I’m heading back to the US for the largest West Coast genealogy conference - and the largest number ever of participating genealogy bloggers (70) – at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree 2011.
I just finished a short visit home after a long trip covering the East Coast. Here are some highlights of that trip.
At the end of March, I ran the MyHeritage.com booth at the Ohio Genealogical Society regional conference in Columbus. I reunited with old friends and colleagues, met new friends and also gave some lectures for local genealogy groups in Dayton and Cleveland.
The New England Regional Conference - in Springfield, Massachusetts – was next. I tried to find the Simpson family, but it seems it was the wrong Springfield. There were some very interesting lectures and the opportunity to work on my personal research with a lecture about genealogy repositories in Romania and Ukraine. A later conversation with the speakers discovered some previously unknown resources.
Talk about busy!
As soon as RootsTech ended, Daniel Horowitz and I flew to Albuquerque (New Mexico) to participate in A Taste of Honey, a community-wide education event, sponsored by MyHeritage.com.
Here we are at the MyHeritage display:
Genealogy is a popular subject here, even though there were many sessions on on completely different topics.
My presentation focused on Genealogy 101 - how to get started and, more importantly, why - while Daniel's presentation encouraged family history researchers to utilize all of MyHeritage.com's features.
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.
Genealogists are not normally a wild bunch.
Our "happy dances" tend to accompany the discovery of new records for elusive ancestors.
Our "wild and crazy" moments happen as we help others find answers to their family history questions or help them locate hard-to-find records. We enjoy discovering the clues and pointers in both unusual and ordinary places.
This week produced two interesting developments.
I'm in northern California - Silicon Valley - at the home of friends, as I rest from one conference and rest up for three more in quick succession with only a day between each, beginning this coming weekend.
So, along with continuing prep work for my presentations - and blogging - it's nice to get in some fun. Fun, to those of us who pursue our roots, can mean many things.
My friend Rosanne is a semi-retired reference librarian - and an accomplished genealogist. I went with her to her library one day last week. As we parked, I noticed this great license plate on the adjacent car. We agreed that the vehicle MUST belong to a genealogist.
Not sure what these are? Read on for quick descriptions and video links to provide more information. I'm focusing on TimeLine in this post.
Timeline is an interactive feature demonstrating the relationship of history's main events to your family's important dates.
This is an important feature because each person's unique family history has always been impacted by worldwide historical events that caused very local effects.
One example might be an early 19th-century cholera epidemic, quite common at the time around the world and frequently fatal for young children and the elderly. Such epidemics may be responsible for many deaths noticed in historical vital records.
And, while regional and world wars covered a wide swath of territory, local events may have "encouraged" your ancestors to move somewhere less chaotic and more safe.
To truly understand the lives of our ancestors, we need to learn about historical events that may have effected them.
As the Jewish Festival of Lights - Chanukah - is celebrated around the world, MyHeritage.com and Beit Hatfutsot (Museum of the Jewish People) have announced their new partnership to grow the Museum's Jewish family tree database and help to preserve Jewish identity.
Family trees built online at MyHeritage.com, via this special page: http://www.myheritage.com/BH or via our free software, Family Tree Builder http://www.myheritage.com/BeitHatfutsot - with the consent of the tree creators - will be transferred to the Museum for digital safekeeping.
MyHeritage.com has 35 million members, 420 million profiles worldwide, and has some 9 million family trees. It operates in 36 languages, making it ideal for families to connect around the world, as it offers easy and fun tools to enable sharing of information, photos, documents and videos among far-flung relatives. Most importantly, privacy controls can be set according to the wishes of the tree creator.
For 30 years, Beit Hatfutsot has been collecting digital information about the Jewish people in many categories. The goal is preservation for the future of these materials, including family trees with millions of records.
A few days ago, I had an opportunity to interview Museum CEO Avinoam Armoni (photo, below left) - a strong believer in genealogy - who understands Jewish identity as well as the important relationships between Jewish people worldwide.
