15th Summer Seminar on Jewish Genealogy

Lecture Summaries


Orientation and Welcome

Opening Session. Welcome by
Fred Davis, President, Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston and Bob Weiss, President, Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. Orientation to Boston-area genealogical research sites by Warren Blatt. Keynote Lecture: "This Jewish Century" by Dr. Sol Gittleman, Provost, Tufts University. Welcome by Dr. Michael Feldberg, Executive Director, American Jewish Historical Society. Followed by Reception.
Sunday, July 14, 7:00pm-9:00pm.


Beginner's Workshop

Nancy Arbeiter

This workshop is designed for people just beginning their genealogical research and those that have already started. Topics covered will include: the research log; evaluating your evidence; interviewing; census records; city directories; vital records; naturalization papers; passenger manifests; cemetery research; locating lost ancestors; and resources.
Sunday, July 14, 1:00pm-5:00pm.


Canadian Census Records

Jerome E. Anderson

Canadian Census records are available from 1666 through 1901. They furnish a wealth of information on all Canadians, revealing ages, birthplaces, relationships, and occupations. In the latter half of the 19th century, as many as nine additional schedules supply mortality records as well as economic details on agriculture, merchandising and industry.
Thursday, July 18, 11:00am-11:50am.


European History for the Jewish Genealogist

Jack Arbeiter

Did you ever wonder why Polish vital records were kept in Russian instead of Polish after 1868? Have you ever tried to find Prussia on a map? Are you curious about what made so many Russian Jews decide to emigrate after 1881? This lecture will answer these questions and provide an overview of European history specifically for people with little or no knowledge of the subject, with a focus on areas of significance to today's Jewish genealogists. Topics will include the partitions of Poland, the French revolution and the Napoleonic conquests, the various states of the German confederation, and the border changes that occurred following World War I and World War II.
Monday, July 15, 4:00pm-5:30pm.


Ashkenazic Given Names (11th-20th Centuries): Some General Tendencies and Peculiarities

Alexander Beider

Explore the topic of Jewish given names in three separate categories: (1) given names in German-Jewish and Central European sources (11th-18th centuries) and Austrian legislation concerning Jewish given names at end of 18th century; (2) given names in Eastern Europe, Russian legislation, and Russification of Jewish personal names in USSR in the 19th century; (3) use of biblical names, construction of new names from Hebrew lexicon, translation of Hebrew names, phonetic closeness of Christian names to Jewish ones, sacred names, development of endearments and pet forms.
Wednesday, July 17, 8:00pm-8:50pm.


Questions and Answers: Beider's Surname Books

Alexander Beider

There will be a short introduction in which Dr. Beider will explain the essential characteristics of his methods and sources of surnames. Afterwards, the session is open for questions.
Tuesday, July 16, 4:00pm-5:30pm.

Dr. Beider will also be available for individual consultations throughout the week (signup in the Resource Room). Dr. Beider will be bringing with him his database of Polish surnames used as the basis for A Dictionary of Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland, which lists all of the sources where a particular surname was found; his extracts of surnames from yizkor books of Galician towns; and his extracts from the name adoption lists for many German towns and provinces: West Prussia, Pomerania, Neumark, Baden, Frankfurt-am-Main, Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, Posen, Konigsberg, Cologne, Mecklenburg, Kassel, Potsdam, Rheinland, Leignitz.


The Changing Borders of Eastern Europe

Hal Bookbinder

Traces the border changes over a millennium of Eastern European history and focus on their impact on our Jewish ancestors. Understanding who was in control when is key to understanding the environment of their ancestors, the events which encouraged emigration, and the locations of relevant archives.
Tuesday, July 16, 10:00am-10:50am.


The Gantze-Megilla: Research, Printing, and Publishing a Book About Your Russian-Jewish Family

Harry Boonin

How-to's of writing, researching, and publishing a book about one's own family. Boonin will draw on his own writing experiences with his book: The Davidows: The Experiences of an Immigrant Family. Mr. Boonin will discuss Russian source materials he used to compile 15 years worth of genealogical research into a family history and how he traced his family without Yizkor books or rabbinical lines.
Monday, July 15, 10:00am-10:50am.


