Genealogy Notes


How the Website Works

This website is composed of 12 descendant trees, an ancestor tree showing how all the descendant trees fit together, a lastname index, and a file for each blood relative, showing all the descendant trees in which the person can be found.

Each descendant tree starts with the earliest ancestor. This person has a "1" in front of their name. All of this ancestor's children have "2"s in front of their names. All of the grandchildren have "3"s in front of their names, and so on. Spouses have a "+" in front of their names. You can determine who the parents of a child are by traveling upwards until a name with a lower number is reached.

Names that are underlined exist on other descendant trees. If you click on an underlined name it will take you to a list of all the descendant trees in which the person can be found. Then, clicking on one of the trees in the list will not only take you to that tree, but it will also position you at the name of the person in which you are interested. Incidentally, when people who married into the family exist on more than one tree, their name is not underlined, because looking at another tree would not give you any additional information about that person.

Clicking on a last name in the last name index will bring you to a list of everyone with that last name. Clicking on a name in this list will bring you to either a descendant tree or to a list of all the descendant trees that in which the person can be found.

Finding Manifests for your Relatives

If you have relatives who entered the US through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924 and you want to search for their ship manifests, here are some tips:

The Ellis Island website is:
Another excellent site for searching the Ellis Island website is:

The very first time you search, I would go to the Ellis Island site, because you'll need to set up a login (it's free) After that, I would use the other site; it's much more powerful..

You should expect that the names you look for will NOT be spelled the way you spell them. On the manifests I have found very few had the last name spelled the way we spell it now. As for first names, you will be lucky if the first initial is the same! Be creative!

I have found manifests for relatives who entered the US through Canada. The only way to find these manifests is to go to a Morman Family History Center which has the St. Alban's List microfilms. And then you learn to use the microfilm readers. It's not as easy as looking up manifests on the Ellis Island website.

If you find a manifest for someone on my family tree, please let me know.

Good Luck!

Finding Census Data

Census Data is harder than Manifests, because while the manifests are available for free, you have to pay for access to census data. There are several sites that have census data available for a fee, including,, and You can pay for service, or I know of several ways to get free access.

If you do get access to census data, either by paying, a free trial, through a library, or by visiting a FHC center, be sure to remember the name Stephen Morse. He has put together some VERY useful search engines which you can find at His search engines access data or data, so you have to have a subscription (paid, trial, library, or FHC) to use them.

Printing Manifests and Census pages

If the manifest or census page is in PDF format then printing is a matter of hitting the print button. If the page is in JPG or GIF format, then really, the best way to print is to send me an email asking me to convert it to PDF. Then you can just hit the print button.

Naming Convention

I use the convention that if a person changes their last name, the old last name is placed in brackets. Nicknames are often put in quotes. An extreme example is Yvette "Yetta" [Picus] [Schuster] Levy. She was born Yvette Picus. After she married the first time she went by Yetta Schuster and after the second marriage, her name was Yetta Levy. I use the bracket convention for men who change their name as well as women, thus you will find Marc David [Gelman] Zev, etc. When you see [???] in the middle of a name, it means the person married into the family and I don't know what their name was before they changed it.

Positive Consequences of this Website

I have had people who are on my tree, with whom I had never had any contact, find themselves and contact me. That is way cool. I've also had people that I am not related to, but whom are related to people on my tree, find their relatives. So my website has helped people who are related to each other (although not to me) establish contact. Also, I once had someone who was trying to re-establish contact with an old friend find that friend's name on my tree. My website helped reunite two old friends!

But the two best stories that came from this website is the story of the Picus Store Fire and the story of how it helped a cousin get married.

Am I related?

I get lots of email saying, "I found my last name on your web site. Are we related?" I always respond the same way. If your entire name is not on my website, then I have no way of telling whether or not we are related. All of my known relatives are on the website, so if you are not there, you are not a known relative.

I also get lots of email asking about people who married into my family. It's easy to tell if someone married in because they have a "+" in front of their name rather than a number. Often they ask how we are related. This is an easy question to answer. We're NOT! If someone is related to someone who married into my family, they're not related to me. Sometimes the person sending the email asks for information about this family. Unfortunately, I almost never have any information about people who married into the family. When I have an address for the family, I will contact them and give them the information that the inquirer sent to me.

