Archive for Category: IAJGS


IAJGS – Day 1

Monday, 15 August 2011

Last night after the Next Generation Genealogists met for drinks (and dinner), I conked out, so my blog posts are a little late.

For the third day in a row, I first opened my eyes and looked at the clock at 7:14am. I turned off my alarm before it made a noise and got ready. I still didn’t feel ready to give my computer workshop, but I had no more time to prepare. I showed up early and got the IT guy to give the admin credentials to install the MyHeritage search application and he printed out my notes for me. In the end, it seems I had about three or four hours worth of information to share with them. I wish I had less because it was a computer lab and they should have been participating more. I could have taught this one as a lecture and still run out of time. I prefer to have my computer labs actually have some computer work for the attendees, but all my feedback was good, so I’m glad for that. I still have to email them my notes for a lot of the sites that I didn’t get to share.

I unexpectedly spent a lot of time in the SIG/BOF Fair, visiting with people at multiple tables and having interesting conversations. I snuck in to the end Josh Taylor’s session on attracting the younger generation (just in time for the last two slides). I found Kahlile Mehr was in the room, so I’m glad that the other attendee from UJGS was in the session.

I hope I get to some lectures this week, but I have a lot of BOF and SIG group meetings to go to.

The President’s Reception provided some badly needed sustenance, though it was just some vegetables and cheese and crackers. I got to speak with several of the other JGS presidents, many of whom I hadn’t really spoken to before at previous receptions.

I wrote some of this blog post from near the back of the room at the keynote address. (I think I also found my soulmate there, when he booted up his computer next to me and Eudora 7 started up.) Marlene Bishow did her introductions and handed the floor to IAJGS President Michael Goldstein. He announced officially that the 2014 conference would be in Salt Lake City. IGS had until the beginning of the conference to sign the contracts for the conference to be in Jerusalem, so there was still the possibility that that would have happened. At least this will make it more affordable for Americans, without the two international conferences two years apart.

Peter Lande introduced the keynote speaker, Sara Bloomfield, Honoring the Victims: “It Takes a Village”. She told a lot of great stories of finding records and reuniting survivors with the information about their families. I was tweeting during it but missed a lot of the details at the time. She spoke about the World Memory Project, playing a video that looked like the same or a variation of one I’d seen online a while back.

Instead of rushing to dessert, I stopped to socialize again and missed all but one type of chocolate concoction, but it was good. The under 50 group met at the Grand Slam, where I finally had some food and more conversation, until I finally gave in to sleep deprivation around 10pm.

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IAJGS – T Minus… Wait, I’m Already Registered

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Today, listing everyone I saw would take far too long, and would be impossible. Of interest, I saw Michael Goldstein, the President of IAJGS. Sneaking in to the vendor room, I spoke with Gary Mokotoff and Laurence Harris. At registration, I spoke with Kahlile Mehr, a UJGS member and IAJGS Board member. After registration, Daniel Horowitz gave me the condensed version of his MyHeritage lecture, because it’s in the description for the computer lab I have to teach in the morning. It’s good that I asked him, because we discovered that I probably can’t install the software to demonstrate the search, but he showed me a shortcut I can use.

I looked through the family finder, which I often put off until after the conference. This year, I finally remembered to look through it early and discovered that I’m not listed as a registrant and one of my surnames is misspelled everywhere. Can’t do anything about it now.

Before all that, I spent some time at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I like that the person helping Elise and I reviewed everything quickly, not assuming we’re morons like you often get, but it was so fast and she showed us so much, we were quickly overwhelmed. I’ll have to go back after the conference.

It’s after midnight here and I have a computer lab to teach early in the morning, so my blogging is getting cut short. Besides, I can’t think of anything else to say.

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IAJGS – T Minus 2 Days

Friday, 12 August 2011

Today, I learned that my tablet’s power supply is, in fact, working. After trying several replacements at Radio Shack (why couldn’t we do this the day before?), Renald plugged it in to a DVD player, and it worked. Realizing I’d already voided the warranty by rooting it, I dissected it. I snuck down to the lower floors to see if the IT guys for the conference could help with a screwdriver, but ended up borrowing one from the concierge. Sadly, to have a chance to fix it, I needed to remove about a dozen more screws, so it will be a project when I get home. And I really wanted to use it this week.

