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Monday, August 4, 2014

IAJGS Conference: Researching Your Canadian Jewish Family from Afar

Many of the presentations at the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies Conference focused on finding ancestors in specific locations. It would be easy to dismiss such a topic, especially if you were not interested in researching in the area being discussed. But that would be a mistake. As I have pointed out previously, genealogy is genealogy, no matter where you do the research. Learning to find records in Canada is a valuable exercise not matter where your own family is located.

This presentation was done by Marion Werle who is introduced on the IAJGS Conference website as follows:
Marion Werle has been researching family from Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus and Canada for over eighteen years. She has served on the boards of JGSCV and JGSLA, and is a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society Writers Group. She is a founding member and past president of the Latvia SIG. She has written articles for Avotaynu, RootsKey and the FEEFHS Journal. Her professional background is in IT (now retired), and she holds Master’s degrees in both European history and library science from UCLA. She has an ongoing interest in using technology tools to enhance genealogical research.
As I found with all of the other presenters at this conference, they are all abundantly qualified. Her presentation outline was as follows:
This presentation focuses on internet-based Canadian family research that can be done from virtually anywhere. The focus is on the major years of Jewish immigration to Canada after 1880 and ranges from Jewish farming settlements in the Canadian West to immigration to larger cities. From a great-grandfather who was the rabbi of a small farm community in Saskatchewan, to a relative who was admitted under a special post-World War I immigration quota, the speaker traces Canadian research through interesting examples from her own family. The presentation covers the major sources of Canadian genealogical records – government, commercial services, educational and other institutions – and encompasses ship manifests, naturalization records, Canadian census and census substitutes, city directories, voter lists, 1940 residence records, records from Jewish communal institutions, vital records, cemetery data, military records, local histories and more. The talk will concentrate on the ever-expanding digital resources available to Canadian researchers.
This outline demonstrates the rule that records are created at every jurisdictional level. If I were to draw a graph of the types of records usually consulted by researchers, I am sure that it would start out very high with national and state or provincial records and then curve downward to the more local records. This would seem to indicate that national and state or provincial records are more available, which is some cases is true, but they are by no means the most numerous. It is also the case that more national records end up digitized online, while local records tend to be still locked up in paper copies.  There is an economy of scale. A large online genealogy company can get more "bang for its buck" out of digitizing and making available a huge national collection, such as a census, than a much smaller and much more localized collection such as a voter list.

This points out the need to understand the types of records that might be available locally in the area where your particular family lived and the value of attending a class on research no matter what the subject.

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