19 July 2015

IAJGS 2015, Jerusalem: Day 4

Well, it's a week after the conference ended and, after a week of travel in Israel, I am jeg-lagged and trying to acclimate to my Pacific Daylight Time schedule. I'm getting back to posting my day-by-day impressions of the conference.

Since I was prepping for my presentation at 3 P.M., I limited my attendance at sessions Thursday morning.


"Multidisciplinary Academic Research in Genealogy"

There were several talks presented and I wish I could have heard all of them. I did take in "Genealogy and heritage Tourism" by Dr. Amos Roth and Dr. Dallen Timothy and "Jewish Daily Life in Eastern Europe in the Modern Age" by Dr. Judith Kalik.

Roth and Timothy examined the links between heritage tourism and genealogy. Genealogy tourism is multi-generational.

They see genealogy tourism related to visiting relatives, family reunions, return travel, diaspora tours, hobbyists (WWII, coin and stamp collectors), and religious tourism.

Nothing hugely new here for those of us who can be accused of being the genealogy tourists, but interesting none-the-less.

Dr. Kalik described the rural Jewish community in Minsk Gubernia prior to and after peasant emancipation in 1861. Prior to emancipation, many were lease-holders - mostly innkeepers. The provided guest houses and some locally distilled alcohol.

Rural Jews had some advantages in times of change because they were among the few who had first-hand knowledge of both nobility and peasants. They became middlemen in the economy. The coming of the railroads and increasing opportunity for grain trade meant decline for the local liquor industry. May rural Jews became farmers or grain traders.

The size the rural Jewish family before and 1861 reflected these economic changes. In the early 1800s, there were 3.2 people/family. By the 1897 census and the advent of the industrial age, families were much larger. 

"Jewish Vital Records From the Period of the Holocaust in Eastern Galicia (1941-44)"

There was a short period of time between rule by Poland and rule by Nazi Germany when Galicia was under the authority of the Soviet Union. Tony Kahane laments the lack of records from the Soviet period and documents where collections from this period, though meager, are found (mostly in Warsaw where they are not yet publicly available due to the Polish 80-year rule for withholding death records). 

Other researchers may be heartened by the collection inventory tables Tony provided. I guess I was hoping against hope for some revelation, but my area of main concern in Galicia - Zaleszczyki (and Torskie, Ustechko and Tluste) - were not, as I should have expected, included among the collections in Warsaw. My Galician communities are a big black hole for any vital records. 

One important point Tony made: the lack of records from this period could be a function of the Soviets taking records with them as they retreated. If so, then archives in the Soviet Union may ultimately yield Galician treasures.

"When it Takes a Village: Applying Cluster Research Techniques"

I was pleased with the turn-out at my presentation (and also pleased that the time and venue had been changed from the original conference schedule because the new room was larger than the first one, which would not have accommodated this group).

My talk dealt with using resources and information about collateral relatives (i.e., going beyond one's ancestors), friends, associates, and neighbors to break through on difficult genealogy problems.

The example I used was my pursuit of Feiga Grinfeld. Feiga was a possible relative only identified on two NY manifests from 1922 - once as the relative left behind in the old country and then as the passenger accompanying my great grandfather to NYC in November 1922. If she was a relation, how? I'd not located her where expected from her identified intended destination on the manifest. Without much to go on, I eventually located Feiga (turned Fannie Greenfield) in Cincinnati by tracking possible associates from her hometown of Baranivka, Ukraine. I used standard genealogical records and DNA results.

A written version of this talk will be published in the next issue of Avotaynu. I will be giving a longer version of this presentation on Monday, 4 April 2016 for the Jewish Genealogyl Society of Conejo Valley and Ventura County

"The History, Adoption, and Regulation of Jewish Surnames in the Russian Empire"

I was particularly interested in Jeffrey Mark Paull's (and Jeffrey Briskman's) presentation because my Feiga Grinfeld research had led me, ultimately, to questions about how Jewish people in this area of the Russian Empire had acquired surnames in the nineteenth century. 

The adoption of hereditary surnames (versus patronymics) was imposed on Russian Jews. The first edict was in 1804. The next in 1835. By 1850 Jews were no longer switching their surnames at will. Kahals often developed lists of Jewish surnames.

According to Paull, historical evidence suggests that member sof the same families, if living in different households, had to adopt different surnames - perhaps to avoid conscription of taxes. He provided Revision List records from 1804 and before from Slutsk showing brothers adopting different surnames.

A paper of the same title by Paull and Briskman may be viewed online at academia.edu.

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