Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Massachusetts Database to help in finding Jewish Roots

From a recent Boston.com article:

Many people tracing Jewish roots find stories with heartbreaking gaps as families were split apart by immigration and the horrors of the Holocaust, and records of birth, marriage, and death are often missing or deliberately destroyed.

Now, three new databases compiled by Clingan, who lives in Dedham, and others with the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston are about to go public to help Jews all over the world track their Massachusetts roots.

In the lists, every synagogue in the state is inventoried, as well as all Jewish cemeteries and newspapers, rendering the search for family a little more manageable for those starting out.

Clingan’s labor of love, which included searching through dusty archives and tapping the foggy memories of strangers to trace her grandparents’ emigration, two to Chelsea and two to Burlington, Vt., honors basic Jewish principles, she said.

The 568-item database Clingan compiled contains a listing of every congregation in the state, past and present. It says when and by whom it was founded, the various locations it occupied, as well as when it closed and what happened to its records, and tracks the many mergers among congregations, to the last surviving one.

That list is cross-referenced to a cemetery database compiled by Groton resident Alex Woodle, and a third database prepared by David Rosen of Boston that lists the state’s Jewish newspapers. The plan is eventually to convert all the information into a database format and to make it accessible using a one-step search tool, but that may take time to implement.

Links to the databases are located at JGSGB.org


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