Archive for Category: Genealogy


Indexing Gone Wrong, 1

Friday, 2 May 2014

I have seen some pretty bad indexing work lately. I’ve decided to make my blog a little more active by sharing some really terrible indexing examples. Maybe it will help other people find records they are having trouble finding by showing how badly things get indexed sometimes and giving them alternate ideas to search for their own missing relatives.

Today’s find was from a marriage register. It is indexed by FamilySearch as Rabruowitz. Really? Rabruowitz? I hadn’t even looked at how this name was indexed (I was looking for the groom’s name) and at the first glance I knew it said Rabinowitz.

FamilySearch is indexed by two people and then arbitrated. Is this really the best they could come up with for this name? Rabruowitz? I’ll grant them that the I is not so clear, but come on.

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Rootstech 2014, My Thoughts

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

RootsTech just finished it’s fourth year. I’ve gone to the conference every year. This year, I had a different perspective. So here are my critiques.

Hal Bookbinder in the IAJGS booth

1. I went over to the media center a few times to pick up my blogger beads and chat with a few bloggers. I didn’t see RootsTech doing anything different with their official bloggers than any other year, nor was there a noticeable change in who was chosen.

2. Security was kind of iffy. I went to a session on the first day before registering and nobody cared about my lack of a badge. (Apparently, registration wasn’t even open for most hours of that day anyway, so maybe they knew that and thus didn’t care.) I was only registered for the Expo Hall, but nobody checked my badge other days either. I only went to one or two sessions a day, but I shouldn’t have been allowed. The only time someone checked was when I was going back to the Expo Hall the first evening to continue setting up the booth, with bags of supplies in hand.

3. The app went downhill. RootsTech used another vendor. Now, that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But now, it required a login to add items to the schedule, so I couldn’t even speculate, via the app, what sessions I might go to. That sure discouraged me from upgrading my registration. I don’t know what else changed, since I didn’t bother much with it after that.

4. RootsTech’s theme has definitely switched to storytelling. How to use technology to tell stories, rather than technology’s use in genealogy. But I knew that last year. Maybe they should change the name. StoryRoots?

5. IAJGS had a table in the Expo Hall. This was a first. I was there to help set it up and man the booth during the conference. I was not impressed with RootsTech’s inability to spell “genealogical” on our sign. Good thing we had a banner to replace it. But it was an interesting experience overall, talking to so many people who came by to tell us there was a Jew somewhere in their family. We gave out an awful lot of flyers about our UJGS meeting the next week. I was pretty disappointed at the turn-out; only two new people attended. (I was glad to have them, but we gave out about 150 flyers…)

Thanks RootsTech

And thus concludes another year of RootsTech. Back to working on this year’s IAJGS conference.

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Genealogy Goals for 2014

Friday, 27 December 2013

My 2013 goals kind of fell apart the second half of the year. Busy with client work (where I’m still behind) and planning for the conference next summer, I don’t think I kept up with any of my 2013 goals. My goals for 2014 are probably going to look similar. The one successful goal was organizing my documents. I got quite a way through sorting the records I had collected over the years. There are some left, some that need more research to verify I have the right people, some that I’m not sure what to do with, and there are still some on paper that didn’t get finished with, but I made a huge dent into those in the first half of the year that the remainder don’t feel overwhelming. Unfortunately, the IAJGS conferences got in the way.

So, what are my goals for 2014?

1. IAJGS 2014. The 2014 IAJGS Conference is going to take up the first half of the year. Plans are already underway. I have been gathering information and writing for the blog (my charge) and working with a couple of my locals. The first half of the year will see an increase in what my Utah people have to do, thus an increase in my job as well. It all culminates at the end of July. I’ll be free of it in August, when I can work on my other goals better. (This isn’t really a goal, more like a reality. But it will put a delay on the goals.)

2. Newsletters. Publish the family newsletters. The backlog. I now have to do three issues. I won’t be combining them. I was working on it a couple months ago and need to get back to it. I’d like them all done… well, I’d like them done in the past, but I’m not getting that. Can I finish one a month?

3. Russian. Continue with my Russian learning. I was doing well and just stopped. I need to get started again. It will be most interesting to see how much I’ve retained without practicing.

4. Hebrew. Learn Hebrew. I can already read the alphabet and I know a smattering of vocabulary, but the 2015 conference is in Israel. I’ll begin after the SLC conference. If my return trip to Europe comes up soon enough after the conference, I might delay until after that, since I should still be working on Russian.

