16 December 2014


How Polish Nuns Saved Hundreds of Jewish Children in German-Occupied Poland, 1939-1945

By Ewa Kurek
Introduction by Jan Karski
C 1977 Hippocrene Books
Originally published in Poland as Gdy Klasztor Znaczyl Sycie  C Zvak Publishers

The book starts out with a translation of a poster that was posted in German and Polish during the occupation.  It says:

A reminder - in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of October 15, 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.  According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty.  This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against 1) Providing shelter to Jews 2) Supplying them with Food 3) Selling them Foodstuffs.  Dr. Franke - Town Commissioner - Czestochowa 9/24/42."

This book was first published as a graduate student thesis and it is very detailed, informative, and most importantly strives to show both sides honesty and fairly. So it begins with just what the interaction of most Jews with most Christians was before the Holocaust, and that was minimal, but for the professional classes which would have come in contact with each other mostly in business.  (That would include Doctors and Lawyers.)

One of the reasons I'm posting this book review/recommendation on Ancestry Worship - Genealogy is that sometimes Industrial era immigrants from Poland and other countries effected by the holocaust have suggested to later generations that someone in the family was a convert from Judaism to Catholicism or another Christianity. I then often hear that this had to be "impossible" because Jews and Christians had little to nothing to do with each other in the old country.

Well, now that you've read what the law was, you know that indeed, anyone who helped a Jew survive could be put to death themselves.  Such people, when recognized for their sacrifice are called "Righteous Gentiles" by Jews today.

Page 33
According to the estimates of the Remembrance Institute of Yad Vashem in Jerusalen, of the nearly one million Jewish children in Poland, only five thousand survived the Holocaust.

Page 35
Many Jews refused the offer of help for their children because  they did not want them to be converted.  Conversion was one of the reasons for those offers. "The Catholic clergy has always made use of hard times in the life of Jews (pograms, deportations, etc.) for winning both adults and children."  Additionally, some clergy could offer shelter and hide children under the threat of death but they could not necessary afford to feed and support the child and charged money for this.

Page 45
"On the eve of World War II, there were 74 active convents and11 contemplative ones in Poland, in which over 20,000 nuns lived." ... "The nuns belonging to the active orders in Poland worked among and for the Polish people.  They satisfied Polish society's great needs concerning child care through their work in orphanages, nurseries, kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and boarding-schools; they too care of the poor, the sick, the homeless, as well as outcasts; they constituted the bulk of the junior medical staff in hospitals all over Poland; they taught religion and helped with the work of numerous Catholic parishes.

Yes, in order to hide the children under watchful Nazi eyes, the children had to learn the prayers, dress differently, and sometimes remain silent in order to hide an accent or the fact that they did not speak Polish, but Yiddish.  Still, most likely some Nazi's knew or suspected that some of the children they saw when they showed up at these nunneries were Jewish.  Perhaps they respected the nuns enough to pretend not to know.

This book contains the testimonials of some of the children as adults as well as some of the nuns.  It also contains a list of the orders of nuns by location, for instance  Baworow was the Albertine Sisters, Chorzow, the Dominican Sisters, Grodzisko, Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, Kostowiec, Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.

A valuable book, that covers a part of history that many people's families took part in on one side or the other.

11 December 2014


How a heroic HJapanese diplomat saved Jewish refugees in World War II

C 2005 Dentsu Inc.

In 1939, as Hitler advanced through Eastern Europe and Jews fled, Japanese diplomat CHIUNE SUGIHARA decided that he would provide handwritten (in Japanese) passports to thousands of others.  He risked his career and ultimately was punished and by the time he returned to his family he was a changed man, for the worse, unsmiling and perhaps depressed.

He was the Japanese Counsul to Litrhuania and more than 2000 Sughihara visas allowed families to flee through Russia to Japan and then abroad.  He is the Japanese Shindler.  For today there are at least 40,000 people alive due to his decision to act upon his innermost values. 

In a case like this I always hope that this person has their reward in the afterlife and in future incarnations.

27 November 2014


Every year about this time I find that most family history projects are set aside for the holidays, which bring their own challenges and keep everyone too busy.  Holiday get-togethers can be a good time to talk about family history though and here's an idea: if you're too busy with getting the table cleared and the left overs put away, why not assign one of the children to interview one of the seniors and record the interview?  It can be wonderful to replay the interview years later and hear those child voices and the voices of the elderly.

This morning I "heard" in my mind a favorite song of my one of my relatives and it made me wonder if they were trying to contact me, trying to encourage me, trying to remind me to be THANKFUL.

I am!  Sometimes for the smallest things, but a beautiful day is enough!  A walk down the leaf-strewn street with my dog is a great pleasure!

Happy Holidays!

25 November 2014


You may or may not have genealogy research on your computer, in a subscription family tree, on memory devices, in a cloud, stuck into a Gmail account, or other electronics BUT THE PAPERLESS OFFICE IS A MYTH.

You really should have your research in paper in addition to any electronic resources.  Why? Because if you can't keep up with the changes - expensive upgrades - in the future or have an unexpected experience like a flood or earthquake or fire, it may all go up in smoke.

Binders of choice for genealogists are the enclosed ones - zippers - handles - that keep the dust out, along with plenty of plastic archival type page holders. 

One of my friends also uses plastic storage boxes and lines cardboard with heavy duty plastic bags, which will help if there's a flood.

Though these are all very Practical as gifts...  they are appreciated!

17 November 2014


For people like me who love to visit historical sites and always want to know what a  museum, university library, or regional history center may have to offer a genealogist and family history writer, the $30 here and the $50 there can really add up.  May I suggest that your genealogy buddy may just love a membership in one of these types of ethnic or general research groups?

Notice that some ethnic research groups don't have local representation but may have "subscriber only" databases that require a small payment!

