Showing posts with label Jewish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jewish. Show all posts

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Search for a Photo of a Bride Wearing Her Wedding Veil

A friend of mine, Sheri Fenley, is looking for a photograh of a bride wearing her wedding veil.

While I'm sure the bride was beautiful, what's actually more important here is her veil.

The bride was Jeanette Augusta Meier.  She was the daughter of Abe Meier and Minnie Eisig, and the granddaughter of Aaron Meier and Augusta Hirsch.  Aaron Meier started the Meier & Frank stores in Portland, Oregon in 1857.  The family was Jewish and from Bavaria.  They were early pioneers of Portland and prominent socially.

Jeanette married Walter David Heller on November 14, 1922 in Portland.  He was the son of Moses Heller and Adele Walter, and the grandson of Martin Heller and Babette Kuper.  Martin Heller was a Bavarian Jew who came to San Francisco in the 1850's.  He was president of Congregation Emanuel in San Francisco from 1876 until his death in 1894.  The Heller family was also socially prominent.

The veil that Jeanette wore on her wedding day has been worn by 48 members of the family and extended family at their own weddings.  Jeanette's granddaughter is helping her mother put together a scrapbook that will stay with the wedding veil as it continues to be passed down through the generations.  They have a photograph of every single bride who wore the veil — except for Jeanette Augusta Meier Heller.

So I am helping spread the word about the search for a photo.

Since the bride was from Oregon and the groom from California, Sheri has been trying to cover both areas.  She has searched these newspaper collections online:
• Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
• Historic Oregon Newspapers, http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/
• Californai Digital Newspaper Collection, http://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc/
• ProQuest Historic San Francisco Chronicle online

She found several articles about the wedding, but no photos.  She has also contacted the Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon, the Oregon Jewish Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society, and no luck there either.

The best remaining possibility would seem to be the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the Bancroft Library on the University of California at Berkeley campus.  Among the items in the collection are a card index for the Emanu–El newspaper and the complete historical run of the paper.  I'm sure the wedding was reported in the newspaper; maybe there's a photo?  That index would be really convenient to check, but the staff at Bancroft said that, "Unfortunately the materials are as yet unprocessed and there's no way of telling whether this collection contains the photo you are looking for."  Well, the index has been catalogued and some parts of the collection have been processed; many of us have been waiting patiently for several years for the rest of the Magnes Collection to be accessioned at Bancroft, i.e., made accessible for researchers.  The Bancroft staff apparently have been busy with lots of other things and somehow just haven't gotten around to finishing this task.

There are a couple of other possibilities for the Emanu-El newspaper.  According to the Chronicling America database, both the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the New York Public Library have the newspaper for 1922, JTS in hard copy and NYPL on microfilm.  Neither has an index, of course, but they could be searched manually.  But access is difficult for us, as Sheri and I are both in California.

And there's always a small chance that someone out there who was connected with the Heller and/or Meier families has a photo in a collection at home.  The more people share this story, the better the odds that anyone who might have a photo hears about the search.

So here goes my shot in the dark.  Let's see where it lands.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The IAJGS Conference is Coming Soon!

I announced previously when I learned that my talk "Bubbie, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree" was accepted for this year's International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies 2014 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah from July 27–August 1.  The preliminary program has now been posted online, and while adjustments might be made between now and the conference, the bulk of the schedule is likely to remain the same.

There are plenty of interesting topics scheduled throughout the conference.  Some of the talks I am particularly looking forward to are "Newspapers.com" (which has great information but I have found an awkward site to use), "Jewish Life in Bessarabia as It Is Reflected in Bessarabian Newspapers, 1850–1930" (one branch of my family lived in Bessarabia from about 1894–1927), and "Sticking to the Union:  Using Labor Union Documents for Genealogical Research" (my great-grandfather was a strong union member and supporter).  I know I will learn a lot this year, as usual!

I discovered that my presentation is scheduled for Friday, August 1, the last day of the conference.  The last day is only a half day.  Traditionally, this is the day with the lowest attendance, and many people plan their trips to depart Thursday night.

That doesn't make Friday a throw-away day, however.  Last year's conference showed that IAJGS is trying to schedule interesting talks for Friday in an effort to encourage more people to stay through the entire conference.  One of the most useful sessions I attended last year, Vivian Kahn and Rony Galan's quick-and-dirty Hebrew for family history researchers, was on Friday, and the room was packed.  I hope I draw that many people to my talk this year!

Friday, May 23, 2014

"Cocktail Party Conversation"

Last year I volunteered at an Ancestry Day event in San Francisco and earned a free AncestryDNA kit.  It took several months for me to receive my kit because of some unexplained glitches on the Ancestry site that prevented me from ordering (I personally think it's because I was using an American Express card).  Eventually, one of the nice people at Ancestry who kept suggesting other ways I could try to enter my information figured out it would be a lot faster and easier if she just input the information, and voilà!  My kit was ordered.

Of course, when I received the kit, I meant to send it back right away . . . yeah, that didn't happen.  I think it took me about a month or so before I finally had time to read the instructions, register the kit, come up with enough saliva to fill to the line, and send it off.  I can't say I was waiting with bated breath to see my results, but I was curious as to what Ancestry would come up with.

A week ago, I got a message in my inbox:  "Your AncestryDNA results are in!"  So I dutifully clicked the link and went to Ancestry.com to learn what discoveries would be revealed.

Well, at least some of it is realistic.  Ancestry says I'm 48% European Jewish — check.  My mother was Jewish and solidly Eastern European as far as I know.  Not as much actual documentation as I'd like (with three family lines in Grodno gubernia, that's pretty much impossible), but very reliable otherwise.

I have much better documentation on my father's side of the family, going back several generations.  He is primarily English Quaker and other English on his mother's side, and German Lutheran on his father's.  Some of the English goes back to Belgium, and some of the German to Switzerland.  The paper trail is very strong, with no evidence of nonpaternity events or undocumented adoptions.  So what does Ancestry say the rest of my background is?

Western Europe 34%
Ireland 12%
Scandinavia 2%
English less than 1%
Caucasus less than 1%
Middle East less than 1%
Italy/Greece less than 1%
Africa, American Indian, Asia, Pacific Islander 0%

The 34% Western European makes sense in context of my father's strong German background, plus the Belgian and Swiss connections.  Some Scandinavian is plausible given our English ancestry, since it is well known that Viking raiders made it to Great Britain.  Anything below 1% can safely be ignored, but even the Caucasus and Middle East could be legitimate with my mother being Jewish.

