Speakers Bureau

IAJGS is pleased to offer this list of speakers who are willing to present programs for IAJGS member societies.

The talks are listed in two sections below.

The first section has a condensed list of the talks with the name of the speaker and the title of the talk. The title is a link; click on it to go to the detailed information about the talk in the second section.

The second section contains additional information about the talks, including a more detailed description of the talk; whether the speaker is willing to present the talk virtually, in-person, or both; the category of the talk; and the appropriate audience. The speaker’s name is a link that will open an email message so that you can inquire about details or make arrangements for a talk.

If you would be interested in offering a talk through the Speakers Bureau, please send a note to SpeakersBureau@iajgs.org.

Last Updated: 2023-10-19 22:18:01

Condensed List of Talks Offered

This section provides a condensed list of the talks offered. Click on the title to jump to the detailed information about the talk in the second section below, which includes an email link for contacting the speaker (click on the speaker’ name).

Speaker Name Talk Title
Jordan Auslander Gotham Genealogy: New York City Research
Hal Bookbinder Why did our Jewish ancestors leave a great place like the Pale?
Hal Bookbinder Ships of Our Ancestors
Hal Bookbinder Obtaining, losing, and regaining American citizenship
Hal Bookbinder Practicing Safe Computing in the time of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Hal Bookbinder A Murder in Boston's West End
Hal Bookbinder The Changing Borders of Eastern Europe
Dick Goldman The Wandering Jew
Dick Goldman Digging up your family roots
Dick Goldman What’s in a name? A rose by any other smells as sweet.
Dick Goldman The Great Gefilte Fish War!
Dick Goldman The Secrets Hidden in your DNA
Dick Goldman The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Shtetl
Dick Goldman Jews in Poland—A 1,000 year history
Dick Goldman What we thought we knew but didn’t!
Daniel Horowitz The Meaning Behind Common Jewish Names
Daniel Horowitz Researching Jewish Ancestors Online
Daniel Horowitz Solving the Puzzle of My Great-Grandmother’s Apparent Double Life
Daniel Horowitz Utilizing the MyHeritage Search Engine to Find Your Family
Daniel Horowitz MyHeritage DNA 101: From Taking the Test to Understanding the Results
Daniel Horowitz MyHeritage Photo Features: A Whole New Way to Tell Your Family's Story
Ellen Kowitt Finding Jewish Families in the Golden Medina/USA Part I: Pre 1880
Ellen Kowitt Finding Jewish Families in the Golden Medina/USA Part II: Post 1880
Ellen Kowitt What’s Jewish about Jewish Genealogy
Ellen Kowitt New Jewish Resources on the Genealogy Giant Websites
Ellen Kowitt Documenting Jewish Families or Communities Lost in the Holocaust by Bullets
Ellen Kowitt Researching Jews in the Pale of Settlement
Debbie Kroopkin Key Strategies for Successful Research
Debbie Kroopkin Unique Aspects of JEWISH Genealogy
Debbie Kroopkin Introduction to Jewish Genealogy
Debbie Kroopkin Jewish Family Research in the United States
Debbie Kroopkin Jewish Family Research around the World
Dan Oren Intro to Jewish Genealogy Part1
Dan Oren Intro to Jewish Genealogy Part2
Susan Weinberg The Fluidity of Names
Susan Weinberg Mining the Manifest
Susan Weinberg Crossing the Ocean: US Records to Ancestral Towns
Susan Weinberg Immigration History: Laws, Documents and Stories

Detailed Information about Each Talk

This section contains detailed information about each talk offered by a speaker. Click on the speaker's name to contact them by email.

Jordan Auslander: Gotham Genealogy: New York City Research

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Vital records and others
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: As the cosmopolitan gateway to the United States, New York City continues to appeal to those who dream of a better life. Between 1820 and 1920 over 82 percent of immigrants to the United States came through the port of New York. Even if they migrated elsewhere, over 100,000,000 Americans have an ancestral paper trail that involves New York City (of them about 40 million have roots in Brooklyn). Learn how to trace your New York ancestors, whether they were passing through or called it home as well as resources to help you reconnect with family that remained elsewhere. While on-site research is the optimal approach to research, this is not always convenient or feasible. Components of New York City family history can be explored using a broad array of free and subscription internet sites as well as some conventional sources. These resources will be evaluated in the context of the questions and needs of lecture participants.