5. Europe. Go back to Europe. It is definitely going to happen in 2014. After the summer. I have Trans-Carpathian work to do. And I’d like to get to Moldova this time.

6. Blogging. I’d love to keep up my blogging here better, but that might not happen until after the summer either. Catching up on my WDYTYA Nitpicker’s Guides would be a nice thing to do before that, since another season begins just before the conference. The Boston conference was badly timed at the beginning of the previous season. This may be a problem every year. My active blogging until the summer will take place over at http://blog.iajgs2014.org/.

7. Clients. Catch up and keep up with my client work. I’ve been lagging behind since the summer and it might be more frustrating for me than some of my clients who have been patiently waiting for research. I’ve been putting off any new clients for a few months, except for quick jobs. If I can get just certain work finished, I will feel better about taking on new work. Once the FHL hours are back to normal, it will be easier.

8. Research. My own research goals still stand, but they will likely continue to be on hold until August. I still have more records on paper than I’d like. I was going to digitize directly from the microfilm but did not finish. I want to write a research report for each ancestor and many other relatives. I want to do a Feldstein one name study. I want to do more research of FHL-filmed records. I keep a list of things to do, but I haven’t touched them in months.

I don’t expect to write a monthly blog post for my goals this year. Maybe I’ll return to these in August and see how I’ve done. Hopefully I’ll have finished three things (1, 2, 7) by then. Those are the most important ones to get done.

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October Genealogy Goals

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

It seems that I’ve forgotten about my goal posts for a few months. I was keeping them private for a little while, but I haven’t blogged in a bit, so I’ll go public with this one.

Time to see where I stand.

1. Go back to Europe. I hit a snag in my return trip this year. My main goal was to re-visit Uzhgorod and continue that research. But it seems the archivist got arrested and my contact in the city said she’d tell me when they’d arranged for me to gain access again by whoever new might take his place. I haven’t heard back.

2. Organize my documents. I did really well with this one. I got quite a ways through my files. There are lots more, but they’re harder to get through. And much more research to do to fill in the blanks. I stalled out a bit, probably just before the Boston conference, but I did get really far.

3. Blog more. Oops. I didn’t even get my Nitpicker’s Guides to WDYTYA written this year. I had the first one mostly written and flew off to the Boston conference. By the time I got back, I was half the season behind already. I still want to do these, and some other things. I’ve been busy.

4. Publish the family newsletter. I finally decided not to do a double issue. It would be too big. I’m going to do an issue for every year. I need to get those put together. I gathered the data already, enough for the first one, and got part way through my emails for the second.

5. Keep up with business. Well, kind of. I’ve fallen behind in getting the research done for business, but I think my invoicing has been better.

6. Keep up with UJGS. I have more to do now with the upcoming conference, so I’m getting everyone to work. Maybe we’ll come off this conference with people realizing that a little volunteering isn’t so hard after all.

7. Learn Russian. Da, no nie bystra. (Yes, but not quickly.) And no, I don’t know how to type in Russian. I had a previous computer set up for that, but this one isn’t.

8. Research reports for all. Nope, not even started.

9. Feldstein one name study. Ditto. This may not be the year (summer to summer) for these new, large things to happen.)

They come in waves, when I get some of these done. I think next year’s goals are going to look different. But the change will be good.

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IAJGS 2013 – All Done

Friday, 9 August 2013

I blew off the one session I might have gone to on Friday and headed out to Boston. It was raining. The first weekend, I walked the Freedom Trail, save for one of the earliest stops. (Some years ago, for NaNoWriMo, I had written my characters walking the Freedom Trail, so I knew I had to do that.) I visited an interesting book store with Hal Bookbinder where we flipped through some old atlases, had lunch, then finished the Trail at the Massachusetts State House, where we took the tour. I especially remember some of the fun things, like where we get the expressions “costs an arm and a leg” and “red tape”. I also liked the stories about the Sacred Cod and the Holy Mackerel. Hal and I walked along to visit the Cheers bar, then through the Boston Common back to the hotel. It rained the whole time.

My last 24 hours in Boston included a walk-by of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (when it was closed). I visited the Mapparium and walked through the Boston Public Library. The BPL has one architectural tour per day and I had missed it, so I just walked around a bit.

Thus ends another year of IAJGS conference. Next year is my conference. We will be in Salt Lake City and I am one of the co-chairs. I have a lot of work to do this coming year.

