Ronald D. Doctor
Revitalizing JewishGen Ukraine SIG Part 2 of 3
General Meeting at the IAJGS Conference, 15 August 2011
Dr. Ronald D. Doctor, Coordinator, Ukraine SIG
In Part 1 of this presentation, I described the coverage and structure
of Ukraine SIG and mentioned two projects that we can begin quickly to
make more data available to our researchers. In this part, I will
discuss a new Research Plan for the SIG.
For many reasons, our SIG has not actively pursued the many sources of
data that are readily available. It is time to change that. It is time
to revitalize our SIG. Our Mission for the next two years is to
revitalize Ukraine SIG so that it becomes a useful resource for Jewish
family history researchers.
* Form a new, =93worker=94 Board
* Develop and implement a new research plan
* Improve communications
* Redirect focus >from Guberniyas to Districts and Towns?
* Democratize the SIG?
I have begun appointing a new Board for Ukraine SIG. In addition to
their decision-making roles, each Board member will have a particular
job that helps the SIG achieve its Objective and fulfill its Mission.
I hope to announce the members of the Board and their areas of
responsibility within the next few weeks. Please let me know if you
are interested in serving on the Board.
I mentioned earlier that in the past we had an Advisory Committee.
Each member of that Committee was a Guberniya Coordinator, responsible
for developing data sources for his/her Guberniya. However, I wonder
if that is an effective model for the new Board. It seems to me that
almost all the data that are available, are specific to towns or
Uyezds (districts), not Guberniyas. So, perhaps we should have a town
or district focus, something like JRI-Poland has. Perhaps each Board
member's responsibilities should focus on specific Projects, rather
than Guberniyas. Or, perhaps each Board member should have a
'functional' role like Towns Director or Projects Director. In the
discussion period after this presentation, I would like to hear your
thoughts about this, and we'll continue the Discussion during our Open
Board Meeting tomorrow.
Listening to you and communicating with you frequently is important.
We must improve communication between the SIG leadership and those who
are researching ancestors and towns in Ukraine. We will use the
Discussion List, e-mail, and the annual IAJGS Conference to do this.
A NEW RESEARCH PLAN
Let's get into some specifics. It is clear that very large amounts of
data are available ? but not all data are created equal. Some
resources require language skills; some carry restrictions imposed by
Ukraine Archives; some datasets are available only if purchased.
Because of these constraints we've divided potential projects into
those that can be done in the short term and those that will require
more time and skills. In all cases, however, we will be relying on
volunteers to lead and work on our projects. If there are no
volunteers for a project it just won't get done. And, if there is not
funding for a project that requires professional translators, that
project will not get done.
MEDIUM TO LONG TERM PROJECTS
Some of the most important data sources will take time and skills to
develop. Our medium to long-term tasks include:
* Open negotiations with FHL & Ukraine Archives to allow indexing projects
-- There are 111 FHL microfilm sets with Jewish vital records
-- There are 158 Ukraine towns on FHL revision list microfilms
* Obtain & translate CAHJP-vital records, kahal docs, official documents
* Obtain & translate Holocaust era documents
-- USHMM has 293 documents
-- Yad Vashem has more than 1,000 documents
* Extract Ellis Island Database records by town name and index the
* Obtain & translate ? by town
-- Russian & Polish Business Directories
-- YIVO & HIAS documents
* Viedemosti (gazettes/newspapers) ? by guberniya
* Russian language websites (like Jewish Roots Forum) ? more than
100 document sets
Vital records and Russian censuses (revision lists) are, by far, the
most important sets of documents available. They are available at the
LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. The FHL catalog lists
vital records microfilms with Jewish records for 111 towns, and 158
revision list microfilms for 158 towns in Ukraine. The problem is that
Ukraine Archives has put restrictions on indexing projects that use
?their? records. We?ll try to change this. If we are successful in
negotiating with Ukraine Archives and with the LDS, we will be able to
obtain these records in digitized form. Then, with sufficient funding
via your donations, and with volunteers to lead the translation and
indexing projects, we can hire professionals to translate the Cyrillic
and Hebrew/Yiddish records.