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Hal Bookbinder: Why did our Jewish ancestors leave a great place like the Pale?

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Pale of Jewish Settlement
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Jews were welcomed into the Polish principalities in the 1200s, most notably, by the Duke of Greater Poland, Boleslaw the Pious. Thousands fleeing persecution and expulsions across Western Europe came. As Poland expanded to the east and south, Jews moved into Lithuanian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian lands. By 1800 there were more than a million Jews in the Pale. By 1900, they would number nearly five million. Jews flourished in the Pale, creating diverse religious, cultural, educational, and charitable institutions. Then, between 1881 and 1914 over two million left all that they had known for the West. This talk discusses how the Pale came to be, life in it, and why this mass migration occurred. It breaks the 120-year history of the Pale into periods of creation, confinement, repression, enlightenment, pogroms, and chaos. There is much more to the story than the horrific pogroms at the turn of the 20th century.

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Hal Bookbinder: Ships of Our Ancestors

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Immigration Research
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Virtually all those who emigrated to America before the 1950s arrived by sea. This talk describes how this voyage changed over time, including its duration, cost, and dangers. With the advent of steamships and steerage class in the latter half of the 19th Century, the voyage became predictable, safer, speedier, and significantly more affordable. By the turn of the 20th Century, the shipping lines were competing for this lucrative business with aggressive advertising, improved accommodations, and even the availability of kosher food. The talk discusses how our ancestors traveled from their shtetl to the port, ship accommodations, travel to their final destinations, and cost. Finally, it shares the fascinating story of Albert Ballin, a Danish Jew, who rose to lead the Hamburg America Line in 1899.

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Hal Bookbinder: Obtaining, losing, and regaining American citizenship

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Citizenship
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: One of the first actions taken by the United States Congress was to establish naturalization laws. John Adams then had Congress change the newly minted statutes to try to deny Thomas Jefferson the presidency. During the 19th Century, exclusionary laws were enacted banning various categories of potential immigrants including those with physical or mental issues, those who “might become public wards,” and most Asians. In the early years of the 20th century, laws stripped women of their American citizenship if they married a non-citizen. Hal’s St. Louis, Missouri-born grandmother was one of these women who lost her citizenship upon marrying his immigrant grandfather. Years later, they were both naturalized. After World War I, restrictions were tightened to severely limit the entry of our Eastern European ancestors. This talk traces the changing laws of immigration and citizenship which impacted our ancestors in their journey to become citizens.

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Hal Bookbinder: Practicing Safe Computing in the time of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Technology
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Genealogists depend on reliable computing, data storage, and access across the Internet. Cybercrime and cyberterrorism have resulted in service disruptions, personal data being exposed, and millions of dollars in ransom being paid. As the sophistication of cybercriminals grows, this will likely get worse. Scams can also challenge us, and Artificial Intelligence will make current scams more dangerous and will introduce new ones. Even in the absence of bad actors, computers become corrupt and storage devices fail resulting in the potential loss of years of work. This talk discusses the risks, the myths, ways to reduce the likelihood of being hacked, and how to minimize the impact of data breaches, network and computing failures that do occur. See and search all of Hal’s articles at https://www.tinyurl.com/SafeComputingArticles (published monthly in the JGSCV Newsletter since 2015)

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Hal Bookbinder: A Murder in Boston's West End

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Court Research
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: In researching my family, I was surprised to find a relative in the Massachusetts State Penitentiary in 1910. Archival newspapers revealed an unknown marriage, a child, infidelity, murder, attempted suicide, and divorce. Upon his guilty plea, Louis Tennis was sentenced to 11 to 20 years. Yet, after just five, at the behest of the warden and the warden’s wife, the governor pardoned him. He proceeded to lead a nondescript life as a dressmaker, husband, and father and his notorious past disappeared into the mist. My research included locating and obtaining 115-year-old court documents containing a revealing plea for leniency penned by the prison’s Jewish chaplain. The story has some intriguing twists and odd coincidences both before and after the murder in Boston’s West End.

