Category Archives: genealogy
I grew up in a family where my father was — and still is — very connected to the Jewish community of Omaha.
While most kids had social connections from their places of worship and school activities that established community, me and my brother and sister had some of that, but it was fractured by the fact that we had a very 1970s, nomadic childhood.
We took the bus to and from Omaha from Lincoln — where we lived with our mom — to visit our dad in Omaha. We did this pretty much 10 years straight for every weekend of our childhood, from around 1970/1971 (when they got divorced) to 1981 (when we moved to Omaha). Continental Trailways on Saturday mornings and Greyhound on Sunday afternoons.
So that cut into a lot of time when I think we would have been a bit more connected to our community in Lincoln. And made us weirdly constant and familiar visitors to Omaha, but not necessarily tied and connected….
But also it put a very focused emphasis on our dad’s life in those intense two days every week that we spent with him. He would pick us up from the Continental Trailways bus station in Omaha and we would go to Bishop’s Cafeteria, 1414 Douglas, for breakfast. Then we’d spend the day with him at his office. And back to Lincoln on Sunday after the 3:00pm movie I always seemed to watch. Hopalong Cassidy was a consistent favorite.
I always knew we were Jewish, but in Lincoln especially it wasn’t something we talked about a lot. Like having divorced parents. It was the 1970s when this type of thing wasn’t as common. We weren’t observant but I definitely knew — especially when it came to our dad’s life in Omaha — that there was a bubble of Jewish community in Omaha that we were tangentially a part of.
One of the things I have always experienced with my dad was what we jokingly refer to as Jewish Geography — my dad would tell stories about some of the people in the Jewish community in Omaha that his parents knew and socialized with, or that he grew up and went to high school with, or knew from living in Omaha. Maybe it’s the fledging librarian and genealogist in me, but I was always very interested in hearing the stories about all the people, imagining the glamorous lives of my grandparents. My Grandpa Irv had these shiny suits in some of the pictures we had of him, which I thought were super cool.
There was just this constant influx of names and stories of people from the community. And going to Bishop’s we would meet a lot of these characters. During high school after we had moved to Omaha, I would get a ride from my dad every morning and continue the Bishop’s breakfast tradition, sitting with my dad and his friends who I remember told terrible jokes and didn’t seem to mind having a high school kid in their midst.
I ended up knowing the parents of some of the Jewish kids in Omaha — and not really the kids themselves. It was odd, but it was history and Omaha and our dad and just sort of how things were.
So in talking with my dad recently he told me that he had a great honor. I could hear in his voice how touched he was. He had been asked to be one of the pallbearers who carried Rabbi Kripke’s casket, for his funeral.
Rabbi Kripke conducted my dad’s bar mitzvah, and was the rabbi at the synagogue his family went to, Beth El, in Omaha. Over the years my dad would often refer to Rabbi Kripke as a huge influence in his life. And when my Grandma Pearl went into The Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, my dad would always point out Rabbi Kripke (as well as many other Jewish Geography folks who were there and who I had heard stories about) with reverence.
To spend more time with Grandma Pearl my dad volunteered at the Saturday services, assisting in conducting them. Sometimes Rabbi Kripke led but towards the end I just remember the Rabbi being there, enjoying the services. My dad still does this volunteering, and I know it means a lot to him — even though Grandma died.
So I have this weird reverence — and semi-skewed connection — to the Jewish community that is essentially my father’s (and grandparents). Names and some faces are very familiar to me, like Maury Katzman.
My dad would always talk of these people, after they passed, and say, “of blessed memory.” Like he would tell a great story about his father, and say, “my father, of blessed memory.” I always loved that, how there was a small moment of time where there was remembrance of this person within the conversation.
There was another article in addition to an official obituary about Rabbi Kripke in the New York Times recently that triggered me writing this post (and adding the cite to Wikipedia). I think the article on Rabbi Kripke was due to Warren Buffett’s annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha that just happened. Rabbi Kripke died this year at age 100.
I have been editing Wikipedia now for a while. I do it to relax and really enjoy the quick publish factor — as well as connecting to my former profession as a word processor for 15 years. Very satisfying.
So in homage to Rabbi Kripke I created a Wikipedia article about him. In his blessed memory.
Rabbi’s wife, Dorothy, as an author of Jewish books, already had her own page, but as usual it needed citation and format cleanup. While creating the Rabbi’s page, I did that. But I hope to add more to her page at some point.