The Jewish Immigration to Argentina: A Genealogist's Perspective

Gabriel Braunstein

Jewish Immigration to Argentina as four periods: (1) from discovery of the country to 1889, characterized by a very sparse Jewish population; (2) 1889 to 1905, when Jews who emigrated to Argentina settled as farmers; (3) 1905 to 1930, mass emigration, when many Jews settled in urban areas and worked in low-wage occupations; and (4) 1930 to 1950, Jews emigrating from Europe to escape Nazi persecution. Braunstein will explore the changing Jewish community in Argentina and how it made significant impacts in the social, economic, and cultural development of the country, to provide a frame of reference for genealogical research in Argentina.
Tuesday, July 16, 10:00am-10:50am.


Polish-Jewish Genealogical Research

Jeffrey Cymbler

Learn to locate your ancestral Polish shtetl: where to find historical information; maps and street plans of your village; the vital record-keeping system in Poland; how to find Polish birth, marriage and death records; accessing synagogue records and pinkassim; photo archives; old business directories and telephone books; Polish-Yiddish newspapers; yizkor books and landsmanschaftn; subscription lists and other unusual sources.
Tuesday, July 16, 9:00am-9:50am.


Cemeteries and Synagogues in Poland

Jeffrey Cymbler

Where to find pre- and post-Holocaust information and photographs of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in Poland. Unusual sources that contain lists of graves and various books on Polish-Jewish epitaphs will also be explored.
Tuesday, July 16, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


City Directories and Urban Research Sources

David Curtis Dearborn

This presentation will emphasize those types of records peculiar to large cities for tracing individuals, the most important of which is the city directory. Vital records, cemeteries, newspapers, probate, land and census records will also be discussed. Case studies, showing how different types of records can be used in the solution of specific genealogical problems, will be presented.
Wednesday, July 17, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


Panel on Sources at the Leo Baeck Institute

Karen S. Franklin and Frank Mecklenburg

Sources at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York City. Brief description of archival holdings; development of family research department; photo archives; affiliation of Stammbaum and an update on research strategies for visitors and correspondence.
Wednesday, July 17, 9:00am-9:50am.


How to Use A Mormon Family History Center for Your Genealogical Research

Judith Frazin

This workshop will ensure that a trip to your local Mormon Family History Center will be successful rather than frustrating. How to use the index to the holdings of the main Salt Lake City library to find microfilms of general and Jewish genealogical records, so that you can rent the films and use them at your local Family History Center.
Monday, July 15, 11:00am-11:50am.


How to Find 19th-Century Polish-Language Records and Unlock Their Secrets

Judith Frazin

How and where to find 19th-century Polish-language vital records and how to abstract genealogical information from them. Learn a step-by-step method for making sense of these documents' contents, based on the speaker's personal experiences.
Tuesday, July 16, 10:00am-10:50am.


The Bones of Berdichev

John Garrard

Professor John Garrard, and his co-researcher Phillip Hammonds, will discuss their work in computerizing the newly opened Soviet archives of the Extraordinary Commission on Nazi Atrocities. They will demonstrate portions of their computer program, which includes a searchable database of the names of victims in Nazi-occupied Soviet territory. Anyone who wishes to trace family members will be invited to submit information to Professor Garrard, who will search for names as computerizing of the Soviet archives and other unpublished sources continues.
Thursday, July 18, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


This Jewish Century

Sol Gittleman

A journey through the past 100 years, the most astonishing century in Jewish history: the migration of millions of Jews from Eastern Europe; the birth of Yiddish literature (including a Nobel Prize to a Yiddish writer); the emergence of Zionism; the Balfour Declaration; the establishment of a new center of Jewish life in America; the Holocaust; and the creation of the State of Israel.
Sunday, July 14, 8:00pm-8:40pm.


New Databases for Jewish Genealogy

A session of short (5-15 minute) presentations, highlighting new developments and current projects in the application of computer databases to Jewish genealogical research. Live demonstrations. The program will include:
These databases will be available for use throughout the week in the Seminar's Computer Room.
Monday, July 15, 11:00am-12:30pm.


Using Russian Business Directories for Jewish Genealogy

Ted Gostin

Russian business directories, an extremely useful but underutilized source for genealogists, are available for many cities and guberniyas. The program will focus on two main areas: a complete inventory of the directories available in western libraries and a description of the contents and usefulness pertaining to Jewish genealogy.
Monday, July 15, 10:00am-10:50am.


