Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your School Yearbook Photos

It's always fun to have a timely subject, which is what Randy Seaver has done this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

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

1) updated their School Yearbook collection and it is FREE to access until 2 September.  Use

(2) Show us your school yearbook photos from the Ancestry collection, or from your personal photo collection.  Tell us the school and year.  Add your spouse or best friend or children if you wish!

(3) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog, or in a Facebook post.

Here's what I could come up with:

So first of all, I was surprised to see that my high school — Niceville Senior High School, in beautiful Niceville, Florida — actually is represented in the collection.  Unfortunately, none of the years I attended (1976–1979) is there, and I have no idea where my yearbooks are in the house.  I know I bought them and kept them, but they're in a box somewhere.  So much for high school photos of me!

I did find the USC yearbook for my senior year in the collection.  I graduated in 1983.

Janice Sellers, University of Southern California yearbook, 1983, page 174

Next I tried looking for my parents.  I didn't find my mother, but I did find two photos of my father in the 1954 Seminole High School (Sanford, Florida) yearbook.  I wish I had found these three months ago, while my father was stil alive.  I could have asked him about his experiences in the Pan American Club, Projectionist Club, Camera Club, and Glee Club (although I think the first three might have been in Moorestown, which was spelled incorrectly in the yearbook).

Salmagundi, Seminole High School yearbook, 1954, senior photos, page 28

Salmagundi, Seminole High School yearbook, 1954, Glee Club, page 59

I couldn't find any of my grandparents.  I looked for my best candidate for my paternal grandfather's biological father and struck out.  I did, however, find my ex, who went to Santa Monica Catholic High School in Santa Monica, California.

Hugh Singh, Compass, Santa Monica Catholic High School yearbook,
1966 (freshman), 1967 (sophomore), and 1969 (senior)

I also found the younger of my mother's two brothers (but not the older), about a dozen members of my aunt's family (but not her), and all three of my ex's brothers (but not his half-sister).  Obviously, one could spend many, many hours searching through these for family members.  They sure are fun!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Ancestor with Most Unusual Occupation

Randy Seaver has gone in a different direction for tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge:

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

(1)  Which of your ancestors had an unusual occupation?

(2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog, or in a Facebook post.

Well, I haven't found any truly unusual occupations while researching my family, and certainly no snake oil salesmen.  The best I can come up with is that my great-great-grandfather Frederick Cleworth Dunstan was a file grinder in the suburbs of Manchester, England.  It used to be a fairly common occupation, but I don't know if people still work doing that.

There's an interesting essay online about the life of file grinders in Sheffield, England, which was pretty harsh.  I'm guessing that it was similar in Manchester.   Unfortunately, nowhere in the essay does it actually define the work that a file grinder did, so I'm still a little fuzzy on that.  I don't know what types of files were ground or what the files were used for.  The impression I have is that file grinders were pretty far down on the socioeconomic scale, however.  I was particularly struck by the comment that most file grinders died young, because that is what happened to Frederick Dunstan, who was only about 34 years old when he died.  He left behind my widowed great-great-grandmother Maria (Winn) Dunstan and five children.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Were You in a Youth Organization?

Randy Seaver has taken an idea from someone else for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun posting challenge.

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

Did you join a youth organization such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, Job's Daughters, for example?

(2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog, or in a Facebook post.

Thank you to Lisa Gorrell for suggesting this several months ago.

I was in a few youth organizations at different times.  When my family lived in California, I was in Camp Fire Girls (today, apparently, simply Camp Fire), as was my younger sister.  My mother was our group leader (whatever the group was called).  That would have left my brother alone, so he was our (unofficial) group mascot and participated in activities with us.  We were in the youngest age group, which at that time was called Bluebirds.  I think somewhere I still have my Bluebird uniform.  The Wikipedia Camp Fire page says that kids can earn beads; I have no recollection if we earned anything or just did social activities.

