Washington Conference Day 1

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  The planned conference in Jerusalem had been withdrawn due to issues and was being replaced with a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.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.

Good night.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB


What the JGSGB is all about

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) promotes and encourages the study of Jewish genealogy. We assist all those tracing the family history of their Jewish ancestors. We encourage Jewish genealogical education and research and promote the indexing, transcription and preservation of old records.
We are a non profit making, non-denominational charity, and our members include both beginners and experienced genealogists.
The membership subscription allows the Society to purchase books and periodicals for its library, subscribe to Ancestry for research on the computers in the library, maintain the website and purchase IT equipment and other resources necessary to help in family history research. It also entitles its members to

  • attend members’ MEETINGS on a wide variety of family history topics, plus local “Regional Group” meetings and Special Interest Group Meetings (for example Eastern Europe, Anglo-Jewish, Sephardi etc.)
  • use the LIBRARY & RESOURCE CENTRE with more that 1,000 books and periodicals, computers, Data CDs and access to major genealogical online databases, family tree collections and a unique collection of Yizkor (community remembrance books)
  • SHEMOT – our journal published 3/4 times per year
  • Priority places at our LONDON and MANCHESTER CONFERENCES and on our training courses
  • Members Corner with access to unique genealogical databases (available only to members
  • Participation in our online discussion group

Tony Benson – Blog Editor

Washington Minus 1 day

The conference is nearly on us.  Registration begins tonight at 9.00 p.m. and we will then get our conference bags, badges and documents.  Registration will be very busy to start with, as so many people will get there early to start the queue.  Once we have our conference material it will definitely feel as if the event has finally started.  During the day we have been keeping busy with preparation work.  The flyers for the UK-SIG and JGSGB Guides arrived and we now have all of the Guides, Shemots and Newsletters in our room ready to take to the SIG/BoF Fair tomorrow afternoon.  The SIG/BoF Fair is a chance for each of the JewishGen Special Interest Groups and the Birds of a Feather Groups to show off what they have to offer conference delegates.  This will entail showing people our publications and also telling them about the UK-SIG events on Tuesday and also about the talk being given by Laurence Harris on Wednesday about UK Records 1870-1930.  There will be questions asked about UK genealogy, which we will do our best to answer on the spot but if we can’t we will ask people to come to the Tuesday Q&A session, where more experts will be on hand to help out.  To find out more about JewishGen SIGs go to http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen/sigs.htm there you will find the list and details of all the SIGs.

During the afternoon, Jeanette, Michael Hoffman (JGSGB Newsletter Editor) and I, sat on the pre-registration desk as helpers.  We were also joined by other delegates who we knew.  The pre-registration is to provide badges to vendors who were coming in to set up stalls and also for people booked in for the end of Shabbat dinner.  The badges allowed people to get past the security and go down to the main conference area.  If you had no badge then no going down, security is strict at the event.  Being at the desk also allowed us to talk to delegates who were getting the feel for the layout as we had done on Thursday.  Between us all, we even helped one lady who was just on holiday and going back to New York tomorrow!  Now that is genealogical service.

So, tomorrow everything starts in earnest.  It will be Conference Day 1.  The programme for tomorrow means that the blog will have to be written on the hoof as we move from event to event.  There will be the SIG/BoF Fair, the IAJGS Presidents reception, the keynote speech and the dessert buffet afterwards.  The lots of chatting to colleagues.  So a good night’s sleep is needed to be able to cope with it all.

Now off to get our evening meal before joining the registration queue.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB

