Preserving the records of a people helps researchers around the world.
The Korea Times reported on a three-year project to create a digital database of genealogical records organized by the Paik Inje Memorial Library at Inje University.
Now that I'm back to my normal routine, I'm trying to review the great experiences from this summer.
Great times included four conferences in California, Washington State and Texas; visiting dear friends and family members; and meeting several relatives for the first time as we shared family history.
At all the conferences, I helped explain what we do at MyHeritage.com and how our tools and features make it easy for families to connect and communicate no matter where they live.
My suitcase now includes several new T-shirts from this year's events and some for 2011 events.
Here are some highlights:
Some 50 geneabloggers attended the Southern California Genealogical Society's Jamboree this year.
After reconnecting with someone whom I knew in California and who was now in New Jersey, I realized her husband's family's long connection to a small community, now a suburb of a larger city, in that Eastern state. My own family had a long-ago connection to the same community when it was much, much smaller, and more rural.
My great-grandmother's sister and her husband had settled in that small town soon after they arrived in 1905, although my great-grandmother and her family lived in nearby big-city Newark.
I took a chance and asked if the woman's husband, whose family had lived there from the early 1900s, possibly had known my relatives. It was very exciting to learn that my great-grandmother's sister had been the husband's babysitter!
Researchers often dream of being locked up in a library, where we would have all the time in the world to enjoy those resources.
Since we don't usually get the chance to have unlimited access to such facilities, another interesting activity is to be at a conference attended by several hundred librarians.
Daniel Horowitz - Genealogy and Translation Manager at MyHeritage.com - and I were at the Association of Jewish Libraries conference in Seattle, Washington.
On the first day, we met with people from around the US and those who had traveled from other countries. Attendees were from public libraries, universities, schools, archives and many other organizations and institutions.
MyHeritage.com and JewishGen.org have partnered to increase the Family Tree of the Jewish People database.
Here's the official press release:
Tel Aviv, Israel; London, UK and Los Angeles, US – July 10, 2010 – MyHeritage.com and JewishGen.org are now working together to invigorate the Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) project.
Under this collaboration, family trees built with a special version of MyHeritage.com available at http://www.myheritage.com/jewishgen, with the consent of the tree creators, will be transferred periodically to the FTJP for digital safekeeping. Privacy controls, using the MyHeritage.com tools, can be set according to the wishes of the tree creator. Data of existing MyHeritage.com users will not be transferred.
JewishGen is a non-profit organization created to help researchers interested in Jewish genealogy around the world connect to each other, research their families and ancestral geographic locations, participate in research projects and store Jewish family trees safely. The mission of JewishGen is to obtain records and information that will be valuable to those with Jewish ancestry and place them on the JewishGen website, at no cost, in an easy to understand and searchable format.
The Family Tree of the Jewish People is a project of JewishGen to bring together family historians around the world who research Jewish family branches. The project offers a central resource for Jewish family trees and helps re-connect Jewish families.
MyHeritage.com is a genealogical social networking site with more than 50 million members and 590 million profiles worldwide. It currently holds some 15 million family trees. It operates in 36 languages including English and Hebrew, making it ideal for Jewish families around the world to connect, as it offers easy and fun tools to enable sharing of information, photos, documents and videos among far-flung relatives, with complete and secure privacy controls that can be set by tree creators.
“JewishGen is committed to ensuring Jewish continuity for present generations and generations yet to come,” says JewishGen managing director Warren Blatt. “Our free, easy-to-use website features thousands of databases, research tools and other resources to help those with Jewish ancestry research and find family members. The vision of JewishGen is to connect Jews throughout the world with their relatives and provide them with the ability to learn about their family history and heritage.”
“MyHeritage.com – a site used all over the world and by all religions – is among the most popular genealogy websites in the Jewish world, making it a natural partner for JewishGen”, said Blatt. “The benefit of this partnership is to offer the free website tools from MyHeritage.com to create and research family trees, with the option to share those trees with the thousands of JewishGen users via the FTJP. Under the new partnership, the FTJP will be invigorated and constantly updated, resulting in an accurate, up-to-date and constantly growing Jewish family tree database for JewishGen.”
“We are excited to join forces with JewishGen,” said Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com, himself an avid genealogist and a member of JewishGen since August 2000. “We see it as a privilege to cooperate with JewishGen and help it preserve family trees of people who wish to discover, and be discovered by, fellow researchers and relatives," Japhet added. "Our Smart Matching technology will provide genealogists the added benefit of discovering additional relatives through the large databases on MyHeritage.com. This will fulfill the mutual objective of MyHeritage.com and JewishGen to reunite families whose ties have been lost through time and fate."
