New Content in Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers

(Vicki’s Note – from – Gail Murray shared a post with WI Public Library Services & Programs. 08/11/2016.  I will pursue adding the Beloit Daily News and other archival Beloit newspapers, but it may take a few years.  “Based on the success of this pilot, the project partners will continue to work together to bring more historical newspapers online. For more information about how your library can participate, visit”):

New Content in Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers


Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers-Wisconsin Newspaper Association


This is a free site, but only available in Wisconsin.  The WNA link is on the Beloit Public Library homepage, and this BLOG banner “Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps”:

WNA historical


New Content in Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers

Approximately 85,000 pages of pre-2005 newspapers from 12 communities around the state have been added to Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers.
The newspaper digitization was made possible through Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as funding provided by the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium (WPLC). WPLC worked with the Wisconsin Historical Society, WiLS, a non-profit membership organization serving libraries and cultural organizations across Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) to scan, upload, and host the content on Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers.
Wisconsin residents now have access the following historical newspapers from Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers:

Baraboo Republic (Baraboo) 12/16/1858-4/21/1886
Brodhead Independent (Brodhead) 2/27/1861-8/30/1900
Hartland News / Hartland News and Dairyman (Hartland) 9/22/1894-12/25/1920
Jefferson County Union (Lake Mills) 3/24/1870-6/27/1890
New London Press/Press of Waupaca and Outagamie County (New London) 7/20/1893-12/26/1906
New London Times (New London) 10/3/1856-4/161858, 1/18/1879-9/11/1891
Prairie du Chien Leader (Prairie du Chien) 7/18/1857-7/19/1860
Prairie du Chien Union (Prairie du Chien) 3/18/1864-10/22/1896
Rib Lake Herald (Rib Lake) 1/3/1902-6/25/1920
Tri-County Record (Kiel) 10/10/1918-12/26/1940
Waupun Times (Waupun) 9/17/1857-10/2/1883
Yellow River Pilot (Pittsville) 11/5/1897-10/14/1904
Sugar River Recorder/Belleville Recorder (Belleville) 12/20/1889-12/30/1904

From the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers, click on Search Historical Newspapers to search this recently-launched collection. Based on the success of this pilot, the project partners will continue to work together to bring more historical newspapers online. For more information about how your library can participate, visit

Tintype photograph

Tintype photograph

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn



 If anyone asks – I have this antique tintype photograph  that someone left about June 2016 in a returned BPL Library book.

I have not dated the formal clothing/hair style of the young man in the photo yet,

and will be using it for my November 11, 2016 ”Contemporary Fashion Through the Ages” Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library program.

But I sure would love to get this sentimental keepsake to the owning (Beloit WI) family, and only will give it up to them.

This is the first time that I have seen or felt an actual tintype.  It feels like a thin sheet of metal. And less fragile than the daguerreotype.  It was not even in any protective case.

The man’s hair style is very distinctive.  I will get back to you on what year (range of years) that I think he was photographed.  Looking at it through a magnifying glass may help.

These are the kind of clues to look for in dating your own ancestors photographs:

Notice the man has one glove on, and the other is on top of the pillar.  I wonder if he was in the Civil War, and had his left arm/hand wounded or amputated, then or elsewhere?

His hat is on the “ground” in front of him.

The “stone railing”, “grass”,  and “landscape” are not real, but are studio props.  Though I will have to find out if the grass, used inside studios, was actual grass that had to be replenished.  I don’t think that manufacturing at that time would be able to duplicate that realistic look.

The formal clothes (tuxedo?) with cuff buttons, and piping, fitted vest, stud shirt buttons, make it hard to pin down the time, as formal wear now still looks similar to that suit.  The suit may have a subtle faint striping effect.

From observing, I would say that the young man is fairly well-to-do. His hand looks clean, well manicured, and artistic.  His glove fits well, and looks like expensive fine leather. The clothes fit well, so they are probably not borrowed from the photography studio (like poor folks would do.)   His hair is recently styled, and fashionable.  Maybe this is a portrait for a sweetheart, or just to celebrate a particular stage in his life.  (Survived and home safe from the War?  Gaining success in his settled profession?  Looking for a wife?)


(per Wikipedia):

“Tintype photographs  were made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century.

