Next I went to Risa Daltzman Heywood’s talk on Missing Manifests: Finding Those Elusive Passenger Lists.. She talked about a number of potential sources, including passport applications, records from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), Industrial Removal Office, Canadian Passenger Lists, and outbound lists, She also said that Family Search and My Heritage have indexed the “going to” field on manifests. That’s good info, though there is the usual problem with spelling on transcriptions. Overall, there was a lot of potentially useful information here to follow up on.
The IAGJS Annual Meeting was mostly focused on a number of awards. There were also various reports - treasurer’s, membership, etc. Of those, the one of greatest interest to me involves Documentation of Jewish Records Worldwide, which has to do with a catalog of records availability. There was a full discussion of this on Day 4, but it amounted to what the goal is, since the catalog won’t be available until the winter.
During a break, I watched a panel discussion on How Our Families Took Surnames, which had been given live on Day 1. The short answer is that surname adoption started in 1787 in Austria, 1808 for Germans west of the Rhine, and 1845 in Prussia, For Russia (and thereabouts, so relevant to my Polish and Lithuanian roots), there was an 1804 edict by Czar Alexandr I and an 1835 edict (tied to military draft lists) which made surnames permanent. But it wasn’t until after 1850 that surname changes were prohibited. So, roughly 1840-1890 is the period of surname stability. I need to go back and review some records in my family, because I know I’ve seen a lot of surname changes, but I don’t recall years off-hand. At any rate, Alexander Beider’s book on Jewish surnames in the Russian Empire remains the closest thing there iis to a definitive source.
After that, I went to Warran Blatt’s talk on Jewish Given Names. He talked about a number of naming conventions, e.g. naming after ancestors, timely names (like Pesach for somebody born around Passover or Menachem for “consolation,” amuletic names (e.g. Chaim / Chaya, meaning “life,” which could be added if someone were ill or could be given if other children had died young), and calques, i.e. the same name in Hebrew and Yiddish. Two items which were unfamiliar to me were: 1) the insertion of the “v” sound in northeastern Yiddish, so that, say, Yehoshua became Ovsei and 2) dropping the “H” sound in a name in Polish records, instead of substituting the “G” sound, (There is no “H” sound in Russian.) Overall, this was an excellent talk. I especially liked Warren’s comment that people who are afraid of foreign languages need to get a different hobby!
The next presentation I went to was a panel discussion called Better Call Saul: 4 Experts Share Their Favorite and Unique Research Tips. The Saul in question is Saul Isroff, by the way, a well-known Jewish genealogist. The tips were pretty far-ranging, e.g. that you can get a New York Public Library researcher’s card regardless of where you live. I think the most useful concept overall is using collaboration when you are stuck and asking broader questions, e.g. asking about a town, rather than just specific names.
The Ostrow Mazowiecka Research Family discussion was of a lot of interest to me, since that’s one of the towns associated with my Schwartzbard family. The main takeaways were that there is a cemetery restoration and memorial project and that more records, e.g. books of residents, are becoming available.
I closed out Day 3 by watching the recording of Daniel Horowitz’s session on Using MyHeritage Search Engine for Jewish Eastern Europe Research, which had been presented live on day 2. The most useful tips out of that had to do with various Israeli resources, e.g. Avelim, which is a collection of Israeli obituaries, as well as databases of public announcements and immigration databases.
I started Day 4 with a presentation on Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names New Interface Showing Multiple Records. The concept is to present all documentation about a specific person. Along the same lines, I went to a panel discussion later in the day regarding A Master Catalog for Jewish Genealogy: The DoJR Project which stands for Documentation of Jewish Records Worldwide. Again, this is an attempt at a centralized location for information. Both of these sound useful, but are not yet available.
Then I went to a session on the JewishGen Lativa Research Division. Useful information is that they’ve added 11,000 marriage and divorce records, which I need to look at since I believe my great-great-grandfather was divorced in Daugavpils. There was a lot of information on finding unindexed vital records and passport books on Family Search, which is worth devoting some time to. Finally, there are going to be regular Zoom meetings every three months, which I need to get on the list for.
Tracing the Tribe is my favorite of the more general Jewish genealogy Facebook groups so that session was a must. The best part of the session was funny answers to the joining questions prospective members are asked.
Continuing with attending sessions regarding places I have ancestors from, I went to the session on the JewishGen BialyGen Regional Research Group. The website is out of date and the discussion forum is going to be merged into the JewishGen email list. As long as there are searchable archives, that should work fine. More significantly for my purposes was the news that vital records for Tykocin (which is where my maternal grandfather was from) are indexed.
I followed that wit a talk by Mindie Kaplan on Finding Your Kaplans: How to Research Common Names. The most useful tip there was a suggestion to make a timeline and use a research log. I suppose that now that I am retired I have no real excuse for continuing to avoid a rather legendary cousin who was always referred to as Sam Katz, the dwarf Communist printer. Or, even worse, his sister, Rose, who allegedly lived “somewhere in the midWest,” which in my family could mean anywhere from Pennsylvania to Nevada.
The final pace-related session I went to was for the Kupiskis and Rosiskis SIG. The best tip out of that was to search DNA by town, not just names.
The day ended with a trivia contest called JewPardy which was a lot of fun to watch, even with some technical glitches. Getting a good laugh was an excellent way to end out the live portion of the conference, which was well worth my time. I should also mention one other tip, though I failed to write down who said it. Namely, one should interpret “research” as “re-search,” i.e. keep looking even when you think you know things. As a result of that tip, I’ve gotten in touch with a cousin in Argentina, but that’s another story.
I still have things to write about recorded sessions I watched after the end of the conference. And,, of course, I’ve added to my to-do list, which was already the length of a CVS receipt. This entry was originally posted at https://fauxklore.dreamwidth.org/477083.html. Please comment there using OpenID.