03 November 2014


Did you know that Buddhists believe that chanting certain mantras, hundreds of times, for the recently departed can get them to heaven?  Or that Catholics also believe that praying for the dead may release them from Purgatory?  How about that some people believe that when a person comes to visit you after death - be it in a dream or as a ghostly apparition - they may be there to ask you to pray for them?  Latter Day Saints believe that when you are doing your genealogy you can pray to ask the ancestors to help you with your research.

I've had spiritual experiences such as dream contact with the dead.  In one case I was not aware the person had actually died until much later but in the dream they were coming by to see me before leaving town.  I've had the experience of seeing the face of someone who has died in my mind's eye like a small cameo at a time when I was not at all thinking of them consciously. 

I've seen one full-on ghost, years ago.  The person had recently passed from a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol, and because I saw this ghost smiling and waving, but also going about his worldly profession, I knew it had been accidental and not a suicide.

I recall what the late psychic medium Sylvia Browne had to say about ghosts.  She said that if the apparition you see has its feet on the floor, they are indeed a ghost.   If they are up off the floor, floating, then are already on The Other Side, which is what she called the afterlife.  (My favorite of the psychic mediums is James Von Prague.  He has stopped doing readings and is focusing on education.)

What strikes me about these experiences of mine is that they happened when I was not seeking contact.  Some people do, with rituals, seek contact with spirits or other entities.  (I think this can be dangerous.  I prefer to just let it happen, if its going to happen, as a natural part of living.)

When researching your genealogy, you sometimes find that amazing synchronicities are occurring.  I say do everything you can, do it right, but also be open to the gifts of information that you may encounter and keep in touch with your own ability to be psychic.

Here is an example of something that happened to me recently.

I got to the research library I was using for the day a little early with a strong plan of action for using my time.  However, it turned out I was going to have to wait my turn to get on the Internet.  So I sat in front of a database machine that had the Social Security Death Index on it, as well as other databases.  Suddenly the thought came to me "I wonder, is Katherine dead!"  So of course in two minutes I had her married name in the SSDI and sure enough she had died a little more than one year prior!  I had not thought of Katherine in years.  She had died young.  When I got on the Internet I not only found her obit but other information that I wished were not true. 

Katherine and I were friends in our late teens and early twenties before our lives diverged.
I guess she really wanted me to know that she had died and so I do!  

She had changed religions and was Jewish at the time of her death and had a husband who could do the prayers and rituals of that religion for her,  which normally go on for a year, and I did not seek him out or involve myself in her spiritual evolution past death.  I had a strong sense that this was not my place and also that I wouldn't know what was truly appropriate.  But I did note that she had waited that year to get her message to me across somehow.

C 2014 All Rights Reserved including International and Internet Rights.  Ancestry Worship Genealogy Blog

25 October 2014


I just LOVE when scientists and artists use skeletal remains and an understanding of musculature or the latest computer technology to actually sculpt or virtually sculpt a face of a person who was in a bog for thousands of years!

If you've heard of bog men before you know that some DNA analysis is being done and that there are living people today who are related to bog men...  But well, this film is more about trying to figure out why, culturally, certain people are in the bog.  Some of them appear to have been murdered on purpose, even the victims of over-kill, having been killed three different ways.  Will we ever know how it is they were chosen?  Were they abducted and protesting or doped up and willing?

Why the violence?  Were they human sacrifices by Druids?  Can we assume that these horrific deaths are part of Celtic culture just because they are found in bogs around Ireland?

Today the scientists and artists can tell us that a certain victim was young, rich - because he used imported hair pomade to put his hair on end to possibly compensate for being short - and healthy because of the diet remains in his stomach. 


16 October 2014




A provocative analysis now suggests that the Habsburg royal family might have evolved under natural selection over three centuries to blunt the worst effects of inbreeding. Evolutionary theory predicts such a 'purging' process, and researchers have documented the effect in animals and plants. But evidence among humans is scant — in part because of the dearth of data on inbred families spanning many generations.

Royal families such as the Habsburgs are an ideal place to look, says Francisco Ceballos, a geneticist at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, who led the research. He and colleague Gonzalo Álvarez used written records to track the marriages, births and deaths of 4,000 individuals across more than 20 generations. “The royal dynasties of Europe are a lab of inbreeding for human populations,” says Ceballos..."

13 October 2014


Browsing through dozens of articles about Princess Charlene of Monaco, who has just announced that she is carrying twins, I saw there was a lot of confusion about which one would become Prince of Monaco, taking over after Albert steps down or dies.  (Of course this could happen in an untimely fashion, in which case it's possible that his sister Caroline would step in.)

I found the definitive article!


If the twins are both boys, the first child born becomes the heir to the throne, with his twin brother as heir presumptive.

If the twins are a boy and a girl, the boy becomes heir, regardless of if he is born first or second. His sister is heir presumptive unless her parents have another child who is a boy in the future.

If the twins are both girls, the first child born becomes the heir to the throne, with his twin sister as heir presumptive – unless or until another boy comes along. Then the younger boy becomes the heir to the throne.

11 October 2014


Once upon a time I took Journalism classes in college and I'm miffed.  Why are so many publications simply refusing to call the former Catherine "Kate" Middleton, her proper name which is, since her marriage, Catherine Windsor, or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge?  

Since she is now expecting another child, there is so much press coverage of Catherine and her husband, William Windsor, Duke of Cambridge, and reading around it for a couple hours the other night I discovered that there is a controversy circulating that Catherine is Jewish, or some small part Jewish.  One website I looked at said "She is not Jewish but she has Jewish ancestry."

Apparently this is a big issue because there is also speculation that Diana, Princess of Wales, the mother of William Windsor, Duke of Cambridge, was also Jewish, through her mother, and if the speculation is to be believed, Diana's genetic father may have been a Jewish man that her mother might have been having an affair with, making her the half sibling of Jemima Khan and the Goldsmiths.  One site declares that someday both the King and Queen of England will be Jews.

