Upcoming talks

It’s snowing in Salt Lake City today – welcome to a winter wonderland, all who are arriving for SLIG – I hope to see you this week or next.

My upcoming talks are mostly in Arizona and Salt Lake City – if you have a chance, come join me at one of these:

Jan 25 – annual Pinal genealogy workshop in Casa Grande https://www.pinalcentral.com/…/article_70f701fb-1191-5c8d-b… – my topic i the myths and mythologies of immigration

Jan 26 – Phoenix JGS – https://azjhs.org/Genealogy.html – we’ll be exploring some of the challenges of name changes

Feb. 9 – Limmud Arizona – https://www.limmudaz.org/
I am privileged to be presenting 2 talks at this annual day of study: :When Gravestones Lie” at 11:30 and “Lost in the Shoah” at 1:30

Feb 26 – 29 – RootsTech https://www.rootstech.org/salt-lake-schedule – RootsTech is the mega-annual genealogy event and it’s exciting to attend and to speak – I have two talks on the schedule: “Challenges of Jewish Research” and “What’s in a Name”.

May 20-23 – The annual NGS conference will be in Salt Lake City this year. https://conference.ngsgenealogy.org/
I’m, excited to be speaking at it – my topic? “n Search of a Home”.

Jul 19-24 I’ll be in Pittsburgh https://www.gripitt.org/ – I’m so excited to be part of a 3-person team with Emily Garber and Lara Diamond for a GRIP first – “Introduction to Jewish Genealogy”

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Bisbee, Arizona – a trip overdue

Years ago, thanks to a distant cousin who connected with me over a message I posted on a genealogy forum, I found out that Stein cousins from Pennsylvania, settled in Arizona. They didn’t actually settle in Arizona, they stayed for about a decade -1896-1906. That cousin shared a precious stash of about 100 pages written by one of the Steins as an adult, reflecting on her time in Bisbee as a child and teenager. For years, we’ve been talking of a drive down there from our home in Phoenix, but have never found two free days to take the drive.

A couple of months ago, we decided to commit the time and left Phoenix yesterday for the 3+ hour drive to Bisbee, planning an overnight stay. We actually should have planned 4 days, not 2. Yesterday, as we were driving, I began to reread the pages which I haven’t looked at in many years. When we got to Bisbee, late in the afternoon, after a stop in Tombstone, we just wandered around, noting the age of some buildings and the beauty of the old mining town. This morning, we reread more of the pages and headed off to the Bisbee Museum where we hoped to get some context and perhaps find records of the Stein and Goldstein families who owned stores in Bisbee, based on what we read.

We need another trip there, and before we go, we need to put all the places mentioned in the memoire on a map. What we discovered was slightly confusing and at odds with the memoire. A lot of names of teachers, shopkeepers and playmates were mentioned as well as names of stores and streets. We found those names in various records at the museum. What we didn’t find was a record of the Stein family. We found the Goldstein family in a city directory, and even located the house they lived in, in 1900, still standing. We found the name of the shop mentioned in the pages in the city directory, someone else was named as proprietor.

Why am I not surprised? In genealogical research, all is rarely straightforward and simple – it’s very clear that I have much to do.

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The rest of the story: England Oct 21-27

I keep forgetting when traveling how often there are issues posting to the blog. In this case it was a lack of internet at the hotel. I figured that I would ignore it and just wait until I returned to the states and catch up. Of course, I didn’t take into account exhaustion, all the catching up I needed to do at work, and a disaster awaiting me at my apartment. The latter used all the extra energy and time I had. Bathroom floor has been replaced, mess has been cleaned up and I am ready for a short re-counting of the last part of my very exciting trip.

There were no great research finds, but this trip was mostly one of exploration for me in a place I had never been before. The next trip will involve lots of research and visits to client’s ancestral neighborhoods. The primary reason for this trip was to be at the first ever RootsTech London, at which I would be one of the speakers from Ancestry® and working at the AncestryProGenealogists® booth at the exhibit hall.

