Volume 8, Number 14 | July 29, 2007
27th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
The 27th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, held in Salt Lake City, is history. It was yet another great conference. There is so much depth in the skills in running conferences within the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies that the event could be held at the North Pole and it would be worth attending. The education, networking and Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings make the conference the premier event of the year. Mark your calendar. Next year it will be in Chicago from August 17–22.
Report on International Tracing Service
Paul Shapiro of the U.S. Holocaust Museum (USHMM) received a standing ovation for his keynote address at the opening session. He described the history of making accessible the records of the International Tracing Service located in Bad Arolsen, Germany. While his description of the events was polite, it was clear that there were many obstacles placed in the path of public access by a variety of interest groups. The next morning Shapiro described the future of public access to these records. Some of his comments were:
* It has yet to be determined when the records will be useable at USHMM (or other facilities) because the Museum has not seen the data and does not know how well it is organized for information retrieval. Shapiro noted that ITS has never had a trained archivist or historian to organize the records according to archival standards.
* Although the wheels are grinding to make the records available to the member countries, they cannot be made available to the public until the remaining three countries that make up the commission—France, Greece, and Italy—approve the release.
* Once available to the public, USHMM plans to give highest priority to inquiries by Holocaust survivors and their families. He noted that survivors are a dying generation and time is of the essence for them.
* There will be public access at the Museum once the system is set up.
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) Lifetime Achievement Award went to Mathilda Tagger of Jerusalem for her 25 years of devotion to growing resources for Sephardic genealogy. Among her many accomplishment is coauthorship of Guidebook for Sephardic and Oriental Genealogical Sources in Israel which was published by Avotaynu. A second Avotaynu author, Lars Menk of Berlin, was given the Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy Award for his book A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames. Donald Hirschhorn of Florida received an award from Yad Vashem for his “activism, dedication and outstanding volunteer as coordinator for the Shoah Victims Names Recovery Project.” Hirschhorn personally coordinated the submission of close to 1,000 Pages of Testimony, and many additional pages have been submitted as a result of his efforts either through the American Society for Yad Vashem, to Israel directly, or via the Internet.
Tapes and Syllabii
Most of the lectures were recorded. They can be ordered at http://www.conferencemediagroup.com/search_result.asp?ClientNo=GS&MeetingID=GS0701&MeetingYear=07. Conference syllabii are still available for purchase. If interested, please send an e-mail to Michael Posnick at firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is $35 plus shipping and handling ($10 for U.S. delivery or $20 for delivery outside the U.S.). Posnick will provide you with detailed ordering instructions.
Overheard at the Conference
Daniel Schlyter is the only member of the IAJGS Board of Directors who is not Jewish; he is Mormon. When asked how it felt to be the only non-Jew on the Board, he replied that he found his participation on the Board very rewarding; his only objection was to the bris.
It is rumored that during the years of negotiation about public access to the ITS records, at one point the German representative stated that the matter was not even a discussion item. The ITS records were created by Germans and, therefore, were the property of the German government. This comment was countered by a statement asking whether the German representative was implying that the current German government was merely a continuation of the Nazi regime of the 1930s–40s, and even if so, he was reminded that Germany was conquered by the Allied Powers and, therefore, all property of that time was the property of these Allied governments.
JOWBR Now Contains 800,000 Records
The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) has recently added 187,000 records and more than 10,000 tombstone images bringing the collection to more than 800,000 records from 1,810 cemeteries. Additional data has come from Belarus, Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands Antilles, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland, Syria, Ukraine, and United States. The JOWBR database is searchable at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/cemetery. A description of the database and how to contribute is located at the site.
Family History Library Outline Series
The LDS (Mormon) Family History Library has a number of Outline pamphlets that describe how to do genealogical research. Many are oriented toward country of ancestry (Polish Research Outline), others by topic (Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850–1934), and still others by ethic group (Jewish Genealogy Research Outline). To see a complete list, go to http://ldscatalog.com. Click “Family History > Family History Research Products > Locality Research Papers. There is a nominal cost to get copies of these Outlines.
The Jewish Genealogy Research Outline is currently available for free at http://www.familysearch.org/eng/docs/Jewish_Genealogy_Research_07_2007.pdf. It is a 70-page comprehensive list of resources for Jewish genealogical research. Another resource is Tracing Your Jewish Ancestors located at http://www.familysearch.org/eng/docs/Finding_Jewish_Records_07_2007.pdf. The latter is more a beginners guide, but my personal experience is that intermediate and advanced researchers often can glean some information from beginners guides about resources they were unaware of or as reminders of resources not sufficiently explored.
Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire
The revised edition of A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire will not be published until Spring 2008. Alexander Beider has finished compiling the Dictionary and is slowly going through the list confirming the accuracy of every entry. The original book published in 1993 had 50,000 surnames; the new book will have 71,000 names. In addition to the growth in names, many surnames in the original edition were found in additional districts of the Russian Empire and are so noted. The etymology of many names have been improved, and those surnames whose roots are outside the Empire are so stated.
The book will likely be published in two volumes, because the number of pages will exceed 1,000. Like the original edition, there are three major sections: (1) A 201-page “Introductory” portion which describes the origins and evolution of Jewish surnames in Eastern Europe; (2) the dictionary itself; and (3) a soundex index. The soundex index is extremely important in this book because Dr. Beider shows the surnames as they were spelled in Russian transliterated into the Roman alphabet.