But really, Rabbi Kripke needed his own page, in honor of his accomplishments and years of service to the Jewish community in Omaha. I was so glad — and honored in my own way — to do that.
I have been meaning to mention I did this to my dad when we talk next. I think it continues the tradition “of blessed memory” — and hopefully commemorates a small part of the Omaha Jewish community that yeah I guess I sort of am a part of. At least a little bit.
so at this recent IAJGS 2013 Boston conference on Jewish genealogy i was so excited there was going to be a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) group that included many of my shtelach (sp?).
however as i have waded in the deep end to corral and collocate the information into a quick blog, it has become really clear that the geographic locale included in the BoF — unless it is expandable — is not going to cut the mustard for me.
unfortunately i think this means i will need to set up my own research group. which makes me really nervous because even with the full time job searching and applying for temp positions and the revving up of applications and teaching myself new technologies i have already committed to a lot of volunteer work for IAJGS.
and then there’s the bigger and higher priority issue of getting Frank’s stuff in a better organizational structure. i talked to Frank tonight and he’s amazingly patient given i went to Grad School (!) during our work but he did say, bluntly, that he’s not going to be around forever. it’s a shanda. and is starting to be upsetting to me. so it is clear priorities will need to be reshuffled.
anyway, here’s the google map [i created that lists the 30 towns listed] for the Kolo-Rypin-Plock (“KRP”) Area Research Group
Google Map [i created that lists the 30 towns listed] for Kolo-Rypin-Plock (“KRP”) Area Research Group
This is a clickable Google Map of the towns listed in Kolo-Rypin-Plock (“KRP”) Area Research Group
this is Ken D’s map [REMOVED]– which instantly seemed wrong to me because (a) neither Frank nor i were connecting to the Kolo town name — it’s very far south and (b) the lines are too straight. the districts are a lot more curvy (if that is the divining principle). even if geographic elements like the rivers are used, it’s still curvy, not straight lines like this.
also, mission critical is that Frank, a native born Jew from this region in Poland — he really needs to give the selection an okay. he just knows the region so well. heck, he walked it — that’s what they did back then. so his viewpoint is a mandatory part of this conversation in my opinion.
and compare and contrast, this is the Polish Provinces and Districts map (Voivodeships (provinces) and Powiats (districts or counties) in Poland). Administrative districts of interest for my Jewish genealogy — area is north / northwest of Warsaw.
Google Map for Polish Provinces and Districts (my areas of interest)
This is a clickable Google Map of the towns listed in Polish Provinces and Districts in my areas of interest
so basically what i am doing is going through a list of all of the Voivodeships (provinces) and tagging them on this new google map to try and trace the geographic areas that are important to both me and Frank’s trees.
and select the individual smaller Powiats (districts) from this map (below).
Easy Peasy — NO PROBLEM!!!
i’ve had a stress headache for a few hours now realizing the magnitude and issues involved. i think once i get going it won’t be so bad but right now it feels sort of insane.
Frank will give the region a good eye. it looks like the region of interest for me and Frank overlaps the KRPARG (blech on this acronym) only across the northern swath — and there are a lot of towns that are missing. namely my “home” shtetl of Radznow. and Mlawa is not included either, which is where a lot of family lived — as well as being where the region was funneled during the War into the Mlawa Ghetto — before that got liquidated. very important geography. so that is really critical.
the good news is that i can use this list from my genealogy website as a rough guideline of place names in all of the trees i host. oy.
this post has been adjusted (see brackets) to remove the map from the “official” group and edits are made to clarify the google map i created with the towns listed in the group was a map i created myself.
i am getting very very excited for the upcoming IAJGS 2013 Boston conference:
3rd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy August 4-9, 2013
Co-Hosted by International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston
i’ve put together a schedule on Google like i do each conference i attend — have done this for Salt Lake City, Chicago, and Philadelphia, i think.
if you would like to see it i’ve made it public (send me your email to view it).
the idea is that all of the information is in one place, collocated, with the minimum amount of clicking around. and then also end-users can copy events to their personal calendar and use that as a tool to make the most out of the schedule, which is very deep and rich.
i also use the therapeutic tool of a Google Map to reduce my own travel anxiety (don’t love traveling).
