Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Join Me Online: Legacy Tree Webinars

I'm excited to kick off July with a Legacy Family Tree Webinar.

Join me Wednesday, July 1st for The Secret Lives of Women: Researching Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind. Great new resources and ideas for helping you to research female ancestors. Register today at Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Join me on a July Genealogy Adventure

(c) 2014 Gena Philibert-Ortega
July is going to be busy! And I hope you'll join me as I travel around California presenting on genealogy.

First, you can hear me July 1st virtually via the Legacy Family Tree Webinars. My topic is The Secret Lives of Women - Researching Female Ancestors Using the Sources They Left Behind. If you've heard me present this before, you won't want to miss all the new tips for researching female ancestors that I've included. Doesn't matter where you are, this is a great opportunity to attend a presentation from the comfort of your own home. If you are interested in attending, you must pre-register.

Next, on July 6th I'm at the Corona Genealogical Society presenting on social media. This is a great opportunity to check out the Corona Public Library and  the Corona Society.

Then I go out to the high seas as  the Gena and Jean Genealogy Tour Takes to the Sea! Jean and I are genealogy cruising on a quick trip to Ensenada. More details can be found on our Tour blog. Miss out this year? No problem, we are doing it again in 2016. Stay tuned for more details.

Then I pack up again and travel up the state for more presentations. You can catch me at:

July 14th San Joaquin Genealogical Society (Stockton)
Topics: 50 Websites Every Genealogist Should Know and Newspaper Research in the 21st Century

July 15th El Dorado Genealogical Society
Topic: Combining Genealogy with History

July 18th California State Genealogical Society and Library
Topic: Her Name Wasn't Unknown: Researching Your Female Ancestor's Life

July 21st San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society
Topics: Newspaper Research for the 21st Century and Five Lessons from Researching Genealogy

Then a little closer to home, I'll be speaking to the North San Diego Genealogy Society about WPA records on the 28th.

Most, but not all, of the above  presentations are free to attend. In some cases advanced registration is required. Please use the above links to learn more about each presentation.

Join me as I travel around talking genealogy. Will I see you at one of my stops? Please let me know, I'd love to meet you.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Scan with a Mouse! An Interview with Ellen from Shop the Hound

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at the Alberta Genealogical Society Conference in Edmonton. This was a great conference and while I was there I was able to talk to Ellen Thompson-Jennings from Shop the Hound. She demonstrated the Zcan+ scanner mouse to me and of course I had to buy it.

Shopping Bag by phanlop88. Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Now, Ellen is offering a very special deal to my readers. This deal is especially great if you are in the US, since Ellen's store is in Canada and right now the conversion rate favors the American dollar. She's offering $10.00 off anything in the store on orders totaling $85.00 (Canadian) or more. Just use the code Gena at checkout. That's a fantastic deal on the mouse scanner or anything else you want. (Thanks Ellen!)

So I wanted to share more about Shop the Hound and the mouse scanner with everyone so here's an interview I did with Ellen.

Gena: Shop the Hound offers various resources for family historians. Please tell us a little more about your online store.

Ellen: I'm a genealogist and both my husband and myself, love techy things. My first item was the Flip-Pal when I saw it the first year it was introduced at Roots Tech. I had to have one and I had to sell them. I didn't even have a store then.

Then it just grew, as we found other tools; like Zcan+, Picture Keepers, Eye-Fi Cards and now we have a lot of other items including some new jewelry. My son says I'm a magpie and that might be true.

Gena: We met at the Alberta Genealogy Society conference where you demonstrated the Zcan+ scanner mouse. Can you talk a little bit about its features?

Ellen: The Zcan+ is a mouse and a scanner:

  • It is PC and Mac compatible
  • It scans at 400 dpi and it has OCR (Optical Character Recognition in 199 languages)
  • Scan photos, recipes, kids drawings and share on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or email instantly
  • Scan and save as PNG, JPEG, TIFF, BMP, PDF, Excel, Word and TXT
  • Scan and with the Apps you can send to Evernote, Dropbox, Google Search Image, Google Translate or to a QR Code Reader. Or just save to your computer.

Gena: What do you use the scanner for?

Ellen: I've used it to scan photos and documents. I've scanned text and then put that text in my genealogy program. Why type things when you can scan them?

When I sold my house last year and I was on vacation camping I scanned the legal papers and sent them to the lawyer.

You can scan recipes and save it in word and now you can add your own ingredients. My husband used it to scan an old spreadsheet he had that he no longer had a copy of and saved it back into Microsoft Excel. (no formulas but the information was still there).