It was fun to walk into each room and be greeted by someone I knew, Marlene Bishow, Anne Feder Lee, Susanna Leitner Bloch; it’s good to know people. I also saw Jeannette Rosenberg manning the pre-registration table, Todd Knowles and John Kitzmiller of FamilySearch came by while I was hanging out at said table (I see them a lot on the British floor of the FHL), Doris Nabel by the elevators, and Daniel Horowitz arrived, trading texts with Elise and phone calls with both of us until the three of us went to dinner together. I was mistaken for Susan King by someone in the elevator, and I saw a few other people whose faces were familiar but names usually escaped me. And Elise brought Pamela Weisberger back to our room to say hello while I was typing this blog entry.

I also went to lunch with Elise and we walked around a bit, finding a series of sculptures along New York Avenue from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I posted a picture of one sculpture (and my dissected tablet) to my other blog. My bandwidth is limited, so I won’t upload it again here; there were some issues with the amount of bandwidth T-Mobile thought I was using. I think I really did use almost as much as they claimed, because I found SugarSync was a huge bandwidth hog, and apparently Dropbox wasn’t much better. I shut them down but I’m still limiting myself. So far, I haven’t hit another GB yet. When the conference gets started, I’ll have that wi-fi to use, so it seems I’ll be hanging around on the conference floors more than in my hotel room, even in the off-hours.

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IAJGS 2011 – T Minus 3 Days

Thursday, 11 August 2011

I arrived in Washington, D.C. today. What a day. I had just bought a mobile broadband device and it still wasn’t working. While trying to get that to work during my layover, my tablet power supply stopped working. After checking into my hotel, I got out to see a bit of the city, including three Radio Shacks, a Best Buy, and a T-Mobile kiosk. The only success was the kiosk, where Dave at Fashion Center mall replaced my SIM card after more than 36 hours of waiting for T-Mobile to activate it properly, and he got it working right away. I still can’t replace my tablet power supply, which is a problem. I’ll have to work on that more.

The flights were interesting too. Apparently people are now booking their seats apart, claiming the window and the aisle and leaving the middle seat in the hopes that the flight won’t be full. Well, the flights are full. People were swapping seats all over the plane. But at least that meant I had the aisle seat on the one flight where I was stuck in the middle when making my reservations.

My roommate arrived while I was still working on my technical problems. Back at the hotel, Elise Friedman and I headed out to dinner, running into Ron Arons in the lobby and Jan and Tom Allen, who joined us for dinner, then Nancy Levin came by our table. So many people already here, and we all just happened upon each other at the same time.

Tonight, I have some sleep to catch up on. I want to get in some research time at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which I might try to do tomorrow. And next week is going to be a busy week at the conference.

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Jewish Genealogy – The Anti-Cult?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Not too long ago, Kerry Scott wrote a blog post about Source Citations: Church or Cult? Most genealogists who have ever attended a conference, or wished they had, belong to one of those, with their copies of Evidence Explained and citing their sources in small print at the bottom of every client report and in their own genealogy database. More recently, Joan Miller (Luxegen) put in her two cents on the subject with Good, Better, Best, as did a few other bloggers in between.

Does that mean the world of Jewish genealogy is the anti-cult? Go to an IAJGS conference (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has heard of Evidence Explained or knows what the Genealogical Proof Standard is. Sure, there are a few that do; those who have been in professional genealogy for a long time, the rare certified or accredited genealogist in the crowd, or someone from outside the Jewish genealogy world who’s “visiting” us that year. There might even be a vendor selling copies of EE. But the general population of attendees has no idea.

At the NGS conference I attended in 2010, it seemed like half the sessions were about one of those two subjects: citing sources or the GPS. At IAJGS, the sessions are about what records are available from New York, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, etc., how to translate them, how to order them, Jewish history, Sephardic research (Jews from Spain), Rabbinic genealogy — nothing about citing sources or the GPS. There are sessions on methodology, just not the same methods apply.

Clients don’t care about source citations. I have never had a client ask me where I found a record, or where I searched and didn’t find a record. Of course, this information is already in their client reports. With the exception of the one company that requested EE-type citations (and they completed them for me), other genealogists I’ve worked for also seem to be unconcerned with detailed source citations. The most I’ve been asked (only once) was, “On what film did you find the record?”, to which I replied, “It’s in the file name.” Ever since NGS, I have added that information to all my scanned file names and been a little more specific with my sources, but still not remotely up to EE standards.

I am obsessive about keeping track of my sources for my own research and my clients. If I add a person or an event to my own database, there is a source for it. Just like everyone else, some of my earlier work had no sources, but everything was eventually given a source in one of my revisions.

