Letter from the Belarus SIG Coordinator
It is hard to believe that it’s time to put out another newsletter. I have received many favorable comments about our online newsletter format and I expect that other SIGs will be following our lead. Thanks Bryan and Elsebeth for all your hard work. I urge all of our members to contribute material for future issues. Without your input, the newsletter cannot succeed.
The Belarus SIG now has 457 members, an increase of almost 100 new members since November. Please tell your family and fellow researchers about our SIG and suggest that they join: JewishGen Special Interest Groups (SIGs) - Subscription Form. The discussion group activity has been picking up and we are fortunate to have so many knowledgeable participants who are able to help some of the newcomers.
The SIG website Belarus SIG website is growing by leaps and bounds. Our first database, from the LDS films of vital records: Vitaly Charny’s Minsk Surnames has been added to JewishGen and linked to our site.
The Minsk District Historical and Economic Summary was completed by Oleg Perzashkevich of the Minsk Historical Genealogy Group. Many new links have been added by our able webmaster, Risa Heywood. I urge you to explore the SIG website as well as the JewishGen website. The answers to many of your questions can be found by following the many links of these websites.
Status of Projects
1903 Vsia Rossiia (Russian Business Directory) – The Minsk gubernia pages have all been transliterated by Tom Gartman and his team of volunteers. The review and quality control of the database is almost complete and we hope to have the data available on a searchable database very soon. The transliteration team has started work on the Mogilev gubernia pages. If there are people interested in getting the Vitebsk gubernia pages completed, I suggest that you volunteer to help with the transliteration effort and let Tom Gartman know you are available.
Minsk Yizkor Book Translation – The table of contents and the name index of volume I have been translated by one of my friends who has no interest in genealogy. One of our members will enter the translated material into a computer file. Once this is completed it will be placed on the Yizkor Book Project webpage and linked to the SIG page. The volunteer has already started translating the table of contents and name index of volume II. The Yizkor Book Project coordinator has secured permission from the publisher’s representative to allow translations of any portions of the Minsk Yizkor to be included on the website.
Translation of the Mogilev Vital Records - In preparation for this project as well as other translation projects of vital records and Revision Lists that have been microfilmed by the LDS Family History Library, we are in the process of securing permission for the SIG to purchase copies of the microfilms. We hope to digitize the films to allow for the easy distribution of images to translators who can work at home to develop databases.
Mogilev Birth Index - Ed Sternin is working on converting Bella Nayyer’s translation of the index from a word processing document to spreadsheet format that can be used as a searchable database. Schelly Dardashti is in the process of writing an introduction and explanation of the index.
Translation of the Senno 1861-64 Birth Records – Bernard Dickman is looking for some more people with research interests in Senno to help fund this project.
19th Annual Conference on Jewish Genealogy
These conferences provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about genealogy research, to research records in the numerous archives and libraries in New York, and most import to network with fellow researchers. The Belarus SIG will be meeting during the conference and I hope that I have the opportunity to renew acquaintances again with those who I met last June at the conference in Los Angeles and to meet a new group of our members. Please check out the conference website and make your reservations now to attend this wonderful happening.
ShtetlSchleppers Trip to Belarus
I will be leading a ShtetlSchleppers Trip to Belarus in August, following the New York Conference. These trips will provide an opportunity to visit your ancestral shtetls, take photographs, visit the archives, and gather genealogical data. It will be exciting even thrilling, certainly with a strong emotional component, very probably heart wrenching and heartbreaking, but culminating in a feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and perhaps even a sense of peace. That which the holocaust destroyed for so many of us, will to some degree live again because of what we will be doing together.... Preserving our history for future generations.
This is a JewishGen project requiring the cooperation and collective energy of JewishGenners as we all embark on this journey of a lifetime. Remember, the central purpose of these research trips is to focus on record acquisition and the creation of a photographic means for the benefit of JewishGen and which can make information available worldwide. Because this is an educational trip with donation of information gathered going to JewishGen, a 503 (c) (3) organization, most of expenses for the trip may be tax deductible according to some tax advisors.
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