Listener-Recommended Jewish Genealogy Resources

The world of genealogy is so huge that one person can’t possibly know everything. That’s why I’m always glad to hear from readers who research different ancestries. Recently I heard from Diane Goldman in Bethesda, MD, USA, who wrote in about her favorite Jewish genealogy resources:

“Dear Lisa,

I love listening to the tips and interviews on your podcast.  So I’m excited to send a recommendation your way. You haven’t broadcast much on Jewish genealogy, but there are some fabulous resources.

  • Salt Lake City just welcomed the latest conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies The last 2 conferences were in Boston and Paris; next year’s will return to Jerusalem. (My tip: Use their website’s member list to find a Jewish genealogy organization for you–either one near you or one that focuses on the right region of the world for your family.)
  • A conference highlight is always the update for JewishGen.orgbegun by Texan Susan King and now associated with New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage.  JewishGen’s grown from a bulletin board linking researchers across the globe to a resource complex featuring personal stories, databases, and digitized materials. Each regional/topical Special Interest Group features its own wealth of resources, often the only access to materials of a particular country or of a region now split among several countries, such as the Galician or Sub-Carpathian group.
  • JewishGen also hosts the independent LitvakSig (Lithuanian data) and Jewish Records Indexing (JRI)-Poland.  The latter has mushroomed from an individual’s medical research to an invaluable resource complex: ‘The largest fully-searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online.  4 million records from more than 500 Polish towns.'”

Thank you, Diane! It’s a pleasure to share these resources with Genealogy Gems readers.

Puerto Rico Civil Registrations Now FREE Online

puerto_rico_flag_perspective_anim_300_wht_5482Do you have family from Puerto Rico? Newly-searchable at FamilySearch.org are Puerto Rico Civil Registrations. Ancestry published these last year for their subscribers. Ancestry describes this as their “largest single collection of Puerto Rican records.”

According to FamilySearch, “The civil registration records in Puerto Rico are an excellent source for genealogical research after 1885. Important genealogical data can be found in these records; see below. The data may even help to find information about an earlier generation.” They include birth, marriage and death records.

The description on FamilySearch indicates that records go back to 1805. But other hints (and a comparison to the Ancestry dataset) indicate that most of the records are for 1885 and later, just like Ancestry’s. Civil registration didn’t start in Puerto Rico until 1885 (before that, look to Catholic church records for BMD data). Of course, like many records, they may contain information about family dates and relationships from earlier in that person’s life.

book_leaning_against_question_mark_400_wht_12575Those who know about Puerto Rico’s connection to the U.S. may wonder why Puerto Rico had civil registrations at a time that U.S. states and territories did not. Puerto Rico was actually a colony of Spain when civil registration started. Only after the Spanish-American War of 1898 did Puerto Rico become a U.S. protectorate.

RootsTech 2017 Open for Registration

It’s that time of year again! RootsTech 2017 is officially open for registration.

RootsTech 2017

Each year, eager genealogists around the world excitedly wait to get the message that RootsTech registration is officially open. Well, here is your special announcement: As of September 15th, registration for RootsTech 2017 is now open!

What is RootsTech?

RootsTech is an annual family history and technology conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Speakers and attendees from all over the globe descend on the Salt Lake Valley to learn and share innovative and new tools in genealogy.

In 2016, the event attracted more than 28,000 attendees in-person from all 50 US states and 30+ countries. RootsTech 2017 will be held February 8–11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The popular Innovator Summit and free Family Discovery Day are also open for registration. The website for registration can be found at RootsTech.org. Early bird pricing is $159.00, so don’t delay! Early bird discount pricing is available for a limited time on 4-day passes at just $159 and $189 for the RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass. Passes for the Getting Started track start at $49 for a single day and $69 for a limited 3-day pass. All passes include access to the popular expo hall and morning keynote sessions.

The 4-day conference will offer over 200 lectures from top instructors in the field, including four of our Genealogy Gems team members, Lisa Louise Cooke, Sunny Morton, Amie Bowser Tennant, and Diahan Southard.

In addition to lectures, some hands-on computer labs and interactive activities can also be enjoyed.

Other Events at RootsTech 2017

RootsTech is for everyone, young and old. The expo hall and other entertainment events are just the beginning!

You and your entire family may enjoy Family Discovery Day. This event takes place on Saturday, February 11, 2017 and is designed for families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a free and fun day event including messages from Church leaders, engaging classes for all ages, and evening entertainment. Family Discovery Day attendees will also have access to all the interactive activities and exhibitors in the RootsTech expo hall. Registration is required.

If you make it out to RootsTech in February, be sure to come by the booth and see us. As always, we have some really special things planned as we do a little celebrating of some of our Genealogy Gems milestones. Stay tuned!

Gems at RootsTech 2017

rootstech-2017-ambassador-badge

A Train Ticket and Popular Novel Solved this Adoption Mystery

Genealogy for adoptees can be a difficult journey. A train ticket from 1856 and one of our most popular Genealogy Gems Book Club titles helped one woman solve an adoption family mystery. Here’s her story.

Genealogy for adoptees

Ben Brooksbank [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Adoption Mystery: Solved

I recently read an article that I just had to share! Julia Park Tracey’s two-times great grandfather, William Lozier, was adopted. She wanted to trace his family history. Her only clue was the receipt for a train fare from New York’s Home for the Friendless to Oberlin, Ohio that William had. The ticket cost $7.50 and was dated 1856.

With a little bit of easy math, Julia realized that William would have been a three-year old at the time. Can you imagine? Julia was intrigued by the finding, but didn’t think much more about it until she read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. This piqued her curiosity about Williams’s story and she started researching. What she found was an astonishing story of family struggling to stay together during the hardships of 19th century life.

