Tuesday, January 28, 2014

World War I Diaries, an Irish World War I Soldier, Holocaust Survivors, and More

It seems there are always more projects looking for volunteers, doesn't it?  The fact is that genealogy relies heavily on volunteers.  These are some projects that I've learned about recently.  Maybe there's something here that you can help with.

The National Archives of the United Kingdom have digitized World War I unit war diaries and are now turning to crowdsourcing to help make the information in them searchable.  They are looking for volunteers ("citizen historians") to go through the digital files, classify the types of pages in the diaries, and tag important data.  The idea is to create a detailed index rather than a full transcription.  The home page for Operation War Diary has a prominent link to a tutorial.  After completing the tutorial you can get started.

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Private James Brown, from an Irish family that migrated to England, enlisted with the 1st Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers when World War I began.  He died during the war on a battlefield near Comines-Warneton, Belgium.  It is believed that his body is among six sets of remains that were found near the village in 2010.  The Ministry of Defence is looking for relatives of Private Brown so they can test for a DNA match and positively identify the body.  An article on the Irish Independent Web site has information about the family's background.

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Amy Smith, the Ben and Zelda Cohen Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale, is conducting research on the lives of Holocaust survivors, specifically the experiences of survivors who created families after the war, spent time in DP camps, and immigrated to the United States or Canada.  If you are a survivor, or the child of a survivor, who fits these criteria, please contact Amy at amy.smith@yale.edu.

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Thomas Macentee posted about a grave marker found on some property in Portland, Oregon.  The names on the marker are Manin, Smith, and Templeton.  Death years of 1974 and 1975 are listed for two of the names.  More details are on the Geneabloggers site.  The hope is that the marker can be returned to family members.

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The current editor of Die Pommerschen Leute ("The Pomeranian People"), published by the Pomeranian Special Interest Group (PSIG) of the Immigrant Genealogical Society, will step down after the publication of the Summer 2014 issue.  PSIG is looking for a volunteer to be the new editor beginning with the Fall 2014 issue.  The editor solicits and edits articles and stories that deal with the history of the former Baltic duchy of Pomerania and the culture, traditions, and way of life of its people. The editor handles the layout and design of approximately 10 pages of content for each of the four yearly issues.  The "Die Vorfahren" section of DPL has its own editor.

All editorial duties can be accomplished over the Internet, so the editor can be based anywhere. MS Publisher has been used in the past.  The new editor could begin working immediately with the outgoing editor to get oriented and would have the next eight to ten months to work on the Fall 2014 issue.  This is a good opportunity for someone who would like to work on a publication about the history and culture of the Pomeranian people.

If you are interested, contact Toni Perrone, the president of PSIG, at tperrone2@verizon.net. She will discuss the editor's duties and responsibilities.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Poster Contest for 2014 International Jewish Genealogy Month

One of my (many) genealogy-oriented volunteer activities is being on the committee for International Jewish Genealogy Month (IJGM), a celebration of Jewish genealogy supported by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS).  IJGM is celebrated during the Hebrew month of Cheshvan.  In 2014 this corresponds to the secular calendar dates of October 25 through November 22.

One of the activities of IJGM is a competition to design the poster/flyer that will be used to announce and publicize the event.  The poster should celebrate Jewish genealogy and help promote the hobby.

This year the poster competition started earlier than usual (Wednesday, January 15) and has an earlier deadline, Wednesday, April 30, 2014.  The winning entry will be announced and unveiled publicly at this year's IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy, to be held in Salt Lake City from July 27–August 1, 2014.  The winning artist will receive free registration to the conference.  The winning flyer/poster will be available on the IAJGS Web site to all who wish to use it.

These are the details for the poster competition:

Poster/Flyer Design Requirements

• Size: tabloid (11" x 17")
• Bleeds and no bleeds are acceptable
• Reproducible in JPEG, TIF, and PNG formats

Must include:
• A 3.5" x 3.5" area for the IAJGS logo and the URL "www.iajgs.org"
• A 3" x 5" blank area for local society name and contact information
• The words "International Jewish Genealogy Month: Cheshvan" plus the Hebrew and civil dates for the year

May include:
• The words "Submitted by [name of IAJGS member society]"
• The artist's signature/name

Facebook Design Requirements

The main poster image must be capable of being adapted for use on the IAJGS Jewish Genealogy Facebook page.

Facebook Page Cover Image

The cover image must be at least 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall, otherwise it will be stretched to this size.  It also must be less than 100 kb.

Facebook Event Cover Image

The Event Cover image graphic must be 714 pixels wide and 264 pixels tall. The image is cropped in thumbnail mode to the top center 176 pixels tall and 264 pixels wide.

Facebook Profile Image

Page profile pictures are square and display at 160 x 160 pixels on our page. The image must be at least 180 x 180 pixels and must be a square image.

