Washington Conference Postscript

The IAJGS Conference has now been over for nearly a week but we are still here in Washington and finding links back to the conference.  We are also, of course, experiencing some ground-breaking events (well more ground-shaking).

Coming to Washington we already knew that we would be meeting relatives who live in the area in social settings.  So, after the conference, we spent the weekend at two different houses with two sets of Jeanette’s relatives from either side of her family.  One set live in Virginia and the other in Maryland.  We were treated really well, as guests at the family homes.  Having the chance to talk to not only the fellow genealogists in the families but their brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins is one of the great outcomes of genealogy.  We see parts of other countries we would never experience on a holiday and meet and make friends with people we would probably not come across either.  Jewish genealogy almost always means making links with living cousins, no matter how distantly related, and developing long-lasting relationships with them.

Following our weekend socialising we began to finally have a go at seeing more of Washington DC than the vicinity of the hotel.  So we went on a sightseeing trip on an open top bus.  The trip also included a boat trip up and down the Potomac River, which runs through DC.  We saw a lot of the older parts of Washington DC and many of the key historic sights.  But as genealogists, we could not leave the research side of things alone for too long.  So our lunch was at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, followed by a visit to the Museum’s library.  Once in the library we started to look at the records and books available for a branch of Jeanette’s family.  The Museum’s resources are enormous , so more than an afternoon was needed for the research.  While in the Museum we saw four other people from the Washington conference, two people from Australia who Jeanette had spoken to during the week, one person with a conference bag who we didn’t recognise and finally another conference delegate doing research in the library.  So we were not alone in not being able to leave the research alone.

The following day, Tuesday, Jeanette went to the Holocaust Museum again to do research and I went off to be a tourist and see some of the cultural side of the USA’s capital.  Little did we know how the day was going to go when we went our separate ways.  The morning was uneventful but just before 2 p.m. we experienced our first earthquake.  A 5.9 earthquake on the Richter Scale happened in Virginia and sent shockwaves through Washington DC.  I was in the Museum of American History and experienced a slight movement of the floor and saw displays wobble.  Jeanette was in the Holocaust Museum and exprienced a much longer shaking of the building.  We were evacuated from the buildings, along with the thousands of other visitors and many thousands of Federal staff.  The streets were lined with people as I made my way back to the Holocaust Museum to meet up with Jeanette.  The mobile phone network was severely disrupted and I could not get hold of Jeanette, so I had to try and find her in the crowds.  Eventually, we met up and were able to make our way back to the hotel.  Who says genealogy isn’t full of excitement!

Today was far more normal and Jeanette once again went to the museum to continue her research.  This included looking at the 1938/39 German minority census records on microfilm to find details of relatives recorded in them.  The details of many relatives have been extracted and will be included in the family tree.  It is a great pity that such records have to be used to find out about relatives.

I think we are now both looking forward to getting back to the UK, as it seems an age since we were there.

I do hope that people have enjoyed the blog about the Washington DC IAJGS conference and are inspired enough to continue their research or even start their family tree.

Signing off from Washington DC

Mark Nicholls

Chairman JGSGB

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