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  • Famous Ancestor: Aaron Burr

    At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Burr took part in the invasion of Canada and the failed attempt to capture Quebec. Burr also participated in the Manhattan skirmishes and the Battle of Monmouth. After the war, he served in the New York State Assembly and then served as attorney general for two years. In 1791, he was elected as New York senator, defeating incumbent General Philip Schuyler, Alexander Hamiltion's father-in-law. Burr served as senator for six years, then spent two more years in the New York State Assembly from 1798 to 1799. He ran in the presidential election of 1800, along with Thomas Jefferson, incumbent John Adams, John Jay, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Under the system at that time, the recipient of the majority of the votes was elected president, while the runner-up became vice president. Burr tied with Jefferson in the Electoral College, and then Jefferson was chosen as president by the House of Representatives. In 1804, when Jefferson was running for re-election, he dropped Burr from his ticket, so Burr ran for the governorship of New York. During Burr's campaign, Alexander Hamilton defamed him in the press. The insulted Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel: Hamilton accepted, and Burr killed Hamilton on 11 July 1804.

    To view Aaron Burr's Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN#500792438. You can also see whether or not you are related to Aaron Burr by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily. . You can also see whether or not you are related to by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you .

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  • Italian Jewry

    The Italian Jewish community was formed from different groups of Jews that arrived on the Italian Peninsula at different times. Some Jews lived in Rome before 70 A.D., and more Palestinian Jews arrived in southern Italy in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. They later moved north and formed the roots of Ashkenazi Jewry. Throughout their history, Ashkenazi Jews were eminent rabbinical and Talmudic scholars.

    Beginning in 1492 with Fernando and Isabel's expulsion edict, and spurred on by the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, many Sephardic Jews from the Iberian Peninsula migrated to Italy. They settled mostly in Rome and in the northern cities, where Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews mingled and married freely. During the 1800s, they were joined by Jews from the Ottomon Empire. For most of their history, Italian Jews enjoyed relative tolerance. But this "Golden Age" was not to last. The word "ghetto" is Italian in origin; Italian Jews were confined to Jewish-only neighborhoods and made to listen to anti-Jewish sermons in their own synagogues, and eventually about fifteen percent were killed by the Nazis. The population of Italian Jews today is only about 40,000.


    When under Napoleonic rule, civil registration laws in Italy required all Jews in Italy to stop using patronymic surnames and to adopt fixed surnames instead. Many took the names of the towns or cities in which they lived. For that reason, you can often trace your ancestors to their town of origin using their surname. Be careful, though-many towns in Italy have the same names, or very similar names. Also, even though we think of Italy as one nation, it did not achieve unification until 1870. The borders of the country were still changing as late as 1918. Because of similar town names and changing boundaries, it is essential to consult a detailed map or geographical dictionary for Italy.

    Once you know for certain where in Italy your ancestors lived, you must determine whether or not there is still a Jewish community in that town. If so, write to them to find out if the local records for Jews are currently kept in the synagogue or in the town archives. If there is no longer a Jewish community in the town where your ancestors lived, find the nearest Jewish community and contact them. They may have current stewardship over the records, or they may be able to tell you who does.

    Aside from resources specific to Jewish Italian ancestors, there are also many good resources for Italian research that you should consult. See or for ideas. You should also be prepared to deal with the challenge of old Italian handwriting and documents. Use this handwriting tutorial or this tutorial on Latin and Italian abbreviations.

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  • How To Delete An Anchor

    Anchors are a great way to easily organize and navigate through your family tree. Anchors allow you to quickly get to an ancestor that you frequently work on in Genealogy Browser. If for some reason you would no longer like to have someone as an anchor, follow these simple steps to make that change:

    In the top left corner of your genealogy browser, click on the button that says: "Anchors." It is located in-between the "View" and "Help" button. Then click on "Organize Anchors," and a new box will appear. Towards the bottom will be a list of all your anchors. Highlight the person you wish to delete as an anchor, and then press the "Delete" button right next to it. You will then be notified that this will delete the individual as an anchor, click "Ok." Then click on the "Ok" button at the bottom of the box, and you have now deleted an anchor.

