Headstone inscriptions provide one of the most important tools for those researching their Jewish genealogical history, patronymic naming. This presentation will familiarize attendees with the evolution of family surnames and the practice of patronymic naming. Recognizing the components of patronymic naming, participants will learn how to take advantage of these clues to link their family through generations. Nolan will go through an actual case study using headstone inscriptions and will show participants online resources to help find headstone information worldwide.
The next part of the presentation will show examples of headstones and what one will find if one takes a trip to the cemetery. Nolan will explain the meaning of symbols found on stones. He will explain how to understand the inscriptions, even if one can’t read Hebrew. He will also show many examples of inscription trends, some odd inscriptions, and errors in inscriptions…even well-known ones. With a presentation on cemetery records, you wouldn’t expect to leave laughing, but Nolan guarantees you will.
Nolan Altman was bit by the “genealogy bug” when he was inspired to write his family history in 1996 in memory of his mother. After making use of the valuable information on JewishGen, he volunteered to do data entry on various projects. In time, he was asked to become the Coordinator for JewishGen’s Holocaust Database and, subsequently, the Coordinator for the JOWBR (JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry) project. Nolan works with volunteers from around the world helping to grow both databases for the benefit of family members and researchers. Nolan currently holds the position of JewishGen’s Vice President for Data Acquisition and focuses on growing the JOWBR, Holocaust databases and JewishGen’s new Memorial Plaque project.
Nolan has made various presentations and conducted computer workshops at the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) annual conferences in Boston, Washington, D.C., Paris, New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. He continues to present his “How to Document and Research Your Family History” seminar to adult and continuing education classes, as well as university Holocaust and European history classes. He has had articles published in Avotaynu, Dorot, Stammbaum, Shemot and the FEEFHS Journal. He is currently on the board of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) and was President of JGSLI (Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island), where he coordinates its Yearbook, Cemetery, and Memorial Plaque projects. Nolan is also a member of the JGS of New York.