People also send me email asking where my ancestors are from. Mostly the answer is "Russia," or better yet, "Russia/Poland." You can check out my Where Born? page to see if I have better information than that. Of course, even if we could establish that my ancestors and their ancestors came from the same city, then what? We still don't know whether we are related.


I have seen many genealogical websites that provide detailed information about each person including exact birth and death dates, places and other miscellaneous information. However, I don't believe that this is appropriate. There is a conflict between including enough information to enable some of the positive consequences of a genealogical website and protecting people's privacy. My resolution to this conflict is to include only minimal information about each person, i.e. relationships (of course) and birth and death years, rather than complete dates.

I further protect peoples privacy by refusing to give out information about the people on my website to unrelated individuals. For example, when someone contacted me wanting to re-establish contact with one of my relatives, I gave the friend's information to the relative, and let the relative contact the friend. I have had individuals contact me wanting information about potential relatives who married into my tree. I will pass this information on to the person who married into my tree, but I will not give out any information to the person who contacted me. If I can establish that someone is a blood relative, then I will give them information about their blood relatives, but not about others on my tree who are not their blood relatives.

I will also remove anyone from my website upon request. (See the Galinsky tree (about half way down) for an example.


My website also raises a concern regarding security. You can determine mother's maiden name (MMN) from my tree. MMN is one of the pieces of information that most banks and credit card companies use to identify you. Could this be a problem?

It's not clear to me that a criminal could do anything interesting with a credit card number and mother's maiden name (MMN) that (s)he couldn't do with the credit card number alone. The criminal doesn't need a MMN to charge to your account. To change any information (like address or pin) you also need date of birth, and social security number, both of which are NOT available through my website. The people I spoke to said that knowing account number and MMN a criminal COULD find out your balance and recent transactions, but then why WOULD (s)he?

I talked to my credit union, and they said they don't even use MMN. My Bank said you could get information about the account, but an address change would require another piece of information. Another institution was the most liberal. They said that a criminal (or you) could change your address just knowing the account number and MMN. However, withdrawing money from the account requires a written request, so changing the address isn't useful.

Every single person I talked to said that you could secure your account by putting a password on your account of your own choosing that would prevent anyone from even getting information without knowing that password.

If there is a real risk to people because of my family tree, I will take it off-line, (out of the search engines) but I just don't see the risk and I (and several others) have seen benefit from the website's existence. I'm open to discussion on the subject, so if you can think of something I've overlooked, write me and let me know.

The final word is that I will (and have) remove anyone from the website upon request. (See the Galinsky tree (about half way down) for an example.

My Last Name

When I was born, my parents named me Jacqueline Beth Schuster. I grew up in the '70s and '80s and thought that changing your name when you get married was old fashioned, so when I married Marc David Gelman, both he and I kept our names the same. A few years went by, and we got pregnant. Now I saw the advantages of having everyone in the family have the same last name. So I tried to convince my husband to change his last name to mine. He refused to do this. However, he did agree to change his last name if I would also change mine. We decided to pick a new last name. Both he and I had criteria for this new name. My criteria were: 1) It had to be easy to spell, 2) it had to be easy to pronounce and 3) it had to be short. I mean, if you are choosing a new last name, why not make life a little easier? Marc's criteria were: 1) it had to be unique and 2) it could not be a family name from only one side of the family - either both families or neither.

Picking a name to fit all these criteria turned out to be dauntingly difficult. Then, one day, Marc was staring at a wolf statue sitting on the fireplace hearth, which I had named "Zev" - "How about 'Zev' for a last name?" he said. "Hmmm," I thought, "It's short - easy to spell, easy to pronounce. Never heard of it as a last name, so it should be unique. Doesn't exist in either of our families. Plus, "Zev" which comes from the hebrew word for "wolf" reflects both our Jewish heritage and our love of nature. The perfect name!" We never considered any other.

File last updated on 11/27/2020.

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