Thursday, March 28, 2013

Looking for Artifacts of the Irish Diaspora in America

If you are a descendant of Irish immigrants to America, the Little Museum of Dublin would like to borrow some of your family items.  The Little Museum (I wonder if it really is little?), a nonprofit, formally opened in October 2011 in Dublin, Ireland.  Its mission is to remember the social, cultural, and political history of the city.

From May to August of this year the museum is planning the Huddled Masses Exhibition, which aims to tell the story of Irish America and the search for the American dream.  The exhibition also intends to explore the relationship between Ireland and the United States.

The museum is currently looking for documents of all sorts -- letters, photographs, newspaper clippings -- books, clothes, and other artifacts that relate to the theme of Irish immigration to the U.S. and that will add to and enrich the exhibition.  Some of the suggested items are documents relating to emigration and immigration (tickets, letters, posters, visas, passports), American wakes, the Irish Catholic church in America, Irish American women, Irish regiments in the Civil War, and Irish domestic servants around the turn of the 20th century.

More information about the planned exhibit and the request for contributions is in this article.

I visited Dublin in 1996, so of course I didn't get to visit this museum because it didn't exist yet.  It sounds like a lovely little place.  I especially like the idea of the "I Love Dublin" classes they have for school children, to teach them about the heritage of their city.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New Resource for Personal Digital Archiving

Now that more and more material is electronic -- e-mail, scanned photos, databases -- have you struggled with the idea of how to maintain and store all of your information?  You are not alone.  I know I become frustrated every time one of my programs tells me it needs to be updated to the newest and greatest version.  Plus I try to keep up with the current preferred formats for saving media, such as mp4 versus flv.  And then you have to worry about your files being lost, whether it's due to an outdated program, damage to your computer, or even something as simple as not being able to find a file.

Well, someone at the Library of Congress apparently has considered those same problems, because they have created a new free electronic publication, Perspectives on Personal Digital Archiving.  The publication's content covers three general areas:  guidance (e.g., tips on preservation and organization), personal reflections (stories on saving and losing data), and outreach (presentations, events, etc.).  The e-book grew out of the many posts on the Digital Preservation blog.

The e-book is available online as a downloadable PDF.

Newspaper Links Recently Added to Wikipedia Page

I've added several new links to the Wikipedia online newspaper archives page.  All but one of them are free (hooray for free!).

• Québec:  Translated obituaries from the Keneder Adler for 1908–1932
• Wales:  The National Library of Wales has begun putting digitized newspapers and magazines online.  So far issues cover 1844–1910, and they plan to add a lot more.
• California:  The Free Speech Movement is a selection of scanned newspaper issues, mostly from the Berkeley Daily Gazette and the San Francisco Chronicle, relating to the movement.
• California:  San Leandro Public Library index to two local newspapers
• California:  University of Southern California "Trojan Family Archive", which includes the Daily Trojan (the student newspaper) from 1912–present (I used to work at the DT doing hard-copy paste-up and some editing!)
• Illinois:  Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey translations from 22 different languages of foreign-language newspaper articles from 1855–1938
• Louisiana:  New Orleans Bee posted as images only (no search) for 1827–1923
• Minnesota:  Chaska Valley Herald for 1862–1887
• New York:  Like jazz?  Issues 1–58 of the Buffalo Jazz Report are free online.
• Ohio:  The American Israelite (Cincinnati) is available for 1854–2000 as a pay service from ProQuest.
• Texas:  The J. C. Penney company used to publish an in-house newsletter called the Dynamo from 1917–1932. A sampling of 31 issues is online.
• Wisconsin:  Eleven newspapers from the Door County library, ranging from 1873–1925

I posted recently about having added a link to the Newspaper Abstracts site.  I found about 20 articles there that had been transcribed from the Winters (California) Advocate of the 1870's and 1880's.  What a great find!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Colonial Handwriting Was a Big Hit

Tuesday I taught a class on American Colonial handwriting for the first time.  I was the third choice to teach, after the woman who has been teaching it for the past few years (who was unable to do so this year) and the person who was going to substitute for her (whose husband decided he wanted to take her away for a week's vacation).  And then the date was switched on me -- originally the class was supposed to be March 26, but it was pushed back to March 19.  So I was more than a little nervous going in, between being third in line, it being a new subject for me, and having a week less to prepare than I had anticipated!  But the class went smoothly, and the attendees seemed happy with the lesson and the handout.  I discussed how several letters were formed differently than what we are accustomed to, spelling inconsistencies, how words and names could be abbreviated, and even the calendar change of 1752.  I showed several real examples from the 1700's and had people read through them; by the end of the class everyone had a pretty good grasp on it and was able to read the examples fairly quickly.  So I was happy and relieved, and now I have another class in my repertoire.