 It began losing artistic and commercial ground to higher quality albumen prints on paper in the mid-1860s, yet survived for well over another 40 years, living mostly as a carnival novelty.

 The tintype’s immediate predecessor, the ambrotype, was done by the same process of using a sheet of glass as the support.

Tintypes were sturdy and did not require mounting in a protective hard case like ambrotypes and daguerreotypes.”


One can also look on to get more connections to old Photographs (before 1965, and of people who have deceased.)  (“Search, Preserve, Record, Remember”).  You can search for, or post, photographs.

5 Ways To Search:
Quick Search                                                                                                                                     Surname Search
Detailed Search
Keyword Search

Trace your roots for FREE with the searchable database containing thousands of identified and mystery photos for genealogy enthusiasts looking for long-lost family. Anyone who finds a photo of a direct ancestor that is owned by the archive will receive the photo for free.

Submit Your Photos:
Adding keywords to the comments field when posting photos to the archive makes them more easily found by other researchers.   Submit Your Photos into the Archive and they will post them. Make sure that your photos are in some way identified (a name or country, or date, or state, etc.) and that they meet Dead Fred’s criteria. Currently, Dead Fred’s Photos were taken prior to 1965 and all subjects are now deceased.


Maureen A Taylor would be able to identify the time period instantly.  For more of her expertise and suggestions on photograph history identification see:

(Per Maureen:)

“The third type of cased photograph resembles a daguerreotype only because it is an image on metal. Unlike the daguerreotype and ambrotype more than one tintype could be made at a sitting. It was inexpensive to produce, and it took less than a minute to walk out of a photographer’s studio with one in hand. Some photographers used special multi-lens cameras to produce additional individual exposures. Tintypes, like daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were not made used a negative.

Tintypes or ferreotypes have a fascinating history. It was the first photographic process invented in the United States and its longevity is only surpassed by the paper print. A chemistry professor in Ohio patented the process in 1856…”



101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2016

(Vicki’s note -8/3/2016 article by David A. Fryxell from Family Tree magazine):

Family Tree Magazine 101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2016

Take your genealogy research into warp speed with these 101 stellar family history websites in 2016.
Even in the family history business, sometimes it pays to look forward to the future. And there’s no better year to do so, we figured, than this, the 50th anniversary of the “Star Trek” franchise—with a brand-new voyage of the Starship Enterprise screening at cinemas this summer. So in this annual installment of 101 Best Websites, we boldly go where no genealogist has gone before. We’re jettisoning old, outdated sites like empty bottles of Klingon bloodwine. We’re seeking out new frontiers in online genealogy, sites not afraid to innovate at warp speed.
This year’s collection of 101 sites features an unprecedented array of newcomers to the list; these rising stars are noted with the ☆ symbol. As usual, we also attach dollar signs to sites that require payment to really take advantage of their offerings. (Some other websites may have premium or paid offerings, but can mostly be explored for free.)
To make room for so many additions, we’ve omitted some worthy sites that are adequately covered in other roundups in the magazine—notably state-specific sites, which now have their own “best list” (watch for it in the December 2016 Family Tree Magazine). We’re well aware that there’s a whole universe of useful sites out there, even though we have room for a mere 101 on these pages. That’s why our mission is ongoing and we’ll explore more in the next sequel.
Right now, though, it’s time to blast off into this year’s galaxy of stellar sites. Set your web browsers on “stunning” and beam up the best of 2016 by clicking the categories below.


You can Google for a name or place mentioned on pages of a specific site by putting site:URL (such as in the search box, along with key terms (for example, Iowa birth certificates).
 To find tips and tutorials on using many of these 101 websites, visit and

More Online Genealogy Guides

Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps

Additions to the Banner

  • 2016 Programs for Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library
  • Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps


Click  on the Banner at the top of the BLOG homepage and you will find new shortcut links to:

2016 Programs for Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library (or the current year)

Genealogy Links and Electronic Helps – lots of links to many websites for Beloit Public Library databases and many more.

These are also on a Page (link) under the meeting countdown.

These shortcuts  will save my work and home computers from having wayyyyyy too many tabs open.