I find this all interesting, and I suppose the main importance of it would be that someday if William becomes King, it will be up to him to uphold and be the head of the Church of England.

On the side of "is Jewish" is that the surname Goldsmith, which is the maiden name of Catherine's mother, is supposed to be a "Jewish only" name from the days when only Jewish people were to be involved in precious metals and the making of jewelry.  One sit ehad a chart of the women in her mother's line, first names, surnames, and dates.  Back in the 18th century there was a Rebecca, for instance.  Well, I know Christian Rebecca's. 

Then there is the long held Jewish notion that the child is Jewish if the mother is.  That's by Jewish standards. But this doesn't take into account that people may have been practicing another religion for generations or be uninterested in religion.  Here, after many generations, we have the ONE DROP philosophy, which is that if a person has one ancestor who is Jewish, or Black, then they ARE, as if all those other ancestors should be discounted.  Having met people who wished to self identify with this rather flimsy evidence I back off and say "as you will." 

How someone looks has something to do with it, no doubt.  How society and culture in a time and place looks at a person, also has something to do with it.  DNA may also throw such controversies to the curb; I know one Black woman who just found out that her first American ancestor was a white Irish woman in early America in indentured servitude and who married a Free Black man.  She feels this has thrown her self identity.

Historically there have been a lot of people forced into conversion.  But there are also people who openly and willingly change religions.  Dare I say there are a lot of people who don't care all that much and just go along with the program?  For instance, in Europe people changed religion by command of whomever owned the land they lived on.

Clearly, when it comes to belief, both William and Catherine are members of the Church of England, which is Protestant Christian.  They are not Jewish.  They are not Catholic.  They were married in the Church of England.  Their children will be raised in the Church of England.  To me, no matter what their DNA, or the history of their families, they are what they are in the here and now.

C  2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy  All Rights Reserved including International and Internet Rights

08 October 2014


Genealogy myopia - a term used to mean that a researcher has become too close to their assumptions about their research subjects to break through block or attack the research another way - can be dealt with by teaming up with another researcher as a partner.

But not just any person!  First you must like and respect the other person enough to commit to sharing work, talking to each other easily and being able to respectfully deal with someone else's personal information.

Here are some tips for choosing a genealogy research partner.

1)  Believe it or not, the best partner is usually someone who is NOT working on the same research as you are, meaning not a family member, not even someone who is working on the same place and time.   When you choose someone who is working on an entirely different family and place and time, you will both bring uneducated and unformed but fresh ideas into the research, based on what you have learned on your own and your own research.

2) Trade copies of your research.  You and your partner will "check" each other's research and write any ideas or questions that come up as you're doing so.   (One friend of mine found a simple math error that had been much depended on.  Once the proper year of birth was found, all else fell in place.)

3) Work a little on the other person's research in terms of time and place.  When someone is experiencing being stuck they may also be discouraged or bored and they may not have done enough Internet research to understand that time and place.  As an exercise, take one ancestor and put them into their historical moments.   (Maybe you can help them come up with a good list of questions to ask when interviewing relatives.)

4) When you look at someone else's research ask yourself "If this was my project and this line is blocked, what else could I be doing?  Is there another line that hasn't been worked on enough?  Is there new information available on a database or in an archive or historical museum that would add to this family's story?

02 October 2014


A New History of Jewish Life in Eastern Europe
by Yohanan Petrovsky- Shtern
Princeton University Press C 2014 and is the Publisher


Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern did a great job of bringing the long gone Eastern European shtetl to vibrant life in this new and popular book.  It's valuable to genealogy researchers in that knowing what sort of life your ancestors lived realistically may move you to the right places to look for information or go on tour.  You may also consider things like that they traveled for work from town to town or along trade routes, may have been the result of a mixed marriage or conversion to another religion, or that they became more liberal about such things as they moved to a larger town.

80% of the Jews of Eastern Europe in the 1790-1840 period that is this book's focus, lived in the three provinces covered.  (That area does not include Austrian run Galicia, but it's likely the lifestyle revealed also occurred in predominately Jewish small towns there too.)  The term shtetl is Yiddish for such a town, but as Jews moved to larger cities, the term sometimes was used with condensation.  This book reveals that when Russia took over the government, the area had a kind of Russian-Polish-Jewish, or make that Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Jewish, atmosphere in which much had to be negotiated.  Over time Russia began to see patriotism as membership in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and both Catholics and Jews were expected to convert or were considered suspicious.

At the same time this area was known for the magnate owned town, the magnate being a Polish aristocrat who owned the town long before Russians took over, as if it were a business but who also ran it as nobility might, with an eye to patronage.  This was a kind of town unknown to Western Europe (I know such towns existed in Slovakia and Hungary) and Russia tried to buy them out or outright take the towns from their owners.  (After the 1830 rebellion, the Russian government confiscated the Potocki estate including the whole town and 44,000 gallons of vodka.)

There is a huge portion of this book devoted to the issue of trade in this political era, when Jews were considered to be rightfully employed in trade, and that included Jewish women, and the way that a Jewish house in a shtetl often became also a place of trade, smuggling when taxations occurred, the popularity of the Tavern as a place where people from all religious backgrounds - male people - could actually unwind, the vital and lively markets that drew both sellers and buyers, and the diverse number of goods available including things like Chinese Pekoe tea, tobacco and pipes, silk, apricots, and tons of other produce.

