Monday, September 26, 2011

36 Hour FamilyTreeDNA Sale

Celebrating reaching 15,000 fans on Facebook, FamilyTreeDNA is having a 36-hour sale on their genetic genealogy tests. FamilyTreeDNA has previously had sales when they reached 5,000 and 10,000 fans. Unlike those earlier sales, there is no special code needed for this sale. Discounts are as much as $200 (for the Comprehensive Genome bundle).

I've previously written about using genetic tests for genealogy, first briefly when FamilyTreeDNA had their 10,000 fan sale, and then again in more detail in my article Using DNA for Genealogy: Y-DNA and mtDNA.

The sale ends midnight on Tuesday, September 27th (Central Time).

Their official announcement:
Thank you for helping us reach 15,000 LIKES on our Facebook page! To show how much we like you too we're offering a 36-HOUR SALE! Please help us spread the word!*

Start: Monday, September 26 (TODAY) at 12:00pm CDT
End: Tuesday, September 27 at 11:59pm CDT

For NEW customers:
Y-DNA 12 . . . $59 (was $99) (via projects only)
mtDNA . . . $59 (was $99) (via projects only)

Y-DNA 37 . . . $129 (was $149)
Family Finder . . . $199 (was $289)
mtFullSequence (FGS) . . . $229 (was $299)

Y-DNA 12 + mtDNA . . . $118 (was $179) (via projects only)
Family Finder + Y-DNA 12 . . . $248 (was $339)
Family Finder + mtDNA . . . $248 (was $339)

Family Finder + Y-DNA 37 . . . $328 (was $438)
Family Finder + mtFullSequence . . . $398 (was $559)
Comprehensive Genome (Family Finder + mtFullSequence + Y-DNA67) . . . $597 (was $797)

Upgrades & Add-Ons for CURRENT customers:
mtDNA add-on $59 . . . (was $89)
mtFullSequence upgrade (HVR1 to Mega) . . . $199 (was $269)
mtFullSequence upgrade (HVR2 to Mega) . . . $199 (was $239)
mtFullSequence add-on . . . $219 (was $289)
Family Finder add-on . . . $199 (was $289)

Prices will be automatically adjusted on the Family Tree DNA website -- no coupon code needed! Important: Promotional orders need to be paid for by the end of this sale. Visit us at to order now.

We hope this limited-time sale will give you yet another reason to "LIKE" us!

Thank you for your support!

Family Tree DNA

This offer ends TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27th, 2011 11:59pm CDT.
* You do not need to be a member of Facebook to take advantage of this offer. Payment must be received at the time of your order. Valid only on products listed. No substitutions. No adjustments will be made on previous purchases. This promotion is not valid in combination with any other promotions. Family Tree DNA reserves the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized or ineligible use of discounts and to modify or cancel these promotional discounts due to system error or unforeseen problems. Subject to change without notice.
Have you used genetic tests for genealogy from FamilyTreeDNA or other companies? What has been your experience, good or bad? Have you made connections to cousins using genetic genealogy? Share your experiences in the comments.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A new addition to my family tree

Last night my wife and I were overjoyed to have a new baby girl.

As such I will likely not be posting regularly for a little bit, but I will try to respond to questions on the Facebook page as much as I can, and I hope to return with new articles soon.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How do you do genealogy online?

I have three simple questions for all the readers of this blog:

1) Do you use one or more online family tree websites such was,, or (their family tree features, not necessarily their databases)? If so, which one(s) do you use?

2) If you use a family tree web site, list what you like best about it - and what you like least. Also, for sites that offer subscription plans, do you pay a subscription or only use their free features? If you don't use any family tree website, is there a reason you don't - and is there something that would change your mind (i.e. if they only offered X I would use their site)?

3) How do you interact with other relatives when doing your genealogy research? If through a website listed above, how does that work? If you intact in a different way, such as via e-mail, explain how well that works.

I hope you will share your experiences with the various services available online, so others can learn about how different readers of this blog are using those services, successfully or less so.

