To read newsletters about the wonderful activities going on at the JGSCV, visit their website:  and click on newsletters and then the year 2012 and then click on the issue of the month..for example our current issue’s direct link is:

Posted by: Janette Silverman | February 8, 2012


Jan Meisels Allen has an update for us about the US House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security.  She reported earlier that they held a hearing on Feb 2 where the genealogical community was not invited to testify!  A video with the hearing was posted to the Subcommittee’s website on February 7: She suggests that everyone in the genealogy community  watch the entire video as the questions and answer session is very telling where everyone is on this issue.

Jan writes:
The written statements of the five invited witnesses may be read at

The “Legal Genealogist” posted a summary of the hearing which may be read
at:  scroll down to February 3

As a result of what happened at the hearing it is obvious that the
genealogical community is under attack and we have initiated a campaign:
“Stop Identity Theft NOW”-which is the real culprit-not genealogists!  See
below. “Call To Action for IRS To Do Its Job.”

The House Ways and Means Committee Social Security Subcommittee held a
hearing on the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), the commercial name of
the Death Master File (DMF) on February 2nd. The genealogical community was
told they were not invited to testify, unfortunately the Committee members
and those invited to testify  made the genealogy community the scapegoat for
identity theft, by focusing on the public access to the SSDI on genealogical
websites. One of the witnesses was a grieving father whose deceased child’s
social security number was stolen and used fraudulently for tax refunds by
the identity thieves. He was very concerned that his deceased daughter’s
Social Security number could be seen on the internet by anyone. The Social
Security Administrator spoke on behalf of the Administration and during the
question and answer period stated, genealogists do not need the SSDI, they
can get their information in other ways, and can wait as they do for the
release of US census for “75 years. It was reported that the Administration
is very concerned with who has access to the SSDI and the Office of
Management and Budget is working on the issue.

The House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Social Security is
proposing to completely shut down use of the SSDI by genealogists as well as
other industries such as banking and insurance that rely upon its
information. Such an attempt is short-sighted and runs counter to the
original purpose of the SSDI: to actually combat fraud.

The subcommittee members indicated that this is a bi-partisan issue and both
the Democrats and Republicans will be working together to address this in
upcoming legislation.

Because of the negativity given the genealogical community at the hearing
the genealogical community, through the Records Preservation and Access
Committee (RPAC) [a joint committee whose voting members are the Federation
of Genealogical Societies, IAJGS and the National Genealogy Society with
participating members: APG, BCG, ASG, and ProQuest.] is
responding with a campaign to “Stop Identity Theft NOW”. The issue is that
the SSDI used appropriately is a mechanism to stop identity theft!

Call To Action For IRS To Do Its Job

Each year, fraudulent tax refund claims based upon identity theft from
recently deceased infants and adults are filed with the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS). The current target is the Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
or Death Master File since this file, as found on numerous
genealogy-oriented websites, could possibly be the source of identity
thieves acquiring a deceased person’s Social Security number.

The IRS could close the door to this form of identity theft if, in fact, it
were to use the Death Master File for the purpose for which it was created:
to reduce fraud. If returns claiming a tax refund were screened against the
Master Death File and matching cases identified for special processing, the
thief should receive a rejection notice for the filing.

Please  check  frequently  for information on what the
community is doing. In addition, IAJGS, FGS, NGS and RPAC will be submitting
statements for the record before the February 16 deadline for the record
closure.  I encourage you to go to the website and become involved and sign
the “White House “We the People Petition” now posted at
and accepting signatures, has a simple yet effective mission:

Take immediate steps that would curtail the filing of fraudulent tax refund
claims based upon identity theft from recently deceased infants and adults.

When on the “We the People” petition website you have to create an
account -name, e-mail address, location and create a password. The only
information  showing on the petition, is first name and first initial of
last name and location.  The White House requires 25,000 signatures within a
month to act!   Please have your voice counted!

Do not forget this is an issue where “you” need to contact your
Congressional representatives so that they hear us- access to public
information should not be the casualty in this fight! Only when we help our
elected representatives understand that using public records is the way to
stop fraud, not closing those records, can we protect all of the interests
we all have here.

To see who is on the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee go to: and scroll to the
The link by the Members name  on the full committee  roster connects to the
Members home page.

To find out your US House of Representative go to:
To find out your US Senator go to:

Please share this with your genealogical friends and your genealogical
society. If you have any problems with signing the petition, please let me

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Posted by: Janette Silverman | March 4, 2010

2010 census information

NARA (The US National Archives) has established a blog which will not only have information about the 2010 and how it will be retained for future genealogical access among other things, but also the kinds of information that can be found in the National Archives– check it out

Posted by: Janette Silverman | February 2, 2010

A not to be missed summer event

This summer, almost in our own backyard, the annual conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies will be held in LA.  Check it out – I did and I’ll be there – hope you will be too!

Posted by: Janette Silverman | January 1, 2010

Necessary tool

Ever puzzle, as I have, how to convert a family tree file into a spreadsheet so you can “play” with data as you sort through and attempt to figure out relationships and analyze your data?  Well, here’s a free download that I discovered this morning and spent a few hours trying out!  It will take a gedcom file and translate it into a file whose data you can easily see & manipulate – their website says it  “quickly and easily translates genealogy data from standard GEDCOM format into MS Access dB (*.mdb), MS Excel Worksheet (*.xls), comma delimited (*.csv), and text file (*.txt) formats. Pick a GEDCOM file to translate; select which fields you want to include in your dB, spreadsheet, csv, or txt file; choose an output format and file name to save the translated data in; and you’re there!”  The website is

The only issue I discovered (and I use Family Tree Maker) is that it takes those people for whom you did not enter a surname, but have a given name, and puts the given name into the surname space, leaving the given name blank.  What I did was to go through my FTM file and where I had a blank surname but a given name like Sora or Dovid was to put the following as a surname: Wife John Doe or Husband Jane Doe.  Pick something that works for you and have fun!

Posted by: Janette Silverman | December 17, 2009

Article in Gesher Galitzianer

The Gesher Galitzianer, a publication of a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Galicia, recently published an article written by Janette Silverman.  You can read the article here Galitzianer article.  To read more about this SIG and others, go to and click on “research groups” and then SIGs”.  Join a discussion, or just read about the research being done in areas in which you are interested!

Posted by: Janette Silverman | November 24, 2009

Do you have questions, are you looking for help with research?

Our next open-house is at Beth El Congregation on Sunday, Dec 6 from 1-3 PM.  We’ll be meeting from now on in the COmputer Lab, so please come in the Shurgin Center entrance and the Lab is the first door on the right – bring your own laptop and use our wi-fi or use one of our 4 internet connected computers.  Carlotn and Janette are available to answer your questions, point you in the right direction to do your own research, and even to help you get started!

Posted by: Janette Silverman | November 5, 2009

Social networking as a genealogy tool

Judy Shappee has a great presentation on Nov 12 from noon – 1 PM at the Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and history Building.  For details and registration information click here  Social networking and genealogy

Posted by: Janette Silverman | November 3, 2009


Many thanks to all of you who joined Carlton Brooks and me for our first Cyber-Genealogy workshops at Beth El.  Don’t forget to come back to Beth El on Dec 6 for our help with your searches.  As important is to remind you to register with the Ellis Island and JewishGen websites and to sign up for JewishGen discussion groups at

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