Let's build up the Jewish Genealogy Portal

Started by Randy Schoenberg on Monday, November 26, 2012
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4/5/2013 at 3:58 PM

Shabbat Shalom. Have a glorious spring weekend!

4/5/2013 at 4:01 PM

Shabbat Shalom and have a great Shabbat.

Private User
4/5/2013 at 4:23 PM

Re: "My concept was to extract data from the spreadsheets that Ancestry.com produces, not from the raw completed census forms. On the other hand, MyHeritage is going to be producing the exact same thing (spreadsheets or more likely a data base) for the 1940 US census."

1) to my mind, the 1940 Census is way too likely to be within folks' privacy zone -- and yes, I understand it is Public Data, and I know I am way at the other end of the spectrum here from Randy --- but from a practical perspective - is it really wise to start with the Census most likely to set off alarm bells and upset and anger people, possibly garnering Geni negative publicity? The 1900 Census is also fully freely available on FamilySearch -- or if you access to Ancestry.com, or etc. for their info, perhaps you can use that -- and much less likely to set off alarms and have folks feeling violated, etc.

2) My experience - the Transcriptions are frequently inaccurate. I hope someone is looking at the original as well, and/or attaching it as a Document to the Profile so others can do so easily (and note on the Profile if it just came from the Transcription/spreadsheet/whatever).

3) Possibly also relevant: From what I have seen, the Transcription of the 1900 Census is at least as good as that for the 1940 Census and possibly better, perhaps because more time for folks to notice and report errors.

4/5/2013 at 7:17 PM

I 100% agree with Lois' points. My parents are in the 1930 & 1940 census; I've added that data to their profiles with corrections noted, both in transcription & original census taker (Howton was Howerton). Would they want a profile created for them by anyone other than family? No way.

Also for study purposes. By 1930 "modern America" was well underway & learning about family groups from neighboring households, not so interesting. But my great grandparents in the 1900 census? A rich mine of data to figure out relationships & build trees.

4/6/2013 at 10:12 AM

I take a different tack to Lois and Erica. I do occasionally create profiles of people from the 1940s profile as I work on various families. When and if their family members join Geni and I find a matching profile, I ask permission to merge and I relinquish management of profiles of their immediate family members. If the family is related to mine and their 3rd great grandfather is my 3rd cousin three times removed (or something like this), I will keep co-management of that profile.

I do prefer to start with 1900 but that's for a very specific reason, I focus on connecting families to their roots in Europe, usually for me that means Lithuania or parts of Poland and possibly Ukraine, where records exist and I can piece together the family from those records.

4/6/2013 at 10:25 AM

That sounds like a fine method, Hatte. I just know how my parents would react to a less personal approach - remember "Classmates - is this you?" they'd think someone was selling something. And if not, they'd pick on the typos in the census. :)

The thing is - I don't know what value this kind of mass approach applies to my research. The 1900 census "micro history" suggested is very appealing to me. I could do it for the apartment building I grew up in!

4/6/2013 at 10:27 AM

Oh and Hatte - you're doing it for a 3rd cousin, that would fall into "family," not "computer says ...."

4/6/2013 at 10:46 AM

Yes, but sometimes I do it for families not related to me because they are somehow connected to my family or to the village my family came from.

What I was focusing on, was that we should all be willing and waiting to relinquish management of near relatives of others. 1940 is 73 years ago, longer ago than it seems to you and me, and if we can build a family with someone who was say 5 years old in 1940 and their parents and their parents' parents, we have done a good deed.

I still prefer starting in 1900 and going first backwards and then perhaps forwards, because I think people will find their relatives from 1900 on Geni, we don't have to go much forward before we reach a generation that has not been forgotten or lost.

Private User
4/6/2013 at 12:05 PM

Hatte - good points!!

As I rethought, I had definite qualms about suggesting one en-masse add folks from 1900 Census. Beyond the fact that even here, they are technically likely to be in the Privacy Zone of the living, is the fact that:

There are problems such as Erica mentions with original enumerator misspelling names which would lead to adding many profiles which would not be recognized as duplicates, but actually would be.

Other types of examples: One of my ancestors appears on the 1900 Census with first and last name flipped - so whole family appears under incorrect last name.

And then there are the children first listed under a nickname, then a more 'adult' or full name, then for girls they change last names - so might be Gussie Smith on 1900, then Augusta Smith on 1910, and Augusta Jones on 1920.

And those that switch between middle and first name from one Census to another.

If you are studying the family, you may catch these - but just adding from one Census I think might likely create many, many duplicates of profiles already on Geni, and little in the way of a benefit to Geni.

4/6/2013 at 12:22 PM

Lois - on the other discussion take a look at what Mark Melmed is thinking about as a "proof of concept" for a "micro history" based on a few pages of census reports. I find it intriguing, doable & interesting as a genealogy approach. It's really a different kettle of fish from the mass upload possibility mentioned, which I think is more about "record matches" for existing profiles than "tree building."