I have two more new talks I am creating this year.  The programming person at the Napa Valley Genealogical Society read about forensic genealogy and learned that I am a member of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG), so asked if I could speak to the society on the subject.  Forensic genealogical research is when there are "possible legal implications that involve determination of identity, kinship, legal rights, or distribution of held monies or assets" (from the CAFG Web site).  I will make that presentation in Napa on July 18.

In August, I will debut my newest newspaper talk, on finding and using online historical Jewish newspapers, at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference in Boston.  The conference runs August 4-9 and is being held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers.

Of course, I have additional newspapers talks coming up.  I am the newspaper queen, after all!  On March 29 I'll speak at the Oakland FamilySearch Library on the subscription newspaper databases available there.  On April 25 I'll be in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the Ohio Genealogical Society conference teaching about online historical black newspapers.  And in October, for Family History Month, I'll present my general talk about using online newspapers for genealogical research twice, at the Family History Day at the California State Archives (October 12) and at the Concord FamilySearch Center's Digging for Your Roots one-day conference (October 19).  All of my newspaper classes cover where to find newspaper databases and how to use effective search techniques.

My other presentation that is popular right now is on research techniques for finding women's maiden names.  I talk about a wide range of resources that can be helpful in finding those elusive names.  I'll be giving that talk at the main branch of the Sacramento Public Library on May 5, the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society on June 11, and the Concord FamilySearch Center's Digging for Your Roots on October 19 (yup, two classes in one day).

Last but certainly not least, Berkeley Midrasha wants me to return this fall to teach my genealogy class to the high school students.  That was a fun and different experience last year, and I'm looking forward to trying to get more kids hooked on genealogy.

I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for genealogy through my classes.  I would love to have you join me at one or more of my talks this year.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Vintage Jewish Indian Cookbook

I just learned about a blog called "The Shiksa in the Kitchen", written by a recent (2010) convert to Judaism who has been exploring the world of Jewish cooking, including kashrut (the rules for keeping kosher).  She posted about a copy of an Indian Jewish cookbook published in Calcutta about 1922.  I found a few references to the cookbook online, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere, and I'm sure it was printed in only small quantities to begin with.  She mentioned it has "several kosher Jewish Indian recipes", but I'm not sure if all of the recipes are kosher.

I love Jewish cooking and Indian cooking and now just have to find a copy of this book!  One year for Passover I even cooked an Indian-themed seder, including mulligatawny-spiced matzoh ball soup and an egg curry.

Recipes and food traditions can sometimes impart information about family history.  This cookbook, for example, probably has recipes that follow Sephardic traditions, because most of the Jewish communities in India had Sephardic roots.  But first I need to find a copy of the cookbook to read the recipes ....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Online Archive of Brooklyn Photographs

Walter Silverman
As a great complement to the collection of New York City images that have been posted online, we now have Brooklyn Visual Heritage.  This collaboration between the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, and Brooklyn Historical Society makes 19th- and 20th-century photographs and other materials available to the public.  The photos are browsable by collection, such as the 1977 blackout, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Prohibition; and by subject, such as Brooklyn College, Salvation Army, and accordionists (!).  The blog highlights various topics, such as Burton Turkus and the Murder Inc. trials.  There is also a search function (for example, "Jewish" turned up 220 results), plus an advanced search.  Most images on the site are low-resolution and watermarked; higher-resolution, nonwatermarked images are available from the archives, sometimes free and sometimes for a cost.  The site appears to have about 12,000 images.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Genealogy Editing!

I am very excited about my new volunteer position!  I have been confirmed as the new editor of The Baobab Tree, the quarterly journal of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California.  The editor is also the chairman of the society's Journal Committee.  I'll be taking over from Annette Madden, the wonderful lady who has been the editor for the past two years.  I'm really looking forward to continuing the great work that has gone before me but finding a way to put a little of myself in the publication also.

And speaking of editing, the latest issue of ZichronNote has just been sent to members of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.  This issue has two articles about successful searches for family:  one sparked by an envelope addressed to a mystery aunt, and the second by long-guarded secrets that were finally shared.  There is also a review of the recently published DNA USA:  A Genetic Portrait of America, which tells us that the book is not quite what the title promises.

So with these two publications and The Galitzianer, I'm now going to be putting out a journal every month.  I guess you can take the girl out of publishing, but you can't take the publishing out of the girl ....

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Different Perspective on the Holocaust

Leaders of the Nazi regime had children and grandchildren.  How do those descendants deal with the legacies that their ancestors left them?  In the documentary Hitler's Children (2011), director Chanoch Ze'evi, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, spoke with direct descendants and other relatives of powerful Nazi figures about how they have reconciled their ancestors' history with their daily lives.

Hitler's Children will be shown at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, on Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, March 24, at 2:00 p.m.  The screenings are cosponsored by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is close to the Powell Street and Montgomery Street BART and Muni stations.  More information about the screenings, including prices, can be found at