U.S. Naturalization Records from 1790 to Post-1906

Walter Hickey

The contents of naturalization records from 1790 to 1906 ("old law") and after 1906 ("new law"). What you can expect to learn from these records and how to obtain them. Sub-topics will include women, military, and those who never naturalized (20th century).
Tuesday, July 16, 9:00am-9:50pm.


The Jewish Historical Clock

Michael Honey

This talk covers a method of drawing genealogies of families in parallel, developed using the Quark Xpress program on computer, that allows diagrams of 500-year multi-family trees that show multiple marriages and siblings, with contemporaries sorted generationally. The method enables estimation of birth years of individuals can be estimated, based on marker individuals whose birth dates are known. The first portion of the talk describes the logic of The Jewish Historical Clock: a) timing of generations, marker individuals; b) how a family generates; c) the distaff lines; d) the sibling lines; e) reasons for bridge lines spanning a generation (including variable starts, more than eight siblings, and divorces, demise of a marriage partner and remarriages); f) color coding to distinguish family lines. The second portion gives examples of historical figures and events including: Yosel Yoselman von Rossheim and Prague, echoes of Shlomo Molcho; The MaHaRaL of Prague; the ten testimonials of Megale Amukot; the Chmelnitzki pogroms; Chassidism, Mitnagdim (Conservatives), and the Haskala; and the Holocaust.
Wednesday, July 17, 8:00am-9:50am.


Making Your Ancestors Look Good

Gene Starn

Learn about computer techniques for enhancing old photos, snapshots, videos, and documents for safe record-keeping and for use in family histories, newsletters, and computer records. The use of scanners, enhancement software, and display will be visually explained and discussed.
Tuesday, July 16, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


Lithuanian Travel

Saul Issroff and Bruce Kahn

Panel of experienced Lithuanian travelers will discuss: getting there by air or land; tour guides and internal transport arrangements; accommodations, eating, and other tips; archives; synagogues, museums and other Jewish buildings; cemeteries; Holocaust survivors in Lithuania; and the contemporary Jewish community in Lithuania.
Wednesday, July 17, 11:00am-12:00pm.


South African Research

Ivan Elion

Historical aspects of Jewish migration to and from Southern Africa. Resources for vital records (births, marriages, deaths), naturalization records, voters rolls, shipping lists, and military records. Jews Temporary Shelter records, Jewish communal records, Jewish archives and museums, cemeteries and Chevrat Kaddishot records. Town and local archives. Yearbooks and other published genealogical records.
Thursday, July 18, 9:00am-9:50pm.


Canada's Jews: Their History and Their Treasury of Genealogical Resources

Anne Joseph

How the history of Jewish life in Canada has been a microcosm of Canadian history in general. Focus on Montreal's rich and well-preserved resources for genealogy, largely unknown to U.S. and other researchers.
Thursday, July 18, 10:00am-10:50am.


Jewish Genealogy on the Information Super Highway

Bruce E. Kahn

Introduction to "Information Super Highway" sources, how to access them, and suggestions for their optimal use. Learn how to use the Internet to share ideas, access collections of software and text files, search databases and library catalogs, and effortlessly traverse the World Wide Web, all from the comfort of home.
Wednesday, July 17, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


Introduction to the Boston Public Library

Alice Kane and Joe Maciora

Resources and services available at the Boston Public Library and, to make the most of your time, navigational hints to getting around the Library's historic McKim Building. The Social Sciences and Microtext Departments, which are principal stops for genealogical researchers, will be given particular emphasis.
Monday, July 15, 9:00am-9:50am.


Introduction to JewishGen: The Official Home of Jewish Genealogy

Susan King

JewishGen, founded in 1985 as a message area on FidoNet bulletin boards, has expanded to a gateway into the Internet as a mailing list, a newsgroup, and an award­winning web site. Find out how to access JewishGen and communicate with others through computers: access the JewishGen Family Finder; find InfoFiles and FAQs; take courses through the JewishGen College; use hotlines for translators, shtetls, and families; read about explorations of others; and join special interest groups (SIGs). In addition, you will tour the JewishGen Web site and see all the research assistance that is offered including databases, Yizkor book information, and catalogs.
Tuesday, July 16, 1:00pm-2:00pm.
JewishGen SIG: Tuesday, July 16, 2:00pm-2:50pm


Sources in Germany

Peter Lande

A review of basic German research sources: birth, marriage, death records and their locations. He will also discuss Gesamtarchiv contents: their location and how to access them; cemetery records; community records; 1939 Census and the role of the state/local archives including problems caused by the Datenschutz.
Tuesday, July 16, 10:00am-10:50am.