I did spend a large portion of Monday at the Wiener Holocaust Library looking through their amazing collection of books and searching their catalog for material that might provide insight into some client research. Archives are amazing places – sometimes there is duplicated material which can be found elsewhere but might have been overlooked, and sometimes, as was the case here, there are unique books and folders of correspondence which cannot be found anywhere else.

Afterwards, we indulged ourselves, walking the streets of the Strand and visiting the London office of AncestryProGenealogists®. Such fun to meet some of my colleagues in person who I have only seen via Zoom previously.



Our meandering walk took us back to one of the many bridges. It’s always strange coming from an environment where few buildings exist prior to the 19th century, in most places, to a country where 19th century buildings may be considered “new”!


I was a bit surprised to see a New York sign in the distance – I thought maybe there was a display of my favorite city, but it was a travel advert!

On Tuesday, I took a long (over 2.5 hours) train ride down to Exeter. It’s astonishing to me that the country is so big. I always thought England was small and yet I haven’t seen 99% (or maybe more) of it yet!  The Exeter archive was charming, and the indexes of registers were phenomenal. I’ll never get used to handling original material. There wasn’t anything in particular at this archive that I was looking for, but my colleague, Deb, from the London office had never been to this archive either, and we decided to explore a new (for us) archive. After we were done exploring and ate a wonderful dinner overlooking a river, I headed back to London. It was a long but very interesting day. I was grateful for the train ride so I could see the green rolling hills and the interesting architecture. The weather was just perfect!

On Wednesday, we had an opportunity to wander around Golders Green, historically a home to a large Jewish population. We were especially eager to see what it looked like today, after seeing some of the photos at the Jewish Museum in London several days ago.

We found a fabulous meat restaurant, Sami’s.  All the kosher restaurants and Jewish shops were just reopening after the holiday of Sukkot. Many of the store had been closed for several weeks for the string of holidays beginning with Rosh Hashanah, continuing through Yom Kippur 10 days later, and then 4 days later, Sukkot.

Having this last day to wander around prior to the beginning of the RootsTech conference was terrific. The conference, by the way was really great. I hope that it’s held again next year and that I am invited to speak again. If London isn’t part of your plan but you want to be at RootsTech, check out the dates for the 2020 conference in Salt Lake City.

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20 October

Ever really wanted to do something, and tried to imagine what it would look like in your head? I don’t know about you but the dream sequence is never quite as good as the reality. That was my experience when we went to Mont. St. Michel several years ago and was my experience today, too. I said I’d read all those children’s books by British authors, and the Tower of London figured prominently in a few of those.Today I was there for the first time. Wow. DSC02494.JPGDSC02502.JPG

I don’t know why I love old buildings. If you’ve read my blog while I’ve been traveling with my team in Poland, Lithuania and elsewhere, you may have seen photo after photo of old buildings. It’s rare, however, that I find a building which is documented to have stood 1000 years ago. I know all the parts of the Tower complex are not that old, but the parts that are…and then there are the ravens, still watching what happens, the same way they were at the time of the beheadings.DSC02530.JPG

And of course since I was wondering about the Roman walls and roads, there were the remnants of the walls.DSC02532.JPG

As if that wasn’t enough, there was Tower Bridge.DSC02575.JPG

And then, just for Lindsay, a bride!DSC02574.JPG

Off we went to Camden Town. First stop, the Jewish Museum (which is really charming) and the Jewish Genealogy Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) which held an all day conference today. Wonderful group, great conference!

Our next stop was Mei Leaf, a favorite tea shop and a refreshment break – a pot of tea for one of us and a dark chocolate chili chai for the other (me). We left the tea shop and were shocked by the size of the crowds. We followed them for a while, and wound up exactly where we would have gone – Camden Locks and Market, on the way, some amusing sights.



We finished the day with dinner and pints at a local pub. Startlingly, since we were in a fish & chips mood, the first pub we went into was all out! Second pub was wonderful, and to top it off, a cute family from Spain was there with their 14 month old daughter who was in the mood to play with us, and her parents didn’t mind.