Perhaps more interesting to me, especially as a woman and feminist, was the issue of family life and the harmonious and conflicting relationships between Jews and Catholics in these towns.  The author is Jewish and his goal was to bust through mythologies about shtetl life that have been promoted by the literary fiction called Fiddler's Roof. He emphasized how important the preservation of family was for the individual as well as the community, the emphasis on preserving family, even if that meant not reporting rape and sexual harassment or getting justice. How did the rabbi handle it when a woman who traveled for business came home pregnant?  He states that an accusation of sexual offense was enough to destroy a competitor.  And yet, he also states that (and this is where I thought "wrong, now you're peddling the Jewish version of the situation) that Jews didn't think sex was sinful and wrong LIKE THE CATHOLICS.

This is where the author lost me.  He presents all these things a Jewish woman had to do, like be "ritually pure", to have sex with her husband, and for sex to be spiritual.  She had to go soak in a mikvah bath after her period.  She actually had to go ask a Rabbi if she wasn't sure, like if she had cramps but no bleeding.  Her privates and private life were open to inspection by these authorities. (By my standards, all of this is cringeworthy!)

First I heard that for Catholics sex in marriage was considered sinful and wrong.  (It's funny I think to hear some people tell it, though not this author, that Catholics are supposed to be overpopulating the word and yet married sex is sinful and wrong!) What about the dangers of childbirth that these women faced, not having access to modern, western, standards of medical care we take for granted today? Here he says the Jewish women had more children than Catholics, less death from childbirth, and so on, taking the hygiene rather than genetic or economic factors into consideration.

He also presents a scenario where a poor Catholic servant girl is involved in lying against someone for pay, and to do that she goes by the ritual bath and claims she is pregnant by a Jewish man.  In the end she tells the truth.  The author says that this is "no surprise" and that even the girl's mother would think that two cows would be good compensation for an illegitimate birth.  Maybe that mother, but this is NOT representing Catholic values correctly.
Not then.  Not now.

Some day I will trip upon my notes from years ago so that I can say where I read this, but there came a time when the Catholic Church's influence in parts of what was Poland but now taken over by Austria or Russia was such that no Catholic girl who went to be a servant in a Jewish home could stay there more than a year.  The reason for this was that so many servant girls were turning up at the church unmarried and pregnant by their employers and there were no social services to help them.  Of course the year's time is arbitrary.

Perhaps I should just back off and state that the author chose a few real life scenarios to present things that did happen but mention that news is the exceptional not the common.
I took lots of notes before returning this book to the library, and hope to read it again in the future.

24 September 2014


By Ancestry Worship Genealogy
Have a seat in a comfortable chair to read this one!

Since I've heard about this "war" between the Latter Day Saints, who have the currently free genealogy research database called FamilySearch.org, and the popular Ancestry.com databases, which are generally paid subscriptions, but offered free at many libraries that pay the fees involved, including Family History Centers owned by the Latter Day Saints Church, and genealogy societies and clubs, and including a couple of the city public libraries I use, I thought I'd make some commentary.

According to one LDS missionary I spoke to, Bishops throughout the country have been and are organizing church members to read and input data into the FamilySearch databases, and that this effort has the air of both competition between Stakes and cooperation.  Some of the individual volunteers have personally imputed a hundred thousand names from census records, for example. The LDS Church members historically have pulled together and been as busy as bees and this is the latest project they are working on, you could say collectively and as a Church. 

To understand the LDS's great on-going and eternal interest in genealogy information, you must understand their religion, something I won't get into here at length.  The need to know the identity of ancestors is tied in with Temple Ordinances as well as the emphasis on family life.  As I understand it members must submit to the church their family tree back to the great-grandparents but many go far beyond that.  Since the Church sends missionaries out all over the earth and have many converts, while older historical members of the church are up to date, new converts have genealogy research and Temple Ordinances ahead of them.

Considering the vast amount of documents currently on microfilm and books, and the vast amount of documents that are yet to be microfilmed or published or even found, it's difficult for me to believe that in my lifetime such a project will ever be complete.  Also, I have to emphasize that I periodically try to duplicate some of my personal research on these and other databases, and have yet to be able to do it, even when trying popular misspellings to pull up information.  My  personal research, going back over a decade, was and would still be dependent on the use of microfilms provided by LDS for rent.  I simply love to get to as original a resource I can and I hope and pray that LDS does not stop renting the films after they are turned into text databases when the text databases do not suffice.

Ancestry.com has been, no doubt, a business, and a profitable one. They are a com - commercial. FamilySearch.org is an organization.  Currently it aims to provide the same, more, and better information, including better organized information, than Ancestry.com.

Meanwhile Ancestry.com has always had competitors in the genealogy information business.  There have been many upstarts.  All of these databases that you pay to use also pay employees. I don't know how well.  So is the focus by the LDS Church only to compete with Ancestry.com or all of the paid databases?  (Or is the aim to put the professional genealogists out of business with all the hobbyists doing the work themselves?  I can say that many hobbyists need coaching.)

I find this difficult to say, know, or find out. 

One question would be, has the LDS Church found genealogy information profitable or do they want it to be?

While the cost of renting film has generally been low, if you need to use the same film for several weeks or continually, or you find yourself ordering many films over time, it can get pricy.   But probably not as pricey as hiring a professional or traveling the old fashioned way to archives and so on all over the country or world.  (That said, genealogy as a hobby is not for everyone.  It requires certain character as well as skills and talents.  There are very good reason to hire someone who charges for research, interviewing, and creating a book for a client.)

I can't say the rental of films has always been or is not for profit.  Family History Centers have many resources that are entirely free to use while there, including some microfilms, many books and maps, but lately a few databases including Ancestry, Fold3, and others.  I researched for years without ever walking into a Family History Center, went through a period where I was at one weekly, and currently find less need to go to one than before unless I am ordering in and using microfilms.


According to some missionaries I spoke with, originally there was an agreement that all such genealogy information would be SHARED and FREE.  Thus, some feel that Ancestry.com is becoming a monopoly for profit, gobbling up everything it can, and that the LDS church does not feel they have been sharing with the Church - playing fair.

