Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Using Ancestry.com for Jewish research


Attendee Wendy Perez with Ancestry.com's Crista Cowan

The seventh in the series of 10 monthly JGSGO (Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Orlando) Workshops was held at the UCF Hillel on March 2. The guest speaker was Crista Cowan, also known as "The Barefoot Genealogist." Cowan is a professional genealogist who has been employed at Ancestry.com since 2004. Her topic was "Using Ancestry.com for Jewish Research." With over 20 billion records indexed and 80 million family trees, Ancestry.com is an invaluable resource for finding historical family information.

The easiest and most important tip Cowan gave in that regard was to use Ancestry.com/Jewish. That section of Ancestry.com resources the world's largest online collection of Jewish historical records. They are provided in partnership with JewishGen®, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the American Jewish Historical Society and The Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation, Inc.

New to so many attendees was Cowan's explanation of the "Ancestry Card Catalog," which provides an easy way to search targeted databases, including information from U.S. passenger lists to Holocaust records, etc. For example, type "Jewish" in the title window. You can also use the catalog as a way to verify if there are pertinent databases in the international collection on Ancestry to justify upgrading to an international subscription to Ancestry.com. The "Jewish Given Name Variations" and "Jewish Community (Shtetl) Locator" databases, camp and ghetto databases, among others, are available free, for as long as they exist on Ancestry.com.

Another highlight: Cowan and a JGSGO member provided this helpful recommendation for when U.S. Census records you are looking for don't turn up for a particular period: use the Ancestry Card Catalog for access to annual city directories available for many cities from 1822 to 1995 (1.5 billion records on Ancestry).

Cowan will be back this summer as a featured speaker at the IAJGS 37th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy at Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando July 23-28 (Conference registration fee required). For more information, go to info@iajgs2017.org, or visit http://www.iajgs2017.org.

The next in the series of workshops will be "Analyze your DNA Results" with expert Diahan Southard. It will be held on Tuesday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at the Central Florida Hillel, UCF, at 3925 Lockwood Blvd., Oviedo. The workshop is free and open to the public. Bring your own laptop to participate in the lab portion. It is also possible to attend via the Internet. Pre-registration is required. Pre-register for either in-person or online participation at http://www.jgsgo.org/MyJewishRoots.


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