Museum of Family History


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The Museum's
The Museum of Family History
Comes to Bialystok, Poland
Museum of Family History
Floor Maps
Thomas Jefferson High School Yearbook Project

The Museum Joins the Association of Holocaust Organizations.

The Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

An Article in the Yiddish Forward

The Museum's Blog

The Museum of Family History has its first blog. The primary purpose of the blog is the inform Museum visitors of what's new at the Museum, e.g. exhibitions and features. You will also find other useful material on the blog, especially of interest to the genealogical researcher and others who are interested in the modern history of the Jewish people.

Please consider subscribing to the blog or simply bookmarking it for future reference. You can find the blog at .

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The Museum of Family History Comes to Bialystok, Poland

The Museum of Family History will be making a special appearance in Bialystok, Poland beginning September 4, 2009. At this time an exhibition will open, the first in a series entitled "Prominent Artists--Our Neighbors. Max Weber."

Max Weber was a well-known Jewish artist (born in Bialystok) who studied under Henris Matisse and Rousseau. Weber painted in a variety of styles; at times he painted wonderful works with a variety Jewish themes, usually religious.

Currently, the English version of this exhibition is available for viewing at the Museum of Family History as part of the "Great Artists Series," which is designed to honor "Jewish artists whose contribution to the world were extraordinary in terms of both the scope and quality of their work." Also, the Series features exhibitions about other Jewish "artists" such as the immortal Al Jolson (highly recommended), tenor and chazzan Richard Tucker (hear Tucker sing "Nessun Dorma" and "Vesti la giubba", Yiddish playwright Dovid Pinski, and Yiddish acting great Maurice Schwartz.

What will be shown to those who attend the Bialystok exhibition will most likely be the same online exhibition currently available on the Museum's website, the only difference being that the text on each page will be in Polish and not in English.

It should also be noted that the current English version has sound clips on every page, i.e. you will have the option to either listen to the text on each of the exhibition's web pages, or read the text. This won't be the case at the Bialystok exhibition where only the Polish text will be available.

The English version of the Max Weber exhibition (entitled "Max Weber: Reflections of Jewish Memory in Modern American Art") can be found at

The Museum's Great Artists Series can be found at . From this link you can access the other aforementioned exhibitions in this series.

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Museum of Family History Floor Maps

The Museum's four floor maps are not available for viewing online. Remember that they are works-in-progress, and there will be more or less material within each section or room, but it is there for your perusal nevertheless. Please take the time to enjoy the interactivity of the maps and follow the Museum's blog for the most current updates on what's new at the Museum.

The virtual (Internet-only) Museum of Family History is not a museum simply because it calls itself one. Though it’s not a museum in the physical sense, its aim is to create an illusion that gives one the feeling of being in a "real" museum. It importantly must stir the imagination of the museum “visitor”! The idea of having a museum dedicated to our Jewish families and culture is quite an appealing one, especially since it is a museum that is uniquely inclusive. To be most successful, its development must involve many others who wish to do their part to preserve the history of our Jewish families and traditions.

To locate material of interest to you within the Museum’s website, you may simply use the Museum’s Google-powered search engine, located at the top of many of the Museum's web pages. In this way, one can find most anything that is available within the Museum. To this point, most “visitors” navigate the Museum’s website simply by visiting its Site Map page. However, there is now yet another way to travel about and discover what the Museum has to offer.

Have you ever visited a museum website and seen its floor plans? These plans are most often interactive maps that show you graphics of their museum's different floors and the rooms located on each of them. You will be able to  click on any of the rooms or groups of rooms, and by doing so learn a bit about what is displayed within these rooms, so that when you visit the museum you will know ahead of time some of what you wish to see.

At the Museum of Family History, even though there is not an actual physical site to visit, within the next few months,  there will be several floor plans for you to use. I am delighted from time to time when someone writes to me, saying they will be in New York City at such and such a time and would like to visit my museum and how can they join, where is it located and what are its hours? Don’t I wish!

The Museum floor plans are always evolving and will change from time to time as the content  increases or changes. Currently there are three floors to the virtual Museum of Family History, as well as an outdoor “music pavilion.”

Much of the first (main) floor is devoted to Jewish life in Europe at any time before, during or immediately after World War II, as well as the subject of immigration. There are also a number of exhibitions, a lecture hall and the Museum's Education and Research Center. There are two foot bridges that span a small body of water (symbolizing the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to one's foreign destination). There is the Family History Theatre where one may ascend a spiraling ramp within a darkened space and see and hear samplings of audio and video that one can experience more fully within a specified location within the Museum. The ramp extends through three floors, ending at the Museum's Roof Garden.

On the first floor, one may also board a "people mover" that simulates a tram as it passes through the city, perhaps even through the Warsaw ghetto. One looks out onto the facades of some typical buildings, e.g. a Yiddish theatre, a synagogue, apartment and office buildings, and shops. One can view film clips of pre-war Europe or see photographs of pre-war buildings, or perhaps even hear the sounds of the city through the use of earphones and digital devices. One can then descend this tram, to see and hear more through the use of touch screens, even wander through the rest of the Museum. Lastly, there is the Virtual Market Square, where one may hear the voices of people talking in their native language, both among each other or perhaps with shopkeepers. The first floor even contains a restaurant where delicious kosher dinners are served. What is actually available to the Museum visitor are a series of dinner menus that one may peruse and imagine that one is actually in the restaurant, wishing to order a delicious kosher meal.

