million records, making the database the international community’s largest single-source database of lost Jewish property assets from the Holocaust era.

                Project HEART unveiled yesterday an initial set of archival records, in the presence of American Jewish community leaders.

                The press release stressed the availability of new technologies in this cause.

                “These new technological tools together with the official involvement of the State of Israel in this process give us the hope that this time things will be different," said Natan Sharansky.

                "As a former Prisoner of Zion, I remember the difficulty that existed in transferring information in the Soviet Union. In the age of the Internet, Google and Facebook allow us to create magnificent revolutions. Project HEART’s website has received more than 700,000 hits during its first few weeks.
                According to the press release:
                NEW YORK, May 4, 2011 – A large-scale international effort to help Jewish victims of the Holocaust redress claims of lost property confiscated, looted or forcibly sold under the Nazi regime was jumpstarted this week with the unveiling of a large, publicly available and searchable database of more than 650,000 Holocaust era property records in its first release.

                The records were compiled and made available by Project HEART (Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce), an initiative of the Jewish Agency, in cooperation and with the support of the Government of Israel, to help Jewish families identify personal property confiscated by the Nazis and to help victims seek restitution. ...

                ... Launched in late February, 2011, Project HEART seeks to identify Jewish Holocaust victims and their heirs worldwide whose families owned real estate, movable, immovable, or other intangible personal property that was confiscated, looted, or forcibly sold in countries governed or occupied by the Nazi forces or Axis powers during the Holocaust era. The only limitation for application is if a post-war settlement already has been made to a victim or the victim’s heirs for that property. In such cases, people are not eligible to apply to Project HEART regarding that property.

                To participate, individuals need to fill out the questionnaire available on HEART’s website, www.heartwebsite.org. Since it was launched, details about Project HEART’s purpose and the application process have been translated into 13 languages, and a 24-hour call center is operational in all languages. To date, the project has received tens of thousands of requests for additional information."
                For more information, click Project HEART's website.