Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 10, Number 16 | August 16, 2009
This edition is going to 8,489 subscribers
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
IIJG Presents Session at World Union of Jewish Studies
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy hosted a panel on Jewish genealogy at the 15th Congress of the World Union of Jewish Studies held August 2–6 in Jerusalem. For the Institute, this event was a major milestone. Only last year, the American Association of Jewish Studies declined to accept a panel on Jewish genealogy, apparently on the grounds that the subject was not scholarly enough. Against that, the session at the WUJS Congress has already resulted in an invitation to the Institute to present a similar panel at the next Congress of the European Association of Jewish Studies to be held in Ravenna, Italy, in 2010, and also in an invitation to IIJG Director, Neville Lamdan, to lecture at the Russian Institute of Genealogical Research at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg.
The Institute's panel was moderated by Prof. Sergio DellaPergola, the Chair of the IIJG Academic Committee, and presentations were made by Profs. Aaron Demsky, Ruth Kark and Daniel Wagner; Dr. Joseph Glass, an associate of Prof. Glass; and by Ambassador Lamdan.
The IIJG Internet site is at http://iijg.org.
Ancestry.com Expands Jewish Record Collection
Ancestry,com has added records of the American Jewish Historical Society to its growing collection of Jewish records. It also has acquired the Routes to Roots Foundation archival database.
Records of the American Jewish Historical society include:
• Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1878–1934. Applications for admission and discharge ledgers
• New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum Records, 1860–1934. Applications for admission and discharge ledgers
• Industrial Removal Office Records, 1899–1922. Records of Jewish families and individuals who were assisted in moving from harm's way in various countries
• Selected Naturalization Records, New York City, 1816–1845. Declarations of intention for New York County. Contains name, age, birthplace, nationality, place of emigration, occupation and place of intended settlement
• Selected Insolvent Debtor’s Cases, 1787–1861. Approximately 2,000 cases, some containing an inventory of assets
• Selected Mayor’s Court Cases, New York, 1674–1860. 6,000 selected briefs that include summons, complaints, affidavits, and jury lists
The Routes to Roots’ Eastern European Archival Database is the most comprehensive list of Jewish record holdings of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. It can also be searched at http://rtrfoundation.org/search.php.
To search through all the new Jewish record collections and Ancestry.com’s entire Jewish Family History experience, visit http://www.ancestry.com/JewishFamilyHistory.
New Location for IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project
The IAJGS International Jewish Cemetery Project site has moved from JewishGen to the IAJGS site at http://iajgs.org/cemetery. The project’s goal is to provide information about every Jewish burial place and currently contains thousands of listings from all over the world. Some locations include additional information, such as a history of the Jewish presence in the town, name/addresses of synagogues, geographic information and other facts.
Videos of Polish Jewish Cemeteries on YouTube
There are a number of videos of Jewish cemeteries on YouTube, perhaps as many as 246. To locate a particular video, search using the Polish words for “Jewish cemetery”—cmentarz zydowski—and the name of a particular town.
Search for Descendants of Red Star Line Passengers
Between 1873 and 1935 the Red Star Line shipping company transported almost three million people from Antwerp to the United States and Canada. The City of Antwerp has created a Red Star Memorial site at http://www.redstarlinememorial.be/smartsite.dws?id=MHE_LANDING&ch=MHE with plans to open a museum in Antwerp.
The project is looking for individual stories about the immigration experience of using the shipping line including photographs. If you are/know a person or descendant of a person who took a ship from Antwerp to settle in North America, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The names of the Red Star steamships are Arabic, Belgenland, Berlin, Cambroman, Devonian., Finland, Friesland, Gothland, Kensington, Kroonland, Lapland, Manitou, Marquette, Menominee, Merion, Mississipi, Nederland, Noordland, Pennland, Poland, Rhynland, Samland, Southwark, Switzerland, Vaderland, Waesland, Westernland, Winifredian, Zeeland.
Google Maps Now Includes More Ukrainian Towns
It was reported on the JewishGen Ukraine Discussion Group that Google now has most, if not all, of the towns of Ukraine at http://maps.google.com. It is best to use the current spelling of the town and add “Ukraine” as a keyword of the search. Searching for the major Ukrainian city of Kamenets Podolskiy (Russian spelling transliterated) produced no results. Adding the keyword “Ukraine” only added a Sponsored Link (advertisement) for trips to the city. Then searching the web using Google for Kamenets Podolskiy identified the current spelling transliterated from Ukrainian as Kamianets-Podilskyï. It was unnecessary to then search Google Maps with the correct Ukrainian spelling. Merely clicking the link to “Maps” produced a map of the area of Ukraine that includes the city.
