Thursday, July 16, 2015

FamilySearch, Otto Frank, the British Library, and the Sartorial Splendor of Viennese Jewish Men

Did you participate in FamilySearch's 2014 Worldwide Indexing Project?  That was an organized effort to have as many people transcribe (because the volunteers aren't actually doing any "indexing") at least one batch of records from FamilySearch over a two-day period.  This year the effort is being called the Worldwide Indexing Event, it has been extended to one week (August 7–14), and the goal is to have 100,000 volunteers submit at least one batch each.

Remember, all of the free searchable databases on are there because volunteers donated their time and transcribed digitized microfilm.  This year there is a particular emphasis on transcribing records in languages other than English.

We're talking about having a group of staff members come in to the Oakland FamilySearch Library for another brunch and indexing party, as we did last year.  Why not get your friends together and do the same?  I hope we have chocolate again!

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Anne Frank
The Sydney Jewish Museum and the Netherlands' Anne Frank House are searching for letters from Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank.  The father of the famous diarist received a large amount of correspondence in the years following the English publication of The Diary of Anne Frank.  Most were written by girls the same age as Anne or older.  While the Anne Frank House has retained all the letters sent to Otto, his replies were not copied or archived.

If you or someone you know wrote to Otto Frank and still has his letter written in response, please contact Anne Slade in Australia at 0418 670 352 or by e-mail.

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Dr. Wilhelm Solf was the first governor of German Samoa and later was the German ambassador to Japan under the Weimar Republic.  After his death in 1936, his widow, Johanna Solf, presided over the Solf-Kreis, a circle of anti-Nazi intellectuals, in her salon in Berlin.  Solf and her daughter, the Countess So'oa'emalelagi "Lagi" von Ballestrem-Solf, hid many Jews and provided them with documents to emigrate to safety.

Most members of the circle were arrested and executed after attending a tea party in Berlin on 10 September 1943.  The guests had been betrayed by a Gestapo spy.  The Solfs were interned in Ravensbrück and narrowly avoided death because of delays in their trial and the subsequent approach of the Red Army, which led to their liberation.

Now, New Zealand author Michael Field is seeking survivors or descendants of survivors who escaped the Holocaust through the Solf Circle.  Michael wants to tell the story to a wider English-speaking audience and is seeking more information.  Anyone with information should e-mail him.

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Weinberg and Applebaum families in Macclesfield
The short-lived Macclesfield Hebrew Congregation flourished from 1941–1946 in Cheshire, England, following the arrival of evacuees, refugees, and firms which moved up from the London area. The firms included Belmont Textiles (the Belmont/Lazarus families), Osband Knitwear, Offenbach, BJ Friend, H&I Franklin, V&E Friedland, A. Goldstein, and possibly Halle.  The congregation was the most northerly outpost of the United Synagogue and had its own rabbi as well as its own branch of the Women's International Zionist Organization.

Basil Jeuda of Macclesfield is currently researching the congregation.  He hopes to mount an exhibition in 2016 for the 70th anniversary of its end, to celebrate Jewish life in the area during World War II. If you have any information, photos, memories, or other memorabilia, please contact Basil via e-mail or write to him:
Basil Jeuda
Sandringham Road,
Macclesfield SK10 1QB
United Kingdom

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Jonathan Kaplan, a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Technology in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia is focusing his research on the social, sartorial, and aesthetic roles of Jewish men in Vienna (and other towns in cities in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (roughly 1890–1930).

He is trying to create a digital database of photographs and ephemera from this era for his research.  If you have family photographs, advertising materials, or other relevant items that you are willing to share with Jonathan, please contact him.

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Would you like better access to knowing about the holdings of the British Library?  The library has launched LibCrowds, a platform for crowdsourcing library projects.  The first project, Convert-a-Card, is dedicated to the retro conversion of printed card catalogs into electronic records in order to make them available to a worldwide audience via the ExploreBL catalog, which already includes nearly 57 million records.  The initial focus of Convert-a-Card is the Asian and African collections.  (But I still like hard-copy card catalogs . . . .)

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