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  • Famous Ancestor: Patrick Henry

    Patrick Henry was born in 1736 in Virginia. He became a lawyer in 1757; he was a skilled and passionate orator, and an advocate for the cause of American rights. He first became well-known as a radical and revolutionary in 1763, when he was the defending lawyer in the "Parson's Cause," a case in which he argued against the royal power to veto colonial laws. In 1765 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and became its leading radical member, proposing the Stamp Act Resolutions and working to get them passed.

    Henry's famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death!" were spoken on 23 March 1775 in the House of Burgesses, when he argued that Virginia had to mobilize troops to check the movements of the British. The following month, royally-appointed governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, was growing nervous because of the revolutionary feeling in the colony, so he seized the colonial militia's stockpile of gunpowder. Henry led the militia, chased down Dunmore, and forced him to make payment for the stolen gunpowder. In 1776, Henry was elected governor of Virginia and continued to work for independence from the British.

    To view Patrick Henry's Family Tree, login to OneGreatFamily, launch Genealogy Browser, and enter OGFN#530995396. You can also see whether or not you are related to Patrick Henry by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • A History of the Jews in the Netherlands

    The first Jews began coming to the Amsterdam in the late 1500s; they were Portuguese merchants who were conversos, Jews who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism. Because they were a boon to commerce, these Jewish merchants were welcomed by the Dutch authorities. In the atmosphere of tolerance that they enjoyed in Amsterdam, many conversos reverted to their Jewish faith, and beginning in the sixteenth century there was a strong presence of Sephardic Jews (Jews from Spain and the Iberian Peninsula) in Amsterdam. Later there was an influx of Ashkenazi Jews, who were driven out from the rest of Europe by persecution. Sephardim and Ashkenazim intermingled freely in Jewish communities in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and most mercantile cities of Holland.

    From 1795 to 1813, Holland was under French rule. Thus in 1796 Jews were granted civil rights per French law. Once freed from French rule, Holland became a constitutional monarchy and, in 1917, enfranchised all adult males. Jews in Holland owned thriving businesses and some had prestigious posts and leadership positions in Dutch politics.

    To research your Jewish-Dutch ancestors, one of the most valuable resources is civil registration. Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths was instituted in 1811 under Napoleon. With the advent of civil registration, Jews were required to adopt fixed surnames instead of using the patronymic surname system; they had to appear before a civil register and designate what surname they would adopt. Thus there are surname registry books that you can search.

    Another resource for family researchers is the Bevolkingsregister, a population register that was essentially like the census. It recorded the name, date and place of birth, religion, marital status, and occupation of every individual living within a house. In addition, the Bevolkingsregister records the movements of individuals and families: when they moved into a particular house, when they moved out, etc. At the turn of the 20th century, the system was tightened up and instead of enumerating people in books, each individual was required to have a registration card. Each time someone moved, a new card was generated for them and kept in a central registry. (see footnote 1)

    Beginning in 1940, Germany took over and occupied the Netherlands. Since part of Hitler's agenda was to round up all the Jews there, the Nazis used Holland's card registration system to locate Jewish families and deport them to death camps in Poland. Some registration cards in Amsterdam and The Hague were destroyed by the Dutch resistance-because of this, some Dutch Jews were able to slip through the cracks, go into hiding, and survive the German occupation. Out of Holland's Jewish population of 140,000, only 40,000 survived. (see footnote 2)

    The large Jewish communities in Holland kept records of their own; these records have been preserved in the municipal archives of Amsterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Rotterdam. They include records of membership, marriage, and burial, but not circumcision registers, since the mohel (ritual circumciser) typically kept his own records. Both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews appear equally in these valuable records, as well as in civil registration, surname registry books, and population registers.

    Footnote 1 - Odette Vlessing, "The Netherlands," Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy, ed. Sallyann Amdur Sack and Gary Mokotoff (Bergenfield, New Jersey: Avotaynu, 2004), 438.

    Footnote 2 - Odette Vlessing, "The Netherlands," Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy, ed. Sallyann Amdur Sack and Gary Mokotoff (Bergenfield, New Jersey: Avotaynu, 2004), 437.

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