Gena: What makes this mouse better than some of the other personal scanners on the market?

Ellen: There are wand scanners and to be honest I've never used one. But from what I understand if you don't have a steady hand you have to start  over. With the Zcan+ it's very forgiving. I always say if the image is wonky you can just slide over that spot again. You don't have to start over.

I know many genealogist are using Flip-Pal and I love mine and wouldn't give it up but I use it and my Zcan+. They each have their own application. If you don't have a laptop or you just don't want to take your computer you don't have to,  just take your Flip-Pal.

It's especially great when you go to a country where the power source isn't the same as at home. Or when my dad gave me a box of photos I could scan while I was watching TV.

But if your at home on your PC or if you out and about with your laptop then you can use your Zcan+. As I said it depends on what your doing each has their own uses.

We carry both the USB version as well as a wireless model of the Zcan+.  If you still want to use your own wireless mouse and the Zcan+ you can there isn't a conflict.

Thanks Ellen!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Remembering Titanic

Titanic. State Library of Queensland. Flickr the Commons. https://flic.kr/p/bLog9P
Today is the anniversary of the tragic sinking of Titanic. There's so much available online to help you learn more about those aboard Titanic but I thought I would share just a few resources.

One of my favorite resource  is Encyclopedia Titanica. Lots of great articles and lists.

If you're interested in the women aboard Titanic, check out the books, Titanic: Women and Children First by Judith B Geller; Women of the Titanic Disaster by Sylvia Harbaugh Caldwell; The Titanic: Historiography and Annotated Bibliography by Eugene L. Rasor

I've had the honor of writing about Titanic for the GenealogyBank blog. My articles include Eating on the ‘Titanic’: Massive Quantities of Food on the Menu and Tracing ‘Titanic’ Genealogy: Survivor Passenger Lists & More. GenealogyBank has other Titanic related articles as well.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Chasing Portraits: An Interview with Elizabeth Rynecki

Elizabeth Rynecki. Used with permission.
One of the reasons I love Twitter is that you can meet people you would never otherwise know in your day to day life. I also love reading about researchers and their projects.

One of my Twitter friends is Elizabeth Rynecki. Elizabeth is engaged in a fascinating project involving her great-grandfather's paintings. I  wanted to share her research project with my readers and the opportunity to help her via a Kickstarter campaign.

Gena: Chasing Portraits is the story of your great-grandfather and his art. Can you tell us a little bit about him and his life?

Elizabeth: My great-grandfather started out life as the son of a tailor in Siedlce, a small town east of Warsaw. He was a student, and while he loved to draw and paint, he did not receive much mentoring or encouragement. His father made sure he finished both his Jewish education at a Yeshiva, as well as a more traditional education at a Russian middle school. Eventually Moshe was allowed to attend the Warsaw Academy of Art, but only for a short time period; his father just didn't see how his son could make a living painting pictures. To discourage his son from pursuing an art career, he married him off to Perla Mittelsbach, a woman from a family of some means. Together they operated an art supply store selling paint supplies, writing materials and books for artists and students.

Perla 1929 by Moshe Rynecki, Used with permission.

Moshe, for his part, never wanted to give up painting and, considering his culture and the times he lived in, he was very fortunate to be able to continue to paint. Perla supported, or at least accepted, the fact that her husband was primarily interested in painting. And so while Perla tended to the store and its customers, Moshe took his keen eye, sketchbook and paints into the world to record what he saw. His paintings reveal a painter whose real skill was visual narration, with a keen eye for exploring and documenting the daily rhythm of life. He painted artisans and laborers, study and worship in the Synagogue and moments of leisure. He was modestly successful, exhibiting consistently in the 1920s and 1930s in Warsaw. His works were featured in Jewish art salons, the Jewish Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts and at the Warsaw Art Academy.

Toy Factory, 1937 by Moshe Rynecki. Used with permission.

Moshe was also prolific: By my grandpa George's account, Moshe had produced roughly 800 paintings and some sculptures by 1939. In September, when the Nazis invaded, my great-grandfather became concerned that his life's work would be destroyed. In an effort to safeguard his art, he divided it into bundles and distributed the work to trusted friends in and around the city of Warsaw. He gave lists of the hiding places to his wife, son and daughter, hoping that eventually his oeuvre would once again be whole.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. While his son George begged him to stay outside the Warsaw Ghetto and hide, Moshe willingly went into the Ghetto to "be with his people," and was eventually deported to Majdanek where he perished. My father and his parents miraculously survived the Second World War living in Warsaw with fake papers. They paid bribes, bought and sold goods on the black market and had their fair share of close calls. In fact, my grandpa George spent the last year of the war in a prison, and was being marched to a death camp when he was liberated by American soldiers. Moshe's wife, Perla, survived the war, as did a few cousins. But Moshe's daughter, as well as most of my father's family, did not.

