Archive for Category: IAJGS


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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JGSLA 2010 – Day 1 Recap

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sunday started a bit slowly for the conference as it usually does, but just for me. Things were already in full swing in terms of sessions for attendees. Usually Sunday has a couple of meetings, lunches, and beginner sessions, but there was a lot more to do this year.

Missing the early session that interested me, I visited the Resource Room, the Vendor Room, and the Market Square, which was new this year. I wandered around a bit talking with people. There are always plenty of people at this conference that I know and others that are happy to talk about their genealogy with complete strangers.

I spoke with Eileen Polakoff for a bit where she was sitting at the APG table in the Market Square, along with the people at the Washington DC and France tables, where we spoke about upcoming conferences. I even stopped at one table and bought a book. I had her session marked for another day and I’ll likely still go.

I went to lunch with Mark and Kathy and Bob Wascou, who had just arrived to register before we saw him.

A little more schmoozing time and I went to the first IAJGS Management Seminar which was led by Thomas MacEntee teaching about 21st Century Marketing. He went through the usual suspects of Facebook, Twitter, web sites, blogs, newsletters, email marketing. He said a lot of things I knew but also threw in some things I hadn’t thought of. Watching the time, he basically skipped over LinkedIn, and that’s one site I haven’t really used yet but was curious about.

From there, I went to the President’s Reception where I schmoozed some more. There’s a lot of schmoozing at these conferences.

I spent some time talking with Barbara Hershey from Portland, Oregon, until it was time for the opening ceremony.

The conference co-chairs were introduced and it was explained that outside is not fog but the “marine layer”. They got very detailed announcing who was already registered, giving counts by country and by US state. Eleven people are here from Utah. I know seven, are they counting the vendors from Ancestry for the rest? So far, 1016 people were registered for this conference.

The winning poster for Jewish Genealogy Month was revealed and it was a nice one. I never much paid attention to those, but I don’t think they’d ever been that classy looking.

We were treated to a comedy film that probably ran a little longer than it needed to, a parody called Who Cares Who Do You Think You Are? which added a new episode into the series featuring Jordan Auslander. Eileen Polakoff, Ron Arons, and Karen Franklin also appeared in the episode.

Steven Smith (or Stephen?) introduced himself and then the keynote speaker, Daniel Mendelsohn.

Daniel is the author of two books, the second called The Lost. His speech started out by talking about errors in records while doing genealogy research, but it turned into a story about the difference between family history and genealogy. He didn’t call it that, but that’s how I refer to it. In genealogy, we collect records to learn the facts about people’s lives. In family history, we collect the stories. Unfortunately, some of us can’t get any stories, so we are missing the narratives of the lives of the people who came before us. He shared some incredible stories from his family, including the one about a record he found on which he knew everything was a lie except for the person’s name. It makes you wonder how much you can rely on some of these records, but most of us have no choice but to believe them since we have nothing to contradict them and no narratives to go along with them.

Then the crowds headed out to the dessert tables. I got out pretty quickly and grabbed something, then went back into the ballroom, where it was less crowded. Pamela Weisberger was working her way out of the room and she introduced me to Daniel. He stood around talking to me and a few others for a few minutes. It’s good to know the people in charge. :-)

I eventually talked to a few other people, grabbed a few more snacks, then headed up to my room where I was too tired to blog and went to bed pretty quickly.

And that was just the first and usually slowest day. Today, I present my computer lab just before lunch and I have a few other things in the schedule that I want to attend.

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