If you have a twitter account, please tweet this post to your followers so we can get as many responses as possible. You can find my tweet of this post at and re-tweet it.

Please post your answers in the comments to this post on the blog.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Volunteer Opportunity at the JDC

Back in May, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as the JDC, or simply the "Joint") launched an online archive web site called Our Shared Legacy which contained scanned documents from the JDC archives with over 500,000 names. Those documents included lists and cards that showed how the JDC helped Jewish refugees during and after the Holocaust to immigrate to various countries around the world (in addition to other relief efforts, including before WWII). See my article from the launch in May for more information on the online archive itself.

Since May the JDC has continued to scan and index more files from their physical archives and add them to the archive web site. In order to assist in getting these records up quicker, the JDC is looking for volunteer indexers who can contribute a day or half-day per week in time, in the JDC offices in either New York City or Jerusalem, to help with the indexing effort.

This is a really great opportunity if you'd like to help make these genealogically significant records available online. The JDC has really created a unique resource, going far beyond what most similar organizations have provided online. It is particularly impressive that they have made all of the high-resolution images available to download on their web site. If you live in or near New York City or Jerusalem and you'd like to help make these records available to people online, this is a great way to give back to the genealogical community and the Jewish community as a whole.

The full request for volunteers follows. Contact Naomi Barth at the e-mail address below if you're interested in volunteering. Let her know you heard about it here.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is seeking Indexing Project Volunteers for an exciting opportunity to help with a forward- thinking archive endeavor to index historic lists. The volunteer will have the opportunity to engage with primary source material regarding The Joint’s work since 1914.

This project is perfect for those with an interest in genealogy, Jewish or general history, transnational migration, the non-profit sector, library science or archival work.

Position Requires:
• Interest in history and the treasures of the JDC archives
• Working as a reliable team player
• General computer skills
• Foreign language skills helpful but not necessary

A full day or half day per-week time commitment is required. Volunteer work must be completed on site at JDC’s NY or Jerusalem offices. All training and supervision will be provided.

Please send inquiries to:
Indexing Project Coordinator

Please enter “JDC Archives Indexing Project Volunteer” in the subject line.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More on Landsmanshaftn

A few weeks ago I wrote about Landsmanshaftn, the mutual-aid societies that Jewish immigrants around the turn of the century set up with members of their original communities overseas, and their role in securing cemetery sections for their members.

I mentioned in the article that I had asked the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) if they could send me the articles of incorporation for the:

Independent First Odessa Sick & Benevolent Association

Shortly after I wrote that article, I received a response from the AJHS with the articles of incorporation for the:

First Independent Benevolent Society of the City of Odessa

Now those names are very similar, but not exactly the same. Indeed both of those names show up in the list of Articles of Incorporation that were microfilmed by the AJHS. The following is a list of 20 different Landsmanshaftn that were connected to Odessa in the AJHS list:

1First Odessa Aid Society
2Erster Odessa Unterstuetzungs Verein
3Independent First Odessa Sick Benevolent Association
4Erster Independent Odessar Unterstuzung Verein
5First Independent Benevolent Society of the City of Odessa
6The First Independent Congregation of Odessa
7Congregation Sarei Tfiloh Anshei Odessa
8Odessa Realty Company
9Odessaer Mutual Aid Association
10Odessar Relief Fund Association
11Odessa Friends Association
12United Odesser Benevolent Association
13Young Men of Odessa
14Odesser Young Friends
15Progressive Odesser Ladies Sick and Benevolent Association
16Independent Progressive Ladies of Odessa Sick and Benevolent Association
17Jacob Moogerfeld Progressive Ladies of Odessa Sick and Benevolent Association
18Odessa Organization
19First Odesser Ladies Aid Society
20Bessarabia and Odessa Relief Association

You'll note that the 3rd and 5th organizations in the list are the one I requested and the one I was sent. At first I thought it was a simple mistake. Both files were in the same box according to the list online, and I figured it was just that the archivist grabbed the wrong file. The truth was a bit more complex. It was the wrong file, but it was the correct organization. The reason this is possible is that the file I was not sent originally was simply a change-of-name document for the organization. The original articles of incorporation was filed in 1891 under the name:

