Thursday, August 21, 2008

IAJGS – The JewishGen Presentation

Perhaps the most talked about topic at this years conference (beside for the new logo, that is:)) has been the new cooperative agreement between JewishGen.org and Ancestry.com.

It is an agreement that has elicited much passion and spirited dialogue among many of the conference participants. We are certain that all members of the JewishGen family would like to participate in the discussion, and we hope that this blog will serve as an appropriate medium to facilitate that communication.

Please look for new blog posts soon with specific Q/A’s about the new deal, which will give everyone the opportunity to respond and leave comments and questions in the comments field.

Back to last night's event...

In an effort to be as transparent and helpful as possible, a good portion of last night’s JewishGen presentation focused on the new agreement with Ancestry, though there was much talk and excitement generated about many of the new JewishGen projects and development initiatives.

After Jackye Sullins from Ancestry.com made the initial introductions, Warren Blatt, managing director of JewishGen, took the microphone and proceeded to offer a presentation that was constantly interrupted by applause and laughter.

Warren began the evening by unveiling – officially - the new JewishGen logo and identifying the key staff and volunteers. After a few good jokes, including one about Hillary Clinton being the VP of JewishGen, he got down to business.

Saving the best for last (by that I mean the new agreement), he first highlighted some of the major new projects and features that JewishGen has worked on this past year. After Warren was finished, Michael Tobias provided a clear and concise demonstration of how the new features worked, allowing people to try out the new features as soon as the JewishGen session was over (which judging by the feedback I received this morning at the JewishGen booth, many people did!)

As an update on some of the key JewishGen projects:
  • JOWBR – has now well over 1 million records
  • Holocaust Database – with the addition of over 50,000 new records, the Holocaust Database now has over 2 million records
  • Yizkor Books – These are some of the best ways to learn about Jewish communities in the old country. This year has seen many new Yizkor books translated as well as new initiatives launched to translate new ones.
  • Yizkor Books Necrology – An exciting initiative to index a list of names that appear throughout the Yizkor books.
  • Publish on Demand – We now how 4 books available for purchase (with more on the way) at the museum’s bookstore, and they can be ordered by clicking here.
  • Education – 9 classes were taught to over 600 students brining in over $13,000 for JewishGen
  • ShtetLinks – Susana Leistner Bloch (a newly appointed VP) has nurtured this project to include well over 324 town websites
  • ViewMate – despite a recent hacking attack, many major improvements have been made to this incredibly valuable feature which permits researchers to ask for help in translating documents and pictures.
Stay tuned for the more updates, which will offer further details about new JewishGen projects and the exciting new agreement between JewishGen.org and Ancestry.com

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