But less than 1% English?  And 12% Irish??!  Trust me, I've always wanted to be Irish, but it just ain't there.  My mother — remember I said she was Eastern European Jewish? — claimed we were part Irish on her side of the family.  Even though there are Irish Jews, that was wishful thinking on her part.  I have everything on the island of Great Britain from my father's side — English, Scottish (though probably border reivers, otherwise known as horse thieves), Welsh, and even Cornish — but absolutely no Irish.  And Ancestry says I'm 12%?  Just where are they thinking it came from?

I'm actually amused by this, however, not concerned in any way, because I keep in mind what Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, says over and over:  These results are nothing but cocktail party conversation, because the algorithms are built on extrapolation of data that are insufficient to give reliable information.  The companies may never have adequate data to give accurate information.  It's all smoke and mirrors, guys.

But maybe I'll raise a glass to myself next year on St. Patrick's Day anyway.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Maps, World War I Heroes, Jewish Sperm Donors, and a Synagogue

I've recently come across some interesting opportunities to help with genealogy projects.  Maybe you can assist with one of them!

The New York Public Library is looking to crowdsourcing from "citizen cartographers" to identify details on digitized 19th-century New York City atlases.  The Building Inspector project allows you to use a desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone.  If you know New York City well, you'll be a valuable addition to the team.  The library plans to use the information to make the maps interactive and link them to other historical digitized documents.

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In conjunction with the UK's commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, the British newspaper The Sun has launched a campaign to create a photo database of the gravesites of Victoria Cross (VC) servicemen, and to bring attention to the sites that are most in need of restoration.  Some of the VC honorees date back to the Crimean War and the 1857 Indian Mutiny.  A list of 544 VC burials is included on the Web page.

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A memorial plaque for Second Lieutenant John Douglas Lightbody of the Royal Air Force, who died November 4, 1918, just days before the end of World War I, will be unveiled in Scheldewindeke, Belgium on November 10, 2014.  The organizers of this year's ceremony are looking for any living relatives of Lt. Lightbody, both to share information about him and possibly to attend in person.  An online article has more information about Lightbody and the search for relatives, including the e-mail address of a person to contact.

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Attention Jewish Men:  Did you donate sperm during the 1980's?  Seeking light-featured Jewish men who acted as anonymous sperm donors in the Los Angeles/UCLA area, between (but not limited to) 1981–1985.  Your offspring are seeking medical information.  Please contact 1980donor@gmail.com (for anonymous communication, create a new Gmail account).

Please feel free to share this with *everyone* you know, repost, attach to mailing lists, etc.  The more people who see this, the more likely it is that 1980donor@gmail.com will find the person he is searching for.

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I never post about fundraising efforts, but this is a little different.  A film raising money via crowdfunding is pledging half of the money to help restore the subject of the film.  The synagogue of Sabbioneta, Italy is a UNESCO World Heritage site but has suffered damage due to recent earthquakes.  The film, an independent comedy, is about a tombstone found in the town's Jewish cemetery.  Read more about the film and the synagogue here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Salt Lake City, Here I Come!

Hooray!  I received notice that my talk on finding women's maiden names was accepted for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies 2014 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah!  This has become one of my favorite presentations, because it covers so many different possible places you can find information.  The conference will run from July 27–August 1, but I won't know for a while on what day my talk will be.

There is always a great selection of presentations at the conference, and I know I'll have the opportunity to learn a lot.  Of course, the big attraction of going to Salt Lake City is that the Family History Library is there, with all of those books, maps, microfilms . . . and I'm only going to be two blocks away . . . it's going to be awfully hard to choose between conference sessions and going to the library for research.  Maybe I can add a couple of days on to my trip . . . .

Since I mentioned one talk, I guess it couldn't hurt to list the other presentations I have scheduled for the year, right?  I mean, as long as I have your attention and all . . . .

April
12:  Read All about It!:  Using Online Newspaper for Genealogical Research, Oakland FamilySearch Library

May
10:  Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust:  What's Buried in Cemetery Records, Oakland FamilySearch Library
17:  Calling in the Pros, Merced County Genealogical Society

June
7:  Read All about It!:  Using Online Newspaper for Genealogical Research, Solano County Genealogical Society
12:  Using the Subscription Newspaper Web Sites at FamilySearch Centers and Libraries, Root Cellar Sacramento Genealogical Society
14:  The Flim-Flam Man:  The Con Man Who Helped Discover the East Texas Oil Field, California Genealogical Society
21:  Where There's a Will:  Probate Records Can Prove Family Connections, Oakland FamilySearch Library

July
9:  Get Me to the Church on Time:  Finding Religious Records, East Bay Genealogical Society

September
6:  Grandma, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree, Oakland FamilySearch Library
8:  Where There's a Will:  Probate Records Can Prove Family Connections, Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society
17:  They Died in San Francisco:  A Little-Used Source of Pre-1906 Deaths, Genealogical Association of Sacramento
21:  Anybody Home?:  Using City Directories in Your Research, Jewish Genealogical Society of Sacramento
27:  Read All about It!:  Using Online Newspaper for Genealogical Research, California Genealogical Society

October
18:  Get Me to the Church on Time:  Finding Religious Records and Grandma, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree, Digging for Your Roots Family History Seminar

November
5:  Jewish Genealogy:  Why Is This Research Different from All Other Research?, Oakland FamilySearch Library
6:  Grandma, Who Are You?:  Finding the Maiden Names in Your Family Tree, Genealogy Society of Vallejo-Benicia
15:  A Better Way to Do Slave Research:  Records of the Freedmen's Bureau, African American Genealogical Society of Northern California
22:  Vital Records and the Calendar Change of 1752, California Genealogical Society

Any any time you're wondering what I might talking about next, you can always check the list of my scheduled presentations.  I try my best to keep it up-to-date.  And please say hello if you attend one of my talks!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2014 Forensic Genealogy Institute a Great Learning Experience

I've been back in California for a few days since returning from the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy 2014  Forensic Genealogy Institute, where I attended the "Advanced Forensic Evidence Analysis" track.  The lectures covered a wide range of topics where forensic genealogy ("genealogical research, analysis, and reporting in cases with legal implication", from the CAFG site) can be applied.

