Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moving Blog Posts

Thanks for visiting the 2013 FEEFHS Workshop at blogspot.  We have finally set up a more permanent workshop site and moved these blog posts along with all other workshop information to that site.  Please go to to read about the workshop, register, or just check on the latest posts.  This site will eventually be deactivated.

Conference Administrator

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Featured Speaker: Joanne Sher

FEEFHS is favored once again to have Joanne Sher present a track on Jewish Research, teaching both "Beginning Jewish Research" and "Beyond the Basics." (see course descriptions at

Last year I found Joanne to be one of the participants' favorite consultants, willing to help with just about anything they needed.  So, who better to begin with on my trek to highlight some of our speakers in a non-traditional way?

Beyond her very brief published bio:  This will be the seventh FEEFHS conference that at which Joanne has presented (four times in Salt Lake City, once in Milwaukee, once in Detroit, and once in St. Paul). She has also presented at conferences of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and is a frequent presenter with local civic groups.

Joanne serves as the Northern Minnesota representative on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, was the vice president of her local genealogical society for sixteen years, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of her synagogue as well as acts as trustee of the cemetery that belongs to her congregation.  Previously she served on the board of directors of the Minnesota State Oral History Association as well as that of her local Jewish council.

She also writes a column for her local genealogical society newsletter and serves as a volunteer genealogist at the county courthouse.  For twenty-five years her "day-job" was teaching  deaf and hard of hearing students in the local public schools.  She now teaches genealogy classes in the community schools as well as at the university level.

I asked Joanne to tell me a little about herself:  She writes: "I became interested in genealogy at the age of 12 when I started cutting obituaries out of the newspaper. I have been a professional genealogist for nineteen years but I never seem to have enough time to work on my own family history."  Still, she indicates that she has "made a number of break-throughs for myself and for clients," which she finds rewarding.

Since so many ethnic groups settled in northern Minnesota, she has not only helped clients with their Jewish Russian/Lithuanian/Ukrainian ancestors, but with Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Croatian, German, Slovenian, Canadian, British, and Polish ancestors! She indicates that her "greatest research success involved helping a woman find living members of her birth family in Croatia."

Joanne Sher at the "Unpacking the Prairie" exhibit
Designing Exhibits:  Joanne also conducts historical research for authors, art collectors, and for historical society exhibits.  She does the research, identifies images to use, writes the exhibit text, obtains copyright permission, and occasionally adds to or writes grant proposals.

Joanne worked to bring the traveling exhibit, "Unpacking on the Prairie: Jewish Women in the Upper Midwest” to Duluth, Minnesota, acting as the local project coordinator in addition to developing two companion exhibits, "Jewish Life in the Northland" and another about Jewish holidays.

Translating Hebrew Headstones:  Joanne was editor of a local Jewish community newspaper for eight years, and taught first year Hebrew to third graders for five years. One of her specialties is translating Hebrew headstones. She declares to me that it’s "not that simple as the inscriptions contain acronyms and Hebrew letters have numerical value. What appears to be a word can actually be a date."

Research Interests:  "Some of my research interests include Polish Americans who served in France through the Polish Army, the Grey Samaritans and the White Cross (1917-1921); World War I-era events and records; and the Galveston Plan that diverted Jewish immigrants from the port of New York to the port of Galveston, Texas and then up into the Midwest (1907-1914)."

Three Cheers for Joanne:  I know that I'm not exactly the traditional meeting planner when it comes to FEEFHS.  Instead, because FEEHFS covers one of the areas of research that I specifically follow, I take a more personal interest in it.  Asking a presenter to let you write a non-traditional blog entry about you is also not a normal request.  So, here are three cheers for Joanne, who apparently is also a good sport!  Thanks for letting us get to know you a little better.  I'm sure it will make your classes more personal for those who attend and your consultations that much more interesting.

Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 Workshop Information

20th Annual

Eastern European Research Workshop
August 6-10, 2013

   Registration is now open!

Please visit our Workshop Pages for Information and Registration:

Networking Reception:  This year's workshop will open with registration and a networking reception from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Tuesday, August 6th.  This is a great chance to meet the instructors, renew friendships made at past workshops, and make new ones. 

New This Year:    We will be offering a full day of pre-workshop events, to include an optional tour of Salt Lake City and an orientation track for new participants which includes a tour of the Family History Library and presentations on how to use both the library and FamilySearch for your research.
Main Workshop Format:  Workshop presentations will be held each morning Wednesday through Friday.   Afternoons will be spent at the Family History Library researching and/or having your one-on-one consultation with a specialist.  The workshop ends with the closing banquet Friday night, leaving Saturday available for research on your own or with additional contracted assistance.

Focus Tracks & Classes:  This year's workshop will feature tracks on Polish Research, Russian Research, German Research, and Kingdom of Hungary Research.  Our Jewish Research track will feature a course on "Beyond the Basics".  Germans from Russia Research and Baltic States Research round out the  mix.  For those of you who have requested a course on Slovakia Research, please note that this will be covered in the Kingdom of Hungary track.  And those who are interested in one of the Baltic States, such as Lithuania, should also plan to attend the Russian research track.  Additional information will be posted on what each track covers and presenters soon.
Research Essentials Track:  This track will offer courses  about records, resources, language, migration, and calendars that will help us build a strong foundation of general knowledge to utilize in our Eastern European family history research.

Individual Consultations:  The hallmark of this program is the opportunity to meet one on one with an instructor or specialist with knowledge of the area you are researching.

Closing Banquet & Keynote:  "Это Я?" - Genealogical Research and the Road to Self-Discovery will be the keynote topic delivered by Thom Edlund.  This year's banquet will be held on Friday evening to allow three full afternoons of assisted research and consultations.