While some genealogists may freak out when they read that I don’t follow these rules, I hope they realize that I do have citations for everything, just not in their style. If it wasn’t important enough to mention at the IAJGS conferences, I didn’t much pay attention even if I saw it online, and I just haven’t switched over. That doesn’t make me a bad genealogist, it just means I don’t follow all the “rules”. I can check any information in my database to find the source, whether it was from a primary document, a census, or from a relative, to compare with any new information and determine what source should be more trusted.

Will I ever change my source citations to the EE-style? Possibly. But not today.

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JGSLA 2010 – Day 6 Recap

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday is always a short day at the conference, with everything ending at 12:30, but it was even shorter for me. There were two sessions I was interested in but missed both while waiting for breakfast. Then I went to the one place I found where my cell phone works well, called a certain mechanic in Salt Lake City about my car, signed up for AAA online to cash in on the towing when I get back to Utah.

No, that has nothing to do with the conference, but that’s what I did.

I then sat it on Seth Front’s The Jewish Zodiac: A Culinary History of Jews in America. I had already spoken to him in the vendor room when he noticed I was the JGS President and from Salt Lake City. After his talk, I told him that my JGS members might not appreciate his talk as much as the synagogue audience probably would.

And that was the end of the conference. I headed out to Junior’s to meet my cousin, Howard Miller, then returned to the hotel where I’m writing to my blog. Tomorrow after check-out, I’ll go to Hidden Hills to meet Ron and Monica Wolfe and any of their kids who might be around; I’m not sure if there are any right now.

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JGSLA 2010 – Day 5 Recap

Friday, 16 July 2010

The day started with another IAJGS Management Session on Affordable Creative Programming led by Jan Meisels Allen. She mostly mentioned things I have already tried or thought about, but I came away with a few new ideas.

I ended up at a restaurant in the lobby for lunch with Judi and two people she knew from Arizona, only to rush to the next session and still show up late. Hal Bookbinder presented Why Did Our Ancestors Leave a Nice Place Like the Pale? I was tired and couldn’t concentrate on his session, though it sounded very interesting. I’ll have to listen again to the recording.

I was signed up to meet with someone from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and headed to the Resource Room. I was told they were searching the ITS records, but apparently they weren’t or the person I spoke to didn’t think of it. It seems unlikely that she’d skip over a source like that. She mentioned a couple things I didn’t know but didn’t help me with any new information for now.

Having first procrastinated then later forgetting to purchase a ticket, I didn’t go to the banquet. Mark Heckman took me to Pink’s in Hollywood, as an earlier email from him said, “I’ll have to take you”. We arrived back in time to see another added showing of Who Cares Who Do You Think You Are? which Mark had missed during the opening session.

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JGSLA 2010 – Day 4 Recap

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Wednesday was a day for IAJGS business. The first session I attended was the panel on Celebrating Jewish Genealogy Month led by Schelly Dardashti in which we discussed programming and other things that weren’t necessarily related to IJGeMo (International Jewish Genealogy Month, as it will now be called) but left me with a few interesting ideas.

Lunch was a repeated restaurant with Bob Wascou and Rochelle Kaplan.

The IAJGS Annual Meeting was not long after lunch. The meeting wasn’t as bad as some people let on last year when they told me I should be happy I missed it. (I was supposed to represent Utah, though I wasn’t yet the president, but my computer lab was scheduled at the same time.)

I went with Barbara Hershey to Daniel Horowitz’s session on How Do We Share and Preserve Memories in a Digital Era? but didn’t stay long. It naturally turned into a talk about MyHeritage.com, which neither of us was interested in hearing at the time.

After a quick visit to the concierge lounge, I did a bit of bookkeeping in my room and missed the next presentation, then arrived a few minutes late to Zvi Gitelman’s What’s in a Name? The Origins and Meanings of Jewish Family Names. There was a fun moment in that one when he mentioned that some Jews bought their names to get good ones. Just as I whispered to Judi sitting next to me that my Rosenthals did that, he listed a few names that were usually purchased and the first one he said was Rosenthal.

I finally made it to the Film Festival room after that (having seen a film earlier in one of the other lecture rooms) where I saw the very end of Yoo Hoo Mrs. Goldberg and Genealogy Goes to the Movies before I headed back to my room to turn in for the night.

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JGSLA 2010 – Day 3 Recap

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Tuesday started early for me. After waking up in time to wait for the pathetic little beep-de-beep from the in-room alarm, I went to the Professional Genealogists Birds of a Feather (BOF) meeting. This used to be an active group and just barely started up again two years ago. It sounds like this year might have the chance to be the beginning of a good group again. All we need are some people to… yeah, I kind of volunteered to help get that going.