Half of the first day was devoted to DNA and the current state of the technology as it applies to genealogy casework.  Those lectures were complemented by two talks about how the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command searches for, identifies, and confirms MIA and POW military personnel in order to repatriate
remains to family members.  DNA is often used in these cases, in addition to research into military actions in the locations in which remains are found, identification of artifacts found with the bodies, a lot of ruling out possibilities by exclusion (it can't be this person, this person, or that person, so it has to be this other person), and much more.  DoD wants to be absolutely sure before making an ID.

A large portion of the second day covered how oil and gas industry companies go about looking for land that is viable for energy use and then try to find all possible owners and/or heirs to the property so that they can begin exploration and extraction of the resources.  While genealogists are not involved in the energy side of things, it was interesting to learn how they do things (with a decided slant in favor of the oil and gas companies, of course).  The second presenter that day discussed dual citizenship cases, with details about procedures for Irish and Italian descendants.  I learned that my stepsons are not currently eligible for Irish dual citizenship but might be some time in the future — once the pool of eligible candidates with Irish ancestry begins to dry up due to descendancy restrictions (at most, someone must have had a grandparent with Irish ancestry), it's possible the Republic of Ireland might extend eligibility back to great-grandparents to maintain the revenue stream.  (You did know that the main reason countries offer dual citizenship through right of descent is to bring in [mostly American] money, right?)  The final talk of the day was about translation, when someone might need it, the difference between a translator and an interpreter (translation is written, interpreting is spoken), and certified translators (less common in the United States than in Europe, for various reasons).  Having done translation for many years, it was refreshing to hear a speaker explain to others the benefits of hiring a professional translator with experience versus merely using Google Translate (helpful in a pinch, but still only machine translation).  (By the way, if you need a translator, the best place to start a search is at the American Translators Association site.)

The final half-day we heard about two very different heir search case studies, both of them coincidentally involving Jewish and overseas research.  In the first case, the researcher who was contracted to find heirs had no prior experience with Jewish or overseas research, so was extremely surprised at many of the twists and turns involved, including formal and informal name changes, changing country borders, and the necessity sometimes to "grease the wheels" at repositories before research access would be granted.  The case has not yet been closed, but the researcher's running total was thirteen countries and eight languages.  (A couple of us found this somewhat entertaining, as these obstacles are very familiar to those of us who have done Jewish research.)  The second case study should have been pretty straightforward, as the deceased had left a will and "all" that was needed was to verify noninheriting heirs per state law.  This case again had surprises due to unexpected name changes, Jewish ancestry which some family members had tried to cover up, and the difficulties of conducting reearch in multiple countries with multiple rules and restrictions.

As advertised, the institute covered a lot of very relevant material, and the presenters were experts in their fields.  The opportunity to network was also important, and I was able to meet several people with hom I have been corresponding via e-mail.  It was well worth the investment in time and money to attend.  I definitely learned new things at the institute, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that I had a good amount of knowledge already about the topics that were discussed.  I'll be looking for the announcement for next year's institute to see what subjects will be offered.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

December 2013 Issue of "The Galitzianer" at the Printer

Due to delays with last-minute additions to the December issue of The Galitzianer, it isn't actually going to come out in December.  So what's a few days between friends and genealogists?  But it's at the printer now and should be mailed out to members of Gesher Galicia early next week.  The electronic edition has already been sent.

And just what is in this issue?  I ended up with two sets of complementary articles.  The first theme is censuses.  Jonathan Shea, founder of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast, allowed us to reprint his article "Austrian Census Returns 1869–1890, with an Emphasis on Galicia", which discusses an 1853 meeting in Brussels that led to censuses being conducted in many European countries, and specifics of historic censuses in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Following that are an article about the Tarnopol 1910 Jewish census, which was probably an extract of information from a general census, and a list of the surnames from the census.

The second set of articles relates to online records offered by Jewish Records Indexing-Poland (JRI-Poland).  Mark Jacobson of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County talks about updates to JRI-Poland indices and links to online images.  Coincidentally, someone confirmed a family story that his very English-sounding surname was the original Jewish family name by finding an image of his grandfather's 1877 Galician birth record through the JRI-Poland site.

In addition, this issue has an article about a survivor of the Janowska concentration camp in Lwów, by a history professor working on a Holocaust research project focused on that camp, and the first appearance of a new column about preserving Jewish material heritage in Eastern Europe.

Members of Gesher Galicia receive The Galitzianer as a benefit of membership.  Gesher Galicia is a nonprofit organization focused on researching Jews and Jewish life in the former Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia.  Information on becoming a member is available here.

Articles for The Galitzianer are accepted from both members and nonmembers.  If you submit an article that is published, you will receive a copy of the issue with your article even if you are not a member.  Submissions may be articles and/or graphics, both original and previously published, and must be relevant to Galician Jewish genealogical research:  articles about recent trips to Galicia, reports on your own research, historical and recent pictures, etc.  Electronic submissions are preferred, though not required.  If you wish to submit material for consideration, please contact me at janicemsj@gmail.com.  I accept submissions year-round, but the deadline for the March 2014 issue is February 15.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Immigration Stories at Angel Island

Ayala Cove
After 24 years of living in the San Francisco Bay area, I finally visited Angel Island last week.  I have been wanting to go for several years but somehow never managed to schedule it.  Luckily for me, the California Genealogical Society (CGS) coordinated a family history event this year for Family History Month — plus asked me to help find someone to speak about Jewish immigration through the island — so circumstances worked in my favor.  It was also a "chamber of commerce day" — gorgeous weather, clear blue sky, the kind of day convention and visitors bureaus send out their photographers to take promotional shots.  The ferry ride from Oakland to the island (with a change of boats at the Ferry Building in San Francisco) was very enjoyable, and there was even a great view of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge on the return trip.

Barracks (front) and Hospital (rear)
The station has several points of interest.  CGS posted a helpful map of the station online.  There are informative signs throughout the area, describing not only the buildings (and former buildings) but also activities of people who were held on the island.  Just inside the gated entrance are what remains of employee cottages that were designed by the famed architect Julia Morgan.  It's a shame they didn't survive.

China Cove and the Immigration Station
Down by the water at China Cove was the dock where immigrants arrived (it was torn down years ago).  An administrative building used to be there also, but all that's left now is part of the foundation, showing the footprint of where the building was.  A fire in 1940 destroyed the building and caused the closure of the station.  A small plaza and an Immigrant Heritage Wall have been built at the cove as part of the renovation of the park.  Nearby is the hospital, which is not open to the general public yet but is under renovation and scheduled to open in 2016.  While we were there a group of nurses was given a private tour of the hospital.

