Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 11, Number 5 | March 7, 2010
This edition is going to 8,606 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.
FamilyTreeDNA to Offer Autosomal-Based Tests
FamilyTreeDNA will shortly offer autosomal-based tests which will identify close relationships along all ancestral lines. It will be possible to match male and female cousins from any of your family lines within five generations. The test will not only indicate you are related to another person, but if within five generations, exactly how closely related. Anticipated cost for the test is $249. Additional information can be found at http://www.familytreedna.com/landing/family-finder.aspx. At the site you can sign up to be notified when the test is available.
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. While reading the article about the planned speakers for the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy which will be held this July in Los Angeles, I was amazed at how the conference planners now reach out beyond the Jewish genealogical community for lecturers. The list is an array of stars that includes:
Linda G. Levi, of the American Joint Distribution Committee, who will explain how the Joint’s archives is organized and describe how to conduct research there.
Renowned geneticist, Dr. Harry Ostrer, who will speak on “The Jewish HapMap: What Genetics Has Given to Jews and What Jews Have Given to Genetics” and other topics
Lisa Yavnai, Director of the Registry of Holocaust Survivors at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), will discuss the registry with a view towards the future. Megan Lewis and Jo-Ellyn Decker, also from USHMM, will discuss “Improving Your Research Experience at the USHMM.” They will also discuss how to use the records of the International Tracing Service at the museum.
Professor Vincent Cannato of the University of Massachusetts will give the Lucille Gudis Memorial lecture on his book, American Passage: The History of Ellis Island, the first full history of America’s landmark port of entry.
Zvi Bernhardt, Deputy Director of the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, will speak on “Using the Yad Vashem Database (of Shoah Victims’ Names) for Beginners.”
Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, will offer guidance on how to interpret and preserve photographs.
More country-specific lectures will be given by:
Wolf-Erich Eckstein, director of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde of Vienna; Julius Muller, director of Toledot, the Jewish Family History Center in Prague; Dr. Egle Bendikaite, associate professor at the Vilnius Institute in Lithuania; and Yale Reisner of the Jewish Genealogy and Family Heritage Learning Center at the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.
The keynote speaker, Daniel Mendelsohn, is author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million. Arthur Kurzweil is Scholar in Residence.
The program has not been posted yet but it is anticipated that about 150 lectures will be presented over the six-day period.
Oh yes, my contribution to the lectures is “The Paternal History of Bernie Madoff.” About a year ago, as an intellectual exercise, I traced the notorious Madoff’s family history back to 1807 using the Internet. I then realized it is an excellent example of how to use census, naturalization and immigration records to trace one’s American ancestors, so it is now part of my regular lecture repertoire.
The conference is being held at the Marriott LIVE Hotel in Los Angeles from July 11–16, 2010. Additional information can be found at http://www.jgsla2010.com. To keep up to date about conference information, subscribe to the newsletter at http://www.jgsla2010.com/about/sign-up-for-the-announcements-newsletter/.
Commentary on Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America
The American version of the genealogy-oriented program Who Do You Think You Are? premiered this past Friday, the same week as the four-part series Faces of America concluded. I found the former program quite interesting and think that it might motivate other Americans to research their family history. Apparently, the rest of the public agreed, because one of the sponsors is Ancestry.com and about 15 minutes after the program ended I went to Ancestry.com for routine business and got the message, “We are experiencing higher than usual traffic volume. Thank you for your patience."
Faces of America was more entertaining than informative. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presented celebrities with albums of photos and documents of their ancestors and the reaction was wide-eyed amazement. The final program discussed at length the value of DNA in family history research and explained in a clear manner the concept of haplogroups. If you missed this series which was on PBS, it undoubtedly will be rerun at some future date. Episode 4, with its discussion of DNA is available, at least now, at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/facesofamerica/video/episode-4-know-thyself/237/.
1930 U.S. Census Available Free of Charge on the Internet
Portions of the 1930 U.S. census are on the Internet free of charge at http://www.archive.org/details/1930_census. The records are unindexed and organized by enumeration district (ED) within state. To determine the correct enumeration district use the Stephen P. Morse “1900-1940 Census ED Finder” located at http://stevemorse.org/census/index.html. This requires that you know the street address where the person lived. The Morse site also requires the cross streets of the block where the person lived. Determine the cross streets using any online map site such as mapquest.com. The result is usually two EDs because often the opposite sides of a street are in separate EDs. Then browse through the ED pages to find the street address.
