Todd Knowles, the Jewish Genealogy expert at, entertained a large audience of JGSGB members and visitors at its kickoff program of the 2016-2017 year.

heidi-urich-todd-knowles-and-sheila-green expert Todd Knowles, with Heidi Urich (left) and Sheila Green (right), Sept. 25, 2016

“The Knowles program was excellent. The speaker was very engaging. There’s always new data compilations and new software enhancements coming out — that’s why this  type of “basics” program appeals to everyone  — in genealogy,  new information never gets old and old information is always becoming new,” — H. Morris

Knowles explained that the Family Search archive, founded in 1894, now contains over 5 billion names. aims to digitize all of the resources in the library of the Church of the Latter Day Saints by 2020. “All you have to do is register to get free access to the largest free online collection of genealogical and historical records in the world,”

Among his many research tips and expert insights, Knowles said that books are the most underused resource. While scans of older books may not be searchable by name, Knowles advised checking for a book’s index to find names and keywords and the page numbers to uncover valuable information.  When asked to compare with and he said that there is a lot of overlap. You might find different images and indexes. He encouraged searching all three of them and remembering that the databases and indexes are continuously growing.

Speaker Todd Knowles and JGSGB member Pat Weitzel

Knowles introduced the FamilySearch WIKI a vast community depository of family trees, resources and reference. Knowles also described how his own research about his Jewish great great grandfather lead to the creation of the Knowles Collection, a free online Jewish genealogy database.

The Knowles Collection now contains records about over 1.4 million people including records from and  contributions from families and private archives from over 80 countries organized into six searchable databases: Jews of The British Isles; Jews of the North America; Jews of Europe; Jews of South America and the Caribbean; and Jews of Africa and the Orient and the newest one, Jews of the Southern Pacific.

On October 16, JGSGB is hosting a Beginner’s Workshop, a buffet lunch, and Nolan Altman speaking on “The Genealogical Value of Jewish Burial Records.

“The quality of JGSGB’s programs is amazing. The programs are always interesting and the speakers provide excellent information to guide our research. And it is incredible that JGSGB membership costs only $25.00 a year.” J. Singer

Go to JGSGB.ORG for more information on the full calendar of upcoming programs and events, special interest groups, expert help, membership and more.