Who May Submit an Entry

• Only IAJGS member organizations may submit entries.
• An organization may submit more than one entry.
• The poster creator is not required to be a member of an IAJGS member organization.  A creator who is not a member needs to have a member organization sponsor the entry.
• There is no age requirement for the creator.
• Each entry must be accompanied by the form on the IJGM Web page (see below).
• Entries will not be returned.

Judging of Entries

Judging will be done solely by the International Jewish Genealogy Month committee.

Submission Requirements

• The deadline for the 2014 contest is April 30, 2014.
• Each entry must be submitted as a JPG or PDF file via e-mail attachment to Secretary@iajgs.org.
• The required application information or completed application form and release form (available on the IJGM page) must be included with each entry.
• You may include artist comments about the poster (optional).
• If no entries are received by the deadline or no entries are judged to be appropriate, the committee will solicit further entries.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's That Blogiversary Time of Year

Time flies, doesn't it?  Somehow three years have passed since I started my blog.  I am really happy I've been able to keep up the same pace — I'm still averaging about one post every other day.  I don't post as often as I would like (amazing how work gets in the way of that!), but I'm working on doing more.

I realized when I looked down the list of labels I have for my posts that I cover a pretty wide range of subjects.  From Africa to Zundapp motorcycles, from Abraham Lincoln to Zooey Deschanel (but nothing starting with an X), and from Chinese Jews to Sikhs, these really are topics that interest me and that I research.

I'm glad I have the opportunity to share my passion for genealogy with others through my blog, and I am honored that people read it and post comments, adding to the conversation.  Thanks for the support, and onward to the next year!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Black Family History Day and Other Upcoming Events

This past week I have been very busy with running around, going to meetings, and doing research, but I wanted to let everyone know about some events coming up in the San Francisco area that are of interest to genealogists.  Maybe I will see some of you there.

The African American Genealogical Society of Northern California will be holding its 2014 Black Family History Day on Sunday, February 16, 1:00–5:00 p.m., at the Oakland FamilySearch Library, 4766 Lincoln Avenue.  While this is a particularly good way for beginners to start researching their families, it is also helpful for those who have already done some research to learn new techniques or get some help to break through a brick wall.  The page still has information about the 2013 days but should be updated soon.  And even if it doesn't get updated, come anyway!  I'll be one of the volunteers helping attendees with their research.

The California Historical Society (CHS) will host a reception on Sunday, January 26, 2:00–4:00 p.m., to celebrate the opening of a bilingual exhibit about Juana Briones (1802–1889), an important early settler and entrepreneur in the San Francisco Bay area.  The exhibit will run from January 26 through June 8, 2014.  Part of Briones' original 1850's home was saved from destruction, and CHS has a project to help preserve it.

Remember the 1992 movie A League of Their Own, about women playing professional baseball during World War II?  According to the baseball scholars who will be speaking at the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), women's baseball began at Vassar in 1866!  SFPL will host a panel discussion on women's baseball titled "Linedrives and Lipstick:  The Untold Story of Women's Baseball", also to be held on Sunday, January 26, this from 1:00–4:00 p.m. (decisions, decisions).  The panel will include baseball scholars David Block, Jean Ardell, Dorothy Mills, Leslie Heaphy, and Monica Nucciarone.  The accompanying exhibit at the library will run from January 25 through March 16, 2014.

Monday, January 6, 2014

More Newspapers Listed on the Wikipedia Newspaper Archives Page

Maybe because of the holiday season, I didn't find many new links for newspaper databases over the past couple of months.  On the other hand, all of the new additions are free!  You can find all of these links added to the Wikipedia newspaper archives page.

• British Columbia:  The Herald (under various names over time) for 1900–2013 has been made available through the Terrace Public Library.
• Philippines:  The Manila Standard from 1984–2003 is online.
• Scotland:  The South Ayrshire Libraries now have an online index of births, marriages, and deaths that appeared in the Ayr Advertiser from 1801–1835.
• Connecticut:  The Wilton Public Library has searchable indices for obituaries (1937–2005) and articles (1997–2005) published in the Wilton Bulletin.
• Montana:  The Big Timber Pioneer (1893–1949) and Saco Independent (1912–1922) have been added to the Montana Memory Project.
• Ohio:  The Warren County Genealogical Society has lists of names of obituaries published in county newspapers, covering 1810–2010.  New names are added regularly.
• Ohio:  The Williams County Public Library has a searchable obituary index that covers 1862–2013, with gaps in coverage for years and newspapers.  The library will also send copies of the obituaries.
• Washington:  The Ellensburg Daily Record from 1885–2005 is online.
• Washington:  The North Olympic Library System has an obituary index that covers 1916–present.  It isn't clear from the site whether the obituaries are only for Port Angeles.
• Multistate:  The Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University has a map plotting the growth of newspapers across the U.S., created using data from the Library of Congress Chronicling America database.  The map also works as an alternative way to search for newspapers from the Chronicling America collection.
• Multistate:  The Library of Congress has a page with links to directories from 1869–1920 listing American newspapers that were being published.
• Worldwide:  The Handwritten Newspapers Project is really interesting.  It lists items from around the world, with dates ranging from 59 B.C. to A.D. 2011.  One handwritten Indian newspaper has been published in Urdu since 1927.

