Call to Meeting – September 2012

The next meeting of UJGS will be Tuesday, September 11th, from 7-9pm MDT, at the Family History Library. We will meet in the main floor classroom.

We’ve got a few topics on the agenda for this meeting. The first international IAJGS conference since 2004 was this summer in Paris and we had several members in attendance. In two years, the conference will be coming to Salt Lake City and we are co-hosting; it’s just about time to start some of the planning. We’ve got a society project in the making and we hope some of you will be excited to participate. And our own president spent three weeks in Europe visiting ancestral towns and doing research, so you’re sure to hear about that.

We will be broadcasting via webinar again for anyone who can’t be there in person. You may register at this link.

Watch this video if you’re unfamiliar with the GoToWebinar software so you can understand more about how a webinar works.

Of course, you are free to arrive early to do some research at the library or get some done afterwards. Some of us will be happy to help our members with their research after the meeting. Details and maps about parking are on our web site.

See you there!

Free US Census Records from Ancestry is offering access to its US Federal Census collection, 1790-1940, for free until September 3rd.

Are you still missing some of your relatives’ census records? This is a great opportunity to search for them again.

Thanks to Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings, we can also see a PDF from Ancestry called “Follow your family using census records“. It contains details about what is in each census, including a chart showing the main questions that were asked year by year, as well as some instructions for how to trace your family once you’ve located them in the most recent census.

Part of this celebration includes their release of the Time Machine, which is supposed to create a personal video of your life if you lived 72 years ago. (Unfortunately, after answering all of the questions, it gets stuck on the “loading” screen for me. If it works for you, visit this blog and leave a message about what it produced.)

Online Cookbook from JGS Montreal

Who isn’t always on the look-out for new recipes to try? If you’re interested in some traditional Jewish recipes, then the JGS of Montreal has you covered. Their members have contributed some of their favorite recipes, and sometimes included stories about them too.

Beginning with the traditional cure-all food of chicken soup, they have compiled many dishes that would be familiar to anyone who grew up with Jewish cooking, including kugels, chopped liver, challah, bagels, gefilte fish, and cholent, to name just a few. They also have some lesser known and regional foods, so not everyone will be familiar with them all. There are a variety of main courses including several chicken and turkey dishes and they didn’t forget about the desserts either.

The cookbook is available online in a PDF file, linked from their home page, so anyone can try out their Jewish cooking skills or discover some new flavors. Bon appetit!

The 1940 US Census Is Indexed

In the race to finish indexing the 1940 US Census, Ancestry has won. It was announced today that they have completed their index.

FamilySearch is still at 99%, with most remaining states at 100% and just awaiting arbitration or uploading.

I have seen other people blog about the inaccuracies in both indexes. From what I’ve read, even with the double entry, FamilySearch still has some errors. The biggest difference is that, if you can find an error in Ancestry, you can send in a correction (but you still have to find it). FamilySearch still has no way to submit corrections (but I think they’re working on that).

So if you haven’t found all of your people yet in the census, maybe it’s about time for you to give it a try. If you have trouble finding people, try to remember the usual search tricks: use wild cards, try to imagine the name written messy and how someone else might interpret the letters, imagine it spoken with an accent and how someone unfamiliar with the name and the accent might write it, use more details or fewer, leave surname or given name blank and fill in other fields.

And check on both sites if you’re still having trouble, because the indexes are different. Remember, FamilySearch will be at 100% any day now, so if you still need a state that’s not finished there, and you’re having trouble finding your people on Ancestry, it won’t be long until you have that other option.


A few hours after publishing this article, FamilySearch announced that their census index was completed. Just before 2pm, the last batch was arbitrated. With 160,000 volunteers, the indexing was completed in 124 days, two months ahead of what they originally predicted. Of course, they still have some behind-the-scenes things to do before the last states are online, so it will be a few more weeks until they’re all searchable on that site. But there you go. Both major indexing projects completed on the same day!

IAJGS Conference Wrap-Up

Last week was the 32nd annual IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Paris, France.

During the Tuesday night gala, the following awards were announced:

The IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award went to Dr. Jeffrey S. Malka for his pioneering work in Sephardic genealogical studies. The award for Outstanding Contribution via Internet went to Logan Kleinwaks for his Genealogy Indexer web site. ViewMate was given the award for Outstanding Program or Project, conceived and initiated by Bernard Kouchel. The award for Outstanding Publication went to Shemot, the journal of the JGS of Great Britain.

The Rabbi Malcolm Stern Grant was awarded to two organizations: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, to continue digitizing and indexing of records in their archives, and the Israel Genealogy Research Association, to complete a search engine that can handle both English and Hebrew for the data they have been collecting in Israeli archives.

Congratulations to all the winners!

In addition to the awards, the Annual Meeting attendees re-elected the current Board of Directors for another term. The meeting was also broadcast via webinar for the first time.

Future conference locations were announced and speculated: 2013 in Boston, 2014 in Salt Lake City, 2015 in Jerusalem, 2016 in the Pacific Northwest (likely Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver), 2017 on the east coast of the US, and 2018 in Eastern Europe, most likely Warsaw.

UJGS members in attendance this year included Banai Feldstein, Todd Knowles, Kahlile Mehr, and Robert Neu.