Now, I use Ancestry.com and many other resources, including FamilySearch.org. I've reached out for help to volunteers at the LDS Church locally and at Salt Lake and I've also donated some books they didn't have at the time to the library and Church as a way of giving back. 

I hear complaints that the Family History Centers missionaries are so preoccupied with entering information into databases that the research assistance one used to count on is no longer available.

Sometimes I switch between the two databases, back and forth, in a quest for information and I research often enough that I sometimes notice that FamilySearch has something up that Ancestry.com does not and visa versa.  But Ancestry seems to have something new frequently.

At the same time, I have been frustrated with both sites because I think they have both gotten to the point where the amount of information they are hosting has become unwieldy, if not disorganized.  I've heard a lot of grumbling about how many more clicks it takes to get to so called "Advanced Search" on Ancestry.com than it used to be. 


 * On FamilySearch.org I've found that some online collections with what I'll call Grand Titles need to be retitled and referenced on their start pages rather than clicking around to find that information because THE TITLE IS INCORRECT FOR WHAT THE COLLECTION ACTUALLY CONTAINS.  You really have to hunt to find out that there are huge gaps in the information and what those gaps are.  Rather than a Grand Title, instead I think the online information needs to be akin to the original microfilm in title and in organization.  If I failed to find out what was really in a collection by clicking, calling local or Salt Lake volunteers did not provide me the answers.  They were as confused as I was and simply wanted to follow my moves on a computer long distance as if that would take them somewhere different than where I went.

* I've noticed, being a member of JewishGen.org for research purposes, that JewishGen.org information that was compiled by volunteers, is now appearing on Ancestry.com, but meanwhile the begging for money by JewishGen.org has become so unending and guilt tripping I would say the word "pathetic" is spot on.  I'm annoyed by the constant e-mails and the assumption that I'm Jewish and celebrate all those Jewish holidays just because I'm a member.  Did JewishGen.org just fork over the information to Ancestry.com at no charge or sell information that was also supposed to be done by volunteers for free use? (Donations were to be used only for the purposes of keeping the web site and databases up on the Internet, as I remember it, the original idea.)  

If JewishGen.org or any other database that is the work of volunteers and for free use did sell out like that, then they deserve, in my opinion, to be vamoosh!  (Your word to your volunteers should count.)

* SEEMS TO ME NO "ORG" should be providing a "COM" with free information.

* I do not know if LDS plans to start charging to use their databases as they have their micro-films and the issue is FREE INFORMATION FOR EVERYONE AS PROVIDED FREE VIA VOLUNTEERS OF THE LDS CHRCH, if the "war" is economic.   Obviously if the Church succeeded in dominating the genealogy information business and providing it free to everyone, that would put Ancestry.com and all other paid subscriptions out of business.

* Genealogy associates tell me that Ancestry.com is owned by Latter Day Saints and that they tithe the Church with their income.

* National Archives of the United States information is appearing in collaboration with both sites.  I have no idea if this sharing was free or there is a financial transaction going on.

* We as researches must not forget that we can still go to original sources such as County, State, and City, as well as National Archives for information.  That stamps and envelopes still work so long as the U.S. Mail Service is in operation, though some of these allow you to order on line and use PayPal type electronic money transfers.

C 2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy BlogSpot.com  AKA Ancestry Worship Genealogy
 All Rights Reserved Including International and Internet Rights.  Please contact me for permissions prior to use.

10 September 2014


Soon Thanksgiving will be here, and then the Holidays.  Of course, your best time to interview relatives may be when you go on a visit to them and life isn't overly busy.  Still, I find that visiting people during the holidays is a good time to talk about Old Days.

Some people respond to formal interviews better than others.


1) Contact the person and tell them that you want to interview them about the family history or focus on a specific aspect of family history.  Although this can be on the phone, in person is best.  Other people in this person's life need to give you both time and space and not interrupt.

2) Set up a time to focus on just that in advance that's good for both people, and be there.

3) Be prepared with a list of questions (at least to get you started) and a recording device.
(Whatever works for you.  Some people are still using cassette machines.  Some people are settling up more than one machine at a time "just in case" one of them fails."  Recording is sometimes a more natural process as taking notes can also be distracting or stop the process.  You want to make eye contact, be comfortable, and listen too!)

The recording device sometimes intimidates people.  It may make the interview feel too important or heavy. You should tell them you intend to use one before hand, but it may help to put it out of the sight line.  Test your recorder to be sure it will pick up a voice from a few feet away.  Preserving the voice of a relative as they tell their story or give information can be very valuable, if you can keep doing technology updates with original recordings.  Our voices tell so much about us!

4) Set up water or tea or other beverages before you begin.  Avoid breaking the interview with eating food or other activities.  Get into the flow.

5) If, however, it's going to be a long interview or a series of interviews, try to do the interview first before taking a meal or long break or wait until after the meal.  You and your interviewee will probably respond best to knowing how it's going to go.


1) Show up and seize the moment.  (It's good to have that recording equipment close.)

2) Let the other person pick the topic or gently guide them to what you want to know.

3) Lends itself more than a formal interview to including more than one person.

04 September 2014


Recently I found myself dealing with home flooding.  It has set me back a couple weeks so far.

Luckily, I was home when this occurred and was able to take emergency action.  If it had happened when I was gone, it could have been much more of a disaster than it is and believe me when I say that it could be weeks before I'm back to sleeping in my bedroom and in my bed.  I've lost at least a week staying home for various repair and work people, few who showed up on time or cleaned up after themselves, and am frustrated and upset.

I had recently been sorting through research and was moving some of it into new binders and documents into folders as that research had expanded.  What had been a binder dedicated to one family is now several binders as I follow the children of that family.

I would work on it and then leave it on a desk or near my bed for the next opportunity to devote time to this.