Immigration Barracks
The two buildings that are currently open are the main immigration barracks and a World War II mess hall.  Several interesting displays, mostly about Chinese immigration, were set up in the immigration barracks for the family history event.  One of the docents had brought a lot of his own materials to share with attendees, and one of the speakers brought her research documents.  There were also tables with informational material from CGS and the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society.

Mess Hall
The mess hall is where the presentations took place.  Grant Din (staff at the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation) and Kay Speaks (genealogist) spoke about their Chinese ancestors who were processed at Angel Island.  Roslyn Tonai (executive director of the National Japanese American Historical Society) talked about her mother's family, Japanese immigrants who came through here.  And Maria Sakovich (independent researcher) described the paths across Europe and Asia that Jewish immigrants took during World War I and II that led them to Angel Island.  All of the speakers had interesting stories, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn from them.

In a nice bit of serendipity a woman who works at the Tenement Museum in New York City happened to be on the island as part of her vacation in California.  She is very interested in genealogy outside of her job, and she was thrilled to find out that there was a family history event going on.  We had trouble deciding who the biggest genealogy geek was.

I am happy I had the opportunity to visit Angel Island because my stepsons' grandfather, who was from Punjab, India, came through the island when he arrived in the United States in the 1920's.  Through research I have learned he was not detained, even though Indians were classifed similarly to Chinese (as "Asians" under the Chinese Exclusion Act), because he came as a student, not an immigrant.  But just knowing that he went through there made the visit special.

CGS has posted several excellent photographs of the day taken by Judy Bodycote on its blog.

The one flaw in my day was the climb from the ferry dock at Ayala Cove to the immigration station.  I swear I was told it was about a mile, but it's actually closer to a mile and a half, and most of it is uphill.  My poor little old knees were not happy.  The next time I go to Angel Island, I think I'll take the tram to the immigration station instead.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"The Mexican Suitcase"

One of the boxes of negatives
I recently saw the documentary The Mexican Suitcase (2011), about the discovery of 4,500 photo negatives from the Spanish Civil War.  I particularly wanted to see the movie because a cousin of mine fought with the Lincoln Brigade, and I was hoping there might be something about the brigade in the movie.

The movie focuses primarily on the story of the negatives and the three photographers who took the photos.  Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and David "Shim" Seymour — born Endre Ernő Friedmann, Gerta Pohorylle, and Dawid Szymin, Jews from Hungary, Germany, and Poland, respectively — were said to be the first photographers to work in live war zones.  Prior to this, we were told, photos were taken before battles and afterward.  These photographers changed the way people saw wars by their work.  All three died while taking photos in war zones — Taro in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War; Capa in 1954, during the First Indochina War; and Shim in 1956, while covering the armistice of the Suez War.

The negatives had been kept in Paris by Imre "Cziki" Weisz, the darkroom assistant used by the three photographers to develop their film.  He was also Jewish.  Sometime around 1940 he became concerned about his survival in Europe.  He managed to deliver the negatives, which he had carefully catalogued and stored in handmade boxes (the "suitcase" of the movie title), to Francisco Aguilar González, a representative of Mexico to the Vichy government in France.  Aguilar apparently took the negatives with him when he returned to Mexico, because in 2004 his daughter gave them to filmmaker Ben Tarver in Mexico.  Eventually this led to an exhibit at the International Center of Photography in New York City and to the documentary by Trish Zeff.

Interspersed with interviews with several people about the photographers, the negatives, and the story of the negatives' survival were interviews with Spanish survivors of the Civil War and their descendants.  These interviews focused on feelings of loss, being uprooted, and having to make new lives.  The movie said that some 200,000 people fled Spain during the war.  Most of the interviewees were in Mexico; a few were in Spain.

I found some parallels between what happened to the Spaniards who supported the Republic and to Jews during World War II, though obviously not on the same scale.  For a time there was a concentration camp in Argelès in France that housed about 100,000 people who had fled Spain.  Most countries would not accept the Spaniards as refugees; this was because they recognized Franco's regime as legitimate, but Mexico and the Soviet Union (incorrectly called Russia in the film) did accept the refugees.  There are mass graves in different parts of Spain filled with bodies of those who "disappeared" during the war and later.  And most of the survivors were unwilling to talk about their experiences for decades.

One of the descendants who was interviewed was participating in an archaelogical dig at one of the mass graves in Spain.  She said she was trying to find out what happened to her grandfather, one of the many people who "disappeared."  Her story was presented in pieces throughout the movie.  It was not clear how many different skeletons they showed, but it certainly didn't appear to be more than two, making the identification of the site as a mass grave confusing.  Then, near the end of the movie, the young woman said that she was disappointed she hadn't found her grandfather at the site but that she would keep looking.  Nothing was said about how she was able to determine that none of the skeletons there was her grandfather, and since all they had shown in the movie was a few bones at the site, I don't know how any identification could have been made at all.

One of the most touching moments in the film was a short scene at the exhibit of the negatives at the International Center of Photography.  A woman found three photos of her grandmother sitting at a desk, writing a letter.  The family had been told about the photographs having been taken, but the woman had never seen them before.

As for the Lincoln Brigade, it was mentioned only obliquely in the movie.  One of the nurses who helped take care of Gerda Taro the day she died was interviewed for the movie; her on-screen credit said she was a nurse with the Lincoln Brigade.  And a dedication at the end of the movie included a man in the Lincoln Brigade (not my cousin).

Even though I didn't find a family connection, overall this movie was interesting, but in trying to present the two stories concurrently the narratives sometimes were difficult to follow.  You saw a snippet of one interview, then another, then another, not necessarily all talking about the same thing.  This choppy style did not lend itself well to a coherent storyline.  The photographs tell a story of their own, but most of them were not identified.  The movie is worth seeing, but you will probably want to supplement what you learn from the movie with additional research of your own to give a more complete picture of what happened.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Heirloom Prayer Shawl Stolen in San Francisco

the missing tallit
I'm doing some signal-boosting here.  On local news in the San Francisco, California, area tonight was a report about the theft of a tallit (Hebrew prayer shawl) from the porch of a family home in San Francisco.  This shawl is an heirloom that has been in the family for several generations, and it even survived the Holocaust.  The family lent the tallit to a cousin for a bar mitzvah, and the cousin sent the tallit back via FedEx.  The FedEx box was left on the porch, which is probably what attracted the attention of the thief.  The tallit has no monetary value but immense sentimental value to the family.  Anyone knowing anything about the missing prayer shawl, please contact Kathy Rosenberg-Wohl as soon as possible.  Please help return this family heirloom to its rightful owners.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sephardic Jews during World War I, Jewish Life in Lübeck, and Norwegians in Hull

It's taking me a little longer than usual to write my commentary on the recent Who Do You Think You Are? episode because I'm having trouble reading my own notes (!).  I think I'm going to have to watch the episode again to figure out what I wrote.  In the meantime, several more family-history-related projects that are looking for information or help have been posted, so I thought I'd share those in the hope that some of the people who read my blog can be of assistance.