Library Research Night Scheduled

After last year’s success at Library Research Night (LRN), we will probably have two or three this year. Our first one is scheduled for June 19th, next Tuesday, from 5-9pm. We’ll have some signs up for you to find us.

LRN is a chance for our members to visit the Family History Library (FHL) together to do some research. The beginner level genealogists can ask for help from those with more experience and we can all share our queries and successes.

For our test run last year, we had one member who had never been to the FHL before and others who hadn’t been back in years. People come from all over the world to research at the FHL. As locals, we should be using it more — genealogists everywhere wish they could be here more often.

LRN is for UJGS members only, but anyone is welcome to join us in order to attend. Our dues is still just $10.

See you next week!

1940 US Census and More – New York Indexes has just released the index to New York state for the 1940 US Census.

You can access the 1940 census on Ancestry at this link, or go right to their new 1940 census page. (Use the first link to browse images of the states not yet indexed.)

Additionally, they have just added the New York State Censuses for 1892, 1915, and 1925. They are also offering a special membership to New York residents to access all three of these databases plus other New York related databases for free. There is no indication for how long the special access is good.

Editor’s Note: The first step to the NY resident membership is to enter a NY zip code, so I tried it. Instructions suggest that you have to set up a free account. I was already logged in and gained access to the databases immediately. Again, no idea how long the access will last, but I’m sure it’s available at the Family History Library at any time.

Jamboree – Streaming Sessions

The Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) hosts an annual conference called Jamboree, which takes place this weekend, June 8-10, in Burbank, California.

SCGS has just announced which sessions from this year’s Jamboree will be streamed live online. The sessions, descriptions, times, and links to the webinar registration pages are on their blog. If you’ve got some time this weekend, you can attend even if you can’t go to Burbank.

Beginning in March 2011, SCGS launched the Jamboree Extension Series, genealogy webinars presented throughout the year. These webinars, two per month, are free to attend live and archived for members for later viewing. The 2012 schedule can be found online.

Many of the topics offered, both during Jamboree and in the Extension Series, are appropriate to Jewish genealogists, such as the various methodology and technology courses. The Extension Series finishes off 2012 in December with Sharing and Preserving Memories in a Digital Era presented by Daniel Horowitz followed by Jewish Genealogy 101 by Schelly Dardashti. You can sign up for these well in advance from the 2012 schedule page (link above).

Sessions are limited to the first 1000 attendees, so be ready to log in early (especially for this weekend) because they might fill up quickly.

Happy Shavuot!

Tomorrow evening at sunset, May 26th, begins the holiday of Shavuot.

What is Shavuot? It celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. (Note that it is about the giving, not the receiving, because in Judaism, we are always receiving the Torah.)

Beginning on the second night of Passover, we begin the Counting of the Omer, which leads us to Shavuot 49 days later. Shavuot translates to the Festival of Weeks, in part because of the counting of seven weeks leading up to the holiday.

In Israel, Shavuot is celebrated for one day, while it is celebrated for two in the Diaspora (except for Reform Jews, who celebrate one day). Why is this? Because before the Jewish calendar was fixed by mathematical calculation in 358 CE, new months were determined by witness testimony to the new moon and declared by the Sanhedrin (the ancient Jewish courts). As the diaspora spread, communities became too distant to hear when the new month had been declared. Therefore, a second day was added to insure that they did not risk violating the holiday. The second day remains a celebration to honor the practice.

Shavuot is celebrated with the consumption of dairy products, reading the Book of Ruth, decorating with greenery, and all night Torah study.

Salt Lake County’s two major synagogues are offering “all night” Torah study and Shavuot celebrations. More information can be found on their web sites. Congregation Kol Ami and the Melton School are offering Torah study and a dairy buffet on May 26th (some details on the calendar or page 15 of the newsletter). Bais Menachem (Chabad Lubavitch of Utah) is having Torah study on the 26th, and on the 27th, a reading of the Ten Commandments followed by a Cheesecake and Ice Cream Party.

Information from this article was found on Wikipedia, Judaism 101, and Jewish Treats, as well as the synagogue links above.

1940 US Census – Indexing Update

Indexing continues on the 1940 US Census.

FamilySearch now has 14 states searchable: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming. has added Maine to their searchable states, which also include Delaware, Nevada, and Washington DC. (I recommend searching even if you don’t need these states, just to see their new census viewer.)

MyHeritage has been adding to their searchable records. They still list only Rhode Island and New York, and still don’t specify which counties are finished. (It was verified to me that Rhode Island is complete). New York is still incomplete, but they have made progress since the last update. A search today includes results from the Bronx! Also seen in the results were the counties of Erie, Monroe, Chemung, and even a few results for Queens. (I must be searching the wrong names for Queens results, but I did see a few.) Another blog post indicated a couple of counties starting with A were complete, but there were so many Bronx results, I did not see them.

Have you been helping to index the census? It’s still not too late to sign up. Just visit and click on the Get Started button to download the software, sign up if you don’t already have an account (choose UJGS as your group), and help index. And when the census is finished, you can help index other records too. Remember that every searchable index on is contributed by volunteers — more people indexing means more searchable databases.