Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jewish-Indian Haggadah Discovered at Garage Sale in England

A rare haggadah used by the Bene Israel, one of the Jewish communities in India, was bought at a garage sale by a University of Manchester historian.  A copy of the Poona Haggadah is at the Library of Congress, but the copy just purchased may be the only one in the United Kingdom.  The text in the haggadah is in both Hebrew and Marathi, the language spoken by the Marathi people of western and central India and the official language of the state of Maharashtra.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Online Newspapers" Talk at SCCHGS

On Tuesday evening I gave a presentation on using online newspapers for genealogy research to the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society.  It was the largest group I've spoken to so far -- 75 people!  Everyone was enthusiastic about the information, and many people were optimistic they would be able to use it to help find their relatives in the paper.  I had a wonderful time, and the cookies made with peanut butter cups were especially delicious.  Many thanks to Richard Ferman for inviting me to speak!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Genealogical Kindness and Military Medals

I received an unusual phone call today.  A woman called me from Cincinnati, Ohio, to ask if I had any relatives in the area.  She had been at an estate sale earlier in the day, and a Purple Heart awarded to a Sellers was one of the items that had been for sale.  I don't know where she found my name, but she thought perhaps it might be a relative of mine.  I told her I did have relatives who had moved to Ohio, though I didn't know of any in Hamilton County, and I was at least interested in knowing to whom the Purple Heart had been awarded.  She went back to the estate sale and discovered that several buyers had objected to the Purple Heart being sold and that it had been pulled from the sale and returned to the woman who owned the property -- who then turned right around and sold it on the side to an individual.  The woman who called me was very upset that the Purple Heart had been treated so cavalierly.

I did a little research online to try to find out what should have been done with the medal.  I found a reference stating that lost medals and other military items should be returned to the Secretary of Defense, but nothing about the proper protocol when family members don't want to keep medals.  Apparently the woman who sold it was the rightful owner, and she had no interest in keeping it.

I appreciate the kindness of the woman who called me, who was hoping that if the medal were to be sold, at least it should go to someone who was related to the person who had earned it.  I hope the person who purchased it gives it the respect it is due.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Loving Day

Loving Day, June 12, is the anniversary of the day the Supreme Court of the United States struck down miscegenation laws as unconstitutional.  Richard and Mildred Loving didn't set out to change the world; they were in love and just wanted to be married.  It took strength and persistence to pursue their case, but the victory opened the doors for many more couples to be able to marry in any state and for their marriages to be valid in any state.  Those couples also had to be strong, because even though the laws had changed, attitudes change much more slowly.  Today I have in my thoughts Floyd and Jean, Hugh and Robin, Mike and Lisa, Karm and Mary, Amit and Beth, Kevin and Angela, and Andrew and Djuna.

Perhaps in the future more laws will be struck down and other couples who want to will be able to marry and have those marriages be accepted everywhere in our country.  In the hope that I live long enough to see that happen, I also hold in my thoughts on this day Jeff and Ed, Thomas and George, Barry and Steve, and Dennis and Kevin.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Is the Face of Genealogy

My great-great-grandparents Avigdor (Hebrew name Isaac) and Esther Leah (née Schneiderman) Gorodetsky with daughter Etta.  Photo taken in Kamenets Podolsky, Russia (now Kamyanets Podilskyy, Ukraine) c. 1890.