Holocaust Research

Peter Lande

New sources for Holocaust research, including Auschwitz death books, Lodz, Sachsenhausen, Stutthof, Dutch and French deportations. Availability of records by country and by concentration camp. Soviet sources available in the U.S. and the Holocaust Museum Project to computerize records of victims and survivors.
Thursday, July 18, 9:00am-9:50am.


Reunion for Macintosh and Windows

Frank Leister

An introduction to Reunion for Mac & Windows, a discussion about getting started with the software, entering information, special features, shortcuts, customization, working with graphic tree charts and pictures, reference notes, and relationships. Includes a question and answer session, and a special introduction to Reunion 5 -- the breakthroughs and highlights of the forthcoming major upgrade of Reunion, including Hebrew calendar support.
Monday, July 15, 8:00am-8:50am.


Structural And Methodical Problems In Editing The Encyclopedia Of Jewish Communities In Latvia, Estonia, And Lithuania

Dov Levin

A brief history of the Jewish population in the three Baltic countries before, during, and after World War II, including Jews within these countries or those deported to Siberia and other concentration camps. Information about printed sources especially useful for those tracing family history. While the talk will center on the main problems in preparing and editing the Encyclopedia, today's political and economic situation in the three independent states and the impact on Jews will be addressed.
Wednesday, July 17, 7:00pm-7:50pm.


Oral Histories

Julie Unger McCullough

This presentation is an introduction to oral history as a powerful tool in genealogy research. Included are what oral history is and is not, how oral history and genealogy overlap and contrast, and some ways in which oral history techniques can benefit the genealogist. Learn practical information about how to approach oral history research. Plan who you will interview, what general topics to explore, and what you plan to do with the information after the interviews. Also, how to decide what specific questions to ask, what equipment you need, how to ask questions in an interview, what kinds of questions work best, etc.
Wednesday, July 17, 10:00am-10:50am.


Orientation: Massachusetts State Archives

William Milhomme

A general overview of the records and services that are available at the Massachusetts State Archives. The talk will focus on those records of interest to genealogists, including: Vital Records, Passenger Lists, Census Schedules, Military Records, and Records of State Institutions (Hospitals, Prisons, etc). In addition, the talk with describe the Massachusetts Judicial Records available at the State Archives, including: Court Records, Naturalizations, Divorces, and Probate Records.
Wednesday, July 17, 8:00am-8:50am.


Restoration and Preservation of Family Photographs

David Mishkin

Learn how to recognize the most popular photographic processes and approximate time periods photos were taken in, causes of photographic deterioration and how to prevent it, how long color prints and slides will last under optimal conditions, options available to repair/restore damaged photographs, and the most economical way to store prints, negatives, or documents. A slide show will illustrate samples of period photographs, deterioration, and restorations. Also see modern imaging systems such as color, videos, and CD­ROMs. Attendees are strongly encouraged to bring original photographs.
Thursday, July 18, 10:00am-12:00pm.


It Ain't No Sin To Make a Profit: Strategies for Society Fund-Raising

Gary Mokotoff

Most genealogical societies perform projects on a break­even basis because they are non­profit and feel obliged to keep costs to a minimum. This lecture will cover the risks of such a policy and the opportunities that profits can bring in to fund other ventures. Explore case studies as examples of new ways of thinking.
Wednesday, July 17, 9:00am-9:50am.


Internet For Greenhorns

Gary Mokotoff

Modems, e-mail, bulletin boards, Internet, World Wide Web, Prodigy, AOL -- all of these words and others cause glazed eyes to those who do not use computers for communicating with other people or organizations. This lecture will de­mystify these terms and explain the various activities which will cause a major revolution in our society in how we acquire information.
Monday, July 15, 10:00am-10:50am.