In addition to the LDS, the Central Archives for the History of the
Jewish People at Hebrew University in Jerusalem also is microfilming
vital records and other key documents in Ukraine. We can build on
existing relationships with them to begin acquisition, translation and
Holocaust era documents are underutilized. The online catalog of the
US Holocaust Memorial Museum has 293 documents and lists that deal
with Ukraine Jews. Yad Vashem has more than 1,000. We need project
leaders to obtain these documents, manage translation projects, and
extract names and places for the JewishGen Ukraine database.
Several JewishGen groups have been extracting town-based data >from the
Ellis Island database. These extractions are important. They allow us
to index the two sets of fields that the Ellis Island folks did not
index: person and address at destination and person left behind in the
old country. By extracting and sorting data >from these fields we can
identify family groups that have different surnames. We will begin
EIDB extraction projects for key Ukraine towns, and we'll need town
leaders for each project.
I want to highlight an unusual data set that popped up recently. You
may have seen the messages that Marilyn Robinson has been posting on
the Discussion List. Marilyn has been extracting messages, data, and
documents >from several Russian language websites. She has sent us more
than 100 document sets. Marlis Humphrey is organizing and classifying
these documents so that we can figure out which are worth pursuing.
I'll turn this over to Marlis now so that she can describe what she
Marilyn Robinsons has found a very large number of Russian language
documents, data sets and name lists on the following websites.
* Forum Revival Union Pedigree Traditions
* IOP Genealogy Forum (http://forum.vgd.ru/index.php)
* Jewish Roots Forum (http://www.forum.j-roots.info/index.php)
* Jewish Roots Portal (http://j-roots.info/site/)
* Megapolis (http://www.megapolis.org/)
Marlis is reviewing and organizing the data on these sites to
determine which are high value resources. As she progresses further,
we will notify you via our Discussion List that updates to her
spreadsheet are available on our website.
[NOTE: Yefim Kogan spoke to us about Ukraine data that he has found as
Coordinator of the Bessarabia Revision List translation project. His
presentation is not yet available. We will notify you of its
availability through messages on our Discussion List.]
SHORT TERM PROJECTS
Most of the medium to long term projects we?ve just discussed will
require some minimal skill in reading names recorded in Cyrillic
and/or Hebrew/Yiddish. However, most of the short term projects we?ve
identified don?t require these skills.
* Index unindexed Yizkor Book translations and submit to Yizkor Book
Master Name Index
* Extract data >from Shtetlinks sites
* Extract data for Ukraine towns >from Montefiore Census
* Add town data to JG Communities Database for towns that are not
currently in it
* Photograph matzevot & gather data >from U.S. landsmanshaftn burial
plots for Ukraine towns
Most require only the ability to enter data into a spreadsheet or word
processing program. Existing Shtetlinks websites and Yizkor Book
translations are particularly important. We are starting to reach out
to people involved with these projects. Linda Cantor is leading this
effort. She soon will be in contact with you if you are a Shtetlinks
(KehilaLinks) website owner or if you led a Yizkor Book translation
Project. We hope you will be receptive to her offer of assistance.
[NOTE: Linda Cantor's presentation is not available. When it becomes
available we will post it on our website and will announce it on our
We need volunteers for all these activities. The Cemeteries Project
also is important. There are Landsmanshaftn plots in many of old
Jewish cemeteries around the U.S. We need to identify which of these
plots are for emigrants >from towns in Ukraine so that we can recruit
volunteers to photograph the matzevot, translate the Hebrew
inscriptions, and enter the data to a spreadsheet in JOWBR format.
In the next part of the presentation, I will discuss SIG structure and
governance and will explain how you can help enhance the SIG?s
usefulness for your own research and to help others.
Ron Doctor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Coordinator, JewishGen Ukraine SIG
Researching DOCTOR (DIOKHTER), VARER, AVERBAKH, KORENFELD ... all from
Kremenets, Oleksinets, Yampol, Vishnevets
and KAZDOY (KOSODOY), DUBINSKI, DUBOWSKY ... all >from Kiev, Uman, Odessa