The next group I was in was Girl Scouts, which was after my family returned to the States from Australia.  I must have been a Cadette Girl Scout, I think for all three years of junior high school.  I remember earning badges, particularly my cooking badge, for which I learned how to make authentic Italian food from the chef at a local restaurant.  I think my mother was their bookkeeper, so I had an in.  I still make my pasta sauces the old-fashioned way I was taught then.  I earned a sewing badge, too.  I also still have that uniform and my badges.

After the third year of Cadette Girl Scouts, we went on a big trip to Atlanta, which is about 325 miles from the tiny little settlement of Villa Tasso, Florida, where my family lived.  We visited Stone Mountain and Underground Atlanta, and probably a few other sites.  The main thing I recall from that trip, however, was how the driver of the car I was in got lost in the "wrong part" of Atlanta on our way to where we were staying. (Translation:  She was a "traditional" white Southerner, and we somehow ended up in the black part of town.)  She was freaking out and panicking, totally afraid of the people around her, even though they weren't doing anything.  This was well before the days of ubiquitous mobile phones, so no Google Maps or even being able to call one of the other driver/chaperones.  We were able to get to where we were supposed to be because I knew how to read a map.  I talked her through Atlanta streets block by block until we arrived.  I think I'm happy I don't remember her name.  And somehow I just never got excited enough to be a Senior Girl Scout.

The third group I participated in was 4-H.  I think that was only for one summer while we lived in Villa Tasso.  I have no memories of what we did, simply that I did it as a summer activity.

In college, my best friend was involved with the Future Farmers of America chapter in Santa Maria, California.  One weekend we went up to help out at an event.  I ended up in a hog pen, trying to convince a hog which direction it wanted to go.  As I recall, I was not particularly successful, and one of the kids had to help me out.  But the hog eventually ended up where it was supposed to be.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Where Were You in 2000?

For Saturday Night Genealogy Fun this week, Randy Seaver is asking us to reach back in our memories almost twenty years.  Let's see how I do compared to him.

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

Do you recall what you were doing in 2000?  Family, school, work, hobbies, technology, genealogy, vacations, etc.?  If this doesn't work for you, what about your parents?

(2) Tell us in a blog post of your own, in a comment on this blog, or in a Facebook post.

As usual, I am amazed at Randy's amount of recall.  This is what I could cobble together.

I was living in Oakland, California in the house I had bought in 1993.  I no longer had a housemate.  The friend who had cosigned with me to purchase the house had moved out in 1998.  In mid-1999 I had a friend who needed a place to stay, so I let him have the extra room.  By the time 2000 had rolled around, however, he was gone.  He had gone out drinking on New Year's Eve and had apparently spent the night with a young lady, who then took all of his money and disappeared — which is exactly what the housemate did for several months, being too embarrassed to admit what had happened.  I finally tracked him down three or four months into the year and got him to take all of his stuff out of the house.

In 2000 I had been working for the Seismological Society of America for two years.  I was the publications coordinator — at that point I was not yet editing one of the journals; my work was administrative only — and the "junior Webmaster" — I assisted the primary Webmaster with maintaining and updating the society's site.  I don't remember if I had learned HTML by that point or not.  I was probably doing only really basic stuff with the site.

The Seismological Society of America (SSA) is a scientific membership association.  Most members are seismologists and geologists, with a smattering of volcanologists and other geological specialties.  SSA holds an annual conference, as do many scneitific societies, where members and other attendees present talks and posters on recent research.  The 2000 conference was held in San Diego right after my birthday.  I remember there was a field trip of some sort to Old Town, which was enjoyable if somewhat touristy.  I also remember that was the year I met Shri Krishna Singh.

See, there was an international enclave of seismologists at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (National University of Mexico).  Certainly there were scientists from Mexico, but they also had Kostoglodov from Russia, a Japanese man whose name I've forgotten, and Shri Krishna Singh from India.  I met him in San Diego when I heard someone speaking fluent Spanish behind me, turned around to see who it was, and was momentarily nonplussed when I saw a man who pretty clearly seemed to be from the Indian subcontinent.  It took a few seconds for my brain to process, and then I realized who it had to be.  I had communicated with him by e-mail prior to that but had never met him in person.

