29 June 2015

This year in Jerusalem! IAJGS 2015

I will be heading to Jerusalem later this week in advance of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference that starts on Monday, 6 July 2015. I have never been to Israel, so I will be arriving a few days early and staying a few days extra to do some sight-seeing.

During the conference, I will be delivering two presentations.

"Jewish Genealogy:  How to Start, Where to Look, What’s Available." Monday, 6 July 2015 at 2:00 P.M.  
This beginning Jewish genealogy class will discuss best genealogical practices and resources for research in the USA records, immigration records and the Old Country.

"When it Takes a Village: Applying Cluster Research Techniques." Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 3:00 P.M..  Sometimes tracking one’s immigrant ancestors tests all one’s research acumen. Identifying a subject ancestor, his/her origins, and parentage; tracking that subject through time; and constructing biographies to place that person in his/her social context is best approached by broadening one’s research to include other family members, associates and neighbors. This presentation will outline a program for solving genealogical research problems via cluster research techniques. Topics will include: appropriate application, research planning, commonly used resources and documents, and case studies successfully tracking individuals from Europe to the United States, overcoming name and residential changes.

If you will be attending the IAJGS conference stop in and say "hello." Better yet, attend one of my talks. 

If you won't be attending the conference but would like to catch some of the presentations live or taped, look into On Demand! For a fee one may view selected live-streamed IAJGS 2015 presentations or watch them at one's leisure before 10 October 2015. My "Jewish Genealogy" talk will be included in On Demand!

I will not be publishing "Tombstone Tuesday" or "Treasure Chest Thursday" themed posts this week or next, but I will blog about the conference next week. Stay tuned.

23 June 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Max and Rose Simon Schechter, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

Rose Shechter (nee Rochel Schames) was the daughter of Philip and Sima Simon and the sister of Israel Simon. She married fellow Lubin/Labun native Max (Motel) Schechter in Europe prior to immigration.

Here lies
Rochel daughter of Feivish
Died 1st day in the month of Iyar 5703
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
DIED MAY 5, 1943

When I recorded photos of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots at Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, NY, I could not get a photo of Max's gravestone - it was hidden by vegetation. I was able, however, to pull the vegetation back and read the basic information in the inscription.

Max was Mordechai son of Shimon. He died at the age of 83 on 21 April 1968. 

Max emigrated from Lubin in 1909. His occupation was listed as glazier and he continued that profession in New York.[1] Rose followed from Lubin in 1912.[2] Their only child, Abraham, was born in New York in about 1914. Census records show Max's widowed mother, Fannie (Feiga) Schechter, living with Max, Rose and Abraham from at least 1925 through 1940.[3] The 1940 census shows Abraham, a high school graduate, working as a glazier.

Max's and Rose's surname is spelled either Shechter or Schechter in a variety of records. In fact, while Rose's tombstone indicates "Shechter," on her death certificate, the surname is "Schecter." However, her son Abraham, the informant on the death certificate signed his name "Schechter."

Both Max and Rose are buried in block 89, gate 156N (one of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots) at Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY. Max in in line 11R, grave 5 and Rose is in line 5L, grave 4.

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2011), manifest, S.S. Cleveland, Hamburg to New York, arriving 29 August 1909, list 2, line 19, Motel Schechter, citing NARA Microfilm Serial T715.
2. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 April 2011), manifest, S.S. Barbarossa, Bremen to New York, arriving 14 March 1913, list 15, line 30, Rochel Schechter, citing NARA Microfilm Serial T715, roll 2028.
3. Queens County, New York, 1925 New York State census enumeration, Richmond Hill, assembly district 5, election district 49, sheet 6, entry 38, Fanny Shechter; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2015); New York State Archives, Albany.
Queens County, New York, 1930 U.S. census, population schedule, Richmond Hill, enumeration district 41-519, sheet 12A, dwelling 187, family 243, Fannie Schechter; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2015); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1068.
Queens County, New York, 1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Ozone Park, enumeration district 41-16971, sheet 1B, household 252, Fannie Scheter; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 April 2015); NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2751.

18 June 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Shidlover Young Men's Association, FLPBA anniversary publication

A variety of business associates and friends paid for advertisements in both the 25th anniversary (1936) and 1949 publications for the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association. In this case, another landsmanshaft organization purchased an ad.