Other Travelers – Part 3 – “Into the Beautiful North”, Latinos’ Migration from Southern Countries to the United States, and Me

Other Travelers – Part 3 –  “Into the Beautiful North”, Latinos’ Migration from Southern Countries to the United States, and Me

(Part of the Series – “Other Travelers”)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter


September 15 – October 15, 2016 is a month dedicated to Latino History Month, and the NEA – BIG  READ Stateline:  “Into the Beautiful North”, by Luis Alberto Urrea.   (See you at the Latino Community Fair Saturday, September 17 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Beloit High School; and at some of the BIG  READ events and Book Discussions below.)

As the Library “Public Services Librarian”, I do have some non-partisan insight into how the Latino population (and other immigrants) are affected by immigration to the United States, and how they fit into the Wisconsin population and way of life. I represent the Library at some Latino meetings and events.

They are just one of the more recent immigrant waves of movement to the United States from many countries.  My degree in anthropology (and history) gives me some insight into how the immigrant experience affected our ancestors.  We need to understand this, to understand our family histories.

I do some of the minor translating at the Library for Spanish-speaking patrons.  There are two other staff that speak Spanish fluently.  Several staff have started using Google Translate to communicate in any language.  The Library staff tries to meet the needs of whoever our major immigrants are, (as have public libraries for more than 100 years.)  We try to help every one of our patrons (no matter what their circumstances) with improving their –  literacy, getting jobs, medical and legal questions, readers advisory, help on computers, learning a language, improving their education and skills, etc.  Public Libraries are the foundation of democracy.

We have a significant Spanish language collection of books, as we have a collection of books in Vietnamese.  Some of our databases and policies are in Spanish also.  Beloit, Wisconsin  has an unofficial 25% Latino population.  Most of them are from Mexico, then Costa Rico, and other Central and South American countries.

The Latino people, that I have meet, have been congenial, family-oriented people who try very hard to fit within the expectations of their new community.  They resolve missing Library items/late fines immediately and don’t want to be a bother in any part of their lives.  I have met a doctor, dentist, college professors and graduates, as well as farm laborers and everything in between, who have immigrated to the United States trying to improve the lives of their families.

The idea of a free Public Library is not common in their home countries.  Libraries are limited to only few, and have books chained or restricted from use.  The language, U.S. professional certification, and sometimes illegal entry, restricts them from easily working in their jobs, or becoming citizens

The more stringent traffic laws in recent years have constricted their ability to go to even the events in the area that are meant to help them become citizens.  A 2005 state law passed to comply with the federal Real ID Act, required applicants for a driver’s license to submit proof of citizenship or legal resident status. Any illegal immigrant can be immediately sent to jail and deported if they are stopped for any traffic infringement (even a burned out car light) and have no Drivers License.  They are afraid to leave their homes.  Parents have even been deported while children are left abandoned once they get home from school.  It puts police in a dilemma.

Yet Wisconsin especially is dependent on immigrants for our agricultural economy.  I.E. In 2009, they accounted for about 40 percent of the state’s dairy labor force, up from just 5 percent a decade ago.  Our farm crops are harvested by many migration workers who come for harvest season only.  Some factories have large immigrant staff.

They have to drive to get to work.  One solution has been proposed to have limited-use distinctive licenses issued to them which could be used for driving only and not for other identification verification purposes.

As with previous immigrant movements, (our ancestors from Europe, Asia, etc.) the recent groups tend to stay together in one area, where they can understand each other (language), resist the prejudices of “natives”, and help each other.  Just as in the up-coming Posting –  Other Travelers –  part ?  – The AfricanAmerican Great Migration Up North ( An Above-ground Railroad Migration by Former Slaves, and Their Grandchildren), and Me.  I have been told that (just as in those previous times) the new “others” are denied being able to easily buy houses unless they go to individuals who will sell to them.  Often the houses are in need of much repair, which the new owners work on, while several generations live together to afford the house.

My family represents the more recent immigrations with the various experiences of:  my daughter-in-law from Honduras, (with a Master’s Degree), who met my son in college, a brother-in-law from Mexico, and a grandson from Ethiopia.  My birth family hosted college holiday visits for a Chinese student when I was young.

