Keynote Speaker Announced

David Laskin, photo from

We are proud to announce that the keynote speaker at IAJGS 2014 will be David Laskin. His award-winning books are especially relevant to our family experiences and to the World War I era.

Laskin’s book, “The Family”, tells the story of the three paths taken by his family. Descended from a Torah scribe in the Pale, some came to America, some went to Palestine as pioneer farmers, and some remained in Europe to face the horrors of the Shoah.

In his previous book, “The Long Way Home”, he describes the experiences of a dozen European immigrants who returned to Europe as part of the American expeditionary forces in World War I.

His presentation will be given during the opening session on Sunday evening, 27 July. More information about David Laskin can be found on his web site,

Jewish Utah – Congregation Brith Sholem

Brith SholemCongregation Brith Sholem was founded in 1890 in Ogden as Ohab Sholem. It reformed in 1916 as Brith Sholem and dedicated the synagogue at their current location in 1921.

Brith Sholem is the oldest continuously operating synagogue in Utah. It affiliated with the Reform Judaism movement in 1996 which most notably brings a student rabbi one weekend a month to lead services and classes, among other duties.

Friday evening services are held most weeks and occasionally there are Saturday morning services.

More information can be found on their web site at

The Conference Family Finder

Family FindersIf you’ve been to the IAJGS conference before, you’ve probably registered, flipped through the materials, planned out your weekly schedule, packed in as much learning and networking as possible, only to go home, look at the Family Finder, and realize you missed the chance to meet with a potential cousin.

Well, those days are over. Today we are announcing the Online Conference IAJGS Family Finder.

This year, the Family Finder will be online and completely searchable before the conference begins. Attendees will be able to search by ancestral surname, town, DNA haplogroup, JGS or SIG, or registrant name. For privacy, the Family Finder will not provide contact information, but it will allow each registrant the opportunity to contact other registrants via email beginning 60 days before the conference begins.

The Conference Family Finder will only be available to conference and LIVE! attendees, password-protected, and available only until the next IAJGS conference.

World War One Stories

WW1 2nd Infantry Division Memorial, Washington DC

WW1 2nd Infantry Division Memorial, Washington DC

One hundred years ago, the second day of our conference, marks the outbreak of World War One. The anniversary of the “War to End all Wars” will be a major focus of our conference, with sessions exploring how the War impacted the lives of our ancestors.

The War didn’t just start out of nowhere. There were a lot of events that brought it about. Mental Floss has been blogging about it for over two years. Their WW1 Centennial series tells the story of how the world arrived at the Great War, beginning with a peace treaty in November 1911. Start at the beginning, The Treaty of Berlin, or visit the main page of the series to read the most recent entries or choose those that interest you.

But there is more to the war than those major events. There are stories about individuals and families, what they experienced and how they endured.

You are the keepers of your family history. Did your ancestors fight in the War? Were they living in Europe or had they immigrated to the US or elsewhere? Did they participate in the War effort or try to evade involvement? Were families separated by oceans in the process of immigrating?

This is where we are asking for your help. We want you to share your stories and photos with us, to be gathered into a larger collection that we will publish online and share at the conference. Once you’ve registered for the conference, either as an in-person attendee or for LIVE!, you will receive login information. Log in and you will see an option to upload your story along with up to three photos. (If you have more, please email us; the web site can only accept one story and three photos per person.)

We look forward to reading more about our history from you.

IAJGS at RootsTech

IAJGS at RootsTech

Hal Bookbinder, Conference co-chair, in the IAJGS booth

For the first year, IAJGS has a presence in the Expo Hall for RootsTech.

What is RootsTech? It’s a conference focused on technology and its use in genealogy. Hosted by FamilySearch, RootsTech is in its fourth year, taking place in Salt Lake City in February.

While several IAJGS regulars have been to the conference before, and two of our usual attendees have won or placed in the Developer’s Challenge, IAJGS has never had its own presence before. We are providing flyers about the conference, LIVE!, IAJGS, and Utah JGS.

If you happen to be at RootsTech, come by booth 334 and say hello. We’ve had quite a bit of interest in just the first day of the conference.