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Hal Bookbinder: The Changing Borders of Eastern Europe

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Border Changes
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: As Russia expanded west, it absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews. This talk examines Russia’s efforts to limit the movement of these Jews into Old Russia by creating the Pale, an area of expanded western Russia Jews where Jews were permitted to reside. The talk also addresses the significant border changes as Russia advanced to the West and as Poland was partitioned between Russia, Prussia, and Austria-Hungary in the late 1700s, not to reappear until the end of World War I. With these border changes, town names, record-keeping, and archive locations might change. This overview may help researchers determine where records might be located, their format, and their languages.

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Dick Goldman: The Wandering Jew

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: History & Culture
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Tracing the movements of the Jewish People from genetic Adam & Eve until today.

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Dick Goldman: Digging up your family roots

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Methodology
Audience: Beginner
Description: A personal story of discovery that grew to over 10,000 relatives.

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Dick Goldman: What’s in a name? A rose by any other smells as sweet.

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Name Research
Audience: Beginner
Description: The origin and meanings of Jewish family names.

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Dick Goldman: The Great Gefilte Fish War!

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: History & Culture
Audience: Intermediate
Description: The conflict between Litvaks and Galicianers

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Dick Goldman: The Secrets Hidden in your DNA

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: DNA Testing
Audience: Beginner
Description: Tracing three incredible stories of DNA discovery

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Dick Goldman: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Shtetl

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Polish Research
Audience: Intermediate
Description: The ups and down of the Shtetl from the 16th to 19th centuries

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Dick Goldman: Jews in Poland—A 1,000 year history

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Polish Research
Audience: Intermediate
Description: Tracing the history of Polish Jews

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Dick Goldman: What we thought we knew but didn’t!

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Lithuanian Research
Audience: Beginner
Description: How our trip to Eastern Europe turned our world upside down.

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Daniel Horowitz: The Meaning Behind Common Jewish Names

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Research, Records
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate
Description: Where do Jewish surnames come from? The history of Jewish surnames is complex, owing in part to the fact that Jews have lived in a very wide range of geographical locations throughout history. In this lecture, Daniel Horowitz will explore the origins and meanings of some of the most common last names found across different Jewish communities from around the globe, and discuss how these names became adopted across the Jewish world. He will also teach you some tips and tricks for researching ancestors who bore these names.
Web Link: http://searchingformyroots.com/

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Daniel Horowitz: Researching Jewish Ancestors Online

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Research, Records
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate
Description: It’s never been easier or more rewarding to research your Jewish ancestors. With such an abundance of online resources, where do you even begin? In this session, Daniel will show you how to get the most out of online databases and search them efficiently and effectively. Learn how to explore both Jewish resources (such as JewishGen, GesherGalicia, JRI-Poland, and Jewish genealogy societies) and general resources (such as MyHeritage, FamilySearch, and others) to learn more about your Jewish family history.
Web Link: http://searchingformyroots.com/

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Daniel Horowitz: Solving the Puzzle of My Great-Grandmother’s Apparent Double Life

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Holocaust Resear, Records
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate
Description: Months ago, a Record Match on MyHeritage led Daniel to a file that threw everything he thought he knew about his great-grandmother into question. His quest to find the truth led him to a wealth of newly available records from the Holocaust in the Arolsen Archives ∙ which just might help you find more information about the fate of your own family before, during, and after the war. Learn the techniques, tips, and tricks Daniel used to sift the true from the false and find out where to look and what to ask when researching a Jewish family that lived during the Holocaust.
Web Link: http://searchingformyroots.com/

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Daniel Horowitz: Utilizing the MyHeritage Search Engine to Find Your Family

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Technology, Records
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate
Description: With billions of records at your disposal, where do you even begin? The MyHeritage Search Engine is a state-of-the-art tool that can help you search for information about your relatives online. In a matter of seconds, it can search across billions of historical records to pinpoint the ones most relevant to your research. Its advanced algorithms can identify spelling and phonetic variations, understand nicknames, and handle synonyms and ethnic variations. Daniel will show you how to use the MyHeritage Search Engine to find information about your relatives quickly and efficiently.
Web Link: http://searchingformyroots.com/

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Daniel Horowitz: MyHeritage DNA 101: From Taking the Test to Understanding the Results