Independent First Odessa Sick & Benevolent Association

and in 1931 that organization's name was changed to:

First Independent Benevolent Society of the City of Odessa
Name Change Document from 1931
The cemetery section and its grand entrance was obviously set up before the name change in 1931. In the original document from 1891, it lists the directors of the organization at the time of incorporation:

Directors of the Independent First Odessa Sick & Benevolent Assoc. in 1891
That shows (as best I can interpret):

David SilbermanPresident
Samuel KreimanVice President
Solomon RosensteinFirst(?) Secretary
Abraham MandelRecording Secretary
Morris BelphordTreasurer
Abraham FrankTrustee
Harris GoldemanTrustee
Isidor ChertokTrustee
Leon PerlessMarshall

Interestingly those names don't correspond to the names on the arch at the entrance to the cemetery section, so it would seem the leaders of the Landsmanshaft were different by the time the cemetery section was dedicated. In this document the addresses of the directors were not listed, but some of these documents (such as the 1902 incorporation document I received earlier for a different landsmanshaft) contain the address and signature of each director. It's possible the address requirement came later than 1891 (and before 1902).

One of the more important points to notice is how many Landsmanshaftn are in the AJHS list just for Odessa. There are 20 organizations, and those are just Landsmanshaftn which were incorporated in New York City. Of course Odessa is a large city that had a large Jewish population before WWII, but it gives you an idea of how many possible routes you can pursue to find out about immigrants from your ancestral town (which may provide you information on your ancestor from that town, or at least shed light on their experiences when they arrived in their new country) that are not the normal vital records, newspapers, etc. routes.

Also, if you know where you ancestor was from, but not where they were buried, seeking out a Landsmanshaft organization from their hometown and figuring out where they owned cemetery sections may help you find your ancestor's grave location.

Friday, September 2, 2011

No More Shtetls

JewishGen has changed the name of two of its major site features, in both cases removing the word Shtetl, although for slightly different reasons.

JewishGen Gazetteer

First, they have changed the name of the JewishGen ShtetlSeeker, their large database of place names (as opposed to the smaller more focused JewishGen Communities Database), to the JewishGen Gazetteer.

JewishGen Gazetteer
This change reflect the fact that the database covers much more than Shtetls, which are generally considered small towns or villages with large Jewish populations. The Gazetteer contains 1.8 million place names (compared to about 6,000 in the Communities database). A gazetteer is a geographical index or dictionary, and more properly reflects the fact that the database covers all the cities, towns, administrative districts, etc. as well as mountains, rivers, and other geographical landmarks, in the areas covered by the database.

The new JewishGen Gazetteer also covers more places, including the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland), Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Kyrgyzstan and Yemen.

Lastly the Gazetteer also gains some new functionality, including search using the more advanced Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching (in addition to exact, starts with, contains and Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex searches). names shown in non-Latin characters, and names are now listed in the order of relevance.

JewishGen KehilaLinks

Second, JewishGen has changed the name of ShtetLinks to KehilaLinks.

JewishGen KehillaLinks
While the site name has changed, it will take time to propagate the changed name throughout all the pages that make up KehilaLinks (since they are created by many different people). The name change reflects two issues, that the database contains larger cities which are not traditionally considered Shtetls (a similar reason to the change of the ShtetlSeeker site) and that in countries outside of Europe, particularly in Sephardi communities and even towns in North America or Israel, the term Shtetl was not used. Thus, the name was switched from Shtetl to Kehila, the Hebrew word for community (which can apply to Jewish communities all over the world).

If you're not familiar with one or both of these features of JewishGen, I recommend checking them out thoroughly. They are both immensely useful for genealogy, particularly Jewish genealogy. I wrote about both of these features previously (under their former names) in my article Jewish Genealogy Basics: Ancestral Town (Shtetl) Information. Give it a read to find out more about these JewishGen features and how to use them.