MyHeritage.com was founded by a team of people who combine their passion for family history with the development of innovative technology. Since launching in November 2005 MyHeritage.com has become the world’s leading international online network for families and the second largest family history website. The fastest growth rates in the industry combined with the acquisitions of Pearl Street Software (2007), Kindo.com (2008) and OSN (2009) have made MyHeritage.com the home for 50 million family members and 590 million profiles. The company has offices in London, UK; Hamburg, Germany; Boulder, Colorado, USA and Tel Aviv, Israel. MyHeritage.com has received funding by Accel Partners and Index Ventures. For more information, visit http://www.myheritage.com/jewishgen
JewishGen, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, was founded in 1987 as a bulletin board with only 150 users who were interested in Jewish genealogy. Primarily driven by volunteers, there are over 700 active volunteers throughout the world who actively contribute to its ever growing collection of databases, resources and search tools. Currently, JewishGen hosts more than 14 million records, and provides a myriad of resources and search tools designed to assist those researching their Jewish ancestry. JewishGen provides its resources online as a public service.
The recently concluded Southern California Genealogical Society's 41st Jamboree presented numerous such sessions.
Sometimes there are sessions at which the proverbial lightbulb switches on. Such essential knowledge is transmitted that the participants then find it difficut to look at their own individual family histories in quite the same way as before.
All of us have family stories that might be termed myths. How can we determine whether a story may be fact or fiction?
A fascinating session on just this topic was given by Jean Wilcox Hibben. With a PhD in folkore, an MA in speech communication, and a Certified Genealogist, Jean is president of both the Corona (California) Genealogical Society and the Southern California chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild secretary and much more.
I have to admit that some of my own recent research is not as organized as it could be, due to lack of time. There are notes on loose papers not yet in the correct folder or binder. There are photographs waiting to be sorted. There are miscellaneous printed emails that I understand - would anyone else?
Although beginning researchers might not think about this important topic, it is essential to address at every stage of research.
What will happen to your research if you become ill or worse? Will it be just thrown away? Will close family or other relatives understand what your work represents and its value?
This is a very personal topic for me as our family lost a 300-year-old family tree brought by one of the last family members to arrive from Belarus to the US in the early 1900s. He died in Florida in the 1950s and neither of his children were there. Everything in the house, including our priceless family history, was simply thrown away.
No matter how much research I do, the information contained in that tree will be impossible to replace in its entirety. It was compiled by those who lived that history and who knew much more than I can ever learn.
Today's family history researchers see varying attitudes among their own children.
Some are disappointed and say their children have no interest at all in this journey of discovery; while others can point to an early curiosity in their children.
How can we encourage our children, regardless of their age, toddlers through young adults? Are there classes for kids? What techniques are available?
Instill in each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild a sense of their own family heritage. Share those family stories, the good and the bad of your own childhood. No matter how young, teach them, show them; remember that they are the future, for you, for me, for genealogy.(Page 2, Winter 2009 Newsletter, Young Genealogists Association)
One program that has drawn much attention is the annual Kid's Family History Camp, associated with the Southern California Genealogical Society's annual Jamboree conference and in conjunction with the Youth Genealogists Association. More than 150 people attended the 2009 kids' camp, which featured such topics as creating and preserving your family history, genealogy games, family history storytelling, genealogy merit badge, genealogy art and more.
The program is free and open to the public, for boys and girls ages 8-16. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. This year, the program runs from 9am-noon, on Friday, June 11, Jamboree's opening day, at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Hotel and Convention Center (Burbank, California).
The SCGS program is also designed for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who are working on obtaining their genealogy badges. See badge requirements here. The camp is also a resource for students working on class "roots" assignments.
Students planning to attend should download a pedigree chart and a family group sheet and complete it as best they can.
For more information on this special program, and to download the various forms, click here.
My summer was bracketed by two major conferences and both provided sessions on photograph and video technology.
The Southern California Genealogical Society 2009 Jamboree (June 26-29, Burbank) provided several sessions by experts Tony Burroughs, Maureen Taylor and Tom Underhill.
Burroughs' session on "Lights, Camera, Action," gave attendees the bsics on turning genealogical documents, photos, interviews and videos into a family history documentary on your computer. He stressed that editing video tapes is easy and not expensive and he covered equipment, costs and demonstrated sample videos.
His basic equipment package includes software, computer, camcorder, connections, video card, computer skills, and techniques for shooting and editing. A useful resource mentioned was Video Maker Magazine. A UK source was Practical Digital Video (formerly DigitalVideo Techniques), but its website was down.
Taylor's "Immigrant Clues in Photographs," provided clothing clues (military, work or trade), regional or ethnic dress, props in the photo, location, celebrations, a postmark (if a card was mailed), the studio/photographer name, etc. Another session focused on identifying and preserving photos, and provided an extensive bibliography for more information.
"The iPod and the Genealogist," with Underhill, offered ways "to integrate family history into future generations and how to integrate the next generation into genealogy." The premise was interesting and utilized working with the younger generations with the technology they were familiar with, while incorporating family history into email, video, internet research, scanning, sharing and collaboration.
I joined the digital camera era several years ago, and have always meant to take a class in how to do better with it. As we all know, life has a way of getting in the way of allowing us to do what we really want. Fortunately, the 29th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, held August 2-7, in Philadelphia, also provided such sessions as "Digital Photography for Genealogy," "Plotting Your Family History Using Google Earth," as well as sessions on preserving documents and photographs.