Monday, November 25, 2013

The Tree of Knowledge?

Collaborative genealogy is a hot topic right now. People who are related to each other build a family tree online that connects in all directions. The goal is to create a huge global family tree including and linking everyone. The pros include connecting with new family and gaining more information about relatives. The cons include losing control of the information on your tree and possibly incorporating inaccurate information in your tree. We have a family tree on One of the more interesting things about the place is that it is a cross between a social networking site and a collaborative genealogy site. Some of our cousins are very interested in expanding their family tree. Others are more social and use it as a place to connect with each other. They write messages and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. It is really fun to meet new cousins on (we also get tons of photos, old and new) and we do our best to avoid the cons of collaborative genealogy. We make sure our family tree information is on our computer in a separate genealogy program that we control so it cannot be changed by others or lost on the internet. We vet all information before adding it to our family tree so we can reduce the amount of inaccurate information in our tree. Additional research is always needed; collaborative genealogy is incomplete genealogy. We try to find as many copies of applicable original US and European records as possible to back up our information.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers
helping you grow your family tree.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scan Yourself

We spend so much of our time collecting the photos of our ancestors and other relatives; we tend to neglect photos of ourselves and our immediate family. These photos sit and rot. Who will document us? We decided to take some time out and scan our childhood photos to preserve and organize them. This was not as easy as we expected. Some photos have already begun to deteriorate and it was important to scan them before they fade away or fall apart. Some photos, like school photos and Bar Mitzvah photos, required a search for the best available copy. Many photos were unlabeled, so we had to estimate their date. Others were ruined by their markings. We can now see how we grew and how our family changed through the years over the Pesach table. We were able to turn a disorganized mess of photos into a conceptual themed collection of scanned images. Scan yourself before it is too late.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers
Jewish Genealogy Researchers in Boca Raton and online.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Opening a Time Capsule

We spent a week looking for our grandmother's birth record. We know she must have been born, but there does not seem to be any evidence of the event. Our grandmother had always told us that her birth was never registered. It's a woman's prerogative to not reveal her age, but eliminating all evidence of her birth from her town records seems to be going too far. We were excited when the Jewish records from her town in Galicia were indexed and the index and records were placed online. We searched the index, hoping that her story was wrong and that there was a record of her birth. We found her siblings, but no grandmother. We went a step further and manually searched the online records, page by page, for the possible years of her birth. Our grandmother was still absent. Instead of finding her, we found a time capsule version of the world she was born into. Names, occupations, places, signatures, handwriting, and language all tell us a lot about her neighbors. Compared to some of the other towns we've researched, there was more variety in the last names. That tells us that it was a larger town with more mobility. Occupations included a lot of doctors and lawyers. People in the records came from many towns, telling us that this was a growing town. Signatures were mostly in the Latin alphabet, compared to Yiddish. That shows a level of assimilation. The handwritings of the records keepers were ornate. The records were written in Polish. This gave us a feel for the cosmopolitan city she grew up in. We have not found her record yet, but we haven't given up. We did learn more about her childhood, an excellent addition to all of the stories we heard growing up.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers
interpreting your complex genealogical information

Monday, August 26, 2013

End the Frustration Now

After searching through for 8 hours you've found 500 people with your great-grandfather's name. Do you really want to try to figure out which one is the real deal? It's time to call in the professionals. We at Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers will happily spend the hours finding the correct records for your family and organize them into a useable and sharable family tree. For more information about our services, please see Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers , e-mail us at or call us at 561-376-4730.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Picture This

In our May 29th Genealogy Blog post, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, we told you how we were able to use signatures of some family members to substitute for photos. We have begged a wide array of family members for photos of every possible person on our tree and have been quite successful. Still, we needed photos for some and updated photos for others. And then Facebook came along. What a lifesaver. Instead of having to constantly ask for photos, they just come to us. Others, we have to search for. Finding family, and their photos, on Facebook is time consuming but very rewarding. It is a great source of recent photos of family.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers specializing in Jewish Genealogy.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Have You Seen Her?

Back when we started researching our family, the US Census was not online and it was not easy to find people. Everything was on microfilm and most records were not indexed. To find someone you had to know where they lived. Using the address you could look up the district where they lived and find the film. We became address collectors back then. We asked relatives where they lived during different Census years. We searched City Directories, Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Marriage Licenses and Naturalization Records for years around the Census to find addresses. We made up lists of people's addresses through time and organized them by Census year. As each Census becomes available this preparation and organization still comes in handy. It helps us find relatives before the Census is indexed and find people who are missing in the index.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers
helping you grow your family tree.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

The higher branches of our Family Tree were bare when it came to photos. Guess they were all camera shy. We wanted to represent these photo-less family members with an image on our Family Tree so they too can be brought to life. Through research we have acquired documents with signatures for many of these relatives. When you have a document signed by your relative you have a document seen and touched by your relative. It directly connects you to your relative. It makes them seem more real because they were there to sign the document. A person's signature is very unique, represents them, and shows who they are. Some print, some write in script, some are very ornate, some sign in Hebrew and some sign in Latin characters. Recently we began snipping the signatures out of the images of the documents and adding them to our Family Tree as our relatives' images. Now they can be properly represented. This is a work in progress.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers
specializing in Jewish Genealogy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Does Oldest Know Best?