Tomorrow my office starts its annual (friendly) competition to walk to the North Pole. Each team records their steps daily. Yesterday we walked over 21,000 and today, lazy as we were, we only got about 19,000. I hope we can keep this up all week – it’ll be a great start. Our walk to far away places goes through the end of December, with each team being responsible for walking 6,800,000 steps for a total or 41,846,080 steps.

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19 October – London

Today was an amazingly picture perfect day and I practiced negotiating the various public transport systems to get to the City. I immediately encountered an Oyster crisis. Oyster is similar to a debit card, used on the transit system, and by far the most reasonably priced option for local travel. Unfortunately, the vending machines at the station at which I needed to board the train, provided a lot of different options, but the one that appeared to sell an Oyster did not. All that could be done would be to top off an already existing card, or purchase a ticket to ride for the day. Very confusing. We were able to purchase Oyster cards when we got to Piccadilly Circus, and could have bought them at a variety of shops, but this was not something a visitor could have known. All in all, the public transport system, outside that initial challenge, was easy to manage.

Today was a historically significant day in British history with a Saturday sitting of Parliament to take a vote on Brexit. I only mention it because the demonstrations in the City near Parliament were massive. I felt like I was back in Times Square fighting through crowds demonstrating about something else a couple of years ago. Demonstrators were still around into the evening.

Perhaps the huge crowds at that demonstration or other ones regarding climate change reduced the museum crowds. Maybe it was the glorious weather. I spent a number of hours in the British Museum. Although the Greek, Egyptian and Middle East exhibits looked tantalizing, I’ve been to the museums in Cairo, Athens, Jerusalem and New York which (obviously) don’t have the same exhibits as the British Museum, but they do cover the archaeology of the areas of the world in which they are located pretty well, and the New York museums have a lot of work from those areas. What I haven’t seen much of, though, are exhibits about Europe and in particular about England. I was curious about those areas of the museum primarily.DSC02390.JPG

Recently, I’ve been reading Edward Rutherfurd’s London again. In spite of the huge number of books I’ve never read, I am guilty of reading Rutherfurd’s books multiple times. Recently, I also re-read Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink. Both books tell very different stories, but it was really wonderful to be looking at the exhibits and putting together what I was seeing there, with the stories. Later, walking around on the streets and looking at the buildings, I got even more of a perspective of those stories.

If you are reading this and in London, check out the program(me) on Sunday 20 Oct 2019 at the JGSGB – it sounds wonderful!  https://www.jgsgb.org.uk/current-programme

DSC02408.JPGOh, I almost forgot the weather. The day was indeed blissfully mild and sunny. The exception was what seemed to us to be a sudden and wild rain while we were having a wonderful glass of wine at the Museum. It was still raining when we were ready to leave, so we went into the Museum Shop, purchased two umbrellas, and of course, by the time we walked back to the exit, it stopped and the sun came back out. We actually did leave the States with rain gear but because it looked so great out this morning that we didn’t bring anything with us. Last time we do that!

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17-18 October – the U.K.

I have to be among the luckiest people in the world – I spent all day every day doing something I love (genealogy) and I work with an amazing team of researchers, specializing in Eastern European and Jewish research at the most incredible company – AncestryProGenealogists®. So why am I in England?

The answer to that goes from very simple to an introspective look at my childhood and reading habits. So, the simple – I have many clients whose Eastern European families (Jewish and non-Jewish) settled in England. Our London office does most of this research for me, but I’ve been wanting to be in the archives at Kew, and at several other archives whose records may be available if they’re ordered, but I’d like to be really familiar with those records. The other part of that answer (nothing is as simple as it seems it should be) is that RootsTech, the mega-genealogy conference, held annually in Salt Lake City, is having a conference in London, and I’m speaking at it!