Jewish Marriage and Migration in 19th-Century Austro-Hungary

Richard Panchyk

General trends of migration during the 19th century, when record-keeping became compulsory in almost all European communities. While increased economic opportunities brought great numbers of Jews to urban centers, marriage and migration were related. Explore the migration patterns and obtain a clearer image your ancestors' movements by using genealogical records of the period.
Monday, July 15, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


Breaking Down Immigrant Brick Walls

Eileen Polakoff

Case studies demonstrate research techniques for finding long-lost relatives in a distant locale with limited clues, finding relatives in urban areas, and analyzing immigration documents to solve ancestral origins. Focus on late 19th-century to present-day sources.
Thursday, July 18, 10:00am-10:50am.


Mending Torn Memories: Genealogical Pursuits in Poland

Yale J. Reisner

Current archival research procedures, new discoveries of genealogical importance, and what researchers visiting Poland are likely to find in ancestral towns and local archives. Also, the surprising functions that Jewish genealogy and archival research are playing in Poland today, from amazing reunions after 50 years of separation to young Jews seeking to rejoin the Jewish fold after years of Communism.
Tuesday, July 17, 7:00pm-8:20pm.


Worldwide Treasures of the Family History Library

Jayare Roberts

This overview will highlight the worldwide acquisitions, indexing, and computer programs of the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City and its 2,600 branches. The slides include a tour of the library and other archives. Emphasis is given to the types of records gathered and made available on two million rolls of microfilm, including new acquisitions from Eastern Europe.
Wednesday, July 17, 9:00pm-10:30pm.


Ellis Island and the Automation Project

Jayare Roberts

In this slide presentation, you will learn where the historical traces of immigrants are found, including many examples of typical and unique passenger arrival records. You will review the Ellis Island experience and tour the restored Island. The development of a computerized database for 1892-1924 arrivals at the port of New York will be explained.
Monday, July 15, 8:00pm-9:30pm.


Rabbinic Dynastic Origins and their Descendants

Dr. Neil Rosenstein

Rosenstein's talk will take you from ancient Jewish history through the time of the early rabbis and their dynastic successors to modern times, highlighting the role that rabbinical families have played in the survival of the Jewish identity. His own genealogical research has traced numerous rabbinical families back five hundred years or more. Among the insights revealed by this work are: the fact that rabbinical families were usually the only Jewish families to carry surnames prior to the 18th century; these families had a myriad of marriages between them, so that rabbis of communities were often guaranteed a family successor through a son or son-in-law, much the same way that the royalty of Europe did during the same time period; and lastly, many illustrious non-rabbinical descendants (such as Helena Rubenstein, Karl Marx, Moses Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn, David Halberstam, Baron Guy de Rothschild, and Martin Buber) share common roots with numerous rabbinical authorities and Chassidic rebbes over the centuries and with Rosenstein himself.
Wednesday, July 17, 4:00pm-5:30pm.


AJGS Cemetery Project

Arline Sachs

Study the various phases of the AJGS cemetery project as Ms. Sachs explains the origins and purpose. Use computers to access the database and explore ways to contribute your information to the project. Learn new ways to locate your ancestor's gravesite and view thousands of data files organized by cities and countries.
Presentation: Tuesday, July 16, 9:00am-9:50am.
Birds-of-a-Feather: Wednesday, July 17, 11:00am-11:50am


The Shortest Route To Old Country Roots Is A Detour To Israel

Sallyann Sack

Learn new ways to locate relatives who have settled in Israel, those known and unknown, and find resources for genealogical research in Israel to point the way to your family roots in Europe and elsewhere. New Israeli projects to acquire overseas data will also be presented.
Monday, July 15, 9:00am-9:50am.


Is There A Rabbi On Your Family Tree?

George Sackheim

This will cover research methods for families with a rabbinic ancestor and for families descending from rabbinic dynasties. Included are sources such as: rabbinic encyclopedias, texts, associations, and lists; yizkor books; pre-Holocaust books; pinkassim; foreign encyclopedias; family trees, records, and books; cemetery records; libraries having rabbinic materials; gaonim and heads of courts.
Wednesday, July 17, 10:00am-10:50am.