In 2014 the American Sephardi Federation (ASF) will participate in an exhibition at the Center for Jewish History on "Jews and World War I" in conjunction with the centennial of the war.  ASF's holdings are limited in this area, so help is being sought to enrich the part of the exhibit relating to the story of Sephardim during and immediately following WWI.  Material is sought about Sephardim in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq/Mesopotamia, Italy, Syria, and the United States.  Artifacts, images, and documents should be from the years 1914 through 1923.

ASF is particularly seeking the following:  Sephardi newspapers and periodicals (La America, La Vara, others); passports and documents relating to immigration; documents relating to citizenship, work, military enlistment and service; family photographs of this era; family heirlooms relating to the era, such as objects, artwork, etc.; garments, equipment, souvenirs, memorabilia relating to Jewish military service; items relating to Sephardi Zionism; items relating to politics in Sephardi communities and links to national politics; items reflecting Balkan, Greek, Turkish/Ottoman, or Arab anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism; items relating to the Salonika fire of 1917; and material relating to Moise Gadol and the Sephardi community in the United States; Synagogue Berith Shalom, established by Congregation Shearith Israel, which moved into headquarters at 86 Orchard Street in 1913, and the settlement house at 96 Orchard Street, New York City; Rhodes League of Brothers Aid Society, Inc. (incorporated 1912); the Chios Brotherhood; and the Salonika Jewish Brotherhood.

If you can lend material for this exhibit, contact ASF Director Lynne Winters at lmwinters@asf.cjh.org or ASF's Librarian and Archivist Randall Belinfante at rbelinfante@asf.cjh.org.  Your contribution to supplement and enhance the section relating to the history of Sephardim in these countries during and immediately after World War I will be much appreciated.

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Artist Ken Aptekar is seeking pre-World War II home movies of Jewish life in Lübeck, Germany for a museum exhibition.  He has posted a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvNeDXUM57k with information about his request.

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The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust is looking for submissions of family photographs and images of personal artifacts to its World That Was Interactive Table.  The touch-screen table currently has more than 8,000 photos that museum visitors can explore.  Photos should be from Europe, Palestine, or Africa and have been taken before 1946.  You can also include stories that go with the photos.  Click here for more information and a link to the submission form.

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During the mid- to late 19th century almost one million Norwegians traveled to Hull, England on their way to America.  A history project being conducted at Sheffield University is tracing the paths of the Norwegian migrants who went through Hull before continuing their journey to Liverpool and then across the Atlantic.  Researchers are looking for information that documents the migrants’ visit to Hull on their voyage to a better life.  Details about the project can be found in this newspaper story and at a virtual re-enactment of the voyage, set in 1880. The virtual site has submission and contact information for the project.

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Fort Laurens was the only U.S. Revolutionary War fort built in what is now Ohio.  The Friends of Fort Laurens Foundation is seeking any records which refer to Fort Laurens in any way.  The foundation's Web site has an incomplete list of men believed to be at Fort Laurens in some capacity.  Check the site to see if your ancestor's name is on the list.  And if you know of a soldier who was at the fort and is not on the list, there is a form to submit that person's name.

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The Adoption and Jewish Identity Project is dedicated to improving the lives of adoptees raised in Jewish families.  The project is directed by Dr. Jennifer Sartori, Associate Director of Jewish Studies at Northeastern University, and Dr. Jayne Guberman, an independent scholar and oral history consultant.  They are looking for young adult (ages 18–36) adoptees raised in American families that identified at least in part as Jewish to share their experiences and perspectives as part of a research study.  Participants may submit their stories in writing or via audio or video.  Sartori and Guberman will also conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews with selected inviduals.  The collected stories will be used (either anonymously or attributed, depending on your wishes) for a book about the complex identities of adoptees raised in American Jewish families.

If you are an adoptee interested in sharing your story, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AJIPAdopteeQuestionnaire to tell a little bit about yourself, and the project coordinators will be in touch with you with more details.  All information provided in the questionnaires will be kept completely confidential.  Participants will be able to choose whether to be identified by name or to remain anonymous in any publications or projects that result from the project.  Adoptees do not have to identify currently as Jewish in order to participate.  If you have questions, please send a message to adoptionandjewishidentity@gmail.com.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Who Do You Think You Are?" - Chelsea Handler

Okay, I'm a little late with this write-up.  But I was attending the IAJGS conference last week, and the cousins I was staying with don't have a television, so I didn't even get to watch the episode until this past Sunday.  But I'll be caught up by this weekend.

This episode of Who Do You Think You Are? was another with a focused question to resolve.  Chelsea Handler's maternal side is German, and her grandfather apparently served in the German army in some capacity during World War II.  The question is, what exactly did he do?  Was he a Nazi?

Handler is introduced as a comedian, author, and television show host.  (My on-demand TV guide called her a "media mogul.")  Her mother, Rita Stoecker, came to the United States from Germany when she was 19, and her father, Seymour Handler, is Jewish-American.  (Handler's Wikipedia and IMDb entries say that her mother was Mormon, but the Stoeckers' religion was not addressed in the episode.)  Handler is the youngest of six children.  The chidren were raised Jewish, and she feels very connected to her Jewish roots.  She has been living in Los Angeles since she was 19.

Handler grew up knowing her maternal grandparents, Karl and Elizabeth Stoecker, who also came to the U.S. from Germany.  Karl Stoecker was a big, strong man who served in World War II as a soldier.  He was captured as a prisoner of war and sent to Montana in the U.S. for several years.  When he was repatriated back to Germany, he decided he wanted to return to the U.S. to live.  Elizabeth Stoecker had talked of her life during the war years, but Karl did not discuss the war.  The family has had a running joke that they come from a line of Nazis.

Handler's mother and grandparents have passed away, and she has little solid information about that side of the family.  Her older brother Glen knows the most history and knew all their grandparents, so she asks him for some help.  My guess is that he's the family member with the most actual interest in genealogy.  He comes to visit and says he came across some interesting stuff, then tells Handler to "hop on the computer":  He has a family tree on Ancestry.com (doesn't everyone besides me?).