Washington Minus 2 days

We have had a chance to explore the hotel and the conference space a little now and it still looks as if it is going to be a good place for the conference.  There are two main floors of conference rooms and lots of rooms on each floor.  The mingling space looks reasonable but we understand that 1200 people have booked to come to the conference, which means it could be a tight squeeze at times.  We had a good breakfast in the hotel before venturing out to the printers to get our publicity material ordered.  These are flyers to advertise the JGSGB “Jewish Ancestors?” Guides and also to advertise JGSGB and JCR-UK.  For those of you that are not familiar with it, JCR-UK is the website – http://www.jgsgb.org.uk/jcr-uk - where we place most of our publicly available Jewish records for the UK.  These include thousands of burial, marriage, school, census and other records for different places around the UK.  We have also been collecting data about each Jewish Community that has existed in the UK.  The flyers are being delivered to our hotel and we will be using them at the SIG/BoF Fair and during the week.  The printer was based in an old shopping mall in Georgetown.  The manager, Jean, told us that he had lived in the UK before coming to the US, 3 years in Cardiff and about a year in London in the Elephant and Castle area.  Not a hint of a Welsh or London accent though.  The shopping mall was not very full of people and there were signs that a lot of the businesses there were struggling, with many not open or closing down.  Possibly a sign of the economic times.  We have had lunch and an afternoon rest in preparation for hopefully meeting up with the first wave of conference delegates booking in.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB

Washington Minus 3 days

Well here we are in Washington DC at the hotel and getting settled in.  The trip was very uneventful, we got to Heathrow in good time, checked in, boarded in good order and had a really smooth and comfortable flight.  Travelling BA Traveller Plus meant that we had a bit more space and more comfortable seats (thanks to air miles and our savings), which meant we have arrived here without feeling shattered.  The in-flight entertainment also meant that the flight seemed not to take that long.  A comedy film, music, and TV shows plus a bit of sleep.  The hotel is extremely nice and friendly.  The conference organisers have certainly found a terrific hotel for the event, it is really central in Washington and Jeanette is really happy that it has a Starbucks inside to feed her cappuccino addiction.  We haven’t yet had the chance to explore the hotel but will do so tonight.  Tomorrow morning we will need to go and find the print-shop to get the flyers and notices done ready for Sunday.  Hopefully, jet-lag won’t catch up with us.

More tomorrow.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB

Washington Minus 4 days

Well today has been extremely busy with final preparations before travelling to Washington tomorrow morning.  Last minute household tasks, paperwork for JGSGB to complete, sorting out the packing, picking vegetables from the garden before they grow into enormous mutant things.  The packing ended up being ok, thanks to British Airways baggage allowance of two bags each, otherwise some of the clothes really would have had to stay here.

The final job is to check through all the papers needed for the conference and get them into the hand luggage.  There has also been a lot of sorting out of the electronic files to make sure we can access them in Washington.  These will be very important to promoting JGSGB and the UK-SIG.  Hopefully, when we get to the hotel we will be able to access files.

The hotel we will be staying at is where the conference is being held, so we won’t have problems with getting to the early sessions.  Some start as early as 7.30 a.m. with preparations in advance of meetings we will be involved starting even earlier.  There are sessions throughout the day up until 10 p.m.  As I have said earlier the variety of topics is amazing.  The programme for the conference can be seen at the following we address: http://dc2011.org/images/stories/programjuly30.pdf.

The next posting from me will, hopefully, be from the conference hotel tomorrow afternoon Washington time.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB


Blogs – Comments – Discussions

For those of you who haven’t used blogs before, the use of “comments” is meant as a facility for the reader to leave a comment on the blog they are reading.

It is not meant to be used as a place to discuss the reader’s family searches or as a discussion between readers.

For JGSGB members the best place for help on your family history searches is through JGSGB Discuss. You can join this by writing to moderator@jgsgb.org.uk.

Full information on how to use JGSGB Discuss can be found on the Society’s website under Resources.

Tony Benson – Editor



Washington Minus 5 days

You may wonder what happended to Washington minus 6 days.  Well it involved some finalising of papers and the presentation for the UK-SIG meeting but mainly it was a day of general JGSGB activities.  JGSGB’s internal matters keep me very busy most of the time and the last few days have been busier than usual.  It has helped keep my mind off worrying about the conference too much, which is a good thing but meant that I didn’t get round to adding to the Blog.

Today continued very much the same as yesterday with JGSGB business dominating things.  So once again not much got done on the Conference front.  Tonight, there were some errands to run, getting copies of the JGSGB UK Guide to another member who is going to the conference and then off to the JGSGB Secretary’s home to get a form signed.  There were, of course, all of the household and garden chores to get through in preparation for going to Washington.