The men who have left the Mexican village in the Big Read book, “Into the Beautiful North”,  do not intend to migrate to the United States, but to travel to work there for awhile.  They want to send their pay home to improve the lives of their families in Mexico.

It reminds me of childhood friends I had – our neighbors (with 6 children) had moved up from Arkansas to rent a tiny little house, and work hard in the Rockford, Illinois factories for four (?) years.  They moved back down to their Arkansas farm to built a large nice new farmhouse.  The small log cabin that they had lived in, went to their older son and his wife who had stayed home to take care of the farm.  We saw it when we visited and helped them pick cucumbers in the hot Arkansas sun, with a mud creek cool-down swim afterward.


Beloit Public Library

This coming month the Stateline area has also dedicated to exploring and celebrating reading “one book, one community” with a Big Read grant.  The book is “Into the Beautiful North”, by Luis Alberto Urrea.  A committee of several organizations have been working hard to obtain the grant which funds the gift of a free book to anyone in the community, and the programs to discuss that book together.

Into the Beautiful North” Summary:

Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn’t the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village–they’ve all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men–her own “Siete Magníficos”–to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over. Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH is the story of an irresistible young woman’s quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.

NEA Big Read – Stateline

NEA Big Read

Follow The Big Read – Stateline!

Follow the NEA Big Read – Stateline on Facebook,

Find information about the book, the author, the historical context, discussion questions, and more on NEA Big Read’s page about “Into the Beautiful North.” Also available en español.


Check out the schedule of events!

See below. Event details also available on the Facebook page and our NEA Big Read page.


Into the Beautiful NorthRead the Book!

Free books in both English and Spanish are available at the Beloit Public Library, South Beloit Public Library, and Beloit College. Quantities limited.

eBooks and eAudiobooks available for checkout with your library card! Hoopla is available for Rock County library card holders.

Overdrive HooplaWisconsin's Digital Library




NEA Big Read - Stateline Complete Schedule

1816: The Year Without a Summer That Changed The World

(Vicki’s note – There may be something very unique in your ancestor’s history that greatly affected their lives.  Consider 1816. Article from Dusty Old Thing

1816: The Year Without a Summer That Changed The World

If you think the recent weather has been strange lately, listen to this tale of a year without a summer. In 1815 a volcanic eruption caused the following year’s weather patterns to be drastically different. People across the world experienced unusual weather and increased hardships, but they did not associate the volcano with the conditions at the time. This strange phenomenon deeply affected the Eastern U.S. and the Appalachian Mountains, but hit the whole world, causing odd rain events and weather that could not be explained, and altering the course of human history.


1821 Mount Tamboro Eruption Engraving by Leon Sonrel

Via/ UW Lib. Freshwater and Marine Image Bank


The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia (then known as the Dutch East Indies) in April of 1815 was the result of a highly pressurized volcanic environment. The initial stages of eruption were reported to have sounded like an army attack with guns and cannons. As flames shot up from the top, hot pumice and volcanic rock were forced into the air. The geological event caused tons of ash and sulphur-dioxide into the air over the course of five days, enough to cover a 100 mile radius with a foot of ash! This event and the resulting cloud, some scientists proffer, is the cause of the the weather extremes and global cooling the following year. Many experts do believe that this is the only reasonable explanation for the year without a summer, though there is not total agreement on the matter. This volcano is still active today, though volcanic activity is closely monitored to ensure minimal losses if the pressure does build up again.


Folks began to notice that the usual signs of spring weren’t there in 1816. First-hand accounts tell us that the weather was so cold that birds dropped from the sky mid-flight (presumably from exposure or starvation). The ground was frost-covered in May in some regions, but that was the least of the problems to come since snows in June and July were a huge problem for Appalachian and New England farmers. The spring and summer months were dotted with slightly warmer periods that did not last, giving false hope to some. Crops could not grow and yields were reduced by 90% in some places. The prices of produce and wheat soared dramatically as goods became increasingly hard to come by. The “Poverty Year,” as it is also known, draws from the fact that increased prices and decreased crops meant that the poor were even poorer this year. Today it is also referred to as the “Little Ice Age.” In some parts of Europe decreased crops and poor food production dragged on until 1817 and 1818, showing the far-reaching effects of the volcanic spread.