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Technology, DNA Testing
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate
Description: MyHeritage has introduced a number of groundbreaking features that give you a whole new way to tell your family stories. In this session, Daniel will show you how to document, preserve, and share your most treasured family tales using MyHeritage technology. You’ll learn to record the stories behind your photos with Photo Storyteller™;, animate photos with Deep Nostalgia™;, and make the people in your photos speak and tell their own stories using DeepStory. These cutting-edge features will bring your family history to life in a way that can be enjoyed by family members of all ages.
Web Link: http://searchingformyroots.com/

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Daniel Horowitz: MyHeritage Photo Features: A Whole New Way to Tell Your Family's Story

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Technology, Photo feature
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: MyHeritage has introduced a number of groundbreaking features that give you a whole new way to tell your family stories. In this session, Daniel will show you how to document, preserve, and share your most treasured family tales using MyHeritage technology. You’ll learn to record the stories behind your photos with Photo Storyteller╓, animate photos with Deep Nostalgia╓, and make the people in your photos speak and tell their own stories using DeepStory. These cutting-edge features will bring your family history to life in a way that can be enjoyed by family members of all ages.
Web Link: http://searchingformyroots.com/

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Ellen Kowitt: Finding Jewish Families in the Golden Medina/USA Part I: Pre 1880

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: US Research
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Sources for earliest Jewish American families.

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Ellen Kowitt: Finding Jewish Families in the Golden Medina/USA Part II: Post 1880

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: US Research
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Jewish population surge in 1880s created records.

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Ellen Kowitt: What’s Jewish about Jewish Genealogy

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Beginner
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Languages, calendar, lifecycle & resources.

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Ellen Kowitt: New Jewish Resources on the Genealogy Giant Websites

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Online Resources
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Enjoy this updated comparative overview of Jewish record collections and research tools found on the global powerhouse websites referred to as “Genealogy Giants.” Comparing Ancestry, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and MyHeritage, this lecture includes many substantive record examples. Learn how each site can be helpful for documenting Jewish families and get tips on each site’s best features or challenges. Current JewishGen partnerships with Ancestry and MyHeritage are featured.
Web Link: https://www.EllenKowitt.com

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Ellen Kowitt: Documenting Jewish Families or Communities Lost in the Holocaust by Bullets

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Holocaust
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: English speakers can now learn details about what happened to relatives or a community in the Holocaust by Bullets. Knowing and sharing your story is more important than ever in a world of continuing genocides, and as a generation of survivors and eyewitnesses pass away. Review documentation from this important era including Yahad-In Unum eyewitness video; USC Shoah Foundation and other recorded survivor testimonies; Yizkor Books; Yad Vashem; USHMM; National Library of Israel; local community resources; Russian Extraordinary Commission files, and more.
Web Link: https://www.EllenKowitt.com

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Ellen Kowitt: Researching Jews in the Pale of Settlement

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Russian Empire
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Comprised of parts of modern-day Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, eastcentral Poland, Latvia, and what is now the western Russian Federation, the Pale of Settlement was a western region of the Russian Empire from 1791 to 1917 where Jews were allowed to live and work. From market to mohel and melamed, an overview of roles and lifecycles within the Jewish community will be introduced including the synagogue and rabbi, the process of military conscription, and burial practices. Resources to document families will be introduced including JewishGen’s Communities Database, KehilaLinks, Yizkor Book Project, and research division websites; FamilySearch, J-Roots, Genealogy Indexer, reference books, government websites, and notable third parties such as Alex Krakovsky, TKGen, and modern Jewish communities. Challenges in language will be addressed. Take away strategies to update your research plan for success.
Web Link: https://www.EllenKowitt.com

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Debbie Kroopkin: Key Strategies for Successful Research

In Person/Virtual: Virtual
Category: Methodology
Audience: Beginner
Description: In this presentation, Debbie will provide an overview of the mindset, methods and materials needed to have a successful genealogy search experience. She will help attendees overcome the blockages preventing them from finding their family. Debbie will share challenging case examples.

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Debbie Kroopkin: Unique Aspects of JEWISH Genealogy

In Person/Virtual: Virtual
Category: Methodology
Audience: Beginner
Description: Learn how to navigate genealogy research for Jewish families. Glean a basic understanding of variations of Jewish given names and the acquisition of surnames, reading Hebrew tombstones. Discover many websites where you can begin to search for family, including Israelis, and survivors and victims of the Holocaust.