Greetings from the
Shidlover Young Men's Society
Officers 1949

Philip Fleisher                          President
Mrs. Flora Kohn                        Vice-President
Irving Wohl                               Financial Secetary
Shabse Osulke                          Recording Secretary
David Cholewa                         Treasurer

The Shidlover Young Men's Society was likely the landsmanshaft for immigrants from Szydłów (Shidlova in Yiddish), Poland. That community was in the Kielce District (before World War I, Russian Empire; between the wars, Poland). There is a similarly named community in Lithuania: Šiluva (Shidleve in Yiddish). However, checking the surnames on this 1949 list of officers against names of current researchers on JewishGen, leads me to believe that
Szydłów is more likely. Two of the surnames listed (Osulke and Cholewa) are also found among Szydłów researchers and not among those studying Šiluva.

I have not located anyone of the name Cholewa nor Osulke in the 1940 census enumeration for New York City.

Szydłów was not located any where near Lubin, Volhynia Gunbernia. It may be that this group placed an ad based upon friendships developed in New York after immigration.

According to the "WPA Yiddish Writer's Group Study" conducted in 1938, the Shidlover Young Men's Society was started in 1916 in New York City.

16 June 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Israel and Yetta Simon, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

The last Tombstone Tuesday post featured the graves of Philip and Sima Simon. Israel Simon, whose grave, along with his wife Yetta's, is documented in this post, was their son.

Ita daughter of Mordechai
Died 27 Tammuz 5717
Died JULY 26, 1957
[text hidden by vegetation]
Yisrael son of Feivish
Died 11 Av 5736


Israel Simon entered the United States as Sruel Schames in 1909.[1] The manifest indicates Sruel was born and resided in Labary, Russia. I do not believe there is or was such a place. If not for located Israel's naturalization records, I probably would not have recognized his manifest entry as someone from our common ancestral community, Labun.[2]

Israel indicated on his manifest that he was a a glazier and, like his father (and so many others) maintained that occupation in New York City.

In 2 June 1912 he married Yetta Waksenberg, daughter of Morris and Shrintze.[3] I have yet to determine Yetta's origins in Russia or locate her naturalization or manifest records. There is a couple named Waxenberg also buried in the Montefiore FLPBA plot, but I do not know if they are related to Yetta.

Israel and Yetta had three children: Abraham (27 March 1914 - 10 November 1982), Sara (b. 2 February 1916) and Shirley (b. 13 July 1923).[2] [4]

Israel and Yetta Simon are buried in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association Plot in Montefiore Cemetery, block 89, gate 156N, line 9R, graves 5 and 6. 

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 June 2015), manifest, S.S. Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, Hamburg to New York, arriving 26 June 1909, list 12, line 24, Sruel Schames, citing NARA Microfilm Serial T715, roll 1293.
2. Israel Simon, naturalization petition number 55083 (29 December 1924), Southern District of New York; Records of the District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.
3. "New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1866-1938," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 9 June 2015), entry for Isador Simon and Yetta Wakenberg (2 June 1912); citing New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 12742, Municipal Archives, New York City.  
4. "U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014," index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 June 2015); entry for Abraham Simon, November 1982, Broward County, Florida.

11 June 2015

Treasure Chest Thursday: Herman Molthman family advertisement, 1949 FLPBA anniversary publication

Herman Molthman is part of a Malzmann family from Lubin/Labun who are likely related to me. So far I cannot tell how. I posted previously about this here. Herman and family also purchased an advertisement in the twenty fifth FLPBA anniversary publication.

My Malzmanns from Labun changed their name to Myers in the USA. Herman, eldest son of Benjamin Molthman and Fannie Bernstein, emigrated as Chaim Malzmann with his mother and sisters in 1910.[1] They, too, were from Labun. His father changed the surname to Molthman. His father's brother, Abraham, changed his last name to Maltman.

Chaim became Hyman and, eventually, Herman. Like his father (and so many other former Lubiners in New York City), Herman became a glazier.