How will the new version differ from the old? It can best be described by stating the first—widely acclaimed—version was written when Dr. Beider was a 27-year old with a doctorate in applied mathematics from the University of Moscow whose hobby was collecting and analyzing Jewish surnames from the Russian Empire. The revised edition will be written by Dr. Beider who is now a 44-year old scholar with a doctorate in history from the Sorbonne and is considered by many to be the world's foremost scholar on Eastern European Jewish surnames and given names. His doctoral thesis is the introductory portion of his book, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names.
Dr. Beider has established his reputation with the publishing of four books on the subject of Jewish surnames as well as papers in scholarly journals. The books are:
* A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire
* A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland
* A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia
* Jewish Surnames from Prague
He has also written A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names. Additional information about these books can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/catalog.htm.
He recently related an interesting story about the original version of the Dictonary. Dr. Beider emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1990 to Paris. He had already started work on the first edition of the Dictionary and his efforts were on floppy disks (5¼ inch size). Emigration from the Soviet Union forbade taking data out of the country on disks. How did he smuggle his disks out of the country? He placed them between slices of bread to look like sandwiches.
New York Vital Records Indexes Selectively Blocked
Something quite unusual in the ways of the Internet, an Internet Service Provider has blocked access to the Italian Genealogy Group and to the German Genealogy Group the New York City vital records database from either the Stephen P. Morse site or the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library. The ISP is claiming there are too many accesses from these locations. The two genealogy groups have protested and may be willing to switch thier ISP if the matter is not resolved. These databases can be accessed by going directly to the site at http://www.italiangen.org/databaselist.stm.
News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A log in is required. You can link the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org. There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/Member-Index.htm.
Austria-Czech SIG. During the past five years, seven volumes of the Jewish census of 1793 (Soupisy zidovskych rodin v Cechach z roku 1793) have been published . The final (seventh) volume (strangely numbered Volume VI number 2) is a cumulative index that makes searching much easier.
A comprehensive list of all the libraries and research centers which have copies is not known, but they include the Jewish Family History Centre in Prague; Central Archives, Prague; YIVO Institute in New York; LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City; British Library, London; Adler Society, Vienna; Harvard's Widener Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Austria-Czech SIG. A database of 13,400 Czech Refugees in Great Britain during World War II is located at http://www.geocities.com/czechandslovakthings/WW2_crtf.htm#X.(d). It includes their names and year of birth.
Gesher Galicia. A 1907 Austro-Hungarian gazetteer is now online at http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/search.php. Search for the word “Gemeindelexikon.” Its name is Gemeindelexikon der im Reichsrate vertretenen Koenigreiche und Laender (Gazetteer of the Crown Lands and Territories Represented in the Imperial Council), and it is a multi-volume gazetteer published in Vienna. Each volume is for a province in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Volume XII covers Galicia. You can go directly to that volume at http://tinyurl.com/2lpgz8. Listings are organized by Administrative District, then within each district by Judicial District. Within each Judicial District the list of villages and towns is alphabetical. Columns of statistics on each locality include such information as area, population (broken down by gender, religion and language), number of houses, and more. A more detailed description of the work can be found at http://www.halgal.com/gemeindelexikon.html
Hungarian SIG. There is an online Latin-English, Hungarian-English dictionary of words commonly found in records used by genealogists located at http://www.genealogy.ro/dictionary/. For example, under the letter “H” are the Hungarian words for military, lieutenant, unmarried, die, death, fisherman and others.
JRI-Poland. An ongoing project is the indexing of all burials at the cemetery in Lodz, Poland. Information about it can be found at http://www.jewishlodzcemetery.org/defaultEN.asp. Some of the indexing has been accomplished and the search engine at the site is somewhat difficult to use. Enter Steve Morse. He has created a portal to the site that allows you to search for names in one step. The Morse portal is located at http://stevemorse.org/ in the “Holocaust and Eastern Europe” section.
Anita “Nikki” Pikus (1938–2007)
One of the best things about the development of organized Jewish genealogy over the past 30 years are the great people who have made it happen–who then became wonderful friends. Anita Pikus, who died unexpectedly July 2, filled both of those roles for me. Nikki, as everyone called her, was a remarkably accomplished woman with a huge variety of active interests, but she always found time when you needed her. She was my right-hand woman in the early years of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW). Nikki and her husband Irwin came to the meeting I called to form a society. She was one of its five incorporators, its third president and long-time editor of Mishpacha, the JGSGW newsletter. In recent years, when Neville Lamdan and I set about to organize the International Institute of Jewish Genealogy (IIJG), Nikki, a friend of both of us and former neighbor of the Lamdans, was always right there to listen, make suggestions and offer to arrange meetings with people who might be willing to contribute. Hired to be the first clinical audiologist at the National Institutes of Health, Nikki went on to develop her field into a respected, integral part of medicine, to teach and to help bring about the development of an academic degree in the field. She will be missed in many spheres, but most of all, I mourn the loss of a long time, dear friend.
Sallyann Amdur Sack
Salt Lake Conference - Addendum
OK. So you made a mistake and did not go to the conference. It would have been a great dose of education and access to the 2.5 million microfilms at the Family History Library. Well, there is redemption. Come join Eileen Polakoff and myself on our 15th annual Jewish Genealogical Research Trip to Salt Lake City in late October. We limit our group size to 40 people and there are currently only nine slots left. Information about the trip can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/slctrip.htm.
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