Rooftos in the snow by Gustave Caillebotte 1878

Via/ Wiki Commons

Around the world, the weather patterns of many areas were flipped backwards. In China, the monsoon season hit so hard that flooding was unavoidable. In India, the monsoons did not arrive as expected, causing drought and water shortages at first, and then flooding during the dry season. This weather changes in India caused the already-present cholera bacteria to mutate into a new strain as an adaptation to the changing water supply. Humans in those areas had no immunity to this new strain and the disease became rampant. Worldwide increases in cholera cases occurred after this devastating event and cholera is still pandemic in many parts of Africa and Asia today due to the high degree of adaptability of the bacteria.

1866 Cholera Notice London

Worldwide Changes

Some important changes came about because of this year without a summer. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was written in the gloomy months of the frigid summer of 1816. Hardship in the Yunnan province of China caused family farms to seek more durable and profitable crops and opium was a prime choice that continued for decades and gave rise to the “Golden Triangle” of opium production. Farmers in New England drifted west, hoping that the summers would be warmer out there, and perhaps changing the direction of our nation. Unlike the rest of the world, the Arctic actually warmed up during this time, melting ice barriers and allowing for historic expeditions and the search for the Northwest Passage, the majority of which however, ended in tragedy.

This one volcanic eruption impacted to the world for centuries due to how the weather changed crops and bacteria. The incident helped invent the modern science fiction novel, and a key drug became more common based on the events of that infamous year. It’s amazing that we don’t learn the crazy story of the year without a summer in school!


Other Travelers – Part 2 – Adopted Ancestors?

Other Travelers – Part 2 -Adopted Ancestors?

(Part of the Series- “Other Travelers”)

by Vicki Ruthe Hahn – SGS Stateline Genealogy Sorter


Here are some aids to help you in family history searching for yourself, or for your ancestors, that have been adopted:

Find out as much as you can about the family that adopted him/her.

They may be blood relatives, especially in a private adoption.  The grandmother may have adopted her own grandchild, or maybe it was an aunt, etc.

Find out all you can about the orphanages in the area.  Apply directly to the orphanage for the child’s paperwork.  His/her birth certificate, admission and exit papers may give you clues.

Also apply at the County where the birth took place for vital records.  You could also search the indexes there for the names of who was born on a certain date.  Some counties have indexes of birth/marriage/death records on-line on their government websites. and are updating new records daily.  It might be worth another look.

If their father is the mystery person, see if there are any known male descendants (cousins, siblings) that would get a y chromosome DNA test.  If the mother is the mystery person, have the oldest related male or female descendant get a mitochondrial (x chromosome) DNA test, as either male or female will have their mother’s x chromosome.  Females have their second x chromosome from their father, so a y chromosome test will not work for them.

If you or your older blood relative gets an Autosomal  DNA test, it will help with general ethnic heritage only.  Unless another unknown relative has also gotten that test, and sees your family tree on,, etc.  They may contact you with further information.

Many adoptions now are more open, with birth parents kept in knowledge (if not involved) in the child’s life.  But more adoptions are being done across the country, or even worldwide, now than in our ancestor’s times.  (Although consider that an immigrant family may adopt a relative from “back home”.)

I have two grandchildren that were adopted:

One was adopted locally as a baby within the same state, after several sets of birth mothers/parents interviewed my daughter and her husband.

Many United States adoptions now are similar to this, but may be from any state.  I have been told by another adopting mom that the birth mother/parents may be indecisive until very late in the process.  What a hard decision.  Much better than the 1950s (and before) era of stigmatized pregnant teen girls  having to hide away in a  special “home”, working to earn their keep until the baby was 6 weeks old.  Then the babies were suddenly whisked away without a chance for the mothers to say goodbye.  The birth mother (and birth father) were barred from learning anything about their baby/child after being left in an orphanage or adopted

My daughter got a phone call from the adoption agency with this request from the parents that chose them, “Do you still want to adopt this baby.  He is two days old, and ready to go.”  My daughter and her husband had to pick up diapers, bottles and formula on their way to the hospital, as they had asked to adopt infant to 3 years old.  The adoption is not a sure thing until the final moment and had taken over a year.  The birth parents have kept in touch somewhat, and the birth grandmother more.