(Years later, when I was with my stepsons' father, whose father was born in India, I contacted Shri to find out if he had any advice for doing genealogy research in that country.  He told me that after he had been a successful scientist for several years, he went back to India himself to try to find some record of his birth.  He was dismayed when he could find absolutely nothing and learned that his brother had literally made up a birth date for him when he started school.  He told me I was pretty much out of luck.)

In August I'm prettty sure I was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for GenCon, the largest gaming convention held in the United States.  I don't remember whose booth I would have been working at.  It might have been Reaper Games or Pegasus Publishing.  I just learned from reading the GenCon page on Wikipedia that the 2000 convention was the first year that Hasbro owned it, having bought Wizards of the Coast the previous year right after the 1999 convention.

There's a good chance that I also attended the Origins Game Fair in Columbus in July.  That's another game convention, I believe the second largest in the United States.  Again I don't remember who I worked for.  If I did go, I probably visited my aunt's sister, who lives in Columbus.

It's almost guaranteed that I went to two of the three game conventions in Los Angeles run by Strategicon:  OrcCon over Presidents' Day weekend and Gateway over Labor Day weekend.  I don't know if I went to the Memorial Day weekend convention, Gamex; it was a significantly smaller convention, and it wasn't always cost effective to attend.

If I still had access to the e-mail address I used at that time, I could easily check on all of this.  Unfortunately, Eudora has not been supported for many years now, and I don't have access to the old files.

All of those conventions used to use up all of my vacation time, so I usually didn't do much additional travel other than that related to work.  I might have gone to one or two professional training seminars for SSA.

I was doing genealogy research back then.  As I recall, I had Family Tree Maker 3.0 for Macintosh (before Ancestry abandoned it!)  installed on my work computer.  I think I had upgraded my home computer to a 486 because I needed a hard drive to use the version of FTM I had discs for.

2000 was the year I began volunteering to help at the Oakland Family History Center, after having used the library for several years for research.  I kept helping people, so one day one of the staff asked, "Would you like to volunteer here?"  I said I wasn't Mormon, and he said it didn't matter, so I signed up!

That's about all I can recall for now.  Maybe something else will percolate up through my brain during the next few days.  If so, I'll post an addendum.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

I Love It When Cousins Call Me!

Ruchel Dwojre (Jaffe) Brainin,
one of the ancestors my
cousin asked me abour.
She is our great-great-grandmother.
I had a wonderful surprise on Wednesday.  Out of the blue, I got a phone call from one of my younger cousins!

He told me that his mother had given him all of the genealogy materials I had shared with her.  I haven't heard yet what prompted this, so I don't know at whose instigation this happened.  But he apparently started reading thorugh it avidly and then had lots of questions.  So his mother gave him my phone number.

We spent an hour and a quarter on the phone!  Mostly he seemed to want to know what I knew about any rabbis on the Brainin branch of my family (the line we have in common) and which members of the family were Orthodox Jews, but he also asked about anecdotes and stories, things that went beyond just the bare facts that are in the family tree information he already had.  I was able to remember lots of things (really good, since I didn't have any papers in front of me and I was totally unprepared), which seemed to satisfy at least some of his curiosity.  But some of what he asked about I still don't have answers for.  Now that someone else is asking, however, I feel a little reinvigorated about researching that line.  Maybe that was just the motivation I need to make some new discoveries!

I met this cousin and his family in person in 2013, when the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy was held in Boston.  I actually stayed at their house for the week.  One of the amusing things about the phone call today is that my cousin didn't seem to remember having met me, even though that was only six years ago and at the time we made a big deal about the fact that we share the same birthday.  I don't feel so bad about some of my forgetfulness if someone 34 years younger than I am is forgetting things also!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

IAJGS Cleveland: Wrapping Up and Heading Home

By the time Thursday rolled around at this year's IAJGS conference, the temperatures in Cleveland had taken a serious dip, and it didn't get over 79° for the rest of my visit.  I wasn't quite happy enough to go dancing in the streets, because that would have gotten me overheated again, but it was a great relief.