I had a few hours of a break after that and got a few things done unrelated to the conference. I had offered to volunteer some time in the Resource Room, and that was one time I meant to go, but I was tired. Sorry to Barbara Algaze for not finding time in my schedule to hang out and help people. I really did mean to, but this conference just has a lot going on that I’m interested in doing; seems like there’s more than some other years have had. I did stop in and sign up for time with the USHMM person and their database. While in there, Steve Luxenberg came in and I bought Annie’s Ghosts from him, having previously exited after his session quickly to escape the crowd.

After lunch with Mark, Kathy, Bob, and Michael Goldstein, I headed to Ilene Schneider’s Yiddish: A Fun Look at the Language of our Ancestors. I bought her book a couple days ago. The only problem I had with this session was the lack of translation. Most of the audience understood the few things she didn’t translate, but I never learned Yiddish and only knew the most basic words. However, I was able to figure out what one of the phrases was by saying it in my head a couple times.

I headed over to You Can Go Home Again: … Ancestral Visit to Eastern Europe (they must not have had word limits to titles this year) with Sol Sylvan and Alexander Dunai. Sol lost my attention very quickly, did a commercial for a bag they were auctioning, and showed a film. Alex gave a bit of advice for traveling to Europe, and then it was over. I was not impressed. I would have preferred to hear a lot more from Alex.

My second session for the week, Newsletter Editors BOF, was next. Kahlile Mehr was really leading it but had been putting my name on the session so I could help him. This group had also met for the previous two conferences and the discussion had been interesting. This year, I think we accomplished a few things, especially by getting the IAJGS Board more involved.

I skipped the JewishGen presentation for dinner with roommate Judi and six other people, returning for The Bialy Eaters: The Story of Bread and a Lost World. It was interesting, but I was getting tired, so I might have enjoyed it a little more if not for that. However, I now realize I should try a bialy. We were bagel people and I’ve never had one before.

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JGSLA 2010 – Day 2 Recap

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The second day of this conference began for me with the last session before lunch. I presented a computer lab called Publish or Perish Using Microsoft Publisher. The person who was supposed to assist or introduce me did not show, but my roommate, Judi Missel, was kind enough to volunteer and she arrived a few minutes after I had begun. I received a lot of questions about the benefits of Publisher over Word and was glad when some benefits revealed themselves during the session. I don’t use Word, so I couldn’t really tell them the true benefits other than what I thought they were. Judi was extremely helpful to the point where I stayed in front of the class teaching while she ran between the few people that needed the most help. Usually I have had to do that in previous years. I had a small class of only nine people, but at least a few came away saying that they liked the program and would not be afraid to use it.

I initially thought I might do beginner and intermediate levels of the class after last year, but with the small attendance, I won’t repeat that lab again without at least one year’s break. Mark Heckman gave me a great idea for a lecture for next year and I’m already thinking about what to put in it.

After lunch with Judi, I continued the day at A Different Memory: Poles, Jews, and What We Think We Know About Them with Anna Przybyszewska Drozd. The session didn’t quite match up with the title. She had some interesting stories to tell, and convinced a couple other people to tell their stories. I think her presentation could use some improvement. I don’t think she was quite confident in her English, but other than asking for help with a few words, it sounded pretty good to me. After all, these people who learn English as a second or more language, no matter how bad they think their English is, it’s usually better than most of the rest of can speak any other language.

Steve Luxenerg presented Genealogy From the Inside Out: Pursuing the Elusive and Unknown, sharing the genealogical view of his writing of Annie’s Ghosts. I thought he led a great session. It was standing room only.

I volunteered to assist with Daniel Horowitz’s computer lab, but found Elise Friedman was there for the same reason. I found a film on the schedule that I wanted to see, but when I went to the room, saw that the schedule was wrong. There have been a few scheduling issues this year.

I sat in for a bit of Lisa Louise Cooke’s Solving Family History Mysteries with Google Earth, and visited with Gary Mokotoff briefly, and a few others, in the Vendor Room on my way out with my roommate. We went to the concierge lounge and had a nice dinner snack of hors d’oeuvres.

After setting up briefly in the hallway with my computer before going to that film, a private screening for five people of The Legacy of Jedwabne, I finished the day watching the Jewpardy game, arriving a bit late because the film started late.

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