Glen also has some documents.  Karl's birth certificate (shown online; it might have been uploaded by someone else) says that he was born in Bochum.  Elizabeth wrote a memoir in November 1966 about her life in Germany, but wrote in German, so it needs to be translated.  And there is a green booklet with Leistungsbuch on the cover ("power book", according to Google Translate) with Karl's name in it, dated October 1935.  It could be Karl's identification from the German army; it needs to be translated also.

So, what's the logical way to have something translated?  Me, I would go to the American Translators Association site and look for someone in my area with the languages I need.  I found someone to translate from English to Italian that way; a friend found a translator for English to Lithuanian.  But this is Who Do You Think You Are?, so Glen tells his sister to go to Bochum, Germany to have the German documents translated.  Then he says, "Auf wiedersehen."  (Seriously??)

And off Handler goes to Germany.  She has sent the documents ahead to a German researcher named Andrea Bentschneider.  She meets Bentschneider in what appears to be an old factory in Herne, which is near Bochum.  Handler asks about her grandfather, and Bentschneider says that the building they are in holds some significance.  She explains it's a converted factory, and Karl used to work there.  Handler looks around kind of blankly and says, "Oh my gosh, this is amazing," but she sure didn't sound amazed.  Bentschneider reads from Elizabeth's translated memoir that Karl had found a position as a draftsman at Flottmann's; the building used to be Flottmann's factory.  Flottmann had joined the Nazi party in 1931, before Hitler came to power, and was a committed party member.  Handler calls him a "Nazi enthusiast", a phrase she used several times during the episode; in my mind, the phrase downplays the commitment to the party that someone such as Flottmann appeared to have.  On the other hand, one time the narrator called Flottmann a "notorious Nazi", which seemed a bit of a stretch based on the information we had been told.  She wonders what her grandfather would have had to do to get a job working at Flottmann's factory and whether that made him a Nazi also, but Bentschneider reassures her that simply having a paying job would have been sufficient motivation to work for Flottmann.

Focusing on Elizabeth's narrative, Bentschneider confirms that it was a memoir, written at the request of one of her daughters.  The memoir gives insight into the lives of Handler's grandparents and other Germans after World War I.  Germany had lost its strong role and leadership in the world and was deeply in debt; there was a hunger among the populace for someone to lead them into better times.  Elizabeth recalled her own mother saying, "Children I don't have anything," when Elizabeth and her siblings asked for a piece of bread to eat.  People in such desperate situations often look for any ray of hope, which Adolf Hitler provided.  He reduced unemployment by creating work projects (similar to what the WPA did here in the U.S.), so people thought he had good ideas, not realizing what would happen in the future.

Handler wants to know if more personal information was in the memoir.  Elizabeth had written about when she and Karl were newly married, in 1936.  She played piano and he played violin, and they performed together with a group.  She remembered things being happy until 1939, when the war started.  She could have been justifying things to herself and simply remembering the good times.  Nothing in the memoir, however, talked about Karl having anything to do with the Nazis.

Handler's other document, the small green booklet, was for the Sturmabteilung (S.A.), a paramilitary wing of the Nazi party.  She wonders if it could be bad news.  Bentschneider says she has made an appointment for Handler to talk with an expert and will send the booklet to him to evaluate beforehand.

Still in Herne, Handler goes to the city archives (though the German on the building said Stadt Bibliotek, which is a library) to talk with historian Ralf Piorr (who has his own Wikipedia page and has written a book about the Jews of Zamosc).  He explains that the Sturmabteilung were also known as Brownshirts and were "rowdy boys" or street thugs.  Karl's booklet was for a labor service camp in Fröndenberg.  Officially, the camps were created to help curb unemployment, and participation in them was made mandatory in 1935.  They were also a way for Germany to get around the post-World War I Armistice prohibition against military training.  Participants had to attest to their German Aryan descent and that they were free of traces of the Jewish or colored race.  Karl was in a voluntary "sports" program at the camp that included small caliber shooting, distance estimation, and camouflage training.  This wasn't really proof that Karl agreed with Nazi ideology.  Piorr comments that if everyone else says yes, in that kind of situation you don't really have the option to say no.  There was no photo or signature in Karl's booklet, possibly indicating that it was not particularly important to him.  Handler asks what documents might have more information, particularly whether Karl was a member of the SA, and Piorr says she should go to Berlin to the military archives.

Next stop:  Berlin.  Handler meets historian and author Roger Moorhouse at the military archives.  Of course, he already had all of Karl's papers pulled.  He tells Handler that Karl was not a member of the SS or Nazi party, and that only about 10% of the population were actually members of the Nazi party.  Karl's Soldbuch (Army pay book) began on September 22, 1939, three weeks into the war, which could have indicated he wanted to fight, but Moorhouse says he was drafted.  Rita, Handler's mother, was only four months old at the time.  The pay book had only three rank lines:  private, private first class, and corporal.  Karl was not earning lots of promotions.  He started with the 196th artillery regiment, which Moorhouse says was a low-grade unit that would have been kept in the rear, and stayed with similar regiments throughout his army service.  Handler recalls her grandfather as big, strong, and athletic, but the records indicate he was average, so she wonders if they represent a lack of interest or sympathy on Karl's part.  Moorhouse says he was probably part of the "floating middle" -- not enthusiastic, but not actively oppositional, as the latter were persecuted.  The middle just went along and tried to stay invisible.  Handler says that when asked about the war Karl seemed embarrassed, which Moorhouse relates to the collective guilt of the German people about the war.

Handler wants to know more about the units Karl served in.  He started with the 196th but later, in the second half of 1942, was transferred to the 12th, where he experienced his only front-line service, on the Eastern Front in western Russia.  He was there in the winter, when it was brutally cold, and combat was horrific.  Moorehouse says Karl "had a tremendous stroke of luck", as he was again transferred, this time in mid-1943 to the 242nd, which was assigned to the south of France.  His old regiment was almost entirely wiped out about a month before he was captured, and he probably would not have survived.  On August 16, 1944 he was captured by the U.S. Army at Saint-Raphaël.  Handler recalls being told that he had been sent as a POW to Montana.  Moorhouse says there should be details and that he will look for them, while the "best thing" that Handler can do is go to Saint-Raphaël.  (So the records are in Berlin, but she should go to the south of France?)  As she is leaving Berlin Handler says she is relieved that Karl was not a "Nazi enthusiast" (there's that phrase again), just a participant.  She also mentions she had brought a bikini since she was going to the south of France, pretty much giving away that she knew ahead of time where she would be going on her trip.