here’s a view of the map. it’s pretty extensive. have been very grateful that folks have offered such great suggestions.
if you look on the larger map you can see that there are a lot of Jewish genealogical resources for the region. blue snowflakes represent cemeteries — which was culled from an incredible resource created by the Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts. just beyond words great information. i wish the New York region had such an easy to use and thorough resource.
the cutlery symbol is for sit down restaurants, and hopefully the rest of the icons are somewhat self-explanatory in their groupings. not being a Boston native i am sure i have some things in the wrong categories but hopefully it can be a starting point for those interested in making the most out of their trip.
i recently got my 23andme results back so all of this DNA stuff is very new. hope to learn a bit more at the conference.
here’s a little bit on Michael K. Williams’ story, discovering his African ancestry. very cool.
and a little music they posted on okayplayer….
a time of growth, regrowth, renaissance, hard work, learning, growing, absorbing, etc.
this week, which feels like it started today even though it’s Sunday, is going to be a busy one.
today i was so glad that a Milwaukee-based fam-member, Freddi (3rd cousin once removed), gave me a call because she was in town for a quick visit.
our relationship is clear as mud, eh? basically her mom and my grandma — well their grandmothers Brauna and Chana were sisters. our common descendants were Mondral sisters (Brauna and Chana) whose kids (Ben SEGALL ne LOPATKA and Leo STEIN ne Szafirsztejn, among many other LOPATKA and STEINs), cousins from Radzanów, Poland, came to Milwaukee from Poland together. there is another sister, Shaindel, who are also part of the mass exodus from Radzanów, Poland to Milwaukee from abt 1885 to 1939….
basically this is my paternal mom’s branch of Segall and Stein families in Milwaukee.
i don’t usually like to post pics of myself — find the selfie fad to be fundamentally disturbing — but i loved seeing Freddi and i’m smiling like an idiot here so enjoy a rare glimpse.
Broadway Bagel has these mounds of cream cheese, sort of awesome and very New York.
reminds me of the New York chain of Strawberry stores…
so spending a couple hours catching up with Freddi sort of restarted something fundmental in me. i don’t want to say my faith in humanity is restored or anything quite so dramatic, but when i meet up with people who are so clearly mishpucha of loveliness, well it’s a magical thing for me.
it also means in addition to my other summer projects, i’m going to re-focus on the family genealogy. first priority is going to be Frank’s of course (hope he’s doing okay). but then also the Milwaukee branch, who i just love completely.
rest of week plans…
so the rest of the week will be busy.
i am finally sitting down to learn Adobe InDesign CS6. bless you Lynda.com for making tutorials that may take me forever to get through (i get distracted by shiny objects) but are comprehensive and informative.
BagIt/Bagger at METRO
i missed the in-person workshop on File fixity and checksum tools (but got the course materials that i will go over after the InDesign deal).
this Tuesday will be METRO’s BagIt/Bagger workshop. these great workshops are part of the Keeping Collections series, and are excellent. there will be an ExifTool workshop in July that i’m planning on attending.
July 16 (Tuesday) – ExifTool
also this week, in a longer, all-day format, is a MODS workshop called “Using MODS to Describe Cultural Heritage Resources.”
am a little gunshy about attending a cataloging workshop because i have such a low comfort-level with description — haven’t flexed that muscle in any significant sense since taking classes in grad school with the awesome Rick Block. so in other words, no real life experience. but i think that i need to just go and absorb and allow myself to have cataloging anxiety. i hope to surprise myself.
MODS stands for Metadata Object Description Schema and was developed at the Library of Congress. the MODS website is here.
so this week will be intensive skilling up. i need to contact temp agencies and head hunters but i would like to be able to truthfully say i have a familiarity — even if it’s at an Essentials / beginner level — with InDesign. it seems to be a mandatory requirement in addition to Microsoft Office, for word processing jobs in NYC these days. at least for jobs that pay enough for me to work 3 to 4 days a week while i job search and/or work on my passion projects and figure out my future. you know, small stuff!
music discovery of awesomeness ‘o the week!
new Mando Saenz record is out and it is WONDERFUL. produced by Mark Nevers and featuring great folks like Bobby Bare, Jr. and Kim Richey. highly recommend. so so worth it. talented singer-songwriter with a velvet smooth voice.
okay, just wanted to check in here in blog-land. going back to the salt mines of learning! yay….? oy.
capturing the smile
it is a sunny Sunday afternoon in May* and i have my balcony door open and my window blinds up. making sure i get my Vitamin D and fresh air fix. have exactly two weeks left on my internship at the Graduate Center Library. so decided to take a blog break from pulling together geographic references for the geotag portion of the excel extravaganza that is the metadata of the Activist Women’s History oral history project. whew!
