Category Archives: IAJGS

IAJGS – Day 4 – Multiple Meetings

My first stop this morning was the Professional Genealogists BOF meeting. It was a mostly productive meeting. We had most of the conversation the evening before while planning it. Maybe the discussion group will be used more after that, though some people are having trouble with the group.

I skipped the standing room only lecture, which I found out the best part was just the very end, and went to Daniel Horowitz’s lecture on Mobile Applications. He reviewed a few of them, and found some more interesting ones. When he got to detailed instructions about MyHeritage’s app, I went for a walk.

For lunch, I went to the Konference Kafe, where I was confronted by Bob Kosovsky. He and I are the main tweeters for this conference, and we both were at the Philly conference as well. We finally met. Daniel had asked me earlier who he was, so I brought Bob down to meet him before the next session.

And that was the Presidents’ Meeting. My computer battery died completely without warning and I didn’t snoop around enough to find electric. I was tweeting a lot and took notes which I typed up afterwards.

I returned after dinner for an evening lecture but instead hung out with the MyHeritage folks for the most part.

And that was the day. There are a lot of conversations going on that fill in the time that I’m not writing about. I may or may not make it to any lectures again tomorrow either. My other computer lab is in the afternoon and a little more preparation would be a good thing.


Today was the BOF/SIG meeting day. From what I heard, many people, including me, had to choose which meetings to go to because we were interested in things that overlapped. I opted for the Next Generation Genealogists over the Bessarabia Research Group; followed by the Sub-Carpathian SIG; the Newsletter Initiative, which is apparently over now; then the Webmaster’s Roundtable. I think I found the first and last the most interesting. There were a few people in both including me, Daniel Horowitz, and Terryn Tower. Two people from the newsletter group also went to the webmaster group. I basically skipped the JewishGen session to gossip with someone. We were sitting in the back row and someone complained when we were talking. Really, if you sit in the back, what do you expect? They specifically said that bloggers should sit in back so as not to disturb other people with their typing. So we were whispering instead.  The panel afterwards that sounded barely interesting was really some younger people trying to tell the older people… something. I didn’t stay long enough to really understand the point of it.

The first meeting, the Next Generation Genealogists, was the most interesting one. It was for people under 50, and we joked about ages. Daniel pointed out that it was good we included 40s since he just hit that, but the organizer and the consultant (Elise and I) would be out of it in three years or one if we didn’t give it a higher limit. One of our discussions was about how we were stuck in the middle. The genealogists older than us have done research the old way in the records and microfilm, while the ones younger try to do everything online and possibly have never seen a microfilm reader. Our group seems to have stepped inside both worlds and it’s kind of up to us to bridge the gap between the two. We are the ones that want more technology brought to the conference, both in sessions and in offerings like webinars. Hopefully we can start to make that happen more, if not at the next two conferences, definitely by 2014 when I will be co-chair.

I saw Ava Cohn standing up at her booth during lunch, so I grabbed her, we picked up Terryn Tower on the way, and went to lunch together. Terryn had a memorable story to tell, among all the stories we shared. She found a new method of genealogy research: research by psychic. I wasn’t watching the people around us and I wonder if they were watching while we were laughing hysterically after that story and others.

I still haven’t gotten a respectable night of sleep, and I have no doubt that tonight will continue the trend. I just hope my brain doesn’t decide to catch up on the weekend when I want to be doing research and touristy things. I can sleep when I’m back in Utah.

IAJGS – Day 2 – Socializing

This morning was kind of a bust. I did not sleep late, but was tired and didn’t make it downstairs until about 10:30, for the last morning session. I stopped in on Megan Lewis and her session about the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, but she told me it was pretty basic stuff, so I went to the Rom-Moldova SIG meeting. Quickly bored, I went to Megan’s session anyway and arrived just as she was beginning to take questions.

So I ended up in the hallway with blogger Janice Sellers. Peeva Tramiel came and sat with us, a food blogger, and I went to lunch with her. She had Weiss family from Mukacheve, and I had some Weisses who married into my Mukacheve families. She couldn’t remember details off hand if there was a match.

I eventually found where they had moved Nancy Levin’s session on becoming a Certified Genealogist. It still sounds like a lot of work to me that only other genealogists would really recognize. I already have clients who are genealogists and they don’t seem to mind that I’m not certified; they aren’t either. I might look more into it to see what you have to do in report writing and such, just to learn it, but I still don’t think I’ll bother.

And that was it. Today was more about networking and socializing. I’ve had some more extended conversations with several people that I knew previously and some I’ve met this year, including Janice Sellers, Roger Lustig, Jeannette Rosenberg. I visited both Daniel Horowitz and Laurence Harris at the MyHeritage booth, and Schelly Dardashti who wasn’t there quite as often when I was; and Todd Knowles and John Kitzmiller at the FamilySearch booth. I also had a conversation with Hal Bookbinder concerning the conference in 2014. I don’t know what will happen at the interim years, but that year will be the start of some new things if I have anything to do with it.

Tomorrow will be filled with BOF meetings. I think I’m going to bed early.

IAJGS – Day 1

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.

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

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.

IAJGS – T Minus 2 Days

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.

IAJGS 2011 – T Minus 3 Days

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.

Jewish Genealogy – The Anti-Cult?

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.

JGSLA 2010 – Day 6 Recap

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.

JGSLA 2010 – Day 5 Recap

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.