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Class Descriptions Jewish Track

Classes available online and/or pre-recorded (in-person classes are listed further down)

Ancestors from Romania?

Beginning with documents in the U.S., we will identify the place(s) of origin in Romania of a family that settled in New York and Pennsylvania between 1905-1930. After locating the place(s), we will discuss how to acquire the documents and look at material from archives and records held by the family. Although the family we will be discussing was Jewish, we will investigate records from the Historical Archives, which include Jewish and non-Jewish records.


The Fluidity of Names

Our Jewish ancestors had a lot of names -- Hebrew names, Yiddish names, nicknames and often several secular names that can make tracing them challenging. Given names have a much longer history than surnames in Jewish history and often contain significant family history due to naming patterns. This presentation will be an exploration of Jewish given names, their unique features, how to find them, trace them, understand relationships between seemingly different names and how to use them to expand your genealogy. The talk will present sources and methods in a variety of cases to make sense of this often-puzzling subject.


Jews in the Duchy of Courland, now Latvia

Despite being banned from living in the Duchy of Courland from the 1300s and later under the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, with the exception of a few areas, the Jewish community grew. By the first half of the eighteenth century, there were Jewish communities in Mitau (Jelgava), Bauske (Bauska), Jacobstadt (Jekabils), and Friedrichstadt (Jaunjelgava). During the dissolution of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1772-1792, Courland was annexed by the Russian Empire. In 1799, Jews were legally permitted to inhabit Courland, although they were subjected to double taxation. We will explore the history of the Jews in Courland, and documentation that can be found.


Galicia, Austrian Empire to Poland to Ukraine: Using resources to identify families and places

Records in the U.S. often reference multiple places of birth and residence, such as Galicia/Galitzien, Polish, Austrian, and even Ukraine. Those records hold the key to identifying the family’s location in Europe.

When you try to find the records, though, you can’t figure out their surname. People you think were part of the same family don’t appear to have the same surname, and sometimes they appear to use multiple names.

Why did this occur, and how do you identify what their name “really“ was? We will look at several families from different towns and discuss the laws that determined their names and how to ensure that the correct families are being traced.


Classes available only to conference attendees in Salt Lake City

Researching Jews in the Pale of Settlement

Comprised of parts of modern-day Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, east-central Poland, Latvia, and what is now the western Russian Federation, the Pale of Settlement was a western region of the Russian Empire from 1791 to 1917 where Jews were allowed to live and work. From market to mohel and melamed, an overview of roles and lifecycles within the Jewish community will be introduced including the synagogue and rabbi, the process of military conscription, and burial practices. Resources to document families will be introduced including JewishGen’s Communities Database, KehilaLinks, Yizkor Book Project, and research division websites; J-Roots, Genealogy Indexer, reference books, government websites, and notable third parties such as Nadia Lipes, Alex Krakovsky, TKGen, Chabad, and modern Jewish communities. Challenges in language will be addressed.


The Tracks of Smoke and Water at Babyn Yar: Identifying Victims and Survivors

Naming all of the estimated 100,000 victims at Kyiv’s Babyn Yar ravine during 1941-1943 may never be possible, but through the work of academics and personal accounts, some Jews, prisoners of war, and Roma (Gypsy) stories can be told. This historical recap will navigate language challenges and utilize materials in English. A review of Vera Miller’s blog resources including military databases and archives; the importance of survivor testimonies found at Yahad in Unum, Yad Vashem, USC, USHMM, and other Holocaust repositories; detail and analysis presented by academics; and future opportunities at the new Babyn Yar Museum and the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War will be explored.


Basics of Jewish Genealogy

This session will present an overview of the many specialized resources and techniques that need to be known and used for effective Jewish genealogical research.


Jewish Genealogy: Beyond the Basics

Learn about research techniques and resources that will provide additional information about your Jewish ancestors.


Beginning Holocaust Genealogy

Historical context and resources for finding information about the victims, survivors, displaced persons, concentration & labor camps, and those in villages who died by bullets, will be presented. These resources also include non-Jews.