In the flooding, I had at least three paper file boxes that were effected as well as bookcases that are warped.  Although I may not know the full extent of damage until I'm at the point of actually putting everything back in place, it appears that I managed to save just about everything without it becoming so damp or wet that it would grow mold or need to be thrown out.

I know that some of you are thinking that long ago I should have uploaded all family photos and all my research to some electronic/Internet holding area incase such a disaster happened. 

Actually, I have started doing that more than once, only to find myself unhappy with the whole process which is expensive, time consuming, and sadly requires upgrading for it to be consistently useful. It feels good sometimes to be so organized that you can imput pictures, names and dates and attach documents, until you try to access it months later and run into problems.

In other words, it is not time to give up on having paper copies of everything anyway, and you can still loose your memory devices, your hard-drive, give up a membership; even if you do have a "complete" book you should be printing copies and give them to those who they are written for so that there is always a copy somewhere.

Perhaps the worst thing about using the Internet these days via accounts that use e-mail or other password log ins, like this one, IS THAT YOUR PRIVACY IS JUST NOT SECURE.  All the hacking scandals of recent years have proven that to us, and as someone who has been hacked multiple times and has lost personal and private information to hackers, I'm not ready to give up on paper.  To rob me of information on paper you have to physically break into my home, knowing where I live. 

16 August 2014





There is no one way this is done, when it is possible.  Learning the actual nation can be about DNA rather than following documentation as the documentation may not exist.  Slave Ship databases may help you learn about what ships went where but do not have slave names.  But in order to gather information to set you on the right path you still have to methodically go back in time and learn as much as you can about the history and culture of that time and place. Don't take wild leaps going back 100 years or more. Also expect to research around her, following her children and other relations you may have never met.

You have shown me your great great great grandmother is on the 1870 census and so let's take a good look at that census page.

Here is what I think:

First this is only five years after Emancipation and yet she is living in a farmstead with a planter and her daughter and their family where she is listed as being the mother in law of the head of household.  The value of this farmstead is such I believe that this planter did not earn a huge sum of money in five years.  I also see that the neighbors are listed as W while he and his family are listed as B.  They are not living in a B ghetto.  I believe that pre emancipation this person was free so look at the regular U.S.  census (free person's rather than slave registers) and continue backward as far as you can, to come up with a possible date of freedom.  Maybe the planter was born free.  Maybe he bought the freedom of his wife and mother in law.  If so there may be records of the transactions or court hearings.

Then there is the issue of his wife who would be a child of your GGG Grandmother.   I see based on children that they have been together for a good 10 years before Emancipation. I want you to follow her and her family forward.  I want you to see if you can get a possible death era or date for her.  Then check with the present day county of their location to find out where any possible death records might be kept.  it is possible that if the daughter lived as many years as her mother than she just might be on a civil register.  If they didn't have civil records in this time and place, perhaps church records.  You want to find the daughter's death record because it may name her parents even if it is a notation by a priest at her funeral Mass.  Likewise following the GGG Grandmother forward  you may try for a record of her death, hoping that there is familial information on it.

Obituaries are not out of the question and local Louisiana historical societies and libraries may help.

You show that on the 1870 your GGG Grandmother is listed as coming from Africa and family history is that she came into New Orleans.  You want to check New Orleans resources.  Make some phone calls and find out what they have or know that might help you.

Additionally the surname of the family group in 1870 is not the surname spelling that was brought forward.  Be sensitive to that.  I ran a Freedman's bank record check for this surname and came up with nothing.  However the English variant had many records.  My sense is that this family had no Freedman Bank account because they were already free.

Ancestry has some New Orleans slave ship manifests.

Here is the SLAVE VOYAGES (TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE SHIP DATABASE)  it lists ship names and captains.

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall (who is of Russian and Polish Jewish ancestry and a historian) is highly respected for what became a life's work and great contribution to slave research.  This is a link  about her work:


A couple years ago another database became available from the Archdiocese of New Orleans.   ARCHIVES LOUISIANA - CATHOLIC CHURCH -BAPTISMALS SLAVE AND FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR   It begins with a note about how it was written in Spanish and to convert French names into their Spanish equivalents - or at least be sensitive that this may have happened.  Try for her daughter first since you know her birth year from the census.

GOOD LUCK!  Check in with me after you've done all this!

14 August 2014



I am rooting for Princess Charlene!   She converted to Catholicism, married Prince Albert II, a confirmed bachelor till she did, and now she is due to give birth to her first child and a heir to the throne (so to speak) who will be mostly of Irish heritage since Princess Grace, the mother of Albert was an Irish-American.  Though she is accomplished and lovely, she seems to always be attacked by the press and I'm sorry, but the Royal Family of Monaco can be difficult.  Like other high profile Princesses she dare not step outside without a fabulous up-to-the-minute-but-age-and-station-in-life appropriate wardrobe and that is the total focus on someone who has so much more to contribute.

For instance she had the nerve to CRY at her wedding!  So what!  I cry witnessing weddings too!  Many brides are overwhelmed by their weddings and emotional about moving their love into a life long commitment.


"The research, carried out by genealogy researchers Eneclann for Tourism Ireland, shows that Princess Charlene descends from one of the most successful gentlemen-merchant families in Dublin in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Fagans made a number of enduring contributions to the development of Dublin. In 1592, Richard and Christopher Fagan, the Princess’s great (x12) grandfathers, were key figures in the foundation of Trinity College; and in the 1660s, Christopher Fagan, the Princess’s great (x9) grandfather, sold the manor of Phoenix to the Duke of Ormond to create a royal deer park – which we know today as the Phoenix Park.

Yesterday, Princess Charlene was presented with a Certificate of Irish Heritage by HE Rory Montgomery, Irish Ambassador to France, in the Prince’s Palace in Monaco, with her husband, Prince Albert, also in attendance."