On 6 July 1924, Herman married Sylvia Labovitz, daughter of Abraham Labovitz and Anna Sperling.[2] Herman and Sylvia has one child, Claire, born in 1925.[3] 

Herman and Sylvia eventually followed their daughter and her husband Jacob Berger out of New York City. Sylvia died on 4 September 1988 in Fulton County, Georgia.[4] Herman passed away on 19 November 1992 in Hendersonville, North Carolina.[5] They are buried in Arlington Memorial Park, Sandy Springs, Georgia.[6]

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 February 2009), manifest, S.S. Cleveland, Hamburg to New York, arriving 4 January 1910, list 13, line 20, Feiga Malzmann, citing NARA Microfilm Serial T715, roll 1547.
2. Kings County, New York, marriage certificate no. 10412 (6 July 1924), Herman Molthman and Sylvia Labovitz; Municipal Archives, New York City.
3. Kings County, New York, 1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Brooklyn, enumeration district 24-1701, sheet 1B, household 19, Herman, Sylvia and Claire Molthman; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2014); NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2590.
4. "Georgia Deaths, 1919-1998," index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 June 2015), Sylvia Molthman, 4 September 1988; citing State of Georgia Health Department.
5. "North Carolina Death Indexes, 1908-2004," index, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 October 2013), entry for Herman Molthman, November 1992; citing North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Raleigh.
6. "Jewishgen Online Worldwide Burial Registry," index, JewishGen.org (http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery/ : accessed 11 June 2015), entries for Herman Molthman and Sylvia Molthman.

10 June 2015

SCGS Jamboree: Day 3 presentations (7 June 2015)

On the final day of Jamboree I attended an eclectic mix of presentations.

Lisa A. Alzo, "How to Overcome Brick Walls in Eastern European Research"

If I have one mantra I suggest for beginning researchers it's, "exhaust all records in the immigration country before heading overseas to explore one's ancestors." Too often new Jewish genealogy researchers want to jump to Europe - or whatever the country of origin - before learning their immigrants' original names and communities of origin. 

I think Lisa Alzo would concur. The same principles apply, really, to all brick wall issues, regardless of geography: exhaustively search for sources and information; read provided descriptions for online databases so one will know what is and isn't included; use original records, not just indexes; seek out records that may not yet be online; understand the context of one's ancestors' lives; concentrate on one family line at a time.

Additional suggestions include: creating timelines for one's ancestors; broaden one's research to include collateral relatives; network with others through, perhaps, social media such as blogs and message forums; and utilize mind maps.

Alzo also included a nice list of suggested resources.

Drew Smith, "Using Evernote as Your Primary Tool for Capturing Notes and Ideas"

I've heard presentations on Evernote before and I keep on considering, but not adopting it as a tool for my research. I've heard Drew Smith talk about his Evernote presentations on the Genealogy Guys podcast, so I thought this 90 minute presentation might be the swift kick I needed to get me started. 

Smith virtually walked us through establishing an account, entering notes and managing them. He suggested several uses of Evernote for genealogy research. The program is flexible enough that one may organize one's notes consistent with one's comfort and style into notebooks, tags or both. 

Smith included some nice ideas for integrating Evernote with one's email program. He also laid out some things to consider if thinking about upgrading from the free version to Evernote Premium. 

I heard somewhere from someone several months ago that a good strategy for adopting a tool like Evernote is to decide to use it for a week. After the week is up one should be comfortable with the program, have a notion of its utility and created good habits in using it. I think I'm just about ready to take the plunge.

Anita Rochelle Paul, "Who What When Where? Using Journalism Techniques to Write Your Story"

Paul, apparently, is known as the "Author's Midwife." One only has to have produced a journal article or tried to write a book to appreciate the thought that producing such as work is something akin to childbirth. Paul is a writer's coach.

Genealogists are pretty good at addressing the journalistic questions who, what, when, and where. Why and how are often much more difficult, although those last two are the questions that are the basis of creative story-telling.

Paul sees the journalist as the intersection of the sleuth and the story-teller and suggests we develop our story-telling skills for producing a book by: having a purpose/goal and theme; connecting with readers through a good story to which readers may relate; and defining and keeping the reader in mind. Think about what you would like the reader to think, feel, or do after closing the book.

Michael D. Lacopo, "Incorporating Social History into Your Genealogical Research"

Michael Lacopo's talk was a good follow-up to Anita Paul's presentation. He talked about the resources one may use to add human interest to our dry who, what, when and where.

The social history one may tap includes information on the lives of ordinary people in the context of the places and times of your ancestors. Even if one doesn't know the exact why and how for those on one's family tree, one may better understand the information one has by learning about demographics of the time period (racial, ethnic, labor, gender, familial, urban/rural, etc.). 

He suggests, if one does not have personal accounts in one's family records, to find and read accounts of those who took the same or similar immigrant voyages or lived their lives in similar contexts.