They decided to adopt locally, while waiting (3+ years) for their international adoption to go thru the bureaucracy. The second child was adopted from Ethiopia as a three year old.  His birth father had had to give him up because of extreme poverty, after his mother died, and he couldn’t afford to support his second wife and their baby.  She had to go back to her family village.  Minor mining and farming did not bring enough money to survive.

The boy had been in a foster home (with a different dialect) and then in an orphanage with a third dialect before he came home with my daughter to learn English ( a fourth language).

She and her husband had gone to meet the boy, and she went to pick him up with a friend. She was lucky that an internationally traveling African man at the airport helped her talk with the boy, and taught her more key phrases than what she had been given. You only hear a slight accent now in his speech.

The Ethiopian adoption agency made sure that his birth father had the opportunity to say goodbye to him.  They also video-recorded the father telling about himself and his family for the boy to watch later.  It has transcriptions in the several languages/dialects so he can understand it.

My grandson is also lucky that he gets to visit one of his friends from the orphanage that was adopted within driving distance.

Both sons are doing wonderfully as part of a loving family of three other (birth) children.

Here are some helpful links to understand and search for adoptions:

International Soundex Reunion Registry ISRR       “”

Phone 1-88-886-ISRR (4777)

A Soundex helps you figure out a name that has many possible spellings.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families   “”

Find out as much as you can about the adoption laws and customs of that historical period.

Google Translate APP –  to download from your smartphone app store.  You can say or spell words and it will translate verbally, and in writing from your choice of several languages.  This can help you in translating documents from the “old country” as well as facilitating communication with someone with another  language.

Pronunciator  “” , a language learning database on the Beloit Public Library homepage that is only available to BPL library card holders.


JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR)

(Vicki’s note – this suggested Posting is from the website JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR).  See also 4 previous Postings (that I put on the BLOG within the last 3 months) with the Category “Jewish Ancestors”.  Also click here  for ““.

This Posting is worth reading for it’s “For hints on photographing tombstones” in red below.):

JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR)

Login to JewishGen

The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) aims to catalog data about Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present.
JOWBR is a searchable database of names and associated information, including photographs of gravestones.

As of June 2016, JOWBR contains more than 2.88 million burial records from 6,300 cemeteries in 123 countries.

What is JOWBR?

The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) is a database of names and other identifying information from Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present.  It is a compilation of two linked databases: a database of burial records, and a database of information about each particular cemetery.  JOWBR’s aim is to catalog extant data about Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide.  Photographs of the gravestones (matzevot) are also included in this database.

JOWBR is a searchable database on JewishGen, and the data is also incorporated into the relevant JewishGen “All Country” Databases.

For more information on donating information to JOWBR, see our page “Why Submit Burial Records to JOWBR”.

You can watch JewishGen’s screencast series
“How To Submit Data To JOWBR”

How does the JOWBR project work?
The indexing of burial records is the responsibility of a large team of volunteers, coordinated by Nolan Altman.  The technical aspects of the project are guided by Warren Blatt, JewishGen’s Managing Director; and Michael Tobias, Vice President for Programming.

To help accumulate burial data, JewishGen has initiated an “adopt a cemetery” program, to encourage Special Interest Groups (SIGs), local Jewish genealogy societies (JGSs), synagogue youth groups, Jewish Federations, and other interested parties to adopt a cemetery or a landsmanschaft plot and index its records for submission to the JOWBR project.  We hope to appoint coordinators for cities, states, and countries outside the United States who will organize efforts to collect data for their areas.  Those people who wish to become coordinators should contact Nolan Altman.

We regret that we cannot accept individual family burial data.  JOWBR only accepts data from an entire cemetery or an entire landsmanschaft/organization plot within a larger cemetery.

All forms and explanatory material are available online, using the links below: a Donor Agreement, a template for data entry (an Excel spreadsheet), and an explanation of the fields used for data entry.

The fields for data input for each burial are:

Plot Location
Given Name(s)
Place of Birth
Date of Birth
Place of Death
Date of Death (English)
Date of Death (Hebrew)
Age at Death
Date of Burial
Hebrew Name
Spouse’s Name
Father’s Name
Mother’s Name
Other Surnames
All Towns
Photo Filename
For more information about these fields, please see the JOWBR data entry instructions.