4/6/2013 at 4:01 PM

I prefer the concept of using 1900 data for several reasons: 1) These folks are closer to our Eastern European roots, 2) The privacy issues are less intense, and 3) The target profiles are more concentrated geographically.

(As an aside, I would think that data "validation" would have to be an important part of any work we do. Checking to make sure we pick the correct Enumeration Districts, checking to make sure that the spreadsheets match the original raw sheets, etc. ought to be an integral part of our work)

On the other hand, we have to weigh the advantages of using 1900 data against the advantages of using 1940 data. As I see it, the big, BIG advantage of using 1940 data is speed and ease of data entry into Geni.com. In either case, there will be lots of manual labor needed, but I believe that 1940 data will require far less manual effort. If our Management sees fit, they can use the database that they develop for the 1940 census, as batched input to Geni.com. That would be so much easier than using the 1900 census.

As far as privacy is concerned, this needs to be addressed in any case. People talk about their parents in the 1940 census, but I am a bit older than most, so my aunts, uncles and grandparents are in the 1900 census. I think that much of the same privacy issues apply to both censuses.

I don't have a good answer to our dilemma - 1900, 1940? Perhaps there is no "right" answer and it is judgement call. I would like to wait at least until Management decides if they are even willing to expend the effort to blast the 1940 data into Geni.com, before we decide on our preference.

5/10/2013 at 8:43 PM

Shmuel-Aharon Kam (Kahn / שמואל-אהרן קם (קאן: Now that MyH has introduced the 1900 census, we can go back to asking the MyH/Geni staff to move over selected profiles from the 1900 census to Geni.com. Would you disuss that with them? When is this meeting taking place?

If we wish to start with the Jewish Quarter in Philadelphia, I can spend some time verifying the applicable enumeration lists.

I'd like to know what the staff thinks it can do and what would be left for volunteers to do. Can they assign managers? Can they build little trees out of all the people living together in a house? Can they get all of the info in the census columns onto the profiles? Plus all of the other questions that we haven't thought of yet.

Once we get the staff to agree to do it at all, we will have to understand what they can't do, and organize ourselves to do the rest.

Mark Harold Melmed,
It's not just the 1900 census, it's ALL of them. I've already preempted you and suggested it to the CEO of MH. I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding as to what I was suggesting, so I'm still working on it.

Doing it *selectively* might be an interesting idea, for proof of concept, but it would probably actually involve MORE work that way. IF it was done, then yes, creating mini-trees per household would be the idea. That itself is part of the problem, because presently no-one*, not even Curators, can touch profiles in trees that are not connected to the "Big-Tree". So that is an issue that would need to be addressed FIRST, or the whole thing would be pointless. (* no-one that is except the users already in that tree).

It would also make a lot more sense to try this for MULTIPLE censuses, and try and create matches between them. That would extend/connect the mini-trees across time.

5/11/2013 at 12:06 PM

Ancestry.com has already tried this, with the 1930 census (OneWorldTree). They had planned to try it with all the census years like you suggested Shmuel-Aharon Kam (Kahn / שמואל-אהרן קם (קאן but the trouble is things aren't always as clear as it needs to be. People are listed incorrectly in ways a computer doesnt understand, for example stepchildren listed under the stepfathers name, not their actual name, because the census taker assumed all the children were full siblings or children living with relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

5/11/2013 at 1:07 PM

Shmuel-Aharon Kam (Kahn / שמואל-אהרן קם (קאן, Kris Hewitt, I am sure there are problems we haven't even thought of yet. That's why I think a proof of concept might be good.

I envisioned that the census profiles be connected arbitrarily to someone who is connected to the big tree (me for example). Then, as these census profiles and small trees found homes with actual family members, my link to them could be severed. I'm sure other schemes could work just as well, but we need to try it out.

As stated before, if we start small, the 1900 census is a nice place to start simply because it is relatively small, and the Jews in Philly are very concentrated in just a few city blocks.

If you want to do all of the grunt-work, manually copying the census sheets into Geni, go for it. It will take Geni a while to even have the ability to do this wholesale.

1/2/2014 at 10:37 AM

In just over one year, we have gained nearly 600 collaborators on the Jewish Genealogy Portal project. Everyone please continue to invite new collaborators to join the project. If we all do our part, we should be able to hit 1,000 before the end of this year. The more people who join, the better our portal will be.

1/31/2014 at 11:32 AM

Randy Schoenberg Super!!! Loved the article, thanks so much for sharing.

Perhaps a link and copy could be added to the Launching Geni Project? http://www.geni.com/projects/Launching-Geni-s-Big-Tree-A-Retrospect...

Private User
4/12/2014 at 8:30 PM

I cannot read all that is here, but I have a project that you may wish to add your links in:

Lost and Found Portal, I am setting up projects for other countries as well.

If you could message me your projects that relate to "Lost or found" profiles, I would love to add them to this.

PS, I also have a family I added to the tree from census data that were Jewish, I need to add them to your project.