Actually, I think context is key not only for good story-telling, but also for good (and exhaustive) genealogy research.

09 June 2015

SCGS Jamboree: Day 2 presentations (6 June 2015)

My theme for Saturday's selections was definitely cluster genealogy. The first three talks I attended had that as their major theme. 

In my previous Jamboree post I noted the annoyance of speaker handouts that were not, for some reason included by the Jamboree app manager in the conference app.  I attended five presentations on Saturday and two did not have handouts accessible via the app: Lisa Alzo's and George Findlen's. Handouts for their talks were, however, located on the CD syllabus.

Lisa A. Alzo, "Letters, Ledgers, and Lodge Books: Finding Ancestors with Ethnic Resources"

The entire concept of seeking out records from organizations in which one's ancestor might have belonged presupposes value in cluster research or the FAN (friends, associates and neighbors) principle.

One should note witnesses on certificates and applications and try to determine the relationship of those people to the target of one's research.  Lisa noted that in the western Pennsylvania Slovak community in which she grew up there was reverse social networking: schools and work places sponsored events for their immigrant populations. People were also involved in church gatherings, clubs and fraternal organizations.

Resources from these types of organizations may be located via home and family sources; local libraries, genealogical and historical societies; and organizational websites. Sources may include: lodge books and business ledgers, membership applications, jewelry, calling cards, death benefit claims, and organizational newsletters.

Alzo also provided a nice comprehensive list of articles, guides and websites.

Sara Gredler, "Applying the FAN Methodology to a Community: Snowville, VA"

Since I was so enamored of Sara Gredler's Reunion software presentation on Friday, I decided to catch her presentation on using the FAN Principle to place ancestors in context.  

Often genealogists use cluster research to answer identity questions. But, Sara's research question involved a why question: Why did her subject, Asiel, and his some of his siblings move to Virginia from Massachusetts?  

To answer this question Gredler researched the social and economic context of her subject, his family and his neighbors. She looked at census and tax records, deeds, postmaster lists, town histories, the influence of religion, cemetery records and other Massachusetts transplants.

The answer is likely complex and, perhaps, still unknown, but an interesting study nonetheless.

George L. Findlen, " Finding What Can't be Found: A Case Study in Whole Family Research"

In his take on cluster research and evidence analysis, George Findlen presented his study in French Canadian research: who were Marie Felicite's parents and how do we know?

Lack of records directly addressing this issue led to a quest for indirect evidence in records of Marie's children, siblings, nieces and grandchildren.

He suggested conducting exhaustive searches for all vital records for two whole generations; writing full source citations for all records used; acquiring digitized copies of all records or transcribing them; noting and identifying all witnesses on documents; and, of course (in line with the Genealogical Proof Standard) preparing a written statement of one's reasoning for any conclusions reached.

Bottom line: indirect evidence can be as powerful as direct evidence.

Thomas MacEntee, After You've Gone: Future-Proofing Your Research"

For something completely different I chose to attend Thomas MacEntee's presentation on concerns and plans for passing on ones research. Thomas has a knack for thinking of eveything - and I came away with some great information and ideas. 

He suggested that one must have a plan. Create an inventory of your paper files/binders and digital files and online profiles.  Write down how your heirs may access your computer presence and determine what should be done with your profiles. 

Probably the best thoughts: have a conversation with your family and include your plans in estate planning.

Peggy Clemens Lauritzen, " Treasure in Township Records" 

Peggy Lauritzen's talk focused on record collections  that are rarely microfilmed, including: village and township stories, school section records (deeds and teacher registers), records of the poor, militia records, road tax records, marks and brands and building construction guidelines.

She recommended being prepared by knowing county history and spending time reading every entry in grantee/grantor indices. Trace individuals through every tax year. 

These types of records may be at the county or regional level. Check both.

Tombstone Tuesday: Philip and Sima Simon, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

Some of these "Tombstone Tuesday" posts regarding the townspeople of Labun buried in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in New York, are much more complicated than I anticipated. 
  • Translate the tombstone text. Check!
  • Load up the photo. Check!
  • Locate a few census records. Check! 
  • Document children, occupation, parents. Check!
Done! - - - Oh! No so fast! 

I am finding relationships among these people that are becoming complex and crying for further analysis. This analysis would take longer than the time I have for preparing this particular post. So, forewarning: there is (always) more to be learned and I will leave you with nuggets of information for further research on this family.