Although our conversation covered future plans of the Museum and how technology will improve public access online to its digitized multimedia database - which includes Jewish genealogy, communities, photos, films and music - the main topic was saving the trees, Jewish family trees!
He believes that this partnership with MyHeritage will add millions of data elements to existing databases at the Museum.
"The immediate benefit of the new arrangement," said Armoni, "is to offer the public free software from MyHeritage.com to create family trees, with the option to share those trees with Beit Hatfutsot."
If you are searching for your Jewish ancestors, here are some essential resources. There were Jewish communities around the world in every country, so one must look for religious records in addition to civil records.
The first step is tracking down where your family came from. Your family might have come from Belarus:
or from anywhere in the Pale of Settlement:
or from North Africa, Spain/Portugal, the Middle East or Asia. Jews from Eastern Europe (who used Yiddish) are generally termed Ashkenazi. Those originally from the Mediterranean area, who may have used Ladino, are called Sephardim, while others used other dialects and languages and are identified as Mizrahi. Different sources are available for each, in many different languages.
The very first place to go to is JewishGen, the home of Jewish genealogy on the internet. The resources available here make it essential for everyone searching Jewish ancestry.
There are many Infofiles on a wide range of topics, arranged by geography and topic. These make for very good reading before you even begin your quest and are highly recommended by experienced genealogists.
The JewishGen FAQs are also essential reading for beginners.
The JewishGenFamily Finder, one of the most popular JewishGen sites, is a great connector. Researchers list their family names and towns of origins with contact details. Those searching for the same names and places can contact the submitters for more details. Many miraculous connections have been made through the Family Finder.
ViewMate is helpful in obtaining help in deciphering and translating documents, photo inscriptions, and other items. An item is uploaded, a notice about it is posted on one of the appropriate discussion lists and volunteers chime in very quickly with the results.
The general discussion list has many readers around the world and very helpful individuals, and there are many special interest group lists are where experts reside.
Special interest groups, called SIGs, have been organized by volunteers on geographical and topical lines. This is where you'll find your geographical experts to help you locate those who know specific communities and available records, archives, translators, many resources and more. Each SIG also has a specialized discussion list.
Many SIGs have participated in transliteration and translation projects with records available online. Some, like Belarus SIG and many others, extract information from Mormon microfilms, translate them and place them online at the SIG site.
In addition to JewishGen, there are other sites, which are collections of links, sites and articles, which are also of major use.
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies maintains a list of its world-wide member societies. Joining a society can help you in many ways. In addition to monthly meetings, reference libraries, you'll find people ready to help you find information you may need.
Some societies also work on various projects such as cemetery transcriptions which help researchers around the world. One society in Israel has transliterated and translated 85,000 burials in two major cemeteries, which has enabled researchers around the world, who do not know Hebrew, to find their relatives' resting places.
Always remember to check MyHeritage's search engine for your names of interest.
I am always happy to hear from readers who may have questions, comments or suggestions. I look forward to reading your messages.
ONLINE JEWISH RESOURCES
The first stop for Jewish genealogists, with a wide array of resources.
Publishers of essential Jewish genealogy works, various online resources and a link to an e-newsletter, Nu? What's Nu?, publisher of Avotaynu: The International Journal of Jewish Genealogy.
Tracing the Tribe - The Jewish Genealogy Blog
The only dedicated Jewish genealogy blog, frequently updated with news, resources, publications, events - in short, everything you need to know about Jewish genealogy as it happens.
Harry Stein's Sephardim.com
Particularly useful for a major index of many specialized books, showing where mentions of specific names may be found; Sephardic customs, links, and a specialized discussion list of some 2,000 world-wide membesr.
One of the best, most complete set of Sephardic genealogy links, organized by topic and geography, by the award-winning author of "Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World" (Avotaynu, 2002).
Compilations of links, articles and much more by the dedicated Ted Margulis.
Online searchable index of Pages of Testimony submitted for Holocaust victims.
A museum with a genealogy center, information on towns, name meanings and more.