Washington Conference Day 6 – The Last Day

Well the conference has now come to an end and everyone has started making their weary ways back to their home towns and cities around the world.  Most will be going back to their home US state, I am sure every state was represented here; others will be going to Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and many other countries.  The UK contingent has also mostly left, just Jeanette and I are still here in the hotel, others have gone to see cousins and family in the States or gone off to the airport.  Goodbyes have been said to friends both old and new and the last physical vestiges of the conferences have evaporated away.  However, the memory of it all will always remain.

There was one more piece of news from last night that happened after the blog had been written.  Michael Tobias, a long-standing JGSGB member and also a Vice-President of JewishGen received the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award for all his work in setting up the various JewishGen databases such as the JewishGen Family Finder – that indispensable tool for finding your cousins.  JGSGB had nominated Michael for the award but unfortunately, I did not go to the Gala dinner where he received the award.  However, I did get to see him afterwards and was able to offer him JGSGB’s congratulations.  Michael has also done an incredible amount of work for JGSGB on our databases and records over the years and for that alone I feel he deserves the award.  Well done Michael.

Today’s events were much shorter, as they came to an end at 12.15 with the final two presentations.  I spent the first part of the morning helping one of the conference organisers, Sue Isman, with trying to trace the birth records for her family in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.  They proved to be most elusive, with no combinations of search terms being able to through out a record.  Only one birth for a child in Birmingham, Warwickshire came up.  Hopefully, Sue will have better luck with them when she has time to take a longer look.  I should say a very big thank you to all of the conference organisers at this stage for having put on a very excellent event.  The complexity of an IAJGS conference cannot be underestimated at all, nor can the capacity of delegates to find fault.  The stress and strain of running the conference is enormous.  So thank you to the three conference co-chairs Marlene Katz Bishow, Vic Cohen and Sue Isman for a wonderful time.

The final session that I attended was on mapping again, as I like looking at maps and atlases and have done since I was a small boy.  The presentation showed the value of old maps in undertaking research, particularly maps such as cadastral maps.  Cadastral maps are detailed plans of towns and villages mostly which show who owned what land and houses or lived in the houses.  The equivalent in the UK would be tithe maps.  Most of these maps were produced in the Austro-Hungarian empire.  The presenter then moved on to the Rumsey maps, which were mentioned in the Google Earth presentation yesterday.  David Rumsey is a map collector – he has 250,000 of them! – and his own map library.  He has put 28,000 of these maps on-line using high-resolution images. They can be seen at www.davidrumsey.com as well as on Google Earth.  He was also put the maps into the website called Second Life, where it is possible to move over and through the maps and dip into them.  The effects are incredible and David Rumsey produced a 20-minute lecture on his work in Second Life.  I wasn’t sure how you access the Second Life video but If I find out I will try and remember to let you know too.  The Rumsey maps cover many places all over the world and the software used allows all sorts of ways of viewing them.  Have a look and see how wonderful the maps are.

There were other websites mentioned, such as Hypercities http://hypercities.com/, with its collection of old maps, the Sanborn insurance maps from 1867 to 1970 (available on the pro-quest paid website I understand) http://sanborn.umi.com/, the Lviv interactive website http://www.lvivcenter.org/en/lia/map/, the Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS for very short) Map Room http://www.feefhs.org/maplibrary.html, and finally the 1900 Collection http://www.discusmedia.com/.  There are of course many other collections of maps out there that can be found by searching Google and other search engines.  Gesher Galicia, a JewishGen SIG also has a collection of the cadastral maps that can be searched, so take a look there http://www.jewishgen.org/galicia/CadastralMapProject.html.

I hope that this blog series about the IAJGS conference has whetted the appetite of many of its readers to go to an IAJGS conference.  For the UK-based readers there will be a really great opportunity to do so next year, as it is being held in Paris from 15 to 18 July.  The conference will be bilingual, so no need to be fluent in French, though the ability to say s’il vous plait and merci will be helpful.  Take a look at the conference website at http://www.paris2012.eu/.  It looks like a really exciting event, just as this one has been.

So here is to another year and meeting old friends and making yet more new friends.  But most of all, to learning and knowledge.

Goodbye from Washington DC.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB



One thought on “Washington Conference Day 6 – The Last Day

  1. Thank you Mark, for your fascinating and in depth account of the 2011 IAJGS Conference. I expect to be in Paris for the next conference.
    As database manager of the JGSGB records I would like to add my congratulations to Michael Tobias. He has been a rock in getting our new records on line. I am glad he is no longer an ‘unsung hero’ of JGSGB and has received an award that he so richly deserves.

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