14 August 2016

IAJGS 2016, Day 3

Today was Ukraine Special Interest Group day at the conference and, since I am on its board, I was busy much of the day in Ukraine Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings.
We cannot be blamed for the confusion: the SIG just manages the area it was given(!). For many people, however, the boundaries of the area we manage is confusing. Basically, JewishGen used WWI boundaries to define the Russian Gubernia part of today's Ukraine (including Crimea). Galicia (to the west), a crown land of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, is covered by Gesher Galicia and JRI-Poland (both databases are now accessible when searching JewishGen's "All Ukraine" and "All Poland" databases - see JewishGen's report in my previous post). The gubernias included in Ukraine SIG's area of research is shown on the above map taken from Ukraine SIG's homepage. On the homepage, individual gubernias are clickable and link to further information about uyezds and communities within gubernias.

As with most SIGs the main occupation is acquiring and indexing archival records for the Eastern European communties we are researching. Ukraine SIG acquires records from two main sources: the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP) and the Family Search Library.

Most of the records collected thus far have been collected via agreement with the Central Archives for the Jewish People in Jerusalem. They send a researcher (Benyamin Lukin) to Ukraine each summer to work with the archives and acquire records. The archives, themselves, do the digitization - so, it can take a while to get the images.

The most recently acquired data set is from the Zhitomyr Archives. This summer we have received about 13,000 new pages/images of data.

For the records already microfilmed by the Family History library, we access films that have data on them from towns in Ukraine SIG area and scan images. The priority has been vital records from towns with a large group of Jewish researchers listed on JewishGen. There 210 microfilm reels of interest. Ukraine SIG volunteers have aleady scanned 78,000 images. FamilySearch is, apparently doing some digitization of records that of are interest to us. We are discussing further digitization and access to the records with FamilySearch.

Documents may be in Russian, Polish, or Hebrew. Translations are running about $4-6/page for translation.

Because of agreements with repositories, Ukraine SIG cannot provide researchers with images of records. Those must be acquired directly from CAHJP, FamilySearch microfilm, or Ukrainian archives. 

Recently, 56,000 lines of data from the Odessa births index were uploaded to JewishGen and are now searchable.

A couple of project leads shared their experiences and thoughts.

Phyllis Berenson talked about fund raising for a project. A project is a set of documents (a book, pogrom records, vital records, census record) - how do you obtain it, translate it?

The first step is to prepare a proposal for review by Ukraine SIG and, then, JewishGen. Once approved it will go online and people will be able to donate. She suggested locating people with an interest in you town to donate. The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) is perfect for that use. She also posted a message on the Ukraine and JewishGen discussion lists. The money is used to not only purchase digital images of the documents, but also to fund professional translators. The translator must provide the translation in a spreadsheet form we provide. Then the information is reviewed and, ultimately provided to JewishGen for upload into the All Ukraine database.

Mary-Jane Roth discussed the Polonnoye communities project. This project has already received approval, paid for and acquired the images of the records. The biggest challenge has been getting translators. Some of the records are in handwritten Yiddish, some in Russian, some in both. Finding translators who can do both has not been a winning strategy.

Chuck Weinstein discussed becoming a Town Leader and/or Kehilalinks Owner. The SIG has people who can help those who wish to create a Kehilalinks webpage on JewishGen.

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