Genealogist to explain how to understand Russian language records for family history research in Feb. 25 hybrid event

"Learn Just Enough Russian for Genealogy" will be the topic of Genealogist Jane Neff Rollins for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois hybrid meeting on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.

Her online talk will begin at 2 p.m. via Zoom and at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Illinois. She will be speaking remotely, and her presentation will be projected onto the wall at Temple Beth-El.

The JGSI meeting facilities at Temple Beth-El will open at 12:30 p.m. for those who want to use genealogy library materials, get help with family history websites or ask genealogical questions before the main program begins at 2 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome; however, registration is strongly encouraged.

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If your ancestors emigrated from the Russian Empire, eventually you'll want to seek evidence of their lives back there, Jane said. Those documents will be in Russian, and surviving documents from Russian archives are becoming more available on microfilm or in digitized form online. You can learn just enough Russian (including the eight Cyrillic letters removed from the alphabet during the Russian Revolution that even native Russian speakers can't read) to interpret those genealogically-relevant documents.

Jane Neff Rollins began researching her family history when genealogy research required going to the Family History Library in person, and hand scrolling through microfilm. The first time she recognized her great-grandfather's family on the 1900 census, she burst into tears. She is an alumna of ProGen Study Group 29, and a multi-year attendee of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the Forensic Genealogy Institute.

Although she specializes in researching those with Eastern European Jewish ancestry, her clients have diverse backgrounds, including those with roots in colonial America. Jane has transliterated 19th century Russian language census, business directory, and vital records entries for online databases over the last 20 years.

She has spoken professionally about genealogy since 2012, and has since given genealogy lectures throughout the U.S. and abroad. Jane's articles have appeared in NGS Magazine, FGS Forum (for which she won the 2020 Forum Writer's Award), Crossroads, and Avotaynu, for which she wrote "Researching Jewish Ancestors Who Served in the Civil War." She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Genealogical Speakers Guild, and state and local genealogical societies.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI is a resource for the worldwide Jewish community to research their Chicago-area roots. The JGSI motto is "Members Helping Members Since 1981." The group has more than 300 members and is affiliated with the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

JGSI members have access to useful and informative online family history research resources, including a members' forum, more than 70 video recordings of past speakers' presentations, monthly JGSI E-News, quarterly Morasha JGSI newsletter, and much more.

For more information, see or phone 312-666-0100.

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