The third (upper) floor is devoted mostly to Jewish life in America. There are many exhibitions on display here for the museum visitor to view. Instead of the Warsaw tram, the people mover takes the form of an "elevated subway," passing buildings that may have existed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, or within nearby Brooklyn, New York. These buildings include a synagogue, a tenement, a sweat shop, a public school, and a movie theatre. Instead of a virtual market square, there is the Jewish neighborhood where one may listen once again to neighbors talking, to people doing business, to families sitting down for a holiday or Shabbos dinner. The restaurant on the upper floor is the "Gut Essen Delicatessen," where one may order from a wide assortment of lunch and dessert items. Between divisions of this floor lies an art gallery and promenade, where selected Jewish artists may display their works of art (not to sell, just to show). Many of the exhibitions on this floor have to do with pre-war Europe and will be most interesting to visit.

The second (middle) floor is devoted to the “Yiddish world.” Its content deals mostly with the creative and cultural contributions Jews have made to the world over the past two hundred years and the once vibrant Second Avenue of the Lower East Side of New York.

Lastly, outside the Museum and adjoining it is a music pavilion where video clips of performances in English, Yiddish and other languages, will be made available. These performances will appear to originate from the Music Pavilion stage under the stars. Currently you can see and hear the immortal Al Jolson performing four songs (from 1948 during his audition for “Jolson Sings Again”). There is, of course, a floor plan for the Pavilion too, replete with a seating chart and refreshment stands....

There is so much to see at the Museum of Family History. When you use these interact floor maps you must have an open mind. Most of all, you must come with your imagination ready to go!

You can access all floor plans from any of the floor plans themselves. Please begin with the Main Floor map by clicking here.

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Thomas Jefferson High School Yearbook Project

Why could yearbooks be a useful to you as a genealogical tool? Now that data entry has been done for more than sixty yearbooks and forty thousand Seniors/graduates from Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, New York, I can make some suggestions.

First, let me say that the type of data that is available within a yearbook may vary from school to school or at a single school from year to year. These yearbooks not only have photos of most all the Seniors for that graduating class, but also they have photos and text of the school's activities, sports programs and participants, and may even have student literature within their pages. One may even derive a sense of the mindset of the high school student (as well as the principal and faculty) during these mostly interesting years of the twentieth century. There may be discussions relating to the Great Depression, the second World War (and some of the students who enlisted in the Service), and even about the nifty sixties.

So genealogically speaking, what information may be available? Generally, the least useful information to us should be what clubs or organizations or sports the graduate was involved in, but it still might be interesting if you find a family member among the grads. Every bit of information is simply a piece of the puzzle. Not only may one use the searchable database to find the photograph of the graduate, but one can even browse any yearbook from front to back.

Obviously finding a surname of interest is important. You might know that a family member lived somewhere in the New York City area at a certain time, but have no idea where. You cannot find the surname in a census report, a city directory, don't have access to a city telephone book, etc., so having a yearbook, or better yet, a searchable database where one can search for a name, could be a wonderful resource.

What many of you probably are unaware of is that many of the yearbooks have the home addresses of the Senior listed with their name, next to their Senior photo. Out of the sixty-two books I've scanned for Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, New York, there are addresses for the students who graduated from 1931 to 1936 and from 1946 to 1960. This amounts to more than 22,000 names with home addresses.

Just imagine that you find a name of interest that has a home address attached to it. By using the address found on the searchable database, you could then look up the address in whatever city or federal censuses are available to you online, and if successful you can learn then more about the family, etc. My Thomas Jefferson High School database starts with the 1927 (the first graduating class) yearbook. So one could use an address found in one of these yearbooks to search a 1925, 1935 or the eventual 1945 Federal Censuses, not to mention any city censuses , directories, phone books, or other address-based online records that are available.

Also listed alongside the Senior's/graduate's name, besides their home address and photo, may be their "ambition." Also, there may be a listing of what college they were planning on attending. This then offers up even more possibilities for research.

Another good aspect of this type of database is that one can conduct a search simply by last name or by home address or just the street. Maybe you know that your great uncle's family once lived on Hinsdale Street in Brooklyn. You can simply search under "Hinsdale Street" without entering any other info, or you can add a surname. You will then be able to see the names all the Seniors who lived on that street during that time (and probably before that time and perhaps after their graduation) with a certain surname. This is, of course, only for those graduates whose home addresses are listed.

More yearbooks from Thomas Jefferson High School will be added in the near future. I hope you will find the database useful.

You will find the introductory page to the Thomas Jefferson High School Yearbook Project at .

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The Museum of Family History Becomes a Member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO):

The Museum of Family History is pleased to announce that it has been accepted as a member of the AHO, i.e. the Association of Holocaust Organizations. The AHO has, as its members, over two hundred and eighty organizations, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

According to the AHO, The Association of Holocaust Organizations was established in 1985 to serve as an international network of organizations and individuals for the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research.

The AHO website can be found at

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The Museum of the Yiddish Theatre

The Museum of Family History now has a separate division and website, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the once-glorious Yiddish theatre. Here you will find a vast assortment of articles, photographs and multimedia clips that hopefully will pique your interest in Yiddish theatre. You can reach this website here. The Museum of the Yiddish Theatre, just like the Museum of Family History itself, now has its own Facebook page, which is well worth following!

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An article in the Yiddish Forward

An article about the founder and director of the Museums of Family History and the Yiddish Theatre, Steven Lasky, and his work has been written and published on December 13, 2013 in the Forverts (Yiddish Forward). You can find it here.


Steven Lasky
Founder and Director
Museum of Family History



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