05 August 2014



Did you know that during World War II our largest state, Alaska, was considered terribly undefended from the Japanese?  Did you know that our service men built a 1520 mile road, facing temperatures so low that men cried, and when the thaw came, mud called muskeg so deep that logs had to be used to float  a road across the muck?

If you're ancestor served in World War II and you've looked at his World War II Draft Registration or service records on one of the databases such as Fold3 and it says ALASKA then he may have served to build the road which helped make Alaska defensible.

The road building began in May of 1942 and eventually went across sub Artic Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory involving thousands of U.S. soldiers at a time when troops were segregated. In this video we learn also about the respect that African American men earned though their hard labor.

While watching the archival footage you'll be tempted to want to stop the film to see if you recognize anyone.  Could that be Grandpa?

Picture from the PBS site linked above.

02 August 2014


Recently I happily confirmed that an ancestor I found on the World War I draft registration and the World War II "Old Man's Draft" Registration were the same person.  The addresses worked with census and city directories and the signature was the same - almost identical.  It's a special thrill to have the signature of an ancestor!

However, finding this person's naturalization papers has been fraught with issues as the name is common, there are at least five persons with the name in just one city, dozens within a state, Fold3 and Ancestry have microfilm copies that show some final papers and in the back of the front image you can see papers that are covered over that might not have been filmed individually, none of the addresses seem to match, family groups are wrong or not revealed.  (Oh how I wish I were rolling up my sleeves, wearing gloves, to turn the pages of the actual paper in an archive!)

It's a temptation to look at the signatures for a match!

I looked at the signatures on several final papers in which there is no address given and no family mentioned and I noticed that these signatures, different from that of the court clerk or other officials who also wrote on the papers, were very much alike.

The reason is that in those pre typewriter and computer days there was a huge emphasis on perfect penmanship in schools.  The individuality you see in penmanship in America - using the signers of the Declaration of Independence as an example - versus men educated in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, reveals this emphasis.  Additionally, there seems to be a difference in the signature and handwriting of those who did a lot of it and those whose literacy was confined to signing their name, something they must have practiced over and over since they would not use handwriting on a daily basis.  Sometimes you will see the signature of a woman who is otherwise unschooled which looks to be that of today's second grader though she is an intelligent and mature woman.  There was so little emphasis on women having education that even some noble women never learned to write their name.
But to write your own name was to be educated well past those who could only make their mark - an X- while someone else signed that they had witnessed this!

Therefore, signature alone cannot be used as evidence enough to accept that a person is the ancestor you seek!  There must still be other evidence to proof it.  I know you may be tempted to hire a professional graphologist or handwriting analysis person!

26 July 2014


CARNEGIE LIBRARY PITTSBURGH - LIST OF ORPHANAGES in Allegheny and some adjacent counties.

As I understand it, adoptions in Pennsylvania are closed records and very difficult to get though there is a PA adoption registry at  PA ADOPTION SEARCH (ROMBERGERS TRIPOD SITE) that has helpful information.

I'm posting this because someone I know was told that their ancestor had been at "Boys Town" in Pittsburgh and so he went crazy looking for it on the 1940 census but there is NO BOY'S TOWN IN PITTSBURGH - never was.  There were, over time, 70 such institutions in the area though, and the librarians at the Carnegie Library came up with this helpful list.  Bless them!  What's so great is that all the listings link to even more information and so with locations you may be able to use the census to get to the institution and search from there as a new start.

Those who live in an orphanage, poor folks home, maternity home (a place where a woman goes to have and often give up her baby), and homeless shelters, are called inmates,  the word used for anyone in any institution, not just criminals in jail or prison.

There was a Boys Industrial Home of Western Pennsylvania but I think that the Boys Town concept of villages of orphan boys got such good marketing and PR that some people just use the term to mean any boy's orphanage.

Orphanages became a dated concept as foster care and adoption became better options.

If you're wondering what I think of the children from Central American who have walked across our borders of the United States recently, I think they should all be privately adopted.  I think illegal immigration is offensive to every American and American family whose immigrant ancestors did it the right - and legal - way.  They should not be granted instant citizenship at this point.  As recently posted there was a way to declare that you had been brought to the U.S. as a child and wanted to be a citizen "of age." This was useful when one or both of your parents had died or they left you when they went back to the Old Country or got lost out West.

Sure I have a heart.  Most people do.  But there are so very many Americans who are homeless and there is no funding for them like what is proposed to help this stream of poor children.  I feel that at some point our country has to face that we cannot afford to keep helping others when we are not taking care of our own. 

There are also so many Americans who want to adopt but can't because they are considered to be too old or too poor.  Years ago a friend of mine faced this because they were told that when her husband hit 40 it was all over for them.  They never did get a child and they had saved money for years to buy a house with a yard in a nice community.  Americans have been adopting outside this country because it's even said that there are not enough children to adopt.  Well, now there are!

People over 40 can have natural children so why not adopted ones?  People who are not high income have children naturally, why not adopted ones?  People with natural children have them in bunk beds, sometimes two bunk beds to a room so why does an adopted child have to be guaranteed their own room?

I say let these children who walked in desperation (but without their parents!) have a chance at being LOVED by a family!  Let them be adopted.

So let's say you have a great grandpa who was an orphan in Allegheny County Pittsburgh.  If a name search doesn't bring him up on any databases, check out these institutions and find out if they are holding old records anywhere.   I do have to wonder about privacy of the children.  Maybe some places did not allow census takers in.  Maybe a child or mother was there between census!

16 July 2014


If you've been spinning your wheels looking for naturalization papers for an ancestor who came before 1906 I may be able to help you. 