Museum of Family History Screening Room
MuseumofFamilyHistory.com has evolved into a remarkable site. While its creator, Steve Lasky, may have originally intended it to be a site of interest to Jewish genealogists, it is now a site about modern Jewish history and culture.
One intriguing portion of the site is its multi-media room that currently has 27 films on a variety of subjects, many Holocaust related. There is also a film clip about “The Goldbergs,” a 1950s television show about a Jewish family living in New York City. Some films are available for a limited time. They can be found at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-films.htm. They include such items as Al Jolson singing Kol Nidre and pre-World War II Jewish life in the cities of Kaunas, Riga, L’viv, Bialystok and Krakow.
Visit the site map at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/sm.htm to gain an understanding of the complete scope of this Internet site.
New Internet Sites and Updates
More Canadian Newspapers Digitized by Google. Google News Archives now includes archived editions of the Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and the YMHA Beacon. The News Archives is located at http://news.google.com/archivesearch/advanced_search. It appears to include only newspapers from the U.S. and Canada for the period 1880 to about 2005.
1939 “Census” of England and Wales Available. In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, there was a National Registration of all persons living in England and Wales. The National Health Service Information Center is now making available this information for £42 per search. Data will only be released for those individuals who are deceased and recorded as deceased. Information about members of a household includes names, sex, age, occupation, profession, residence, marriage status, membership in the military or civil defense. Additional information about the project can be found at http://www.ic.nhs.uk/news-and-events/news/nhs-ic-launches-the-1939-register-service.
Ohio Obituary Index Online. More than 1.5 million Ohio obituaries, death and marriage notices are now online at http://www.rbhayes.org/hayes/index/. The time period is from 1810 to the present. It is only for selected counties and does not include the counties in which Cleveland and Cincinnati are located. The source of the data is newspaper notices.
Aerial Photographs of Lithuanian Cities. A link to aerial photographs of a large number of Lithuanian cities can be found at http://www.lithuania-photo.com/all-cities/. On the toolbar, click the rightmost icon to get a full-screen view of the photograph.
Site for Jews of Unterfranken, Bavaria, Germany. There is a site that provides information about the history of the Jews of Unterfranken, Bavaria, Germany. It is only in German and located at http://www.historisches-unterfranken.uni-wuerzburg.de/. Data includes biographical information including name, date of birth, marriage, date of death, and occupation and other related data from sources such as registration offices and Jewish community registries. Some tombstone inscriptions and family trees are also at the site.
Jewish Refugees in Morocco. An additional 8,120 names has been added to the index of Jewish refugees in Morocco during WWII. The database is searchable at http://www.jewishtraces.org/search.php.
Firefox’s Keyword Feature
A genealogy friend of mine recently wrote in an e-mail, “I can never find the bookmark I need since I save so many.” I read it with a smile. I currently have more than 200 web sites bookmarked and get to them with great ease. That is because I use Firefox as my browser, not Internet Explorer, and take advantage of its unique feature called “keyword.”
When I want to check the weather in my home town, rather than type the URL or search for the bookmark, I merely type “weather” in the URL box. If I want to know how the dollar is doing against the euro, I reach the web site by merely typing “currency” in place of the URL. The sites visited most often are reached with only one or two letters. Typing “a” gets me to Ancestry.com; “av” opens up the Avotaynu home page; “jg” for JewishGen.
It is possible with the keyword feature of the Firefox browser. Every time a site is bookmarked in Firefox, you can associate a keyword with the site. Then to reach the site, merely type the keyword. Unfortunately, Firefox does not allow you to add the keyword when you bookmark a URL. You must first bookmark it, then go to Organize Bookmarks, find the URL and open up the More option at the bottom of the page which exposes the keyword field. This inconvenience is well worth the future advantages of the keyword feature.
I cannot find this feature in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Regarding Google’s Chrome browser, if you install Chrome using Firefox, it will copy the Firefox bookmarks including the keywords, which can then be used in Chrome, but there is no evidence that it is possible to assign keywords to new Chrome bookmarks. You can download Firefox at http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/upgrade.html.
JDC Indexing Project- Summer Internship Opportunity
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in New York is seeking Indexing Project Summer Interns for an opportunity to assist with a new archive project to index historic lists in the Joint’s archives. The qualified intern will have the opportunity to engage with primary source material regarding the Joint’s work since 1914. Summer internships require a commitment of 2–3 months, with a weekly commitment of 3–5 days. Supervision and training will be provided. Interested applicants please send resume and brief Letter of Interest as Word attachments to email@example.com. Show “JDC Summer Indexing Project Internship” in the subject line.
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