Washington Conference Day 3 part 1

Today I am writing the blog during an evening session on the generational issues in genealogy, which started at 8.00 p.m.  Young genealogists are talking about how they have got involved in family history research ad also suggesting ways in which younger people can be involved.  These include getting children or young adults to help with the technology side of doing research or setting up a Facebook page to draw in the younger generation.

The session before was all about JewishGen developments, which included news about additions to the JewishGen records and also about changes to databases – www.jewishgen.org.  The biggest news was that Shtetllinks was being renamed to KehilaLinks.  Kehila is Hebrew for community and the decision was taken to use this rather than shtetl because shtetl had mainly Eastern European connotations, but the dataset included communities in places like the USA, UK, Germany and so on.  The JewishGen education offering was increasing, including a course on navigating the JewishGen website.  Screencast videos about JewishGen were also now available.  The JewishGen databases now included 20 million records.  The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) has 90,000 researchers looking at 119,000 different family names.  We were told that JewishGen was doing more to unify the spelling of place names, including changing Vashincktin DeSea to Washington DC.

The JewishGen ShtetlLinks database was being renamed the JewishGen Gazetter, for the same reasons the Shtetlseeker was being renamed.  The number of countries covered would be moving from 45 to 54 and encompass over 1 million places.  The JewishGen resource mapping facility for each community with Jewish people in it had also been improved.  There were many other facts and information provided in the presentation which I haven’t the space to include here.  I will make a more detailed report separately to JGSGB Members.

I have started with the end of the day, rather than the beginning because it has been the longest, busiest and most exhausting day so far.  We started at 7.30 a.m. preparing for the UK-SIG Q&A session that started at 8.00 a.m.  This was a chance for people to ask our UK experts direct questions about their research problems.  We had seven experts who helped about thirty people with resolving problems.  We also had the chance to promote JGSGB publications and events.

Immediately after the Q&A we had to get the room ready for the GerSig meeting that Jeanette was chairing and I was taking the note of.  The GerSig meeting had a very large audience and they heard about many developments in the world of German Jewish genealogy, including the launch of the Name Adoption database, which records the details from name adoption lists where Jews in Germany were required to take last names instead of patronymic names.  There were also other research projects discussed and volunteers were signed up for transcribing and organising the projects.  Taking the note reminded me of my previous occupation as Head of Secretariat taking notes of board meetings – I thought I had left all that behind.

Once the GerSig meeting finished there had to be yet another quick changeover in the meeting room to get ready for the UK-SIG meeting.  Thank you to the conference organisers for putting all the meetings in the same room!  The UK-SIG meeting had fewer attendees than the GerSig meeting but that reflects the different nature of migration from Europe to the USA and the UK.  Few people in the USA, Canada and many other countries have family in the UK and if they did they may have only stopped off here for a few years.  Even so we had a reasonable audience for my presentation on the JCR-UK and JGSGB websites and new developments.  I explained that there were a few new databases on JCR-UK, including the Gorbals Public School database and the Wolverhampton community records.  The Gorbals Public School database is based on the pupil admissions to the school between 1885 and 1905 and has details of most of the Jewish pupils in that period.  The details of the pupils included their names, dates of birth, parent or guardian, address, date of entry to the school, their last school and date of leaving plus the reason for leaving.  I showed how the information could be used to fill in information about migration, birth in another country, reconstruct families and so on.  There are many of these registers in archives around the UK and some others are on-line such as one from Hull on the JCR-UK website.

More in the next posting……

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB


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