Genealogists are branching out whats behind a name

Topics will include tracing the genetic line of King David from ancient to modern times, and the pattern of cousin marriages within the House of Rothschild.

While many attendees will be learning how to trace the noble lineages of barons and kings, others will be busy discovering ways to find their families' lost "black sheep" through the use of FBI files, prison records, police crime reports and other sources.

Participants also can learn about the Jewish role in Britain's industrial revolution and the use of genealogical techniques to trace looted cultural property in the Nazi era.

"It's a much wider range of speakers and topics than offered by any previous conference," said Issroff, adding that the program places special emphasis on Sephardic sources, Anglo-Jewry, genetics and Jewish migration.

"It's amazing that interest among Jews in tracing their family trees went from hundreds of people in the early 1980s to tens of thousands of people today," said Gary Mokotoff, a former president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, which boasts some 85 member societies worldwide.

The first conference in 1981 attracted only 75 people, he said. Growth of the Internet is responsible for some of the tremendous growth that has occurred since then, he added.

As publisher of Avotaynu, a leading journal of Jewish genealogy, Mokotoff began issuing a free monthly news bulletin over the Internet about two years ago. Its subscription list now exceeds 5,000 names.

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