Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Ohio Genealogical Society 2019 Conference

One of The Genealogy Guys' favorite events each year is the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference. It is always filled with excitement, from the excellent speakers, the great lectures and workshops, the wonderful exhibitors, the luncheons and dinners, and a number of special events. We look forward each year to being asked to speak and to be involved.

We support this conference in a number of ways, including sponsoring speaker workshops. This year we are sponsoring Ari Wilkins' lecture, Finding the Last Slave Owner, and Blaine T. Bettinger's lecture, Evaluating a Genealogical Conclusion Including DNA.

This year's conference will be held May 1-4, 2019, at Great Wolf Convention Center in Mason, Ohio. There's something for everyone at Great Wolf as it is also a well-known resort so consider bringing the whole family. Wednesday is focused on workshops, for which there are additional fees. Thursday through Saturday are filled with all the other events. And if you thought the conference is only for people with Ohio connections, you would be dead wrong. Take a look at the conference web page at https://www.ogsconference.org to access and download the conference schedule (PDF), to learn about the fifty excellent speakers, and learn about the sponsors. The conference syllabus is now available at that site with your registrant's login.

Drew and George will both be there, each with three presentations. George will present:
  • How to Use RootsMagic WebHints and TreeShare (2-hour workshop)
  • How to Use MyHeritage and Its Vast International Resources
  • Using Multiple Databases in Tandem to Solve Problems
Drew will present:
  • Link Your Tools: Files, Notes, Tasks, and Trees
  • Use an Ancestor's FAN Club to Get Past Brick Walls
  • Advanced Evernote for Genealogists
You can register online at https://www.ogsconference.org/registration for this great conference. Attend for a day or the whole conference. This link will also let you register for workshops and meal events.

We look forward to seeing you in Ohio in just a couple of weeks!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Announcement of the Restore the Ancestors 2019 Project

The Unsung Heroes Awards celebrate the people who digitize, index, and transcribe original records for access by the world.

The Center for Family History at the International African American Museum,  FamilySearch and BlackProGen Live have announced the launch of Restore the Ancestors 2019, a volunteer community effort to index FamilySearch records of interest for African American genealogy, with a special focus on records for the former slaveholding states.

Learn more and how to get involved as a volunteer at https://cfh.iaamuseum.org/announcing-the-restore-the-ancestors-2019-project-help-us-index-records-for-african-american-genealogy/?preview=true&_thumbnail_id=212077.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Genealogical Detective Work Solves Looted Art Mystery

The following is taken from the MyHeritage Blog, dated 1 February 2019. There have been other stories about MyHeritage helping to restore art stolen by Nazis during WWII. We never tire of these great stories!

This is a story of genealogy at its best; a tale of reconnecting families with heirlooms that they didn’t know belonged to them or even that those items existed.

Laurie Greene, 73, from the United States, could not believe what she heard when she recently received a phone call from MyHeritage. During that memorable call, she was surprised with the news that as a living descendant and rightful heir of the famous Dutch-Jewish painter Mommie Schwarz, she is eligible to claim 133 illustrations that were stolen from her great-uncle.

The back story

MyHeritage, as a company, has a history of returning looted assets confiscated during WWII to their rightful owners. One of our driving forces as a company is to do good, and we place particular emphasis on conducting pro bono projects worldwide.

In 2014, CEO and founder of MyHeritage, Gilad Japhet, was approached by New York Times journalist Doreen Carvajal with an interesting request. She had set out on a journey to return looted artwork stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners. More than 2,000 unclaimed works of art, worth billions of euros today, are currently on display in 57 museums throughout France. The museums had not been able to locate heirs and rightful owners of the works. Doreen set out to change this and enlisted Gilad to assist. He began to research the heirs of four paintings from the looted art. They began with famous paintings that had records of provenance, showing who the owners were before WWII. Using MyHeritage and other online databases, he was able to trace the descendants and to uncover the hidden stories.

What began as an exciting challenge evolved into an unexpected adventure for Gilad, who discovered tales of intrigue, plotting, and – unfortunately – tragedy, all laced through family history over several generations. He was able to discover heirs for all four paintings he researched, and the rightful owners have since filed claims with the French authorities. He has helped to return precious and extremely valuable heirlooms to those families and has uncovered and returned a lost and important part of their family history. The story by Doreen Carvajal was featured on the front cover of the New York Times art section.

The Dutch Museum Association

In October 2018, The Dutch Museum Association published its findings on an internal audit by Dutch museums to determine which artworks in their collections were presumably stolen from their Jewish original owners by Nazis during WWII. A total of 170 pieces of art were discovered in the audit, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, and other objects.
The works of art in question included pieces by well-known Flemish artist Eugène Joseph Verboeckhoven and the Dutch-Jewish painter Mommie Schwarz. The pieces are held by 42 Dutch museums including the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, and Museum Kranenburg in Bergen.