If for some reason you are unable to enter the data yourself, please contact us and we will arrange to have this done by one of our volunteers.  Please also remember that we are not accepting information on individual burials, only information for complete cemeteries, landsmanschaft or synagogue plots.

All contributors of burial data are asked to submit a Donor Agreement giving permission for this material to be put online.

Working Documents:
· JOWBR Template (Excel Spreadsheet)
· JOWBR Template Instructions
· JOWBR Donor Agreement
Completed datafile spreadsheets are to be sent to as e-mail attachments.  Photos can be sent by postal mail on a CD-ROM or DVD to the address below, or can be transferred using a third party file sharing service (e.g. DropBox).

Nolan Altman
3817 Oceanside Road East
Oceanside, NY 11572

Completed Donor Agreements are to be returned to JewishGen at the address on the Donor Agreement.
For any questions, please contact Nolan Altman.
Photographs and Translations:
For hints on photographing tombstones, please see this file.

If you need the Hebrew inscriptions of tombstones to be translated, place the JPEG images of the tombstones (of an entire cemetery or landsmanschaft plot) on a CD-ROM disk or disks and mail them to JewishGen at the address above.  Please indicate on the Donor Agreement that the photographs have been submitted on a CD-ROM disk.

If you would like to volunteer to be on the team of translators, please contact Nolan Altman.

Last Update: 17 Jul 2014   WSB

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Onsite Research Around the World: What to Expect

(Vicki’s note – a 8-16-2016 Legacy Tree Genealogists article by Elly – Legacy Tree Genealogists Project Manager):

Onsite Research Around the World: What to Expect

archive books

It’s an exciting time to research your genealogy. These days records and information from around the world can often be quickly accessed online with a few strokes of a keyboard. Major subscription databases like MyHeritage, which has well over 6 billion historical records so far, are actively growing their online records collections. FamilySearch continues to put more and more Family History Library microfilms online and recently released a new collection of 4.2 million images of civil registration records from the Rome, Italy area. Even more obscure record sets can be accessed online; for example, FindMyPast just added 13,000 prison records from Plymouth, Devon to their collection.

Easily accessible online records have become a crucial part of genealogy research and should never be overlooked. However, with all of this information at our fingertips, it can be tempting to forget that not all records are available online and to limit your research only to those sorts of resources. In reality, for every online record, there are countless numbers of historical documents that have never been photographed or microfilmed, let alone digitized and put online. Many common ancestral countries have very few records available online or even at the Family History Library.

Russia, Australia, and South Africa, for example, all have excellent historical records for genealogy purposes that are often not easily accessible. Although the digital community is making inroads, the bulk of genealogically-relevant documents throughout the world remain recorded in fading ink on the original paper on which they were first written.

When online and microfilmed genealogy resources have been exhausted, it is time to turn to onsite research.

As an international professional genealogy company, we have the privilege of working with onsite researchers to find records that are being held in archives, libraries, churches, and other repositories around the world. Obtaining your ancestors’ information from these documents is far more complex than just sitting down to a computer and entering a few key points of data into a search engine, or quickly scrolling through a microfilm. The process requires patience, skill, and experience working with original documents as well as a familiarity with each archive and the linguistic, legal, and cultural roadblocks and expectations that accompany working in a specific country.

Every archive’s goal is to preserve information and records, but each can have varying systems of (and budgets for) organization, preservation, and public accessibility. This can sometimes make viewing and retrieving the documents challenging. Political or other local circumstances in the area in which the archive or repository is located can also greatly affect the process.

Still, while the repositories may differ, the primary stages of most onsite cases look similar. For instance, when an onsite researcher is asked to find information on a family after all online and microfilm resources have been exhausted, the first step is usually identifying where the pertinent records might be held.

For example, in Italy the records for one town are usually held in three places: the provincial archive, the Town Hall in the village, and the local parish church. The provincial archive is usually the most easily accessible, but they often don’t have records prior to the mid-1800s, and some records may be missing. Therefore, the best place to begin researching for each case may be unique. This particular portion of the research (determining where the records are held) can often take a long time by itself, before any actual records can even be looked at.