Here is the NARA LINK TO EXPLAIN IT http://www.archives.gov/research/naturalization/naturalization.html 



Exceptions to the General Rule (*of having to live in the U.S. for two years, make a Declaration of Intent, then live for another 5 years proving yourself worthy and begin the process!)

Having stated this "two-step, 5-year" general rule, it is necessary to note several exceptions.
The first major exception was that "derivative" citizenship was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens. This also meant that an alien woman who married a U.S. citizen automatically became a citizen. (Conversely, an American woman who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship, even if she never left the United States.) From 1790 to 1940, children under the age of 21 automatically became naturalized citizens upon the naturalization of their father. Unfortunately, however, names and biographical information about wives and children are rarely included in declarations or petitions filed before September 1906. ...

(*So look at those birth dates everyone!)

The second major exception to the general rule was that, from 1824 to 1906, minor aliens who had lived in the United States 5 years before their 23rd birthday could file both their declarations and petitions at the same time. ...  (*that means they could arrive at the age of 18 or less and just do it!)
The third major exception to the general rule was the special consideration given to veterans. An 1862 law allowed honorably discharged Army veterans of any war to petition for naturalization--without previously having filed a declaration of intent--after only 1 year of residence in the United States. An 1894 law extended the same no-previous-declaration privilege to honorably discharged 5-year veterans of the Navy or Marine Corps. Over 192,000 aliens were naturalized between May 9, 1918, and June 30, 1919, under an act of May 9, 1918, that allowed aliens serving in the U.S. armed forces during "the present war" to file a petition for naturalization without making a declaration of intent or proving 5 years' residence. Laws enacted in 1919, 1926, 1940, and 1952 continued various preferential treatment provisions for veterans.

* my notes and THANKS TO BETTY at NARA New York City

12 July 2014


Did you know that when the Dust Bowl refugees (called "Exo-Dusters")  came to California on Route 66 citizens tried to stop them from entering the state at the borders ,not wanting these people to have any public support?  THE 1930's  MIGRATION OF THE DUST BOWL PEOPLE  DWARFS THAT OF THE MIGRATION OF THE COVERED WAGON ERA!  This was also one of the worst ecological disasters to happen in the 20th century.

This and many other facts that were brought forth make THE DUST BOWL by Ken Burns a film that should intrigue anyone working on American genealogy. The film has a multitude of black and white images of the people, the farmsteads, and the black clouds of dust that devastated farming and caused many to die of dust fever, a lung disease, including many children, and left many with life-long lung ailments.  This wasn't a little dust.  This was a chronic barrage of massive clouds that even left the equivalent of sand dunes of dusk and is a testimonial to ecological disaster that was man made but also man resolved after much suffering.  The film also has testimonials by some of the children who experienced migration who are now past mid-life.

Among the facts covered that are compelling to me and other American researchers are the following:

The clouds of dust were so fast and dark that some people thought the Biblical end of the world was upon them.  The dust blackened the skies and chocked them and gave them dust pneumonia. The dust caused static electricity that made using phones impossible.  The Buffalo grass that they had replaced with wheat is what nature and time had evolved as the perfect ground cover for a sometimes wet and sometimes parched area of the country there near Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.  Eventually 40,000 farmers signed up to learn a new technique called contour farming which over several years time did resolve the issue, but through the 1930's 80% of the Great Plain soil was eroded.  As a result of the Dust, COUNTIES LOST 30-40% of their population in the 1930's. Schools closed.  (See the changes by looking at the 1930 and then 1940 census.*)  But 75% of the population hung in there maybe because they had families in the local cemeteries.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took a train ride, covering a couple thousand miles, in order to see for himself and talk to the farmers.  Now that we know that Roosevelt hid his crippled body, when we see film of him standing, with an aid next to him, arm provided support, and then raising his arm to wave, we know what an actor he was.   He saw that millions of acres were abandoned and that the children were underweight.

Many Dust Bowl families were too proud to accept what public relief there was.  HERE THEN COMES THE OPPORTUNITY OF THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS...  Young men made $30 a month and had to send $25 of it to their families.  Some people were critical, feeling that they were being paid to stand around, but others saw that over time these young men learned skills and used their hard physical labor to improve the country.  (I can tell you that there is a park nearby where I live where the walls and steps that CCC's members built are still in use and in great shape.)  And here then comes THE WORKS PROJECT ADMINISTRATION.
THE WPA BECAME THE BIGGEST EMPLOYER IN THE NATIONS with 8 million people employed and saving themselves from starvation.

By 1937 other ecological disasters were happening.  The 1937 OHIO RIVER FLOOD that effected the city of Pittsburgh with houses floating away

THE DUST BOWL a film by Ken Burns is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Television   C 2012  The Dust Bowl Film Project, LLC

Review C 2014 Ancestry Worship Genealogy


08 July 2014




The researchers looked at a century's worth of data on thousands of human remains found at hundreds of sites across the Four Corners region of the Southwest. After studying these remains and the sites where they were located, the scientists were able to create a detailed chronology of the area's transition from a hunter-gatherer society to a farming society; stone tools revealed a transition from cutting meat to pounding grain.

Maize, or corn, was actually grown in the area as early as 2000 BC; yet it seems as if the people in the region were slow to respond. By 400 BC, though, corn provided about 80 percent of the area's calories. These new farming practices cause populations numbers to rise steadily until about 500 AD. Around 900 AD, populations remained high, but birth rates began to fluctuate. Then in the mid-1100s, one of the largest known droughts in the Southwest occurred. Spurred by this drought and other reasons, from the mid-1000s to 1280, conflicts raged across the northern Southwest.
While there were as many as 40,000 people in the Southwest in the mid-1200s, within 30 years it was empty.

I've toured this area of the South West and have also taken a college level class on Native Americans of California and the South West.  My professor has said that usually people who've been said to have "disappeared" have actually responded to situations like this by joining another tribe, often as the lowest class of people in that tribe.