Have you found anything interesting in a historical newspaper recently?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

December 2013 Issue of "The Galitzianer" at the Printer

Due to delays with last-minute additions to the December issue of The Galitzianer, it isn't actually going to come out in December.  So what's a few days between friends and genealogists?  But it's at the printer now and should be mailed out to members of Gesher Galicia early next week.  The electronic edition has already been sent.

And just what is in this issue?  I ended up with two sets of complementary articles.  The first theme is censuses.  Jonathan Shea, founder of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast, allowed us to reprint his article "Austrian Census Returns 1869–1890, with an Emphasis on Galicia", which discusses an 1853 meeting in Brussels that led to censuses being conducted in many European countries, and specifics of historic censuses in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Following that are an article about the Tarnopol 1910 Jewish census, which was probably an extract of information from a general census, and a list of the surnames from the census.

The second set of articles relates to online records offered by Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland).  Mark Jacobson of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County talks about updates to JRI-Poland indices and links to online images.  Coincidentally, someone confirmed a family story that his very English-sounding surname was the original Jewish family name by finding an image of his grandfather's 1877 Galician birth record through the JRI-Poland site.

In addition, this issue has an article about a survivor of the Janowska concentration camp in Lwów, by a history professor working on a Holocaust research project focused on that camp, and the first appearance of a new column about preserving Jewish material heritage in Eastern Europe.

Members of Gesher Galicia receive The Galitzianer as a benefit of membership.  Gesher Galicia is a nonprofit organization focused on researching Jews and Jewish life in the former Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia.  Information on becoming a member is available here.

Articles for The Galitzianer are accepted from both members and nonmembers.  If you submit an article that is published, you will receive a copy of the issue with your article even if you are not a member.  Submissions may be articles and/or graphics, both original and previously published, and must be relevant to Galician Jewish genealogical research:  articles about recent trips to Galicia, reports on your own research, historical and recent pictures, etc.  Electronic submissions are preferred, though not required.  If you wish to submit material for consideration, please contact me at janicemsj@gmail.com.  I accept submissions year-round, but the deadline for the March 2014 issue is February 15.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Trusting Obituaries

Today I have a guest blogger:  my friend Carol Townsend.  Her mother recently passed away, and after writing her mother's obituary, she was struck by the nature of obituaries and how they fit into genealogy research.


Frances Lathrop Gundrum
One of the cornerstones of genealogical research is the newspaper obituary.  There is so much information packed into a small space, and they often contain names of relatives that appear nowhere else in other documentation—aunts, uncles, cousins—who are listed in the "survived by" or "preceded in death by" sections.  Obituaries can be one of the best ways to break through a brick wall in your research and give you a new avenue of research.

One caveat:  You can't always trust them.

Having just written my mother's obituary, I know how easy it is to get facts wrong or include information that we who wrote it understand, but which might seem misleading.  But once an obituary goes into print, many people take it as gospel truth.

Case in point:  My brother married a woman with three very young children but never legally adopted them.  They all call my brother "Dad" (their biological father is referred to by his first name, if at all), and my parents were Grandpa and Grandma.  They are listed, rightfully so, as my mother's grandchildren.  Each of those grandchildren has the name of a significant other included:  Marie (Kurt) Edwards, Katie (Bob Deelstra) Kortlever, and Jared (Katrina Eisma) Kortlever.  Looking at those names, it seems obvious that Kurt and Marie are married, but you don't know if Bob and Katie are married and if Katie just kept her maiden name.  The same can be said for Jared and Katrina.  More research is required.

(For the curious:  Kurt and Marie are married and have each brought children into the marriage; Bob and Katie are engaged, have one child together, and share custody of an older daughter with Bob's ex-wife; and Jared and Katrina are living together with no current plans to make anything official.)

Another example:  I have a cousin who is rather a vagabond and a drifter.  All we could really say in the obituary was that he was somewhere in Hawaii.  We're not sure which island he's on, or if he's still there.  We're pretty sure it's accurate, but we don't actually know.  That's what it says in the obituary.  It may or may not be true, but it's in print.

One thing to remember when doing research is that most often, at least in this day and age, obituaries are written by funeral directors from information given to them by grieving families.  The families do their best, I'm sure, to give accurate information.  But it is a time of stress, and one does not always think clearly at such times.  I was fortunate that I had a few days to fact-check; I had originally gotten a couple of dates wrong, but I was able to find the information in my home files and correct the obit before it went to print.

Now that I've written an obituary myself, I will look at them with a more careful eye as I do any research.  Obituaries can be wonderful goldmines of new facts, but you can't be sure that everything in them is accurate.  Take the information down, certainly, but verify each fact with at least one other documentary source.  That's good research practice in any case.

Carol is a former teacher and ASL interpreter who is transitioning to becoming a professional writer.  Her mother's memorial page is hosted by the Miller Funeral Home.