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Debbie Kroopkin: Introduction to Jewish Genealogy

In Person/Virtual: Virtual
Category: Methodology
Audience: Beginner
Description: An introduction to best practices and foundational information for building your family tree. Debbie will discuss how to glean and share information with relatives and find family trees. She will review Jewish migration patterns and DNA issues. (Can be part 1 of 4)

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Debbie Kroopkin: Jewish Family Research in the United States

In Person/Virtual: Virtual
Category: US Research
Audience: Beginner
Description: Debbie will talk about the paper trail relatives left behind in the United States and how to gain access to it. She will discuss resources that can be accessed from home and from libraries and archival repositories. The discussion will include information about Jewish name variances, Jewish cemeteries, and JewishGen.org. (Can be part 2 of 4)

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Debbie Kroopkin: Jewish Family Research around the World

In Person/Virtual: Virtual
Category: International focus
Audience: Beginner
Description: Learn how to identify your town oversees, and how to search for ancestors around the world. Debbie will share ways to research Holocaust victims and survivors as well as IsraeliÆs. Multiple websites will be highlighted, including specific country databases and town information at Jewishgen.org. (Can be part 3 of 4)

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Dan Oren: Intro to Jewish Genealogy Part1

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Beginner Jewish Genealogy
Audience: Beginner
Description: Intro to Jewish Genealogy

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Dan Oren: Intro to Jewish Genealogy Part2

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Beginning Jewish genealogy
Audience: Beginner
Description: Continuation from Intro to Jewish Genealogy Part 1

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Susan Weinberg: The Fluidity of Names

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Given Names
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Given names have a much longer history than surnames in Jewish history and often contain significant family history due to naming patterns. So how do you work back to their original name to find them in their ancestral town and identify the names they took in the country to which they immigrated? Could that name be hiding in plain sight? Join Susan in an exploration of the nuances of Jewish given names, how to find them, trace them, and use them to expand your genealogy. She will present sources of information and methods in a variety of cases to make sense of this often-puzzling subject!
Web Link: http://www.studio409art.com/Genealogy/Index.html

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Susan Weinberg: Mining the Manifest

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Immigration Research
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: After 1906, immigration manifests offer a wealth of information, but what do you do if your family came over prior to that time? And how did they get from New York to the central United States? This presentation explores the immigration period from the early 1890s through 1906, a period which begins to offer useful information for a genealogical search. Using a case approach, we will look at derivative naturalization documents, trace contacts they were going to through the NY vital records and follow immigrants who found their route through Canada. Once in New York, we will explore how you can follow their journey to the Midwest. We will explore cases with name changes and variable spellings, work back from other documents, and resolve conflicting data.
Web Link: http://www.studio409art.com/Genealogy/Index.html

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Susan Weinberg: Crossing the Ocean: US Records to Ancestral Towns

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Finding Ancestral Towns
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: Using case studies based on Lithuania Latvia, Poland, and Belarus, we explore how to connect a wide variety of records and make use of many search engines. With these tools we cross the ocean from US records to locate ancestral towns and family within them. Much as with any journey, we identify where we are going, who we are going to visit, how we will communicate and how we assure we have the right luggage. Or in genealogy parlance, what is our ancestral town, who are the family members who resided there, how do we decipher documents, and how do we assure we are searching in the right place for are our family? This talk also addresses how to create finding tools to decipher records in handwritten Cyrillic Russian.
Web Link: http://www.studio409art.com/Genealogy/Index.html

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Susan Weinberg: Immigration History: Laws, Documents and Stories

In Person/Virtual: In Person, Virtual
Category: Immigration Research
Audience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Description: This talk presents a perspective on immigration through the lens of laws, documents, and story. Focusing on the 1900s, we explore immigration laws that affected entry and immigration documents created as laws changed. This multi-media presentation also incorporates experiences drawn from an oral history project with Jewish elders. The stories span those who grew up in early immigrant communities, Holocaust survivors who came in the 1940s-50s and immigrants from the former Soviet Union who came in the 1970s-90s. Using video clips from those interviews, I will tell a lively story of Jewish immigration to the United States and the life of an immigrant juxtaposed with the documents and laws that framed that experience. This timely topic offers a perspective on immigration through the lens of family story set in the broader historical context while providing attendees with tools to explore their own family story.
Web Link: http://www.studio409art.com/Genealogy/Index.html

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