Search for descendants

Intrigued by a new lead, MyHeritage set out on a pro bono initiative to search for living descendants who are rightful heirs of the original owners of the stolen artwork. Due to our previous achievements in reuniting families with lost artworks, we were positive we would have similar success with the Dutch artworks.

After seeing the list of 170 works that were determined to have been stolen, Gilad stayed up the whole night researching each one. He could not rest until he had mapped the artworks that had the potential for locating the living heirs who had a claim to them. He then traced the descendants of Samuel (Mommie) Schwarz and handed the project over to the MyHeritage research team to take it from there.

The MyHeritage research team began by examining those artworks with inscriptions, where the original owner’s name was known. Using MyHeritage SuperSearch, which contains millions of family trees and billions of historical records from around the world, they were able to find descendants of the original owners through the principle of reverse engineering. The team contacted the descendants, informed them about the traced art, and that they were the living descendants. Some descendants had no clue that they were related to that particular ancestor, or that they were the only living descendant. The descendants could then choose to file a claim to obtain the confiscated artwork for the family.

Justice at last

This process led the MyHeritage team to call a few descendants worldwide, including Laurie Greene. The Dutch-Jewish painter Samuel (Mommie) Schwarz was her great-uncle, the brother of her grandfather.

Laurie had submitted testimony at Yad Vashem for relatives who perished in the Holocaust, including her great-uncle, for whom she submitted testimony in 1995. There she listed Samuel as a famous artist in Holland.

Mommie Schwarz was born in Zutphen, the Netherlands on July 28, 1876, and married fellow artist Else Berg in 1920. The couple lived in Amsterdam and traveled often. Their work is recognized as the Bergen School. Mommie specifically created many port views, landscapes, portraits, and still lifes.

The Municipality of Bergen owns the drawing “Dubrovnik,” and an additional 132 other sketches and drawings by Mommie. These works were acquired by the Municipality in 1969, although it is not clear from whom they were purchased and how Schwarz lost possession of them.

Following the outbreak of the war, Mommie and his wife went into hiding in Baambrugge but decided to return to their house on the Sarphatipark in Amsterdam. There, they were rounded up on November 12, 1942, and transported via Westerbork directly to Auschwitz and were immediately executed upon arrival. Mommie did deposit some works during the war, but these 133 sketches were not among them. It is therefore not clear how these sketches left his possession.

As rightful heir, Laurie is now eligible to claim all 133 illustrations that were stolen from her great-uncle.

Laurie was very emotional as she received the news:
"I am going to do my utmost to claim this artwork back. I think it’s great that MyHeritage has proactively and voluntarily helped to make this possible. Bringing this art back into our family means justice after so many years."

There are many more stories to be uncovered, but the message is clear: The information is out there, and it’s up to us to uncover the past and unravel the stories of our ancestors!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Cyndi Ingle Joins The Genealogy Guys Podcast

Aha! Seminars, Inc., producer of The Genealogy Guys Podcast at http://genealogyguys.com, is pleased to announce that Cyndi Ingle, creator of Cyndi’s List, will join the podcast with a regular feature segment beginning on April 22, 2019.

Cyndi Says will showcase a different set of resources on each episode from her award-winning and globally recognized CyndisList.com, a free categorized list of more than 336,000 links for genealogical research. A link to her featured resources will be included in the podcast’s show notes, at The Genealogy Guys Blog at http://blog.genealogyguys.com, and on the podcast’s Twitter feed.

“Cyndi’s List has been the go-to site for more than 23 years for genealogists looking for quality web-based research resources,” said George G. Morgan, co-host of The Genealogy Guys Podcast and president of Aha! Seminars, Inc. “Cyndi works tirelessly to add new links to her categorized and searchable site and to keep up with changing links and removing obsolete ones.” Co-host Drew Smith said, “We are thrilled to have Cyndi join us! Longtime users of her site will be excited to hear her showcase important resources and genealogy newbies will be introduced to the powerful tool that Cyndi’s List provides researchers at all levels.”

Cyndi Ingle is the creator and innovator behind the award-winning and globally recognized CyndisList.com, a free categorized list of more than 336,000 links for genealogical research. Cyndi, a genealogist for more than 39 years, has expertise in using technology for genealogy. Additionally, her many active years in genealogy have also resulted in specialties for research in the United States and bringing together traditional research methodologies with organization, computers, software, and the Internet. Cyndi’s List was founded 23 years ago and is the go-to website for quality, reliable, and up-to-date resources. Cyndi is the recipient of several awards and honors, she has served in several capacities for genealogical organizations, she is an internationally-known guest lecturer, and she has authored numerous articles and three books.