I leave you with some pictures.

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IAJGS 2013 – Thursday

Friday, 9 August 2013

I began Thursday by showing up a little late to David Kleiman’s Early American Jewish Research. It was kind of what I expected, telling me to use the kind of records the non-Jewish researchers usually use for US research.

The next session I had chosen was a full room and became a closed session. They should have known, with a title like Life In Ukrainian Jewish Shtetlach, they’d need a bigger room. I only saw two instances of full rooms, but I wasn’t checking up on the whole conference.

After lunch, the Webmasters’ Roundtable, though listed as Society Webmaster BOF, was held. It was a small group where we sat around a table and discussed issues with web sites. I stuck around to have an extended chat with two people and missed the next sessions.

The gala banquet was that evening. I hadn’t even bought a ticket in advance, but someone offered me one for half price. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to sit with the people I have in the past, so I met some new people at a table that ended up in the back of the room. This year, the banquet was organized¬†much better than Paris, with the entertainment, the Zamir Chorale of Boston, and the awards not overlapping with any of the meal service. The Chorale was pretty good, but I preferred the Wednesday entertainment. However, I was also pre-biased.

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IAJGS 2013 – Wednesday

Friday, 9 August 2013

Wednesday was my big day. I moved up in the world this year. My lecture was not only put in the big room, but it was broadcast live for the inaugural IAJGS Conference LIVE. I skipped the morning sessions I had marked.

I was early and killing the last half hour or so before my session when I ran into Michael Goldstein. He was still trying to reach my cousins in Israel and suggested we try calling again. He finally got through. I spoke briefly to my cousin, but we were both in bad locations on cell phones. I got her email address and happily went to my lecture.

Rehearsing several times in advance, trying to find bits to cut, every practice run of my lecture went for an hour and 20 minutes. I warned people. Not the audience, but the facilitators. I did not have a clock to watch while I spoke. I sped through a few things faster than usual because I knew I would go over time. I started the stopwatch on my phone, set it down, and couldn’t figure out where it was during he session. When I got to the last slide, I finally spotted it on the podium and noticed that it said… 46 minutes. What the heck happened to the other half hour of stuff I had to say?

I heard from plenty of people after that I did a good job, I just wonder what I did so differently. I quickly figured out something I meant to say and forgot, but that would only add a couple minutes. I must speak even faster when I have a large audience. I guess I need to practice at lightning speeds from now on to make the lectures longer.

The twitterers were trying plan a tweet-up after. Several of them were there and commented. Eventually I ended up in an informal Tech BOF apparently, so not quite the group I thought it was going to be.

I was later told that one guy stood up within the first ten minutes to ask a question. At least one person was silently cheering me on to ignore him. I didn’t even see him. I felt a little bad about it after, but he did have kind of a rude question. Did he really stand there for that long? I look out on a sea of faces and don’t notice much of anything specific. In a smaller room another year, I remember noticing some people come in late and being told a few left early that I hadn’t even noticed.

The ever-exciting Annual Meeting followed. Unfortunately, my joke during roll call fell completely flat. Coming from Utah, by the time it gets to me, it’s already stale. We elected some new officers, there was some interesting debate over a bylaw change.

Daniel Horowitz then did Conducting Webinars, which he required me to be at, as one of the webinar masters. He passed me the room’s computer (using his own to present), but had two attendees online in the webinar to do what he wanted from me. I actually learned more about the webinars. I had missed the entire section about sending reminder and follow-up emails.

The first evening session was Zvi Gittelman talking about The Litvak-Galitsianer Wars. I was late and sat in the back where I couldn’t see the map he had on screen. He did a lot of talking and didn’t change the slide very often when I was there. I stayed for a little while, but not very long. I did learn, interestingly enough, that I am, in fact, a Litvak, since he said that encompassed the Lomza area of Poland. Who knew? I figured someday I might find I’m a Galitsianer, since Trans-Carpathian Jews usually came from that region. Maybe I’m both.

The later entertainment, I had requested even before there was a committee for this conference. Safam was awesome. I had seen them a couple times as a kid at our synagogue. I was a little worried since the guys are getting older, but they all sounded great. They infused some great humor into the show. They started with two favorites of mine, Just Another Foreigner and World of our Fathers. I was disappointed that they didn’t do Jerusalem, but instead a newer song, Home to Jerusalem. I think the highlight was their top ten worst melodies for Adon Olam. The melodies included Amazing Grace, Danny Boy, a Christmas song (I can’t remember now which one), a couple songs from the 50s including Breaking Up is Hard To Do, and the Macarena. They even did the dance.