The first session on Thursday was my third and final presentation of the conference.  My talk about finding the maiden names in your family is one of my most popular, and the room was pretty full.  Near the end of the talk, one of the suggestions I make as to why people change their names is to gain an inheritance.  A gentleman in attendance actually had an example of that from his own family, where the man writing the will included a provision requiring potential heirs to change their name to his if they wanted the bequest.  I asked him to contact me after the conference, because I would love to have an image of that will to include for the future.

Since none of the topics in the second time slot really grabbed my interest, I headed back to the Resource Room to see what other goodies I could find.  Along with being able to use ProQuest databases, several genealogical societies provide access to resources that are normally behind password-protected member areas.  I took advantage of the opportunity to obtain copies of several society journals/newsletters that I didn't have.  I left with a loaded flash drive and a satisfied smile.

Thursday was also my last volunteer mentoring session.  I was surprised and happy to see that someone who had been in my maiden names session actually followed through on her statement that she would see me later.  I helped her with several questions and then stayed an extra hour to be available, because for a while there was a back-up of people wanting assistance.

I did drag myself away for Alex Denysenko's talk about "Alternative Sources for Jewish Genealogy."  Even though he was approaching the idea from a Russian/Ukrainian perspective, it turned out that a lot of his "alternative" sources are the same types we use here in the United States, such as land records, passports and visas, voter registration lists, school records, and newspapers (hooray for newspapers!).  Some that were different were notary records (common in many locations in Europe), work registrations, Judenrat records, Extraordinary Commission records (unique to the former Soviet Union, I believe), land distribution in Poland, and debtors' lists.

The last session I attended on Thursday was Jane Neff Rollins' discussion of "Translation Tips for Foreign-language Documents."  Jane and I were both members of a short-lived APG special interest group for translators, and I definitely wanted to see her presentation and show support.  She provided a lot of good resources and discussed the pros and cons of using volunteer translators, trying to do it yourself, and paying for a professional.

Friday is the short day of the conference, with the "afterthought" sessions.  I've been scheduled in the last time slot, and I know what it's like to look at an empty room, so I make an effort to find talks to go to on the last day.  I lucked out and again was able to attend a talk that will be presented later this year for the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.  Robinn Magid, an SFBAJGS member and the chair of next year's conference in San Diego, spoke about "American Jewish Family Clubs and Family Circles."  The impression I got was that most of these didn't have lots of documentation, but some of them are goldmines of genealogy information.  I know my family members used to get together, but I don't know if it was a formal "family club."  I doubt there's any paperwork to find, unfortunately.

And then I couldn't resist the siren call of the Resource Room and went back one more time to see what else I could discover.  This time I visited a different genealogical society's site and found several pieces of information about family members in its member area.  Another successful foray!

I had allowed some free time after the conference ended in case I found someone to talk with before I left for home.  I ran into a man who had gone to two of my talks, and we had a lively discussion about families and research for about an hour before he headed off to find lunch and then drive to Fort Wayne, Indiana for even more genealogy.  And as a coda to the conference, when my airport shuttle arrived, I was amazed to discover that the two people with whom I was riding recognized me because they had also gone to my presentations, each of them a different one.  So we talked even more about genealogy the entire way to Hopkins, barely letting the driver get a word in edgewise to ask us which airlines we were flying on.

I really love going to these conferences.  As the SFBAJGS president likes to say, who wouldn't want to be stuck in a hotel for a week with 1,000 other people equally obsessed about genealogy?  I can hardly wait until next year's conference, especially since I don't have to go east of the Rockies.  It isn't Cleveland's fault, but San Diego will probably have weather more to my liking.  And I won't even have to change time zones!