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Monthly Archive for May, 2012

Chernorudsky Brick Wall

My grandfather had a sister, Clara Chernorudskaya. She married a man named Getsi Finkelstein in Zhitomir (now in Ukraine), who owned a toy store. They had a son named Aron. She and Getsi divorced, and Getsi remarried. This is a 1926 picture of Getsi with the children from his second marriage. Clara emigrated to Chicago, […]

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Before emigrating to Chicago, my great-grandfather, Naftula Pekler, lived in Zhitomir, a large town that is now in Ukraine. But he earned his living on the road – he was a traveling salesman for the Singer Sewing Machine Company in the early 20th century. Yes, Singer established a branch of the company in the Russian […]

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The 1920 Census Mystery

Genealogists always talk about brick walls, that one family member who is not to be found where you think they ought to be. My brick wall consists of my paternal grandparents, Jack and Sophie Neff. I know they got married in 1917, because I have their marriage certificate. Because of the United States federal census, […]

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I’ve spent the last few hours roaming the screens of a Russian-language genealogy website, the name of which translates to Jewish Roots: http://www.forum.j-roots.info/index.php The site is jam-packed with conversations among Russian-speaking genealogists about their family names, geographic locations, and ways to find out more about it all. My Russian is rusty, but I read well […]

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Grandma Sophie Immigrates to America

My grandmother, Sophia Klebanskaya, was 17 when she left Volkovysk for the United States in 1912. Volkovysk was in the Polish part of the Russian Empire then, but it’s in Belarus now. She planned to live with her sister, Jeanette, in Chicago. I did two oral history interviews with my grandmother before she died in […]

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My Grandpa, the Union Organizer

In 2008, I hit genealogical pay dirt at the Chicago History Museum and Archives. Their holdings included boxes of material from the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union, for which my grandfather, Benjamin Chernorudsky (aka Ben Share), had been an organizer back in the 1920s. One box contained an old fashioned telephone directory, about 4” by 8” […]

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A New Newlander

Our cousin Margie Goodman told me that my great-grandfather, Isaac Kishinevsky, had 2 brothers who were also cigar makers and who immigrated to Chicago before he did: Morris and Louis, both of whom changed their last names to Newlander. What I didn’t know until recently was that there was another brother as well. Samuel Kishinevsky […]

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The Pekler Daughters

This photo has always fascinated me, perhaps because of the odd angle at which it was framed. This is a formal shot of four Pekler sisters – Esther, Raya, Bertha, and Tanya. All four are wearing corsages with two flowers, either pinned or held in place on a chain. The fashion plate on the far […]

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Gitlya Getselevna Klebanskaya, aka Jeanette Klebansky, was the prettiest girl in Slonim, Poland in 1900. She was also pretty smart. In 1900, only 807 dentists practicing in the United States were women. No similar statistics are available for the former Russian Empire, where my grandmother Sophie and her sister were born. But on April 10, […]

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The Amalgamated

My grandpa Benjamin Chernorudsky (aka Share) was an organizer for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union in the 1920s. According to family stories, grandpa was on the negotiating team for the first 40 hour work week for tailors and cutters in Chicago – back then, a 6-day 48 hour week was standard. While visiting the Chicago […]

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