In many places in Eastern Europe, records may be held in different towns depending on the religion to which the ancestors subscribed, and where they attended church. Records may even be held in other countries because of the historical changes in political boundaries. A wise researcher will often contact various archives to confirm that the necessary records for the right time and place are available at that archive before scheduling a visit. Even then, however, there may be no guarantee when the researcher visits that the records will be there. Belarus is one country in which it is notoriously difficult to conduct onsite research because their actual physical holdings never quite seem to match their listed collections.

The records themselves at these archives are usually kept in bound books or folios of various sizes, and they may weigh several pounds. The ink may be fading, the paper delicate, the spines crumbling. There are often no indexes and each record will be a paragraph of old, flowing handwriting followed by another handwritten paragraph, and so on. It is almost never as simple as checking an alphabetical list for the right name(s). Most often, each page of each book must be carefully read to look for the ancestors in question. In order to do so, a researcher must be skilled at reading old handwriting efficiently, and often in different languages or even alphabets. For example, in certain places in Poland the records may be written in German, Polish, or Russian (which uses an entirely different alphabet) depending on the time period and the political entity running the country at the time.

Many archives are very research-friendly and organized and do everything they can to make using their records a pleasant and successful experience. On the other hand, some are disorganized and have very limited budgets or resources, making working there a challenge. The archive may impose strict rules on how many books or folios a researcher can look at in a day or may not have complete or clear listings of their inventory. They may not even have the records they claim to have after all, or may not be able to physically find them in their facility (this happened to us once in Romania!). Many archives require someone to request information in person, meaning that requests by mail or in other formats are not possible. Sometimes archives close at unexpected times for renovation or move into a new building or experience budget cuts. We have also encountered situations in which record sets which are normally available have been sent away for preservation and are inaccessible for weeks or even months.

Researching in churches presents its own obstacles, since the records are not public. They are considered private property and it’s ultimately up to the priest whether he will grant access or not. Many priests will allow researchers in their church for a limited number of hours for a donation, but if it’s the middle of winter in a remote Italian town and you’re trying to read faded records in an unheated parish church building lacking any and all amenities, the experience can be far less than pleasant and require several trips.

Sometimes complications arise because records are not held by government archives or churches but by individual families. In mainland China, families have often held onto their genealogy through generations (and in defiance of previous communist commands to destroy it) but it requires tracking down the ancestor’s village of origin and reaching out to living family members to request access to these precious family records. If they can be located and then translated, though, they can take your genealogy back to about 1000 AD. If you’re really lucky, you may even be one of the families that can be traced back to about 1500 BC! This is a cultural legacy which is unique to that part of the world and one of which those of us of European descent can only dream!

Even if records are held by a government or other public institution, local circumstances and factors outside of the researcher’s control may affect the accessibility of the records. Archives may be closed due to extreme weather. Once, our researcher heading to an archive in Eastern Europe couldn’t get in because there were tanks blocking the road! In another instance, after completing some highly successful research projects in Turkey, the recent political upheaval has caused some delays. It may take a little time for things to settle down and for genealogy research in the governmental records to be able to progress forward. Research in other countries like Israel can often be stymied due to legal restrictions on who is allowed to request records (often family members only). In some countries, a signed power of attorney is a sufficient means of overcoming this hurdle. In other cases, however, there is no other recourse.

We share these anecdotes not to be discouraging, but to present to our clients and friends a realistic view of this process! Substantial frustration can be avoided on both sides when are all able to be educated about and patient with the challenges unique to tracing foreign ancestry. Though the wait may at times be long, and the progress can be slow, we have many examples of clients who were overjoyed to finally make the connection with their international forebears and who could not easily have done so without the dedication of Legacy Tree’s agents.

Despite the obstacles that researching in original records throughout the world presents, onsite researchers continue to push forward searching for ancestors and extending genealogy back further than what can be accomplished using online or even locally-microfilmed records alone.

While onsite research may take more time than a quick internet search, each record that is found is truly precious and should be viewed as a family treasure!

Do you have ancestors from another country? If you’re finding yourself stuck due to lack of record availability in the United States, Legacy Tree Genealogists can help. We have onsite agents in most countries around the world and can work to identify and obtain the records you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.