*freaking Mother’s Day, a day i never love every year (RIP Mommy, 1984).
i feel like i am learning some good stuff.
i participated in the Global Women Wikipedia Write-In (#GWWI) and spent an intensive day (or two) forcing myself to learn Wikipedia editing (tutorials, helpful #IRC help desk, trial and error). it became pretty clear that if i dedicate my energies towards technical skill building i can learn things — or at least get a muddle-through adequately level of workability. but did i enjoy the process? not hugely. coding and stuff like this doesn’t come easy to me, but then learning something like this maybe never does? at least for me…. it isn’t where my natural skills lie. maybe this relates to how i approached math and science as a kid, and the phobias / lack of girls participating remainders from childhood. who knows.
late night boringness
saw on Twitter and the New York Times that Seth Meyers will be replacing Jimmy Fallon as the late night host on NBC. ridiculous. seriously, do we need another white man hosting a late night talk show? it is time for some changes. it would be so nice to see a woman — or a person of color, or god forbid, both — on TV in a position of authority and fun. i mean, really, it’s enough already. and in his tweet Seth Meyers thanked Lorne Michaels. yeah, here’s hoping Lorne Michaels won’t be part of the show*, because that can only be a bad thing. the limitations of the Lorne Michaels model are plentiful — as exemplified by the frozen in time and innovation Saturday Night Live.
wow. didn’t know i needed to get that out there like that. feel a bit better. well not really but at least i am not screaming at the computer and/or TV. just screaming on the internet via this blog.
*aaand, reading the nytimes article, Lorne Michaels will oversee the show just like he does for Jimmy Fallon and others. well, here’s hoping that it is minimal overseeing…
Frank and his legacy
my friend Frank has been sick. i get periodic updates but i worry about how he’s doing down in Australia. he has lived a very long life, is a survivor (literally, figuratively). but age is not a kind mistress (cliched but true). the comfort i can give myself is that we have done a lot of great work together, and no matter what, his legacy of materials will survive. i will do my best to continue to work on it, organize it, and make sure that it has the proper disposition and survives. take that Hitler and your killing machine. a big F U.
made reservations for the IAJGS Boston conference this summer — ah, Boston in August. the joy. prediction that will be 100% true: i will be schvitzing, actively and profusely. can’t wait to spend time with a bunch of grumpy Jewish genealogists, of which i am a card carrying member. these are my people. and now i am in my mid- (late!) 40s, i am getting closer to the typical demographic (of being an old grumpy Jewish genealogist). well i feel old. och.
interviewed for an interesting part time job not specifically related to library science, but something that i am interested in, thankfully. not sure if i blew the interview or not. i always feel very pessimistic about my interview experiences. am trying to follow the excellent Ask A Manager advice of moving on and letting go, as these types of things are totally out of your control. but it is difficult to follow this advice sometimes.
i could have been much more prepared, which i am peeved at myself about. that was a definite learning experience which i will not repeat. and interviewing for a position with more than one person is always non-ideal in my book. this was four people, which is nerve-wracking. i guess this is how job interviews are done nowadays but stressful. i don’t think i’m the best interview, but once i get into a workplace, well, that’s where i do well. semi-desperate (true, but not true) for a foot in the door. oh gads, i don’t know…
the folks involved in the project i would potentially work on are scary interesting and talented, have implemented a very cool technical interface. plus it has to do with CUNY, a place i have become passionately a fan of, so there is that… more smart people doing cool stuff. i hope it works out because it would be fun, interesting, and very cool.
in addition to feeling like i will never be able to earn a living again, which is obviously a ridiculous thing to even say, but at this point post-CS it is a very real experience. all the jobs in academia require a second master’s, which i would happily get if the institution would let me go for free AFTER hiring me… (yeah not very realistic) i loved grad school, love learning. but i am also very ready to complete this shift into a new career already.