In Saint-Raphaël Handler walks along a beach with Dr. Steve Weiss, a World War II veteran and historian.  She wonders to herself if Karl had been captured willingly, then asks Weiss, "I hope that you have some information about my grandfather Karl?"  (Yeah, like the show is going to fly you and Weiss to the Riviera and have him tell you he doesn't have any info on your grandfather.)  Weiss says that on August 15, 1944 he was an 18-year-old combat infantry soldier who landed on the beach on which they are standing.  (I wonder how hard they had to look to find a vet who was there.  I think it's very cool that they found someone, especially with Weiss' credentials.  It reminded me of the NCIS episode "Call to Silence", which had Charles Durning as a World War II veteran and Lloyd Kino playing a Japanese vet; Durning was a vet, and I suspect Kino served in World War II also.)  Karl was probably one of the people shooting at the Americans, but the Americans were organized and the Germans were in the process of leaving the location.  Handler wonders what "leaving" meant and if the Germans were surrendering.  Weiss explains that soldiers are trained to fight, not to surrender, but that some of the soldiers might have made the difficult decision to give themselves up.  (The landing was part of Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France; there's a great map of the operation online, showing that the 36th Division was assigned to land at Saint-Raphaël.)

Handler then asks what happened to the German POW's.  Weiss shows her a short film (on an iPad; hooray for that Apple product placement) that was shot on August 16, 1944 by an American military photographer (which means it should be available somewhere -- maybe the Library of Congress? -- but the closest thing I could find online is the fourth item on this page of a for-profit site).  It showed the German soldiers sitting and smoking.  Handler says, "One of those guys is probably my grandfather."  Since they didn't focus on a particular shot, however, I'm guessing they did not find him in the film.

Handler asks Weiss how he had felt toward the soldiers.  He says that since he is Jewish, it depended on who the soldier was.  If the man was in the SS it wouldn't be good, but he could feel a fellowship with regular soldiers.  He explains that SS were usually recognizable by their uniforms and their arrogance.  Handler wonders what it was like if a Nazi was captured by a Jewish soldier.  Weiss replies, "Can you imagine what the world would be like if they weren't?"

Handler muses to herself that in the film the German soldiers look relieved.  Her talk with Weiss has brought together how her grandfather probably felt at the time.  She's glad to have talked with Weiss about it, because he is a Jewish American, and declares, "I am proud to be a Jewish American."  Then she calls Moorhouse on the phone, who tells her he has completed the research and discovered that Karl was not sent to Montana, but to Iowa.  So that's where she is heading next!

In Algona, Iowa, Handler is met by Jerry Yocum, a local historian, at the airfield where the Algona POW camp used to be.  He gives a short history of the camp, which had 187 buildings on 287 acres and barracks that held up to 2,500 prisoners.  He says many camp items are in the Camp Algona POW Museum, if Handler wants to see them (duh!), at which point they go to the museum.  Handler of course asks about documents regarding her grandfather.  Yocum shows a card from September 1, 1944, when Karl Stoecker (#27200H) was initially processed, and one from September 29.  Both cards have photos.  On September 1 Karl was very skinny, and on September 29 he looked much healthier.  The prisoners were treated humanely, although the German government had told them that if they were captured they might be castrated or used for drug experiments, and that there was a lot of turmoil in the U.S.  The propaganda was meant to keep the soldiers fighting and not surrender.  Yocum explains that the POW's had good food and did exercise and some work, such as on local farms.  In their off-duty hours they were encouraged to do things such as write letters and use their artistic talents, including putting on stage plays.  Yocum says, "Here's one that involves a little bit of music," and shows Handler a photo of one of the plays.  Handler recognizes her grandfather sitting in the orchestra pit with a violin.  Given how well the prisoners were treated, she now understands why he wanted to return to the U.S. after the war.

At the end of the episode Handler talks about how she had never felt a close connection to the German side of her family because she didn't know that much about it, and had been worried that her grandfather could have been a hard-core Nazi.  Now that she knows he wasn't, the way he made it through is a good life lesson -- don't use your big mouth, just trudge forward and survive.  (But she knows that someone "as obnoxious and outspoken" as she is would not have been able to do it!)  All of her grandfather's experiences shaped him; everything he saw combined to make him a good man.  She feels a much better connection with him now.

There was no wrap-up at the end of the episode with Glen, the family member from the beginning.  He seemed interested in the family history, so I wonder why they didn't bring him in for the finale.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interesting Movies, Online and Offline

Old movies can make a little window into the times of our ancestors.  Even if your ancestors themselves aren't in the movie, it can let you see what they saw and give a perspective from that time.

Have you ever taken a little day trip to Tijuana?  Someone in the mid-1930's made a 16 mm home movie of sorts of a trip to Tijuana and Agua Caliente.  That movie somehow ended up at the University of Washington at Seattle, which in 1975 gave the movie to the California Historical Society (CHS).  Now CHS has had the movie digitized and made it available online for free.  The people in the movie appear to have had some money, because they're all fashionably dressed.  I have to wonder if part of the reason for the trip was a divorce, because the person holding the camera kept going back to that sign.  Because I have two birds of my own, I really liked the street huckster with two macaws and a cockatoo (starting at about the 2:00 mark).

The digitization was done by the California Audiovisual Preservation Project (CAVPP).  Examples of some other films that have been digitized through this project include footage of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition; the 1933 Long Beach, California earthquake; and events at the Ontario, California Motor Speedway (my father watched a race there but didn't participate). 

But as I tell people in my newspaper classes, not everything is online.  The Tablet recently had an interesting article about Soviet Holocaust films.  Some films were made before the nonaggression agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union signed in 1939, while others were made after World War II.  They were suppressed and largely forgotten, however, due to the official Soviet policy of not acknowledging the Holocaust as targeting Jews.  Now they are being revived thanks to Professor Olga Gershenson of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  Some of them are now being shown at film festivals (hence the comment about offline). Short clips from two movies, Professor Mamlock (1938) and The Unvanquished (1945), are posted online with the article.  The Soviet films are particularly interesting because they show a different perspective on the Holocaust.  The early films are also some of the first that made clear the Nazi persecution of Jews.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Diarna Project

Diarna ("our homes" in Judeo-Arabic) is an online museum dedicated to preserving and providing access to information about the sites (cemeteries, schools, synagogues) and memories of Jewish life in the Middle East.  Many former Jewish locations in this area are in danger of disappearing or are already gone.  Diarna uses modern technology (Google Earth, multimedia presentations), photographs, recordings, and more to create exhibitions about these vanishing communities.  Exhibits currently available are on Jewish Algeria, Morocco, and Iraqi Kurdistan.  The Morocco exhibit includes information on the area's World War II-era Vichy camps.