Eating in SLC – Trofi

Trofi/Spencer'sThe Trofi Restaurant is located in the lobby of the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. It doesn’t get more convenient than that.

The Trofi is a breakfast buffet, open from 6:30am to 10am, or 11am on weekends. Within the Trofi is a Starbucks Express, open until 2pm daily.

During our conference, the Trofi will be used for some official meal functions, including “Breakfast with the Experts”. Pre-packaged kosher meals will also be available in the restaurant during lunch.

Jewish Utah – Chabad, Bais Menachem

Chabad LubavitchBais Menachem is the synagogue of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, located at 1760 South 1100 East in Sugarhouse. Located in a building that was formerly a variety of retail shops and offices, the location was purchased and renamed Chabad Center Square about seven years ago.

Rabbi Benny Zippel is the Executive Director of the Chabad, along with Co-Director Sharonne Zippel. He is well known for his community outreach program, Project HEART — Hebrew Education for At-Risk Teens. Beginning with one call from a father in California to check on his son in a treatment center in Utah, Rabbi Zippel now visits numerous centers weekly, working with more than 200 kids.

For more information about the Chabad, visit their web site at

Using the FHL – Microfilm Cabinets

The Family History Library is home to up to 2.4 million reels of microfilm. Rows of film cabinets line large areas on three floors of the building.

Microfilm CabinetsSigns at the end of each row direct you to which films are in that row. The lowest numbered films are in the farthest corner from the elevators. From there, the numbers increase moving up and down the aisles. This is the “Core”.

At the end of the Core begins the “Overflow”. Every film in the Library has been requested by a patron. When the drawers fill up, sometimes additional films do not fit in place and are placed in Overflow. (The US/Canada floor has a Census section in between the two areas. The British floor does not have Overflow.)

Overflow Film Drawers

Overflow Film Drawers

Each drawer shows the lowest numbered film in the drawer. The Core cabinets are labeled in white and the Overflow use pink.

Films in the Core and Overflow are self-serve. Each patron must find the films they want and return them back to their drawer when finished. It is not uncommon to see magnets or Post-its left on drawers to make returning the films easier. (Some patrons will write the drawer numbers right on the boxes [450 A-F in the image], but that is not the best idea. When films are shifted, which happens, that can get confusing.)

Typical films in a drawer

It is recommended that each patron only borrow up to five films at a time. Each reel has the film number written on the side, so be sure to put each reel in the correct box if you use more than one.

And be careful to replace the film in its proper order and in the correct drawer. Remember, if you misfile a film, the next person may not be able to find it — sometimes the next person is you.

Registration is Open

If you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already heard the news from elsewhere, but registration for the 2014 IAJGS Conference is now open.

Early Bird

Early Bird rates available for registration

Full conference registration is $295 if you sign up by April 30th. IAJGS Live! is $149 for the week, or $99 if you have a full registration. We also offer a full registration student rate of $100. More pricing details can be found in the Registration FAQ, including daily rates, domestic partner rates, and you can see how much you’ll save by getting in during the early bird rate.

Go to and sign up today!

And don’t forget to submit you lecture proposal in the Call for Papers. That closes on January 31st.

Jewish Utah – Congregation Kol Ami

Congregation Kol AmiCongregation Kol Ami was founded in 1972, merging the former Congregation B’nai Israel (Reform, founded in 1891) and Congregation Montefiore (Conservative, founded in 1899). Kol Ami means “All my people” and is affiliated with both the Reform and Conservative movements.

Kol Ami’s Rabbi is Ilana Schwartzman, a third generation rabbi, following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. She joined Kol Ami in 2011.

Services at Kol Ami are divided between the Reform, generally Friday nights, and Conservative, generally Saturday mornings.

Kol Ami oversees all three Jewish cemeteries in Salt Lake City, each named for their former affiliated congregations: B’nai Israel, Montefiore, and Shaarei Zedek.

Kol Ami is located in the East Millcreek neighborhood, just off of I-80 at 2425 Heritage Way (2760 South). For more information about Kol Ami, visit their web site at