Sephardic Odyssey: From Grenada to Newport

Rabbi Dr. Chaim Shapiro

How and why post-Expulsion Spanish Jews came to settle in Newport (Rhode Island), New York, and other colonial American communities. Tour the Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in continental North America. Also a walking tour of Newport's "Historic Hill" including the Jewish colonial cemetery and sights of American historical significance.

Bus leaves Boston 8:00am. Lecture at Touro Synagogue 10:00am. Walking Tour of Jewish Newport 11:00am-12:30pm. Afternoon time is free to shop, tour Newport mansions. Bus leaves Newport 3:30, arrives back in Boston about 5:30.
Tuesday, July 16, 8:00am-5:30pm. Bus Trip to Newport.
Cost: $20 per person.


Russian-Language Documents from Russian Poland

Jonathan Shea

Overview of the Cyrillic alphabet and its sounds, including a 1917 spelling reform and obsolete grammar. How to follow alphabetical sequence, transliterate Polish or Yiddish personal names and place names from Polish to Russian. How to analyze birth, marriage, and death records in both Napoleonic and Eastern columnar formats.
Monday, July 15, 3:00pm-3:50pm.


Crossing the Canadian Border:
The St. Albans U.S. "Passenger Arrival" Lists

William Schoeffler

Why look to Canada? Many Europeans came to the U.S. via Montreal and Quebec, which actively competed for a share of the trans-atlantic passenger traffic. By 1895, U.S. officials collected passenger arrival lists at Canadian ports, reporting to their St. Albans, Vermont district office. For 30 years, this district covered the entire U.S.-Canadian border from coast to coast, including dozens of inland railroad border crossings. Some arrival information pre-dates 1895, when noted in response to "Previously in US?" question.
Thursday, July 18, 9:00am-9:50am.


The Jews Of Boston

Ellen Smith

From colonial rabbis teaching at Harvard, through distinctive European immigration patterns, to the formation of one of America's most unique Jewish communities, Boston's Jewish past provides an array of compelling lessons and tales. The evolution of Boston's Jewish community - its character, its neighborhoods, its demographic profile, and its identity - will be explored with a focus on trends and resources of special interest to Jewish genealogists.
Wednesday, July 17, 7:00pm-7:50pm.


Walking Tour Of Historic Jewish Boston

Ellen Smith

This three-hour walking tour of Boston's historic turn-of-the-century Jewish immigrant neighborhoods will include visits to Boston's North End, West End, and Beacon Hill, plus stops at Boston's landmark Vilna Shul (1919) and the 1995 New England Holocaust Memorial. The tour will focus on immigrant housing; religious, social, and educational institutions; and the civic response to mass immigration 100 years ago. Come and walk some of Boston's most scenic and historic districts, and trace the journeys of Jewish immigrants to Boston. Each tour is limited (due to community guidelines), advance signup required. Note: toilet facilities are extremely limited.
Cost: $15 per person.

Sunday, July 14, 10:00am-1:00pm. - - This tour is filled.
-- Starts at Holocaust Memorial. Meet in hotel lobby at 9:30am.
Sunday, July 14, 12:30pm-3:30pm. - - This tour is filled.
-- Starts at Vilna Shul. Meet in hotel lobby at 12:00 noon.
Friday, July 19, 9:00am-12:00pm. - - This tour is filled.
-- Starts at Holocaust Memorial. Meet in hotel lobby at 8:30am.


Ellis Island in Symbol and Myth: Difficulties in Genealogical Research

Marian L. Smith

Many Americans today remember their grandfather's immigrant story, which began: "When I came through Ellis Island...". Sometimes these grandchildren are shocked to learn that grandfather never set foot on the island, perhaps did not even immigrate through the port of New York.

Whether it be ports of entry, changing of names, or immigration procedure, American immigration mythology can often act as an obstacle to productive genealogical research. In this hour, Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) Historian Marian L. Smith will discuss researchers' most popular misconceptions about immigration and immigration records, and how those errors can thwart our research. She will alswer questions about what really happened at Ellis Island.
Monday, July 15, 7:00pm-7:50pm.


Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Records as a Resource for 20th-Century American Jewish Genealogy and History

Marian L. Smith

For both beginners and experienced researchers, introduction to INS records of interest to Jewish genealogists. General immigration and naturalization files on individuals, strategies for obtaining records, and INS subject and policy correspondence files containing pertinent Jewish genealogical information.
Monday, July 15, 4:00pm-5:00pm.


