Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My 2018 Dear Genea-Santa Letter

Randy Seaver is getting into the Christmas spirit for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun tonight.

Come on, everybody, join in, accept the mission, and execute it with precision.  Here's your chance to sit on Genea-Santa's lap (virtually) and tell him your Christmas genealogy-oriented wish list:

(1) Write your Genea-Santa letter.  Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy?  What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list?  They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue in your ancestral quest.

(2) Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  Please leave a comment on this post if you write your own post.

Dear Genea-Santa,

I've had some problems this past year, but I still think I generally did good by genealogy.  I worked at my local Family History Center all year, I was involved with three genealogical societies, I volunteered to coordinate a group when the previous person had to step down, and I gave a fair number of talks at conferences and society meetings.  I'm still posting to my blog, and I did get some research done during the year.

I actually did kind of get one of my wishes from last year.  When I traveled to Washington, D.C. to give a presentation to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington, I was able to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum library.  With the help of Megan Lewis, I discovered many digitized documents relating to Jews in Grodno gubernia during World War II.  Not directly related to my family research, but helpful nonetheless.

Unfortunately, I still have not made progress on the most important item on my wish list, and this year it's the only thing I"m asking for:  finding out what happened to Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son whom my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  Aunt Dottie is now 93, and I'm really running out of time on this, Santa.  I need all the help you (and anyone else) can give me.  My aunt's DNA is in Family Tree DNA and GEDMatch; Raymond's half-brother is in Ancestry; and his full sister is now in 23andMe  I have all the major bases covered — and still nothing.  Someone out there must know something.  Throw me a bone, please!

Everything else pales in comparison to getting this one wish.  If there's anything else I can do to help the process, let me know.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Favorite Winter Activity Growing Up

After a couple of weeks of "classics", Randy Seaver has a new topic this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Winter arrives this month all over the northern hemisphere, and the daily routines of work, education, and play change along with the seasons.  

(2) What were your favorite winter activities when you were a child and teenager and young adult?

(3) Share your memories on your own blog post, in a Facebook post, or in a comment on this post.  Please leave a link as a comment on this post if you write your own blog post so that everyone can read all about it.

Thank you to Linda Stufflebean for suggesting this topic.

I grew up in warm-weather areas — Los Angeles County; Sydney, Australia; and Florida — so the types of things that people think of as "winter activities" weren't usually something we did.  Sure, we might get some rain (and it actually can get below freezing in the Florida Panhandle, which is where I used to live), but overall not the kinds of locations that come to mind when you say "winter."  Neither of my parents were into ice skating or skiing, so we didn't go anywhere to do that.

But while my family lived in Los Angeles County (we were there until 1971), we did have a tradition for at least a couple of years where my father and Uncle Tony (not really our uncle, but a close friend of my father) drove up to Mount Baldy (which I've just learned is officially named Mount San Antonio; never heard that name before!) in a pickup truck and filled the truck bed with snow.  They then brought the snow back to the house, and we were able to play with it for a while before it melted.  I don't remember if it lasted long enough for us to make anything resembling a snowman, though!

As a young adult I lived in California again, actually in Los Angeles, so it was still pretty temperate in the winter.  I think the closest thing I had to a winter activity was spending Christmas break visiting my parents while I was still in college.  At least that's all I can remember now.

Monday, November 19, 2018

National Day of Listening 2018

This week we will celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, when people gather together in appreciation of their families and friends.  And because all those families and friends are gathered together in one spot, it's the perfect time to sit down and share stories, one of the best things you can collect as a family historian or genealogist.

In 2008, StoryCorps, a nonprofit oral history project, launched the National Day of Listening, when Americans are encouraged to record the stories of family members, friends, and community members.  StoryCorps designated the Friday after Thanksgiving as the Day of Listening as a contrast to the commercial perspective of Black Friday.

Make the time this Friday to interview a relative or friend and record that person's story.  Use a mobile phone, digital camera, videocamera, cassette tape, the StoryCorps app, or whatever you have handy.  Write it down if you have to!  (StoryCorps does have recommendations for questions, equipment, and resources for people to conduct their own interviews, since you have time to plan ahead.)  If you are with more than one family member, make it a family event and have multiple interviews.  Save those family stories and share them with other family members.

After Thanksgiving, if you have time and are in one of the right locations, StoryCorps has recording booths in some cities in the United States and also conducts mobile tours, where people can come and record interviews.  These must be reserved ahead of time.

StoryCorps has specific "initiatives" focused on oral histories from particular segments of the population.   Visit the site to learn about the Griot (black Americans), Historias (Latino Americans), Military Voices (service members), and Teachers initiatives, in addition to others.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

My friend's grandfather Zalmon Orloff served in the U.S. Army during World War I.  He was in Saumur, France when the armistice was signed.

Zalmon wrote letters to his girlfriend about every other day while he was in the Army.  For some reason, after he returned to the States and was mustered out of the service, Zalmon had his girlfriend type up the letters he had written and send him the typed copies.  This means that a hundred years later, my friend has copies of the letters Zalmon wrote, including the one he wrote on Armistice Day.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Saumur, France

Dear Sarah:

I don't know how to begin my letter.  The beginning though, does not matter anyhow.

The main thing is that the population of France, Saumur included, is gone start mad with joy on account of the armistice signed this morning.

French and American soldiers, men, women, boys and girls are embracing one another and the words "GUERRE EST FINIS" were on everybody's lips.

The wine shops were doing a rushing business and the natural merriment was greatly increased by the artificial one.

Groups of Americans and French gathered around every corner and sang the Marsellaise on the top of their voice.

Every nook and corner was full of children, who, waving the tricolor or the Stars and Stripes, sang their favorite songs and exploded fireworks in your very face.

The French and American buglers were blowing every tune imaginable and I doubt whether Saumur ever witnessed a similar scene.

Have read in the papers the conditions of the armistice and about the revolutionary movement spreading in Germany.

Why, Sarah, it seems as if it were a dream and I have to pinch myself to realize that I am wide awake and the wonderful news is a real, genuine unadulterated fact.

I never expected that the end of the misery will come so soon.