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.


  1. Your comments about "thinking about context or time period" gave me an "ah HA" moment about that photo of the Liebross brothers. Jerry is bald, therefore they are probably past their mid twenties, and Max left Anna before he was twenty five. The unconfirmed brother , who is also bald must be Sydney. Diana Liebross

    1. So, you think the one standing on the right might be Max?

    2. One correction Max was in his early thirties when he left his family. I don't think Max is in the picture. Do we have any confirmation that all the men are the Liebross brothers? Looking at the photo, Harry has an expression like "My brother made me do this", Sydney looks like a very amicable fellow, which matches the little history we have of, isn't he the brother that had a few connections with NYC political people? Jerry is the one with the mandolin, who probably wanted the picture taken, maybe the "theatrical, showman" of the family. I think Irving is standing next to the boat with a friend. The last man looks like he is the same age as Irving. And if your next question is "Do I read palms?"
      Your thinking what I am now, wild thoughts and hunches , Oh boy, lol
      Diana Liebross Steinman

  2. Well, I was told the photo was of all the Liebross bros. We do not know what Max or Sidney looked like. What we know is (left to right): Harry, ?, Jerry (with instrument), Irving and ?.

  3. This picture was from Bert Liebross, correct? I met him January 1 2010 at his home. At this time his recall of family history was limited and unsure. I think I saw this picture in a photo album that day, and he only identified his father, Harry. Well I will let my curiosity rest for awhile, my family in a sense "buried" Max's memory a long time ago.

    1. Burt would have known all of them except Sidney (who died before Burt was born). I would not be surprised if he did not remember what Max looked like. However, he definitely would recognize his father, Jerry and Irving. I recall Irving quite well. Irving lived in the same building as my Uncle Ira and Aunt Lee and we used to see him when we'd visit.


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