IAJGS 2014 – Thursday, July 31

Whoops! Thought I would have finished blogging about my trip by now. Guess I got distracted. I have good reasons though. (Have you noticed I always have a good reason?)
1) I was helping plan and hold my daughter’s bridal shower
2) I attended my retirement party (yay!)
3) I started my part-time jobs (all 3 of them!)

This is the latest in my series of posts about my recent trip to the 34th IAJGS Conference.


My plan for Thursday was to do some sightseeing and then spend a good chunk of the day doing research at the Family History Library.

I started the morning by going to the UK SIG meeting (United Kingdom Special Interest Group.) I almost didn’t go because I wanted to hear Roger Lustig’s presentation on “A Hundred Germanies.” But, considering I am really struggling trying to find information on my father’s family in England, previous to 1795, I thought it best to chat with those in the know about English genealogy. Glad I went. Rather than being a lecture or a discussion of the group’s research projects or financial woes (as I’ve experienced at other SIG meetings) this was truly an opportunity to network.

There were at least four major SIG members in attendance who introduced themselves and described their area of expertise. Then we, members of the audience, found the person who best suited our research needs and sat down with them to chat. After sitting with Jeanette Rosenberg (she is an amazing font of ideas), I had several leads: Review the British-Jewry website, check the Old Bailey website for court records, and review the archives of the Jewish Chronicle. Laurence Harris suggested I look at the Sun Insurance policies. Since Lazarus Samuel (my fourth-great-grandfather) was a watchmaker according to the 1841 UK Census, he might have something listed there.

This 1841 UK Census shows Lazarus Samuel, age 26 living at No. 9 Marmon Street,
born in England, working as a watchmaker. He has four children living in the home.
No wife is listed. Son Aaron, would leave England for America in 1859.

I also met a very interesting guy who lives part-time in CA and part-time in NY. Originally from the UK, he now works at a non-profit(?) dedicated to finding and restoring (when possible) old canal lines. He even knew about the Farmington Canal in CT now being used for recreational purposes. Who even knew there were people doing jobs like that?

I stayed in the room for next session “Latest Developments in UK Jewish History”, which was presented by several members of the UK SIG (Special Interest Group.) Laurence Harris spoke about the London Registered Insurance Policies as a good resource for information as well as the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, the British Jewry Book of Honour and the use of wills to obtain family information. He also mentioned that the National Archives site is newly redesigned and has a new “discovery service.”

Mark Nicholls (Jeanette Rosenberg’s husband) discussed the use of the JGSGB website (Great Britain – not Greater Boston!) as well as the resources at JCR-UK (Jewish Communities and Records) which is hosted on JewishGen. He specifically mentioned scanning the Bibliography section for books of interest.

View of  computer banks at the FHL

After a tasty lunch at JB’s Family Restaurant (tasty and inexpensive, basically next door to the library) I headed off to the Family History Library.                    

I had attended several talks last year about the Family History Library (FHL) so I felt fairly well prepared. I sat down to use the computer on the International Floor and located the microfilm numbers of some images I wanted. I also found two books about the Great Synagogue in London that sounded promising. Just like those ads on TV, nothing is as good in real-life. One book could not be located, even though the volunteer looked for 30 minutes. The other listed information about a marriage I already had. No luck. On to the microfilm.

I was a bit intimidated by the microfilm machines at first. My last encounter with such equipment was in 1974 when I took a college course AV (Audio-Visual) for Teachers!

All the microfilms are kept
in banks of cabinets

There was no need for concern. It was pretty easy to locate the films I needed. You copy down the film number from the record found online. Then go to the correct section where that film would be found. All the films are in drawers labeled numerically. The most difficult part for me was accessing the films in the uppermost drawers. Luckily they have those rolling stools everywhere – see picture!

The woman in the photo probably thought I was pretty weird. She asked me (in an annoyed voice) why I had left that drawer open. I told her I was taking a picture for my blog to illustrate how the microfilms were organized. She then nicely agreed to being in the photo.

I had a bit more luck with the films. I located several birth certificates for my father’s family.

Birth Certificate for my paternal grandmother, Hortense Kesner

To the left is the 1878 marriage certificate of Hortense’s paternal grandparents, my paternal second great grandparents. I was pleased to find this as I have conflicting information about G.R. Kesner’s birthplace. I also had incorrect information about his mother’s last name.

I also located a card from the Mordy Collection referencing my third great grandfather, Aaron L. Samuel. The Mordy collection is an amazing source of information. As described on the Family Search Wiki:

The Mordy Collection is a collection of microfilms containing pedigree information and indexes that deal with the Jews of the British Isles. The information was compiled by Isobel Mordy of Middlesex, England. The original material consisted of individual slips of paper, which have now been placed on microfilm.(http://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/The_Mordy_Collection)

Card from the Mordy Collection

This collection has now been incorporated into the Knowles Collection. I already had the information found on the card, but it was really cool to see an image of the actual card. Imagine the amount of work accomplished by Isobel Mordy without the aid of a computer! To read more about her work see this article written by Todd Knowles on the Family Search website.

Another great find was the birth certificate for my paternal grandfather. Years ago his daughter Jessica (my father’s sister) told me that my Pop-Pop had reversed his first and middle names. She said he never gave reason for doing so except that he liked it better. It was terrific to find proof of this story.

1905 Birth Certificate. This is the only reference I have found showing my grandfather’s name as Aaron Edgar Samuel. 

But perhaps the best find was the 1815 marriage record of Lazarus Samuel and Sara Nathan. I have been unable to determine Lazarus’ mother name nor find any more on his father other than his name.

Image of the actual page from the  1815 Marriage record book
Unfortunately I can’t read Hebrew but I plan to post this image to JewishGen’s Viewmate page. More than likely one of the wonderful members of JewishGen will provide me with a translation that may assist me in breaking through one of my toughest “brick walls.”
Snip of the record pertaining to Lazarus and Sarah’s 1815 marriage

Overall, I did enjoy my visit to the Family History Library. But, to be completely honest, I think I could have found the same information accessing the site and ordering the films to be sent to my local Family History Library. I’m lucky enough to live within a 45 minute drive of the Godfrey Library in Middletown, CT. 
Nothing could replace the valuable help of the volunteers at the FHL however. I hope to return to Salt Lake City in the future!
My next post will describe my visit to the campus of Ancestry.com.

One thought on “IAJGS 2014 – Thursday, July 31

  1. Deborah, your description of your day's activities has given me new ideas for researching my Jewish ancestors in the UK. My grandpa from Lithuania stopped off in Manchester to stay with cousins for a year or two before continuing on to Canada and then the US. I need to research those cousins to see whether they're on Grandpa's mom's side or dad's side, and with the ideas in your post, I have a few avenues to explore. Thank you!


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