Archive for Tag: Schwimmer


Unfinished with Uzhgorod

Monday, 10 June 2013

My last archive visit was in Uzhgorod, the impenetrable archive. That’s what everyone says about it. I didn’t find it so difficult, besides the huge language barrier. My translator did all the talking for me. We waited for the director to call about when I could do my research, but he didn’t. On my last day in the city, we got proactive and I finally hit the jackpot.

The director stopped in a couple of times but one archivist was in the room with us the whole time. I was presented with five books of Jewish and civil births. I was cautious at first, not knowing how much they would let me photograph. But she didn’t seem to mind and I ended up with over 200 pages. If I’d been asked, I would have requested marriages first, but I was just happy to have the access.

I haven’t been including a lot of images of the records in these posts because they’ve been in Russian. I doubt many of my readers could make them out. But these records were in Hungarian and Czech, so they’re easier to deal with.

I was particularly excited over a few of the records I found for my Rosenthal family. The handwriting was a bit messy, but I found my grandfather’s birth record. It occurred to me as I looked at it that it was the first time I had seen the record of a birth for a grandparent. Earlier in the trip, I tried to find the record for my other grandmother, but she was not registered. I didn’t have the chance to look for the other two.

Abraham Rosenthal Birth

Three siblings were registered together. There was another brother in this group that died as a child, so years later, they probably wouldn’t feel the need to record his birth. Between these two records, they switched from Hungarian to Czech.

Rosenthal Group

Interestingly, these were all delayed registrations and the second page refers back to another book where they were taken from. So maybe the missing Moshe is in those books? Something to look for on my next visit.

And finally, I found Hana’s birth. A cousin once asked me what her “real” name was. Well, in Hungarian, it was Hana. She went by Honka most of her life.

Hana "Honka" Rosenthal

Another thing that was interesting to see was David’s signature on several records. There are no pictures of him and his wife, but now I’ve seen his handwriting. This sample is one of the neater ones.

David Rozenthal

Years ago, someone searched these records for me and found some information, but only provided extracts of the data. They found my great-grandmother, Eszter Schwimmer, the mother of all these Rosenthals, but not their father. I was able to find David Alter in the records. (Eszter’s record is a Hungarian civil registration, a completely different format and not as easily shown here.)

David Alter Rosenthal

But the biggest surprise was some pages after David. He was an only child, as everyone agreed. I found that hard to believe and assumed he probably had siblings who died young, or maybe there were stillbirths or miscarriages.

And then I found one sister, born in 1878, Ester Gitel. She died in 1880, less than two years old.

Ester Gitel Rosenthal

Although I did not digitize any book in its entirety, I did take a lot of pictures. Two of the books had 15-20 records per page. I have already indexed them and need to get them onto my web site. But I did not get to see every book of birth registrations, and of course I have to go back again for marriages and deaths.

But at least now, I’ve finally finished sorting through the records that I brought back from Europe. Planning my next trip won’t feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. Now, where can I find a few weeks open in my calendar before the end of the year?

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Lisa Kudrow and Who Do You Think You Are?

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Last night, I listened to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast which had an interview with Lisa Kudrow about the upcoming NBC show, Who Do You Think You Are? I am excited about seeing this show. I’ve seen several episodes of the BBC version, but many feature British celebrities whom I don’t know.

After watching my first two episodes (David Tennant and Stephen Fry), I let Pamela Weisberger guide me to several others of interest by checking which ones she had aired at the film festival at various IAJGS conferences; the episodes featuring those with Jewish heritage.

It was interesting to listen to Lisa Kudrow speak about how she viewed her Holocaust history. What Lisa Louise Cooke seemed not to realize is that many Jewish families just don’t talk about it. While we know we lost relatives, and some even grew up knowing parents and grandparents who were survivors, it was not something that they wanted to relive. Lisa’s reaction to not really wanting to know the details about how her relatives perished seemed normal to me. In Jewish genealogy, everyone gets to a point where they lost relatives in the Holocaust, and it becomes really depressing if you start thinking about the details. We know what happened, we know what they had to endure, and now we’re trying to move beyond that and live our lives, in part to honor them. At least, that’s how I see it and I think others do too.

I do have one even more personal reason for wanting this show to be a success. Sometime last year, possible future subjects for BBC’s WDYTYA were announced and David Schwimmer was among them. When the official list was released, he wasn’t there. As someone with Schwimmer in my family (my great-grandmother Ester Malka Schwimmer from Fogaras, Hungary, now Zubovka, Ukraine), I was really curious to see his episode. My mother has been waiting for years for me to tell her that he is our cousin, so with Lisa Kudrow at the helm, maybe we have the chance to still see that story.

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