Here lies
Shraga Feivish son of Abraham
Died 24 Sivan 5681
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living
My beloved
and dear Father
Philip Simon
Died June 30, 1921
Age 70 Years

Philip, like so many of his Labun friends and relatives became a glazier in New York City. I have yet to locate him in any census. I have likely found him as F. Simon (F for Feivish, his Yiddish first name) in a 1920 city directory. 

Ordinarily I would check with in the 1920 census via the Unified ED Finder in Steve Morse's One-Step website. This would allow me to find the enumeration district (ED) for F. Simon's 1920 address (1586 or 1556 1st Avenue, NYC) and then page through the ED to locate that address and see if a family named Simon was living there. The Steve Morse site has, unfortunately, been offline for a few days and, now that it is back online, is not quite operating correctly. So this research will be delayed.

Philip appears to have been born in 1851 and emigrated to the United States about 1903.[1] His parents were Abram Simon and Anna Brown. Both parents' names, as reported on his death certificate, are likely anglicized. I have not located his manifest nor any naturalization record. [Updated, 31 July 2017, Philip (Feiwus Schames) arrived with his niece Rochel Schames on the S.S. Grosser Kurkurst in February 1909.*]

For some reason I did not locate and photograph Philip's wife, Sima's, stone in Montefiore. Actually, it's stranger than that. Neither Philip nor Sima are located in Montefiore Cemetery's online locator. Yet, I've have located Philip's grave in the FLPBA plot and Sima's death certificate indicates she is also buried in Montefiore Cemetery.[2]

According to her death certificate, Sima was born in Russia to Abraham Auerbach and his wife Anna (surname unknown) in April 1860 and died in Queens, NY on 31 May 1933.

Philip and Sima Simon had at least two children: Israel (sometimes called Isadore and Issie) and Rose. Israel married Yetta Waksenberg. Rose married Max Shechter. Both couples are also buried in the Montefiore FLPBA plots.

The Fanny and Samuel Schwartz, Issie and Yetta Simon, Max and Rose Shechter, and Abraham and Rose Klein families may all be related. In the 1925 New York State census, Sam and Fanny, Max and Rose, and Abe and Rose lived in adjacent homes.[3] In the 1930 census, Issie Simon's family lived next door to his sister Rose Shechter's.[4] In the 1940 census, Fanny Schwartz, a widow, lived with her children next door to the Shechters and the Simons.[5] They were all supported by occupation as glaziers and all, except Abraham and Rose Klein, were buried in the Montefiore FLPBA plots.

Philip's grave is in block 89, gate 156N in the FLPBA plot at Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY. 

Manifest, S.S. Grosser Kurfürst, 3 February 1909, list 41, line 21, Feiwus Schames, age 40; images, "New York, Passenger manifests, 1820-1957, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 July 2013).
1. New York County, New York, death certificate 16316 (29 June 1921), Philip Simon, Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. Queens County, New York, death certificate 3640 (31 May 1933), Sema Simon, Municipal Archives, New York City.
3. 1925 New York State Census, Queens County, New York, enumeration of inhabitants, Richmond Hill, assembly district 5, election district 49, page 6, Samuel and Fanny Schwartz family, Abraham and Rose Klein family, and Max and Rose Shechter family; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2015); New York State Archives, Albany.
4. 1930 U.S. Census, Queens County, New York, population schedule, Richmond Hill, enumeration district 41-519, sheet 12A, dwelling 186, family 242, Issie and Yetta Simon family with Sima Simon, dwelling 187, family 243, Max and Rose Shechter family; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1068.
5. 1940 U.S. Census, Queens County, New York population schedule, Ozone Park, enumeration district 41-1697, sheet 11B, household 249, Israel and Yetta Simon, household 250, Fannie Schwartz, household 252, Max and Rosa Scheter [Shechter]; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 April 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2751.

08 June 2015

SCGS Jamboree: Day 1 presentations (5 June 2015)

I really like the apps provided for conferences during the last several years. Similar to other conferences I've attended, Jamboree provided a downloadable app, a syllabus with all handouts for the entire conference on CD (some conferences provide thumb drives, instead) and, if one wanted to pay for it, a hard copy syllabus. 

I've come to depend upon conference apps as I plan my time:  selecting presentations to attend during each session and downloading handouts. Having a handout before me during a talk helps note-taking (substantially reducing it). 