The retrospection about why I’m here isn’t too complicated. As I reached my teen years, the British (musical) invasion reached the shores of the U.S. To my parents’ dismay, I joined the screaming hordes of Beatlemaniacs. Before that, though, there were years of other British interests. My parents are great readers and they intended their children to follow in that path. They definitely succeeded, but while we were young, they enrolled us in book clubs for children. Most of the books were by British authors. For years, the worst thing my parents would say to me while I struggled with the meanings of unfamiliar words and their pronunciations was “look it up in the dictionary.” One of my early favorites was “Bedknob and Broomstick.” I graduated from some of these fantastic fantasies to more serious biographies of Queen Elizabeth I and other royals. From there, I immersed myself in Thomas Costain’s books – “Below the Salt,” and then his Plantagenet series. Charles Lamb, Shakespeare, Donne all followed in their turn. Of course I read much more extensively too including lots of science fiction, the rest of the books written by Chastain, other historical novel about Greece, Rome, Egypt. It was, however, the books that took place in England that captured my heart and to which I always returned.

DSC02369.JPGI jumped at the opportunity to come to England to speak at the conference – it was an honor to be asked. For some reason, I have never been here before. I am barely awake now. I arrived at Heathrow at about 11 AM this morning and all I’ve done so far is take a 2 hour cab ride to the hotel. The streets we passed through just latched on to my imagination and I wanted to just get out and walk. I was restrained and it didn’t happen. The weather was picture perfect and I was looking forward to a long walk along the Thames. However, just a few minutes before we got to the hotel, it started pouring. Now I’m too tired – it was a redeye, and my eyes definitely are red. My plan? Whether it’s raining or not, no matter what the weather tomorrow turns out to be, I’m going to be out somewhere walking and taking photos.  I’ll post them as well as photos and comments about my research during the week and photos from the conference.DSC02633


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July 3 – Vilnius

I’ve been traveling now for 5 of the last 7 weeks throughout Poland and Lithuania.  It’s hard to believe that today is my last day here. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, and just wandering through the streets that Lina so carefully pointed out, giving me enough clues about each of them, that I have no fear of getting lost.

It’s raining off and on, and I hoped to accomplish a few things in between drops.  I wanted to walk up to the castle and for that I need the stones to be dry, otherwise it would be very slippery.  I did get up to the top, or at least to the top of the hill, just outside the castle tower.  To get up the hill, there is a short flight of wooden steps and the rest of the way is all ancient stone.  If it was raining, I doubt I could have gotten there and down.  I briefly contemplated going into the tower and going up, but the sky was getting darker and the gray clouds seemed ominous, so I caved and walked back down.  Sure enough, as I crossed the street by the Cathedral Plaza, it started to pour.  I wasn’t too bedraggled by the time I got to the hotel, just across the street, but that’s probably just my opinion because I don’t want to admit how pitiful I must have looked.

Once the rain stopped again, I went out for a very late lunch, walked down the street I have officially named the ice cream street because of all the ice cream vendors, and today, Trattoria had pizza dough, so I had a last pizza alla’ herba. Delicious.  I walked around the streets some more, walking in and out of the small and large ghetto areas, getting one last look.  Of course, the wind picked up and the rain looked imminent so I headed back to the hotel.  I guess we have a theme going today called dodge the rain.

I spent some time working but by about 7 PM, I decided to go out one last time and stop at a bakery and pick something up for my early morning trek to the airport.  Of course, the ice cream stands called out to me, and I decided, since I wasn’t having dinner, to have one last chocolate and pistachio cone. Yum.

Packing has proven to be a challenge.  I bought so many books with Marek and Lina’s help, that I needed to buy a bag just for them.  The army surplus store had something almost perfect for only 13 EU – if it had wheels it would have been absolutely perfect, since lifting it is going to be a challenge.  I bet it’s over 30 pounds.

Next stop, Amsterdam and them Minneapolis on the way to SLC.  Back tomorrow, July 4.  I think it may be a week or more before I catch up on the photos for all the blog posts.  Stay tuned, and happy 4th.

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