Along her research journey, Julia learned that William’s mother was widowed in upstate New York in 1848. Consequently, the woman lost the family farm and needed to give up her two oldest boys to an orphanage. She managed to hold on to her oldest daughter and baby William while she worked as a seamstress. Sadly, she still couldn’t make ends meet and ended up placing her last two children in an orphanage as well.

Julia explains in the article: “Martha was undaunted; she worked and saved, and eventually wrote to ask for her children back. The orphanage did not respond. In those days, a child’s moral and spiritual welfare were tantamount, and a single mother was seen as not fit to parent. Nevertheless, she found her way to her daughter, and at least one of her middle sons, if not both. Martha lived the rest of her life with her married daughter and her grandchildren. She died between 1900 and 1910, [but] she never saw nor heard of what had happened to Will.”

With these new pieces of information, Julia was able to trace the line back through time and generations. She even learned a little more about her unexpected DNA results! I am sure it was very satisfying to finally piece together the story of the old train ticket and William’s family story. Even the smallest clues like the old train ticket can lead to long-forgotten stories that add to our family history tapestry. Genealogy is all about persistence, and much like a detective, the smallest piece of evidence can make all the difference!

More on Genealogy for Adoptees

orphan train Christina Baker Kline genealogy book clubIf you’ve been a Premium member for a while, you’ll recall Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It was one of our first Genealogy Gems Book Club selections—and based on feedback from you, it’s been one of our most popular choices. If you haven’t listened to Premium episode 121 which includes our interview with Christina, I encourage you to go back and listen. In that conversation, you’ll learn about the history of the orphan train riders in the U.S. and Canada and how the author researched it.

Learn more about the Orphan Train and it’s riders in this post: “Road Trip Anyone? An Orphan Train Museum.

See what else we’ve read by clicking: Genealogy Gems Book Club

 

Gems Share Their Creative Solutions to Interviewing and Capturing Memories

Is lack of time or lack of cooperation getting in the way of you capturing memories? Your descendants are depending on you to pass down the family’s history. Genealogy Gems readers and listeners share their creative solutions to the age old challenge of capturing the future’s history today!

 

interviewing solutions capturing memories creatively
Recently I wrote a post called Remembering Dad with a Family History Interview Video. In that post I shared the video I made of my husband Bill’s interview about his father. I’ve been delighted to hear from so many of you Genealogy Gems readers about your own interview strategies for gleaning stories and memories from loved ones.
Sharon C. wrote to explain her creative approach to interviewing her mom:

As my mother grew older (she lived to be almost 94), her vision got very bad. So, I bought her a large screen T.V. Then, I attached my video camera to the T.V. and a microphone to her from my camera, and we went through her old photo albums, with my camera on the photos, but the photos projected to her on the large screen T.V. We then talked about the photos and I asked her questions about the people, but she saw the picture on her T.V. Her narrative and the pictures were recorded on my video. Voila!!! her pictures, her voice, her details, on the camera and she didn’t even realize that it was being recorded. She thought she was just discussing the pictures from the album. At one point, her two brothers were present and I was able to get their input as well, at the same time.

Patricia D. shares how she captures her husband’s stories without having to find time to do it in their busy schedule:

Pages app on ipad for interviewingLisa, I enjoyed your article about trying to interview your husband, who is shy about being interviewed. My husband and I found a painless way to do an interview. When we are traveling he gets sleepy if no one is talking to him, so I decided interviewing him in an informal way about events in his life would serve two purposes. He wouldn’t get sleepy, and I would get information about his life story.

I take my iPad when we’re traveling and as I ask him questions I type his responses into Pages (app). Usually one question leads to another, so we seldom run out of information. He enjoys reminiscing about the past, and I enjoy hearing it, since he seldom mentions it without being prodded.

When we get home I polish up what I have written and transfer it to my computer. I store it in a folder labeled ‘Don’s life.’ Eventually we will have enough to write the story of his life, with lots of pictures. And it’s completely painless.

This is a wonderful, creative way to capture stories and spend time with family!
Curt S. is not only capturing his stories for his family, but he’s also brightening the lives of others:

Hi Lisa, I love the story about a lady interviewing her husband while driving to keep him awake and to share his life stories. I too came up with a neat way to share my life story. Every year at Christmas time when my family gathers together I seem to always be asked to tell one of my stories, as I have a lot of stories, mostly very funny stories. Even at my former work my boss and co-workers would ask me to tell certain stories again.

So, it dawned on me that I needed to find a way to tell these stories so that I could leave a legacy to my kids and their descendants. We are always suggesting to others that they interview their living ancestors while they have the chance. So why not tell your own story.

To motivate myself to tell my stories, I created a blog, in which I tell one of my stories approx, once every other week. Then after I publish the blog story, I copy and paste into my Legacy 9 software, into the story feature, which then puts the story in chronological order that later can be published in a book format.

So here is the address to my blog. If you go there you will see the kind of stories I am telling. I have identified over two years worth of stories so far that I can share on my blog.

Brighten your day by checking out this Gem’s blog: http://curtscrazytales.org/

When it comes to family history, there is definitely an element of methodology – but that doesn’t mean there can’t also be creativity! Everyone’s family is different, and what works for some may not work for others. So don’t be afraid to put your own spin on research ideas, and customize them to work for you. Thank you to everyone who submitted their strategies, and I hope you’ve got at least one new idea to try out!


Family History Writing Resource

The Story of My Life workbook, written by our very own Sunny Morton, makes it easy to record your memories, and the memories of your loved ones. Simply follow the prompts to preserve memories from your entire life.

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