30    Sep 20090 comments

Daniel Horowitz – Genealogy and Translation Manager of MyHeritage.com – August genealogy USA tour. Part II of II

Read part 1 here.

Laurence Harris, Schelly Talalay Dardashti and Daniel Horowitz
Photo by Nancy Adelson

In addition to my work at the IAJGS Philadelphia conference and keeping up with MyHeritage.com responsibilities, I was also happy to meet our newest MyHeritage team member Laurence Harris, the Genealogy Advisor UK.

Schelly Talalay Dardashti (who writes the MyHeritage Genealogy Blog) also attended the conference and both of us enjoyed talking with Laurence over the six-day event.

Laurence was very helpful during my workshop and we three got together to exchange ideas, talk about the genealogy field and even managed a quick lunch out of the hotel in spite of the hectic conference schedule. Laurence will be working from London, where he lives with his family.

As part of my theoretical family vacation - there is no such thing for a workaholic genealogist addicted to the computer - we went to Pennsylvania State University to visit my brother-in-law, who's studying for his master's degree. The Blair County Genealogical Society, in Hollidaysburg, PA kindly re-scheduled their usual meeting day to fit in with my travel plans.

Don Feathers hooked me up with Doug Herendeen from Radio WRTA in Altoona, who interviewed me by phone and created three spots which were aired a few days before the lecture. These spots and extensive local media coverage made this evening a success, attended by more than 50, including 30 first-timers.

The group's president, Sharon Merritts, picked me up from my hotel in State College, and we talked about many things including an interesting potential project between the Israeli genealogy societies and her society, which has digitalized all the Jewish tombstones at the Altoona Cemetery and nearby, and now needs volunteers who can transcribe the Hebrew inscriptions.

Sharon provided a complete tour of the beautiful old town of Hollidaysburg and explained its history and architecture. It is indeed impressive as nearly all houses bear signs with the year of construction, and there are many historic buildings.

We had dinner at a typical American diner and then went to the small two-story building housing the genealogy library, with thousands of books, records, pictures and family research materials.

The society has a very good relationship with the town's courthouse, which digitizes all its records and gives the original documents to the library. This "win-win" situation could be a model for similar partnerships in other places. The courthouse gets rid of all its old paper, which takes a lot of space, doesn't have to deal with researchers who want to see the originals, and also receives an external backup for its records at a different location. The society receives all the original available records and documents. There is even a library liaison who is contacted each time the courthouse wants to throw something away. That person visits the courthouse and other public offices to see the records in question.

Vice president Bob Hewitt made me an honorary member, provided copies of recent newsletters and drove me back to the hotel. Everyone was friendly and I am grateful for being received so well.

In mid-August, my family arranged to visit old school friends who now live in Memphis, Tennessee, so I arranged a talk there as well. The Memphis Jewish Community Center responded and Amy Israel made all the arrangements.

Unfortunately, it was bad timing (the weekend before school started), but although the audience was small, they were very interested. The mixed group of newcomers and veterans talked for more than 2 1/2 hours on how to conduct research, involve others, Internet genealogy resources, additional resources and many other topics.

We had a wonderful time in this beautiful city and also visited Elvis Presley's Graceland estate. Now that our friends are living there, I'm sure I will be back and will arrange more programs there.

This was a very good summer as I met many kind, generous people, and enjoyed speaking about genealogy and MyHeritage's tools to different audiences.

I'm already preparing my next trip on April 2010, this time including the West Coast, so contact me as soon as possible and let's schedule a lecture for your group!

Meanwhile, you are invited to hear Susan E. King's September 15th interview with me on her online radio program, "Where genealogy and spirit connect." Susan and I had a wonderful time talking about the free tools MyHeritage provides to help genealogists in their research and assist families to connect and reconnect with each other. Enjoy!

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