Free Indexes to Births of England and Wales on Ancestry.com
Ancestry.com is providing free of charge indexes to births in England and Wales from 1837–2005. The resulting digitized images are pages from books of indices that are recorded in alphabetical order in three-month increments. Each name on the page has been indexed by Ancestry.com. Information provided is name of child, mother’s maiden name, district where born, and volume and page number of actual record. Exact date of birth is not given. Information is in two different databases:
• 1837–1915 http://search.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=8912&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0
• 1916–2005 http://search.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=8782&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0
JewishGen Wants More KahaLinks Pages
One popular component of JewishGen is their ShtetLinks site where individual family historians have created web pages for their ancestral shtetl (town) in Central and Eastern Europe. The equivalent for towns in the Sephardic area of influence is called KahaLinks; “kahal” being the Hebrew word for “Jewish community.” Persons wishing to create a KahaLink site on JewishGen should contact Jeffrey Malka at JeffMalka@SephardicGen.com
Online Language Translators
One aspect of Jewish genealogy is dealing with languages that are not your native tongue. Whether it is visiting a web site or sending/receiving e-mail in another language, an online language translator can be a useful tool. For many years I have used AltaVista’s Babel, now http://babelfish.yahoo.com/, with limited success. It does not handle more esoteric languages such as Polish. For Polish, I used poltran.com which gives poor translations.
Google’s translator at http://translate.google.com seems to do an excellent job of translating 42 languages. Recently I sent e-mail in Polish using Google’s translator to the Civil Registration Office of the Mokotow ancestral town of Warka, Poland, asking whether there were Books of Residence from the 19th century. Their answer, in Polish, was:
Urząd Miejski w Warce informuje ,że nie zachowały się żadne księgi mieszkańców z tego okresu.Wszystkie uległy zniszczeniu podczas działań wojennych.
Using Google translator, the response translated into English was:
Town Office in Warka indicates that there are not any accounts of the inhabitants of that period. All have been destroyed during the war.
Using Poltran.com, the response was:
City office inform in (to) Warce, that they have behaved no books of inhabitants from it during warfare compliant disruption
One way to check the quality of an online translator is to give it a sentence in your native language, translate it to a second language and then take the result and translate it back to your native tongue.
Using the sentence “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country,” the following results were achieved using Russian translators.
Babelfish. Now time for all good people to arrive at the aid of their country.
Google. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
translation2.paralink.com. Now - time for all good men to come to the aid to their country
This was the result using Google for various languages:
Czech Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
French It is now time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
German Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the country
Hebrew Now is the time for all good men to get relief of their country
Hungarian Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the country
Latvian Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
Lithuanian It is time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
Polish Now is the time for all good men to come to the rescue of their country
Romanian Now is the time for all good men to help their country
Russian Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
Slovak Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country
Based on a certain amount of testing, it seems to be poorest with Hebrew
When writing in another language, keep the sentences simple It increases the likelihood it will be translated accurately
Philadelphia Conference: A Remarkable Event
For each of the past 15 years, I have attended two major conferences of American genealogy, those of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society For the past 29 years I have attended virtually every Jewish conference now titled the “International Conference on Jewish Genealogy” Having just participated in the 29th International Conference held in Philadelphia, I can say that the quality and quantity of the Jewish conferences now surpass American national conferences
There were 275 sessions including lectures, computer workshops, a film festival, and working breakfasts and luncheons Almost all lectures were given as PowerPoint presentations, the standard for a number of years More than 160 presenters and meeting coordinators participated in the program The six hour-and-a-quarter time slots during the day had eight concurrent sessions plus the computer workshops and the film festival The resource room had about 30 laptops with Internet access, free of charge, to most major fee-for-service genealogical databases The US Holocaust Memorial Museum allowed online access to databases normally available only at the museum through controlled access by their personnel The Exhibit Hall included nearly 20 vendors At the Avotaynu booth, Google Your Family Tree was the best seller
For years, the conference has a significant person as the keynote speaker at the Sunday evening opening session This year, it was Father Patrick Desbois, the Roman Catholic priest who is best known for his work in searching for and uncovering mass graves of Jews in Ukraine Monday-Thursday, the program started at 7 am with “Breakfast with the Experts” and lasted until 10 pm
More and more, the Jewish conferences are including experts beyond the genealogical community to educate attendees on family history research Two European archivists, the head archivist of Romania and the deputy archivist of Ukraine, gave lectures At least five speakers were university professors
Nearly 1,000 people attended because Philadelphia can attract attendees from the major Jewish population areas of New York and Washington, DC Next year’s conference in Los Angeles will attract a similar number of people as well as the Washington, DC, conference in 2011
Conference planners reported that some of the attendees comments included the words broad-based, robust, high quality, excellent, fantastic, interesting and informative.
In 2010, the 30th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held July 11–16 at the new Marriott Los Angeles at LA LIVE which opens in February 2010 The hotel is located in the heart of the city.
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