i know a lot of folks have been working at getting a full time library gig — or any substantive library gig — for much longer than me, that i need to be patient and keep my nose to the grindstone of creative problem solving and hard work, but it is inevitable that i am questioning my efforts here. do i succumb to a money job in a good environment (if i can find something like that, hopefully)? or do i continue on this broken-down, unstable / sketchy path of cobbling together a library science career? which is going to take a lot of time and effort.
the conflict i feel is that i could continue to do what i did in my last money job (of 16 years). i could work on things i love, things like the work with Frank that have no financial compensation, that actually cost me money and my time. but make me soul-deep happy and satisfied. do i continue to do what is technically classified as “hobbyist” work for free, follow that passion and journey? or do i try and shove my square shape into a round hole of a library science job. it is very unclear right now.
SouthLAnd was canceled. not a surprise but damn.
not a lot to smile about there. sads.
okay, back to the grindstone of prep for geotagging locations. hopefully can use Leaflet, though i suspect the tech side of this Activist Women’s Voices oral history project will not be part of this journey / experience, is out of my hands. oh well, i will use it for Frank’s stuff maybe? or another project. oy.
thanks for reading, if anyone made it this far.
i read about the Valmadonna Trust Library a while ago. then this week have had a bit of a crazy — wonderful really — connection to the library.
found this cool video over at Sotheby’s, if you are interested in an overview of this truly inspiring collection.
JewishGen psychic family connections!
so anyway, i get contacted periodically via the awesome resource that is JewishGen Family Finder.
for those not familiar with it, the JewishGen Family Finder is a database of searchble surnames and towns (in my case, shtetls) that you can search to try and find your Jewish ancestors.
i have listed the surnames and shtetls in my immediate family on the JewishGen Family Finder. if someone is searching for or has a similar surname and town listed, the Family Finder is a great way to connect with fellow genealogists and try to share share information. in many ways the Jewish community is much smaller than you would ever think, especially genealogically.
so a wonderful woman named Pauline Malkiel is the librarian at the Valmadonna Trust Library. she also happens to be a Segall relation from Nasielsk, Poland!
we haven’t quite worked it out how we are related — i am embarrassed to say i have done very little research on my grandmother’s mother (Rachel Segall) and grandmother’s (Sarah Segall) specifics. i stopped doing my own genealogy to help out my friend Frank and haven’t been focused on the Segall branch’s information at all. i haven’t really been able to focus on Frank’s work much either due to grad school, working too much, grad school burnout, job tribulations, etc. no good excuse really. and the guilt is pretty bad but i don’t seem to be able to harness it towards good right now. i hope to get it together soon. oy vey….
back to the wonderful story though. Pauline contacted me. i am going to send her the information that i do have. she will hopefully share her information too. and i am just absolutely thrilled to learn more about the Segall branch of my family. i love my Segalls dearly.
i fear that it may be an unbalanced exchange of information — seeing as i think she has more information than me (she has gone through the truly awful — and expensive — process of procuring Polish and Cyrillic records from the Polish State Archives and it sounds like she has gotten some of them translated). but i hope to reciprocate in some way.
the fact that Pauline is also a librarian is just a stunner. so excited, really blown away about that. librarians are GREAT people. i kvell!
the value of the hobbyist / collector
which got me to thinking about the Valmadonna Trust Library some more.
the Valmadonna Trust Library is another instance of a hobbyist / collector taking the time and energy and expense to create something that is so rich and deep that it rivals the holdings in traditional libraries and archives. and because the hobbyist / collector owns the works, the issues of copyright and use and access tend to be much less complicated than in traditional institutions.
another example of this is the David Rumsey Map Collection.
i mean really. the image above is insanely cool. plus it is usable via Creative Commons licensing. the Rumsey Collection is amazing database with crazy deluxe metadata. in a word: sublime.
i hope the Valmadonna Trust can do something similar to this.
my friend Debra Jane Seltzer has created something similar to this via her website, Roadside Architecture. based on a passion and moral imperative for documenting disappearing architecture that she loves, Debra Jane has spent countless time and energy and money on taking pictures, researching, and documenting disappearing mid-Century roadside architecture.
i love her blog. have learned what makes a good blog from the effortless way she writes and displays images, creating such a interesting visual stories. and Debra Jane’s flickr photostream is pretty incredible. of course the main resource is her website linked above, but all of these components make an argument for user-generated content, beautifully curated, displayed and shared openly.