IAJGS 2014 – Wednesday – July 30

Wednesday at the 34th IAJGS Conference was by far my busiest day. I had something scheduled from 7:30 straight through the evening.

Wednesday
I started my day by attending“I Couldn’t Put it Down Series: Flipboard Your Family History” presented by Marlis Humphrey. Flipboard is a digital application used to create your own personal digital magazine. You glean information from online sources and “flip” it into the magazine you created. You can use it (as I have) to collect articles so you can read them later or you can share your magazine for others to read. I have been using Flipboard for awhile now to gather genealogy articles. I created the two magazines shown below.

I use this magazine to collect articles of general interest.

This magazine focuses on articles geared to sharing genealogy with kids and teens.

The focus of Marlis’ talk was how to use Flipboard to create a family history magazine. Rather than using content created by others, Marlis described how to create a magazine using your genealogical information; stories, pictures,data, maps etc.

It does seem like a fun way to share family history with others. The look and feel is just like a print magazine including the ability to “turn” or “flip” pages (hence the name.) However, the drawback is that people have to know where to find you, be willing to install the app and remember to subscribe or follow in order to keep up with your new “issue.”

I do really like the idea, but it would take a real commitment to continually organize and upload new content. For now, I’ll continue writing my blog posts while planning the completion of the first two volumes of “Who We Are and How We Got This Way.”

Next I joined Israel Pickholtz as he shared his research wisdom through “Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove.” I totally enjoyed this presentation. Israel presented his information in a clear, easy to understand manner. His use of animated PowerPoint slides to illustrate his points was a perfect match for this auditorially-impaired visual learner.

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals is to improve my methodology. One issue I have is a tendency to take information at face-value and not do the research necessary to prove the fact is correct. Therefore, I really appreciate Israel’s Rule:

“…to prevent jumping to conclusions, 
when you don’t have full documentation….
even when you are sure you know, 
don’t record it until you have one more piece of evidence.”

Israel walked us through the process he uses to determine whether he has sufficient evidence to prove his research is correct. He offered a list of questions to ask oneself in order to make this determination. My favorite question has to be, “Am I engaging in wishful thinking?” It is often tempting to take information that “seems” to fit and “jam” it into your database in order to fill in the missing piece. (I’ve been known to break off edges of a jigsaw puzzle piece to make it fit because I got bored and wanted to finish!)
An idea occurred to me during this talk. I think it might be very helpful to use Israels’ questions in conjunction with the mind-mapping technique Ron Arons has been speaking about. As a visual person, I find it easier to organize information presented graphically instead of a narrative or even table form. For those of you who are or have been teachers, you may remember the software program Inspiration which used graphic organizers and “clouds” to help kids improve their writing. Mind-mapping is a lot like that. (For my pals in Hamden, Thinking Maps is along the same lines.)  
Israel also spoke about the 22/25 rule, something I was not aware of. If you do not know the age of a person’s parents:
  • assume the father was 25
  • assume the mother was 22

While this, of course, is not completely accurate, it may give you a range with which you can work.


I chose to forgo Ron Arons talk, “Our Families, Ourselves” in favor of attending the BOF meeting of  newsletter editors for Jewish Genealogy Societies. (BOF means “Birds of a Feather” – a group of people with the same purpose or interest.) I’m really glad I attended this meeting. As a new co-editor of our society’s newsletter (Quest), I hoped to gain some insight into what makes a newsletter a success.

As it turns out, this is a burning question for several societies. Some groups have disbanded their newsletter in favor of Facebook postings. Others have gone completely digital. Some do nothing, as they see no benefit to having a newsletter.

The BOF JGS Newsletter Editors Meeting (Thank you, Cindy Potter Taylor for the picture!)