I usually do not look at the CD/thumbdrive (if at all) until I get home. Unfortunately, for some reason, there were several handouts included on the Jamboree CD that did not also appear on the app. This was very annoying. I attended several presentations where the speaker would say, "This information is included on the handout." But, there was no downloadable handout in the app.

Thomas W. Jones, "The Jones Jinx: Tracing Common Names"

Such was, unfortunately, the case with Tom Jones presentation. Jones' handout was somewhat minimal compared to those he's produced for other talks (I've previously had the pleasure of hearing him speak at NGS and Rootstech/FGS). Nevertheless, it would have been helpful for following along.

The topic was strategies for identifying people with common surnames. His recommendation is to focus on an ancestor's identity, not just their name. Once we know the unambiguous facts about a target person, we then look at him/her in context: who were the family members, friends, associates and neighbors? 

As we move from record to record, from associated individual to individual and from generation to generation, we must trust no record and make sure our conclusions are based upon multiple points of correlation/corroboration among information in records.

Sara Gredler, "Using Reunion for Mac to Document Beyond the Individual"

I did not expect to love this presentation. I've been using Reunion software on my Mac for a while and, while not an expert, I am far from a novice. 

While I knew that I might learn some new tips and tricks for using Reunion software for managing my research, I was pleased that Sara Gredler's concerns match some of mine: how does one use Reunion when conducting research on multiple, possibly related families, communities, etc.? How does one deal with those people (I call them "floaters") who one knows are related to one's family, but one has yet to figure out links?

Gredler explained how to add unrelated people to a tree file; how to keep custom source formats when one moves from one tree to a new one; how to use flags attached to people to aid one's research.

I could have left the Jamboree right then and there feeling that my time had been well spent!

Volunteering at the IAJGS Booth

I worked the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) booth from about 5 P.M. through shut down at 6:30 P.M. I spoke to quite a few people, some of whom were Jewish genealogists, some of whom were genealogists who thought they might have Jewish ancestry.

We told people about the July 2015 IAJGS conference in Jerusalem, but also rolled out information about the IAJGS 2016 conference in Seattle.

The Records Preservation and Access Committee's (RPAC) Genealogists' Declaration of Rights was placed at our booth, thanks to Jan Meisels Allen (IAJGS representative to RPAC). This was good because those who might not have sought out the IAJGS booth came to visit looking to learn about and sign the declaration. 

The declaration addresses concerns with increasing restrictions on access to what should be public records, including the Social Security Death Index and vital records. These records often are critical to genealogists for their research on their families.

The following genealogical societies are part of RPAC and have been instrumental in developing the Genealogists' Declaration of Rights:
If you have not already signed the declaration, get in touch with your local genealogical society and do so.

05 June 2015

SCGS Jamboree, 2015: Day 1 (5 June 2015)

I am finding that I seem to be gravitating to other genealogy bloggers and podcasters. I find them like a metal detector finds the gold ring.

Last night I took dinner by myself across the street from the hotel at a Greek restaurant. There were two women eating together at the next table and one of them looked familiar to me. I asked if she had been at RootsTech earlier this year and then was reintroduced to Bernice Bennett of the Research at the National Archives and Beyond podcast. She and I had met in February on the train back to the airport after RootsTech and had a nice conversation. I am a fan of her podcast.

Her dinner companion was Angela Walton Raji, also a podcaster and blogger. We had a nice conversation about the advantages of broadening one's perspective from the narrow focus of one's own ancestors to learn the methods and techniques of other ethnic researchers as they address their research challenges.

The concierge lounge was crowded for breakfast this morning and Janette and I asked one diner if we might join her at her table. We were introduced to Jill Morelli who writes a blog to which I subscribe via Feedly: "Genealogy Certification: My Personal Journal." Jill and I wound up have dinner together and then having dessert at the concierge lounge. Among other things, we discussed BCG certification and blogging.

I've also seen and visited with Lisa Alzo, Randy Seaver (who has put together a compendium of posts by bloggers at Jamboree), Thomas MacEntee (thank you for the beads and the Geneabloggers ribbon), and Jane Neff Rollins.

These are the sort of opportunities and interactions that make conferencing so worthwhile.

Southern California Genealogical Society Jamoboree, 2015: DNA Day, etc.

