My First Virtual Conference Starts Monday

I love presenting at genealogy conferences and mingling with others equally devoted to family history. I also really enjoy visiting the exhibit hall, chatting with vendors, and seeing what’s new. I am not sure how well that will work in an online environment but I am about to find out.

This coming week is the 40th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. It was originally going to be here in San Diego, on Harbor Island, but now it is virtual, using a package called BigMarker. Click here for the IAJGS press release. I will be doing a live session called Ask the Experts About Jewish DNA with Adam Brown on Tuesday at 2:15 PST (5:15 EST).

For the originally planned San Diego conference, I was going to do a talk on dealing with Jewish endogamy in your autosomal DNA test results (click here for those slides), as well as tell a quick story about discovering via DNA that I have third cousins in South Africa (click here for that blog post), but those talks were cut when they went to the online format. So I will give a very brief summary of the endogamy issue in our Ask the Experts session or, if you want to know more, come talk to me at my “table” after that session. Click here to see my slide advising which Jewish matches to follow up on.

The pre-recorded, thus on demand, talks start tomorrow (Sunday) for conference attendees. I plan to listen to the one about South Africa now that I have relatives there.

I have been getting most of my information through the IAJGS facebook group for the conference. Recently they explained how to submit questions in advance, as follows:

“paying conference attendees can go to the Attendee Service Center NOW and find the “Webinar Entrance” option on the pulldown menu. Choose that, and you will see ALL live sessions (again, only if you’ve paid for the full conference) and you will see a black button which says “Join Discussion”. If you click on this you can leave a message in the chatbox for the session’s presenters! And it’s already working! Kudos to Judi Missel and Robyn Pearson for arranging this!”

I have been to several IAJGS conferences in the past. One in Salt Lake City and another in New York. It will be interesting to see how the online version compares.

Other genealogicial conferences that will be online this year are FGS (I will not be there) and Geneaquest where I am giving several talks.

My first forays into doing my own family history research were for my mother father’s German Jewish side. Back in 1999, I volunteered to help with registrations at my first genealogy conference, the IAJGS conference in New York City. I was just starting in genealogy and learned about the LDS family history center from a presentation that I attended. Soon after I went to that center in NYC and asked for the Munich synagogue records, which they happened to have in stock on microfilm. Within an hour I found my great grandparents marriage (now posted on GENI: part 1 here and part 2 here) plus many other family records. This is so easy I thought! (hah, little did I know).

Therefore I am extremely grateful to the IAJGS for helping me get started. I continue to volunteer for them as the webmaster for the IAJGS cemetery project (its partial home page is shown above). I also did some HTML work for one of their member organiztions – – an amazing resource for Jewish genealogists. I even set up a memorial site there for the tiny town in Bavaria where my Langermann ancestors once lived – Floss, or in German, Floß, which I visited twenty years ago.

View of Floss, Bavaria photographed by Ralf Rossmeissl in 2004


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