Although the war had left the vast majority of Warsaw in rubble, Perla returned with a cousin to search for the hidden bundles of art. Her husband, her store and the world she knew were all gone, but she hoped to be able to at least retrieve Moshe's legacy. She believed the paintings would tell the story of a community that once thrived in Poland, acting as a testament to her husband's passion for art, to the Jewish people and culture, and a way of life that once flourished. Perla found only a single bundle in the basement of a home across the river Vistula, just over 100 pieces. Many were relatively pristine; others were ripped, torn and stepped upon. She bundled up the surviving works and took them to her son (my grandpa George) who, by that point, was living in Italy awaiting permission from the United States government to emigrate and start his life anew.

Chess Players by Moshe Rynecki. Used with permission.

Gena: At what point did this quest to find his artwork become important to you? How long have you been searching for his paintings?

Elizabeth: I grew up with my great-grandfather’s paintings on the walls of my parents’ and grandparents’ home. I’ve known his work since I was very little. I’ve been actively searching for his lost paintings since the late 90s.

Gena: I’m amazed that you've found some of his paintings. Can you talk about how you have tracked down his art? What resources have you used?

Elizabeth: The internet is a great resource for books, articles, image searches, and access to databases – all of which have led to various finds of my great-grandfather’s work. Social media is a good way to connect to others who might know about (or have access to) resources that aren’t online. Building the Moshe Rynecki: Portrait of a Life in Art website (www.rynecki.org) was also important because it became a place for people with my great-grandfather’s art to learn more about his larger collection and to find a way to contact my family. Spreading the word (posting on a blog, maintaining an active presence on social media, writing articles, and giving talks) can help make other people aware of your project and can lead to more discoveries. You never know what might lead to what. You need to stay open minded about how a new connection might open new doors. Some of my discoveries have been serendipitous. This is one of my favorite stories: http://www.cjnews.com/opinions/search-lost-pre-wwii-art-bears-fruit-toronto

Gena: When I read about what you’re doing it seems to me it’s the ultimate family history project. You are telling the story of your great-grandfather’s life by finding, displaying, and honoring his work. What advice would you give to other family historians who want to tell the story of their ancestor’s life?

Elizabeth: Passion, dedication, persistence, and perseverance.

Gena: How can we help you make the film Chasing Portraits a reality?

Elizabeth: Chasing Portraits has a new 3 minute trailer based on footage shot in Poland in October 2014. The trailer can be seen on Kickstarter, where I am raising funds to match the $20,000 grant from the Claims Conference to finish filming. In order to access the Claims Conference grant, I need to match it dollar for dollar. Kickstarter is a crowdsource funding platform, so all amounts really do help to make reaching the goal possible! All donations, less the value of the reward selected, are tax deductible because the docfilm has 501c3 status from the National Center for Jewish Film. See the film here on the Kickstarter website.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @erynecki .

Friday, April 10, 2015

Discover Your Roots, Share Your Stories: The Alberta Genealogical Society Conference

I'm honored to have been asked to present at this year's Alberta Genealogical Society Conference. From April 18-19th presenters from the US and Canada will be sharing some great genealogy information.

Courtesy of Alberta Genealogical Society http://www.abgenealogy.ca/2015-ags-conference

I'll be presenting five topics at the conference:

  • Finding your Genealogy in Digitized Books
  • Banquet: Once Upon a Time at an Antique Store: Telling the Story of Mrs. E.G. Stetson
  • Martha Proby and her Book: A Case Study of a 19th Century English Woman
  • Five Lessons from Researching Genealogy Roadshow
  • Step Away From the Computer: Using Archives, Academic Libraries, and Museums For Your Research
If you will be there, please introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you! For more information see the Society website.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Women's History Month 2015: Reconstructing Women's Lives

It's March 31st and we are at the end of Women's History Month 2015. Over 31 days of different resources for researching female ancestors. But that's just a small amount compared to all the different sources, repositories, and methodology you could incorporate into your family history.

So want some more resources for researching your female ancestors? Here's some Pinterest boards to get you started.

Look for the links, to the right side of this blog, for posts from past Women's History Months.

Good luck with your research and enjoy your discoveries!