All of the papers and electronic files are being pulled together by Jeanette and me ready to put into our luggage.  The pile of material and its weight means that we will probably be wearing the same clothes the whole week.  Time to check the baggage allowances I think!  One of the things we will be doing to help our luggage situation will be to get flyers and other material printed in Washington DC.  IAJGS have recommended a local printer who will provide a cheap service.  Once we have everything ready in Washington, we will be taking part in the SIG/BOF Fair on the Sunday before the conference.  For those that don’t know yet SIG stands for Special Interest Group and BOF for Birds of a Feather.  This will be an opportunity to promote the UK-SIG and JGSGB and show people what we have to offer.  More on the SIG/BOF Fair nearer the time.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB


Washington Minus 7 days

Well, we are one day nearer to the start of the IAJGS Washington conference and things are moving forward steadily.  The presentation for the UK-SIG meeting has been almost completed and has reminded me of the many useful resources that are available on the JGSGB and JCR-UK websites.  I suppose we are also blessed in the UK with many centralised records and a lot of on-line records but we also have lots of fragmented records, which can often only be researched in person.  JGSGB wants to see these records preserved above all and also, if possible, made available on-line to people who would benefit from them.

Tomorrow will bring the start of the panic about ensuring we have everything we need to go to Washington with.  The papers, the timetable – so very important to anyone attending a conference – the knowledge of who will be there and when we can see them, when will we get to eat given all the things we have to go to.  The timetable already means that Jeanette and I will have to split off most of the time to cover the very varied selection of events and presentations.  The subjects of the talks are all enticing and there are massive problems with choosing which ones to attend, given so many interesting subjects.  I hope that we will choose wisely.

As this is my first international conference as JGSGB Chairman, this will be a very different experience from the last two conferences I attended.  At those I was an ordinary delegate, now I will be representing UK Jewish genealogy at very important meetings.  I hope not to let the UK down.  I want to promote what is good about JGSGB and the UK at every opportunity at the conference.

From my experience of these conferences, I would always say be there and learn so much more than you can anywhere else and alo meet so many terrific people.

So now for tomorrow and the next steps towards Washington.

Mark N

Chairman JGSGB

Washington Minus 8 Days

Well for my first post on the new JGSGB Blog – Jewish Ancestors? – I am starting a countdown
to attending the 31st IAJGS Conference in Washington DC.  For those of you who don’t know,
the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies runs a major genealogy conference
every year.  The conferences are mainly held in the USA but have also been held in countries
such as Canada, Israel and the UK (last time in 2001) and next year in France (Paris).
These conferences are really exciting to be at, as you can discover so much about Jewish genealogy
in one spot and also meet and make friends with hundreds of other genealogists.  I have been to
two other conferences in the States and they taught me an awful lot, including take a jumper with
you as the hotel air-conditioning can be fiercely cold!

Jeanette Rosenberg, who is my wife, and I have been preparing for the conference for several months
and we are only just over a week away from the conference official start date.  There are now
all the last minute things to do, including preparing a presentation for the UK Special Interest
Group meeting on Tuesday 16 August.  We also have to get together all the material we are taking
with us, such as copies of JGSGB Guides, Shemot, Newsletters, flyers for events and lots of other
stuff.  Maybe we might even be able to get some clothes in our suitcases as well!  There will be
other JGSGB Members attending the conference and they will also be taking material to the conference.

We will have a special UK-SIG logo on sticky labels to help people identify fellow UK researchers.
These have been prepared and will travel with us.

So, now to get on with the final preparations.

Mark Nicholls
Chairman JGSGB

A New Dawn

Welcome to this the first blog of the Jewish Genealogical Society of
Great Britain.

We hope that you will enjoy it’s content and that you will will contiue to read future

As the blog title suggests, it’s all about your Jewish Ancestors from the UK and
how to trace them.

Many people  living in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, USA as
well as many other parts of the World have Jewish Ancestors who originated in Great Britain.

The Society is in a unique position to point people, trying to trace Jewish Ancestors
from Great Britain, to the relevant records, many of which are available on the Society’s website.

Over the coming months we will highlight resources available and how to access them.

Tony Benson – Editor