Well, check another thing or two off the bucket list! The Southern California Genealogical Society Genealogy Jamboree held each year in Los Angeles, California is one regional conference that has always peaked my interest. Some how it never rose to the level of actually attending. This year my genealogy buddy," Janette, suggested we attend. I'm easy. Sure.

The conference runs from Friday to Sunday, 5 - 7 June 2015. I decided the register for the pre-Jamboree DNA day on Thursday, 4 June and also signed up for Judy Russell's 2 hour workshop on court records. I flew in to Burbank earlt Thursday morning and managed to arrive with time to spare before the first session on Thursday.

I've been doing some self-education on DNA testing and results in an effort to better understand and integrate findings into my research. One of the things I've noticed is that most conferences do not (and probably cannot) get into DNA beyond entry-level presentations. So, when I saw that Jamboree was devoting a full day to DNA, I was anxious to participate.

My take home message from the DNA talks: explore the ISOGG website and especially their wiki.

I love this logo!

Tim Janzen, "Programs to Help You Analyze Your Autosomal DNA Data"

Tim Janzen, M.D., is quite technically astute regarding DNA. He discussed GEDmatch, as well as tools designed by several other genealogy DNA researchers including Felix Immanuel and Kitty Cooper (also a conference presenter). Janzen has also developed his own utilities. He makes use of Excel spreadsheets in his analyses.

This was exactly the type of presentation I was hoping for. Something that goes beyond "here-are-the-four-type-of-DNA-tests" to get into some of the grit associated with analysis. The content of Janzen's presentation was quite good. He could use a little work on PowerPoint slide design: too much written information on most slides.

Kitty Cooper, "How to Do an Autosomal DNA Triangulation to Confirm a Specific Ancestor"

In some ways it might have been better if I'd heard Kitty's presentation before Tom's. Kitty, the triangulation queen, based her presentation on her blog post about triangulation as an analysis technique.

She explained the why behind going to the effort of triangulating/mapping results among one's matches and oneself. It is not enough that one matches two other people at the same spot on one of the 22 chromosomes. Each chromosome has two strands of DNA at each location representing one's autosomal genetic inheritance from one's father and mother. One person might match with one's mother and the other with one's father. In that case, they would not match each other. 

Kitty walked through some examples triangulating testing results. Like Janzen, spreadsheets for data management are an important part of her toolbox. She also discussed tools at Family Tree DNA, 23andme, GEDmatch and on her website.

Angie Bush, "Trump Cards, Magic Bullets and DNA"

Trump card: a decisive answer to or the deciding factor in an argument of questions
Magic bullet: quick and easy solution to a difficult question 

Angie Bush's presentation was well organized and presented. I think this is the kind of presentation that many researchers, early in their foray into genetic testing, need to hear. 

Yes, DNA testing can answer some intractable questions, but one needs to select the test based upon one's research question and be aware of the pros and cons of each type of DNA result. DNA testing is another tool in the research toolbox.

The key question: does genetic and non-genetic evidence support the biological relationship proposed?

Tim Janzen, "Using Autosomal DNA as a Means to Trace Your Family Tree"

The hand out for this talk consisted of a four page table comparing characteristics of the three genealogical testing companies: 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry. The elements for comparison include everything from price to ease of contacting matches to ease of results analyses to special features.

Based upon the handout, I did not quite expect the content of the presentation. I'm not complaining. 

Tim presented some basics of autosomal DNA results including information on the concepts Identical by Descent (true matches) and Identical by State (chance match with no actual common ancestor). He discussed recent work on thresh holds for predicting relatedness.

His recommendations? Test parent-cchild trios or duos, if possible. Test at all three companies (or test at Ancestry and 23andMe and load results onto Family Tree DNA). Test as many relatives as possible. Create a match list spreadsheet and keep it current.

Judy G. Russell, "Order in the Court: Hands-on With Court Records"

I knew in registering for this 2-hour workshop that I would, unfortunately miss some good DNA talks. Nevertheless, based on my previous experience listening to Judy Russell and my desire to better understand legalese, I knew this workshop was not not be missed.
Judy provided a thick handout of criminal and civil case studies and other court-generated documents for the class to read through and dissect. This was a platform for learning several legal concepts. A great way to learn. 

In the process she told us about several important sources, such as Black's Law Dictionary (various editions available online and in CD format) and Bovier's (mostly related to Southern US court).
This first day of Jamboree was worth waiting for. I look forward to Friday's offerings.