JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Where is "Reslawa", Russia? #general


Emily Garber
 

**Emily Garber wrote:
"Perhaps, after the JewishGen Discussion Group has posted several
alternative notions regarding the location of a place identified as
"Reslawa" in an emigrant's passenger manifest, it is time to talk
methodology.

"It is never good to rely on only one record to "prove" something
about one's ancestors. Consider each piece of evidence as a clue.
Search high and wide for other records."

**Alexander Sharon responded:
"It is always a good idea to talk about a methodology. But before one
has committed efforts to search through other documents, have anyone
review manifest record for the elusive town Reslawa."

If I understand Alex Sharon's comment correctly, we are in agreement.
My comment on methods for locating one's ancestral community did not
include a comprehensive list everything a researcher should consider.
I am glad Alex reminded us that we must squeeze as much information
out the manifest as we can.

Handwriting on manifests can be a challenge. It is possible that the
town name "Reslawa" had been misconstrued by the clerk who wrote it on
the passenger manifest page, by the person who indexed the entry for
whichever company placed the index online, or by the researcher,
herself. In addition, there may be other information on a manifest
that may provide more clues to community location. These could include
location of family member left behind, birth place of passenger,
country of origin, etc. These should be reviewed in light of
historical and political context at the time of emigration.

JewishGen, of course, provides ViewMate, a wonderful resource for
sharing images of records in question. It would be another good piece
of information if those posting town name questions would place an
image of the record online for all helpful JewishGen Discussion Group
participants to examine.

In addition, JewishGen has a nice write-up on "Finding Your Ancestral
Town." It should be required reading for those trying to pin down
family origins in the Old Country. Go to Get Started > Frequently
Asked Questions > 11. Finding Your Ancestral Town. The direct URL is
https://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/faq.html#Towns

Those who know my work also know that I have taken the above process
several steps further, suggesting that researchers check additional
records for an immigrant's family, friends, neighbors (and especially
landsman), that may provide information bearing on the questions at
hand. I also suggest researching origins of information found in some
of the most useful compiled works, such as the comprehensive
gazetteer, "Where Once We Walked." My most recent article on this
topic appeared in Avotaynu 32:3 (Fall 2016): "Beyond the Manifest:
Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to Confirm One's Ancestral
Origins."

Genealogy is a research discipline. All of us, those new to the field
and those experienced, should push ourselves beyond only one record as
a source of information. If we select one location >from among several
possibilities, we need to understand and document the reasons we made
that decision. The question of one's family origin is to too important
a way-point in one's research to risk getting it wrong.

Emily Garber
Phoenix, AZ

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