In our January 18th Genealogy Blog post, How Did This All Start?, and our February 1st Genealogy Blog post, The Names Begin to Come to Life, we told you how we interviewed our relatives and collected genealogical information from them. Some of this information was incomplete or in conflict. When we started our genealogical research, we were often able to prove one relative's memory more reliable than another. Having had more than one familial source of information was invaluable. Our older relatives gave us a good base of information, while some of our younger relatives gave us more detailed information. You can't judge a genealogical source by their age.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Talking Tombstones

In our February 15 Genealogy Blog post, The Never Ending Quest, we told you how we found the names of our great-great grandparents. We wanted to confirm this information through a different source. We found that our great grandfather's tombstone had our answers. Many Jewish tombstones tell you a lot of useful genealogical information about your ancestors. There are many symbols and inscriptions that can tell you gender, what the person did for a living, Jewish Tribal affiliation, information about their spouse or children, and exact dates and location of birth and death. One of the most important and useful inscriptions is the lineage inscription. Most tombstones, that have Hebrew inscriptions, will include the deceased person's father's Hebrew name and sometimes includes earlier generations along the male line. Since we had our great grandfather's death certificate with all of the "don't knows" on it, we knew where he was buried. Using that information, we were able to get a photograph of his tombstone. Luckily the stone was in good condition and had a Hebrew inscription. His father's name in Hebrew was on the stone and confirmed the information from his sister's SS-5 Social Security Application. Now we also had his Hebrew name. This information could be useful in the future if we ever find European records for the family.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers specializing in Jewish Genealogy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How Much is Enough?

When we started researching our family we thought that many of our relatives died in the Holocaust. We had names, some photos and some information. Soon we learned about Yad Vashem, an institution in Israel that collects information on Jews killed in the Holocaust. Survivors and relatives submit a Page of Testimony with name and information on the victim's life and death. The focus is to keep the memory of the Holocaust victim alive and remembered forever. In 2004 all of the Pages of Testimony were put on the Yad Vashem website . We did not find any Pages of Testimony for our relatives. We were able to find a Holocaust survivor cousin who gave us more information on our relatives' life and confirmed Holocaust death. We still weren't sure if we had enough information to create Pages of Testimony for our family. Eventually we realized that we had to do it. We were the only people alive who were willing and able to create these Pages of Testimony. Even a little bit of information is better than none and will help memorialize our relatives. We had to be the voice from the grave. We had to keep their memories alive.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers helping you break through your genealogical brick walls.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What's In a Name?

Our research continued and we began to search for passenger manifests for our ancestors. We expected to easily find our grandfather's manifest. We were sadly mistaken. We knew his name, year of arrival, port of arrival, and place of birth. Searching the Ellis Island website, we searched for his name and found nothing. We tried variations of the spelling and found nothing. An unexpected brick wall? Time to start thinking out of the box. Maybe he traveled under a different name. One he didn't use in the United States. We knew the first name he was born with was different from the first name he commonly used. We tried that and it didn't work. Now on to the last name. He always used his mother's maiden name in Europe and in the United States. We had only searched that name. It was time to search using his father's last name. The combination of his birth first name and father's last name was a success. We found the manifest. Note to self: when you can't find someone under their usual last name, try their other parent's last name.

Jacobson and Jacobson Genealogy Researchers  helping you break through your genealogical brick walls.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Never Ending Quest

In the early 2000's we started doing research. One of the pieces of information that we wanted to find was the names of one of our sets of great-great grandparents. We found the year of death of our great grandfather on our cousin's family tree. Using his name and year of death, we ordered a copy of his death certificate from the state of Pennsylvania. We were sure that this would list his parents' names. It did not. The section for parents' names said "don't know." Next we ordered his marriage license application. We expected this to list his parents' names. Unfortunately Philadelphia marriage license applications in 1902 did not list parents' names. We didn't know where to look next. Luckily he had a sister. We found her listed in the online Social Security Death Index. Using the information in the Index, we ordered a copy of her original SS-5 Social Security Application. On this document she wrote her parents' names, including her mother's maiden name. If we had only focused on our direct ancestor we would never have found this information. One family mystery down, a million more to go!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Names Begin to Come to Life

In the 1990's, the internet entered our lives and with it came new opportunities to expand our family tree. We found a few missing family members through the internet. And these family members led to more family members and family tree information. We asked these people the same types of questions we had asked our relatives years earlier. Our tree continued to grow. We were blessed with more and more wonderful family members. The information we received from our family was invaluable, but as scientists, we needed to get more evidence to back up the anecdotal information. Some relatives gave us documents and details, but we still needed to do our own research.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Did This All Start?

Way back in the 1980's, before the internet and before access to Eastern European archives, we started doing our genealogy the old fashioned way. We sat down with every receptive relative and started on our family tree. We asked basic questions like "what were the names of your parents (grandparents, etc.), where were they born, when were they born, etc.?" We created a paper tree. This is where most people start. Questions led to more questions. Many seemed to have no answers. We hit the proverbial brick wall. We stopped looking for answers because we didn't know where to look next. By the 1990's our grandparents had died. Although expanding beyond our little paper tree seemed hopeless, we still had faith that someday more answers would come to us. I (Leslie) decided to ask a spiritual ancestor for help with our genealogy plight. I received assistance, but not the way I expected. That night I had a dream. My ancestor came to me and very quickly listed tons of names. I interrupted and asked her to slow down. She told me that this was the only way she could do this. When I awoke I knew she had helped, but I remembered no names. Soon after, things started to change for us.