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!

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