So here I am almost at the end of the first day of the 31st IAJGS Conference activity. It is 9.30 p.m. in Washington and we have been busy since early afternoon with genealogy activities. The SIG/BoF Fair was a great success, Michael Hoffman and I dealt with a lot of enquiries about UK genealogy and managed to explain many of the available resources to beginners and the more experienced enquirers. We told people about the JGSGB and JCR-UK websites, census records, birth, marriage and death records, the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter, and lots of other useful resources. There were several enquiries about records in Scotland and we were able to give people details of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre in Glasgow – http://www.sjac.org.uk/. So there may be a few enquiries directed towards them in the coming weeks. There was a great deal of interest in our publications and in the UK-SIG sessions on Tuesday. Hopefully, we will have a good turnout for the meetings.
Following the SIG/BoF Fair, I went to the IAJGS Presidents’ Reception to meet other leaders of the various Jewish Genealogical Societies present at the conference. It was a chance to talk to each other about family history as much as about JGS business. In talking to the IAJGS Treasurer, I found that he was related to the wife of my wife’s cousin in Toronto, Canada. These are the sorts of things that happen almost all the time at IAJGS conferences; seemingly unrelated people find that they have relatives or even in-laws in common.
The Presidents’ Reception was followed by the Keynote Address in the Independence room. This year’s address was on the subject of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was a very moving address by Sara J Bloomfield, Director of the museum. She explained about the ethos of the museum and the work that it was doing to encourage the memory of the Holocaust. The talk also included details of the World Memory Project, which is about bringing millions of records about the Holocaust on-line, and Sara reported that the first set of records were now on-line. The project is a collaborative project with Ancestry.com and is being undertaken by volunteers worldwide – see http://www.worldmemoryproject.org/. The talk received a standing ovation.
There was also an important announcement made by the IAJGS Chairman, Michael Goldstein, about the 2014 conference. The planned conference in Jerusalem had been withdrawn due to issues and was being replaced with a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. More on this, I hope, during the week.
On the social side of the conference, things are beginning to happen, as more of the other delegates that we know arrive. Because of Jeanette’s involvement in the GerSig (German SIG at JewishGen), this involves hanging around with a lot of people from that group. I have got to know a lot of them over the years and have enjoyed their company enormously. There is always a lot of laughter, politicking (if that is the right word) and discussion. Many decisions are reached in the process, which is often the way things happen in running organisations. This time though we have one or two UK-SIG people joining in, so it will be very interesting to see how UK-SIG and GerSig relations develop during the week.
Tomorrow will be the first full day of the education sessions, which means splitting up and getting in to as many talks as possible. Lots to learn and take back with us to the UK to help other people.
Now back to the fun with the other delegates.