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IAJGS 2013 – Tuesday

Friday, 9 August 2013

Tuesday began exceedingly early for me with a meeting at 7am of the committee for SLC 2014. We discussed a few things, but it was mostly just to see who else was on the committee and to be introduced to anyone we didn’t know. The only other person from Utah besides me turned out to be the only attendee who will be helping but isn’t yet assigned to a committee position.

From there, I had an important session to attend, Michael Goldstein and Find Your Israeli Family. He’s been telling me about his plans for that one for a little while now. I sent him some information about my long lost Israeli Halpert cousins two years ago for the same session. More recently, I sent him a new document and he found my cousins. He was hoping to Skype with them live, but he hadn’t gotten through to them yet on the phone. Instead, it seems he kind of glanced over what he actually did for my research. He wasn’t even very specific about what I had sent him, except to specify that though I had sent information before and he couldn’t find the family, that I continued to do the research and found more. So he didn’t reveal anything new to me during the session.

Hanging around for Ron Arons again, I finally got to see his Mapping Madness. There were some interesting things in there that I will need to check out.

The Next Generation Jewish Genealogists BOF was next. It was probably better in the past when we put the chairs around a circle to just talk to each other. I didn’t mention it in the blog post, but Newsletter Editors the day before actually did that. I got some interesting ideas, sometimes about the tech stuff, from this group.

I volunteered for the SLC 2014 table again after lunch, but that turned into a meeting with my co-chairs where we really began preparations for next year’s conference.

I basically missed the rest of the day. Writing this days later, I can’t remember what I did, but I’m sure it involved eating with friends at some point.

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IAJGS 2013 – Monday

Friday, 9 August 2013

Monday was kind of a short day for me at the conference. I started the morning at Ron Arons’ Finding Living People on the Internet. He showed a lot of web sites where he looked for specific information about several people, often in professional fields. I think lectures where he tells more stories are better.

That was followed by the Newsletter Editors BOF (Birds of a Feather). I’m not a newsletter editor anymore, but I’m at least partly responsible for making this group happen. It was an informal gathering of editors and other folks that evolved into a conversation about communication methods, not just newsletters.

I volunteered to sit at the table for SLC 2014 for just about the rest of the day. Since I didn’t keep up with my blogging during the week, I can’t recall anything specific that happened. Much of these conferences turn into long blurs of everything that happened.

The evening had a different plan, as I have a cousin who lives in a suburb. I took the train out to meet a Rosenthal cousin and his wife. We had dinner and sat talking about the family. I brought along a lot of photos and showed many to them. I have to get to emailing those now.

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IAJGS 2013 – Sunday

Monday, 5 August 2013

I arrived at the hotel two days before the conference began, but that is pretty typical for me. I like to get out and see a bit of the city I’m visiting. I also went to the IAJGS board meeting Saturday morning for the part about next year’s conference, which I’m co-chairing. I also spent a few hours on Saturday walking the Freedom Trail, so I’ve got a bit of my touristing in (and my feet are already aching). And of course, I have spent quite a bit of time socializing with the people I have encountered.

According to my schedule, I could have slept in on Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to be in my repertoire for at least a month now. But I suppose that’s good for this week, since I’ll wake up (unwillingly) early every day and have more conference time to spend. (I’m currently using this early morning time for this blog post.) I found that we had a table set up for IAJGS and SLC 2014, so I grabbed our boxes and set us up. I still had to get other materials from a couple people, but that would happen soon enough.

I went to the IAJGS-sponsored session about managing a society and got a few more ideas to try for UJGS. I go to this session every year. Do I forget to try things or do they have new ideas each year? I think it’s a combination of both.

That was really the only regular session on my schedule for the day. Soon after, I was at the Presidents’ reception. Hal and I handed out SLC2014 pins to the other attendees, then we had a break before the opening session.

The keynote was given by Aaron Lansky. In typical fashion, I didn’t even try to find out who he was in advance and was pleasantly surprised to hear his stories of the Yiddish Book Center and how he saved a million books describing so much about Jewish culture beginning around the 1850s.

And that brings me to Monday morning, and it’s about time for me to start getting ready for Monday at IAJGS.

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