Back Row (L-to-R): Ed Flax-JGS Philadelphia, Mike Kalk-Triangle JGS-North Carolina, Janice Sellers-JGSSFBA-San Francisco Bay Area, Shelly Weiner-JGS-Southern Nevada

Front Row (L-to-R): Susan Wolf Turnbull-JGS Greater Washington, DC, Mi
chelle Sandler -JGS Orange County, CA, Me (Deborah Samuel Holman) – JGS Connecticut, Debbie Korman- JGS Portland, OR

The meeting was organized by Janice Sellers of Ancestral Discoveries. I had met Janice earlier at the bloggers dinner. The issue of citing sources correctly continued at this meeting. It is a hot button issue. Everyone shared their experiences and then contributed suggestions. One particularly good idea was to have a specific focus for each issue, say Austria. Another idea which may get followed up on was to develop a bank of articles which could be hosted by IAJGS on their site. I’m really glad I attended this meeting. It was reassuring to hear other editors struggling with the same issues.

For lunch, I attended  the Austrian-Czech SIG Luncheon. Quite enjoyable. Seated on my left was a gentleman whose mother, like mine, was born in Vienna in 1932. On my right was a lovely woman from Australia who was friendly with my cousin, Ian Samuel. Ian and I share the same fifth-great-grandfather, Moshe Jacob Samuel. Moshe had at least two sons. Ian descends from son Godfrey, born in England in 1789. My father’s family descends from the other son, Lazarus, born in 1795, also in England. Ian and I, along with a few other “found on the internet” cousins have been trying to trying to break through the “brick wall” to determine a) who Moshe’s wife was and b) where Moshe was born.

Following the luncheon, I went to quick workshop on using ProQuest, a vast website containing links to journal articles, newspapers and more. There is so much to be found on this site, that I am frequently overwhelmed and end up kind of wandering aimlessly around it. The presenter gave us a few handouts outlining some good search tips. You should definite;y find out if your local library has a subscription to this great service. In Hamden, I can access the site from home using my library bar code.

“How Did Jews Get to Europe?” presented by Avraham Groll was my next session. Avraham is the director of business operations for JewishGen. He began by saying he was not an expert in this area, however he certainly had a wealth of information. Kind of “crash course” in Jewish history, Avraham followed the passage of Jews from the Assyrian empire to decline of Babylonia followed by the exodus of Jews to Spain and elsewhere.

From the website: http://www.jewzo.com/

After dinner I went to “A Culinary History of Jews in America based on the Astrological Signs of the Delicatessen” delivered by comedian Seth Front. Described in the program as “…both a culinary history of the delicatessen and a cultural history of four generations of American Jews and Judaism…”, I wasn’t sure what I was going to hear. In addition to lecturing about Jewish culinary history, Seth also has created the “Jewish Zodiac” ® , a parody of the Chinese zodiac.

Apparently I am “Chicken Soup”, having been born in 1955. I must say I do agree with his description, “…a healer, nourishing all whom you encounter.”

Through his presentation, which had many historical photos, we learned the origins of the deli and many of our beloved foods. An interesting point to consider was his analogy of the food-cart peddler to today’s food trucks.

Partial picture of the “Jewish Zodiac” ® placemat.

Of course, I had to buy a placemat describing the zodiac signs. If you’re interested visit the website at:  http://www.jewzo.com//.

After his presentation, Seth requested stories from the audience. I gathered my courage and stood up to tell one of my favorite family legends: the origin of the pizza bagel. My step-dad, Al Falcone had gone to college with Murray Lender, son of Harry Lender, perhaps the most famous bagel-maker of all. (According to Wikipedia their company became the world’s biggest bagel producer.) Anyway, according to my step-dad, who is Italian, he and Murray were chatting one day and Al casually suggested that Lender’s needed to make a pizza-bagel.  Within a relatively short period of time guess what appeared on the menu? You know it! A bagel topped with sauce and cheese. The Pizza Bagel was born! To his dying day, my step-dad was mad that he never got the credit  for that. Perhaps if Wikipedia was available back then, Al would have thought differently. An entry on Wikipedia, states the pizza bagel may have been around since the early 20th century. Don’t worry Alfie, I’ll keep your legend alive!

My next post will describe my visits to the Family History Library and the campus of Ancestry.com.


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