Orientation to the American Jewish Historical Society: What Every Genealogist Should Know About Doing Archival Research

Holly Snyder

A quick romp through the underworld of archival policies and procedures, presented with the aim of assisting genealogists in navigating through murky waters. Many researchers are frustrated by the research process and have trouble negotiating with archives staff to get access to research materials they are looking for. This session will cover what archivists need from researchers and what research assistance archivists can offer researchers. Topics covered by the session will include the handling and care of archival materials, restrictions on access, archival security concerns, and other research issues.
Monday, July 15, 9:00am-9:50am.


Dorot Towards the Year 2000

Diana Sommer

Dorot, the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center in Beth Hatefutsoth, Tel Aviv has had a very eventful year. Dorot Director Diana Sommer will tell us about activities and innovations in Dorot as well as exciting plans for the future.
Thursday, July 18, 3:00am-3:50pm.


"A Call to Action" panel

The editorical "A Call to Arms" created a stir among Jewish genealogists worldwide when it appeared in the Spring, 1995 issue of
Avotaynu. Author Lawrence Tapper castigated the Jewish community at large for demonstrating "a tremendous apathy toward the study of genealogy and family history." He faulted "...Jewish archives, libraries and historical societies that gather our recorded tradition for safekeeping" as being "poorly funded by the federations and, therefore, poorly operated." He cited numerous problems that genealogists have come across trying to access archival holdings of Jewish organizations: limited hours, inadequate equipment, poorly trained and inexperienced staff, difficult access, etc.

This panel will bring together eminent leaders in the areas of Jewish genealogy, Jewish philanthropy, and Jewish archives. The hope is that our panel of experts will help the Jewish genealogy community to explore the dimensions of these problems. By identifying areas of converging and diverging interests, the parties will help Jewish genealogists formulate a realistic action agenda.
Panelists are Dr. Michael Feldberg, Michael Bohnen, and Gary Mokotoff. Fred Davis moderates.
Wednesday, July 17, 4:00pm-5:30pm.


Orientation: New England Historic Genealogical Society

Maureen Taylor

This lecture will cover the basics one needs to know before using the Library and other departmental services at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Founded in 1845, NEHGS is the oldest and largest genealogical society in the country. Learn such things as where and how to access importnat library holdings, how to best use the computers in the Library, and how to access items in the manuscripts collection, among others. Ms. Taylor will also discuss importnat services that various NEHGS departments offer members and visitors.
Tuesday, July 16, 8:00am-8:50am.


Routes to Roots in the Former Soviet Archives: Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus

Miriam Weiner

A short introduction to the archival system and outline preparations for on­site research, including expectations and how to travel. What documents exist, where to find them, and what can be learned from them. Material found in a local museum (school and census records) and a private historian's collection in Ukraine. A slide presentation of actual research inside the archives in Kishniev (Moldova). Minsk (Belarus) and those of Ukraine (Kiev, Lviv, Vinnitsa, Zhitomir, and Priluki). See local views of towns and Jewish sites.
Tuesday, July 16, 8:30pm-10:00pm.


Backtracking To The "Old Country"

Bob Weiss

Discover your ancestor's town of origin through conventional and less conventional sources. Learn to use the Daitch­Mokotoff East European Soundex and Where We Once Walked, other gazetteers, and maps as resources for genealogical research. Also learn other means to get back to the "old country."
Monday, July 15, 8:00am-8:50am.


Obtaining Documents From East European Archives

Bob Weiss

Research strategies, understanding geopolitical divisions and how to find the correct archive in order to obtain documents, plus what types of documents may be found. Learn archival terms and tips for using paid researchers to do genealogical research on your family.
Wednesday, July 17, 8:00am-9:50am.


Russian Era Indexing of Poland Project

Steven Zedeck

Learn about the first searchable database containing an index to over 75,000 Jewish vital records for Poland, including more than 30 towns. This project, now accessible by Internet, will revolutionize the way Jewish genealogists perform research.
Overview: Monday, July 15, 11:00am-12:30pm.
Presentation: Monday, July 15, 1:30pm-2:50pm.


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