Alessandra Saluti, a research intern in the Jewish Studies Program at Wellesley College, is interviewing people who have lived in Jewish communities (excluding Israel) in the Middle East, to add to Diarna's online collection of information.  If you would like to be interviewed or know someone who might, contact Alessandra at asaluti@wellesley.edu.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Planned Museum Exhibition on Galician Holocaust Survivors

The Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków is reaching out to Holocaust survivors from towns that were once in Galicia to tell their stories through an exhibition planned for 2014 at the museum.  The new exhibition will focus on people from historic Galicia who survived World War II and the Holocaust.  The exhibition will present the fates of survivors to show similarities and differences in their stories, and, on a symbolic level, show moments where they did or did not receive help.

The goal of this project is to explore survivors' stories and recollections, presenting different paths and means of survival.  The museum wants to make visitors to the exhibition aware of the many elements and the complicated and dangerous situations that made up the experience of survivors during the Holocaust.  The planned exhibition is also a way of honoring those who survived, as well as recognizing those who aided them.

This exhibition will not be possible without the help of the members of the Jewish community, many of whom are either survivors or are in touch with survivors.  The museum needs your (their) memories and recollections and is counting on your willingness to share your stories of those events with the next generation.  Completing this basic survey, which requires only short answers, will help start the project.  Based on this survey, museum staff will contact you with more detailed questions.

As an alternative to completing the survey online, it may be downloaded in Word format from http://www.jgsgb.org.uk/SurveysurvivorsexhibitionfromGaliciaJewishMuseum.doc.  Once completed the survey should be sent to the museum via the addresses at the end of the survey.

Those responding to the survey should be from towns in what was "historic Galicia", today towns in Poland and Ukraine.  Museum staff are also interested in hearing from children of survivors from Galicia who are no longer living.

If you know of living survivors who are not online, or don't own a computer, you can assist them with accessing and filling out the survey, and this mitzvah is greatly encouraged. This also extends to outreach at old-age homes in your community, if you know of survivors from Galicia who are residents there, even if they are not your family.  Share the survey everywhere there is a possibility to contact survivors from Galicia.

If you prefer to find out more about the project before filling out the survey, contact the Galicia Jewish Museum's Education Project by postal mail, e-mail, or telephone:

Galicia Jewish Museum Education Project
Ul. Dajwor 18
31-052 Krakow, Poland

Project Coordinator:  Ms. Malgorzata Fus
E-mail: malgorzata@galiciajewishmuseum.org
Telephone: (0048) 12 421 68 42
Web:  www.galiciajewishmuseum.org

The Galicia Jewish Museum was established in 2004 with the mission to commemorate victims of the Holocaust and celebrate the 800-year history of Jews in Poland.  Its goal is to impart knowledge, but also encourage reflection.  The museum is located in the heart of Kraków's historic Jewish district.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Former Jewish-owned Businesses in Berlin

Jonass & Company, Berlin
Do you have Jewish roots in Berlin?  Before Hitler's rise to power, more than 50,000 Jewish-owned businesses were operating in Berlin, according to an article in Tablet Magazine.  Dr. Christoph Kreutzmüller of Humboldt University in Berlin has been meticulously researching these businesses in an attempt to reconstruct Berlin's earlier life as a center of commerce.  As a result of his research, he has published a book, Final Sale: The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin, and has created an online searchable database of (currently) more than 8,000 of those businesses.  The Tablet article includes an audio file of an interview with Dr. Kreutzmüller about his research.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Newspaper Links Recently Added to Wikipedia Page

I've added several new links to the Wikipedia online newspaper archives page.  All but one of them are free (hooray for free!).

• Québec:  Translated obituaries from the Keneder Adler for 1908–1932
• Wales:  The National Library of Wales has begun putting digitized newspapers and magazines online.  So far issues cover 1844–1910, and they plan to add a lot more.
• California:  The Free Speech Movement is a selection of scanned newspaper issues, mostly from the Berkeley Daily Gazette and the San Francisco Chronicle, relating to the movement.
• California:  San Leandro Public Library index to two local newspapers
• California:  University of Southern California "Trojan Family Archive", which includes the Daily Trojan (the student newspaper) from 1912–present (I used to work at the DT doing hard-copy paste-up and some editing!)
• Illinois:  Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey translations from 22 different languages of foreign-language newspaper articles from 1855–1938
• Louisiana:  New Orleans Bee posted as images only (no search) for 1827–1923
• Minnesota:  Chaska Valley Herald for 1862–1887
• New York:  Like jazz?  Issues 1–58 of the Buffalo Jazz Report are free online.
• Ohio:  The American Israelite (Cincinnati) is available for 1854–2000 as a pay service from ProQuest.
• Texas:  The J. C. Penney company used to publish an in-house newsletter called the Dynamo from 1917–1932. A sampling of 31 issues is online.
• Wisconsin:  Eleven newspapers from the Door County library, ranging from 1873–1925

I posted recently about having added a link to the Newspaper Abstracts site.  I found about 20 articles there that had been transcribed from the Winters (California) Advocate of the 1870's and 1880's.  What a great find!

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Vintage Jewish Indian Cookbook

I just learned about a blog called "The Shiksa in the Kitchen", written by a recent (2010) convert to Judaism who has been exploring the world of Jewish cooking, including kashrut (the rules for keeping kosher).  She posted about a copy of an Indian Jewish cookbook published in Calcutta about 1922.  I found a few references to the cookbook online, but it doesn't seem to be available anywhere, and I'm sure it was printed in only small quantities to begin with.  She mentioned it has "several kosher Jewish Indian recipes", but I'm not sure if all of the recipes are kosher.

I love Jewish cooking and Indian cooking and now just have to find a copy of this book!  One year for Passover I even cooked an Indian-themed seder, including mulligatawny-spiced matzoh ball soup and an egg curry.

Recipes and food traditions can sometimes impart information about family history.  This cookbook, for example, probably has recipes that follow Sephardic traditions, because most of the Jewish communities in India had Sephardic roots.  But first I need to find a copy of the cookbook to read the recipes ....