Private User
4/12/2014 at 8:33 PM

This family group:
Friedrich Beckmann

Dear Fellow Researcher of Jewish Genealogy,

Debate is a good thing, when done with an open-mind and good intentions. I have been reading the on-going dialog regarding collaborative genealogy in Avoytaynu, GENI, extracts from the IAJGS conventions and my own conversations with colleagues. I would propose to take the idea in a different direction as well.

I find it interesting that most of the guides for beginners recommend a first step of speaking to all living relatives. I find it interesting, since while it is very important, it creates a problem. Novice genealogists do not understand the importance of sourcing all facts. After speaking to all living relatives, it is usually impossible at a future point(sometimes years) to remember exactly "who told you what". It is also unlikely that in the initial conversations you will ask those relatives how THEY know the details they present. If we want to see a more mature generation of genealogists, we need to at least offer the focus. Of course there will always be those that just enjoy the thrill of the hobby and have no interest in anything other than adding names. That is fine; to each his own. But for those asking for guidance, a comprehensive approach should start with the knowledge and importance of the proper sourcing of all data. I personally found “Evidence!Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian” by Elizabeth Shown Mills, to be an excellent resource.

I would like to propose the formation of a local group in Brooklyn for the following purposes:
1. A website containing a sourced tree of our ancestral history, starting with Adam
2. A database of the researchers of significant personalities in our history, to facilitate collaboration and review of that information.
3. Frequent group meetings to present and discuss the data being recorded in the collaborative tree and the adherence to standards

I can attest to the benefits of feedback from several dedicated researchers which actually resulted in the REMOVAL of several branches from my tree of the Bnei Yissoschur, Reb Hersh Mylech SPIRA (1783 -1841). This was accomplished by the sharing of vital records that disproved some of the immediate family's claims of descent. Instead of just deleting the family, they were added as a footnote, noting that while there may still be truth in their claim, their line of descent was not as they presented.

Overall, I hope that this effort will lead to
- A point of reference for new researchers.
- Encouragement of more researchers to publish their material, either publicly (even online) or privately.
- A greater effort on the part of our community to create and uphold unified standards for data input unique to the field of Jewish genealogy. This will hopefully enable and ease the sharing of data between different platforms and software products.
- A consolidated tree that researchers can contribute to (where only properly sourced material would be accepted).
- Tolerance and documentation of alternate opinions, traditions and conclusions of underlying data.

For those that are interested, I would propose an initial meeting in my Succah during the intermediate days (Chol HaMoed) of Succos, in the Midwood section of Flatbush. Please contact me directly via email if you are interested, or know of someone that I should reach out to. I do recognize that there are some serious researchers in the more religious segments of Brooklyn that have limited/no access to email. I would like to include them if possible as I think diversity will lead to a better result for all, so also please let me know of anyone you believe I should contact myself.

Wishing you success in all your endeavors and a Shana Tova,

Moishe Miller
Brooklyn, NY

(September 6, 2015)

9/6/2015 at 11:36 AM

Hi Moishe. The website you are looking for already exists. It's called Geni.com.

Private User
9/6/2015 at 1:05 PM

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9/6/2015 at 6:08 PM

Hello, Moishe. I am not in Brooklyn, but you are my 12th cousin thrice removed -- which at Geni is expressed as a "straight blue line," indicating that we descend from the same family, which, yes, means Adam and Eve are our mutual eldest known relatives. So, hello, cousin.

I notice that we are connected because my Kohn - Arnstein - Fraenkel - Auerbach - Luria family connects to your Langsham - Lipman - Heilperin - Isserlis - Luria family. Once we reach the Luria generations, we share all the same relatives, all the way back.

Through Geni, many of us are working for several goals, namely, to connect us all, especially the splintered families of the pogroms and holocaust, and to upload photos, remembrances, and memories of our respected ancestors.

I have been working here on an almost daily basis for months, and have met many cousins, and we have shared memories -- and found out how similar we are in so many ways. Because of cousin-marriages, we are actually more closely related than many non-Jewish cousins, and we tend to look alike, think alike, and have the same or similar interests, hobbies, careers, and occupations.

So, it is nice to meet you, online if not in person, and i wish you all the best in collaborating here and in Brooklyn with other friends and relatives.

7/24/2019 at 1:20 AM

My familysearch.org tree has me connected to Adam and Eve via one Jesus of Nazareth and his wife Mary Magdalene via a daughter. As a Catholic, I am taking this information with a grain of salt, even though I do have 1% Ashkenazi on my Myheritage DNA and that increases to 1.5 Ashkenazi on my Ancestry DNA results on my Myheritage DNA results. As things stand, my actual mtDNA does not have a group on this site, but does so on FTDNA. I actually do have a number of dna matched Jewish cousins on this site. My mtDNA is a new mtDNA group that is listed on FTDNA, but there is no page as yet on this site. I would like to create the new group, but this is the first time I would be creating a group so I am not sure what to do. Any assistance would be much appreciated. @joanne elizabeth fletcher.

Showing 91-116 of 116 posts

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