Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

Sunday, May 31, 2020, JGSI meeting features photo analysis expert

  • 31 May 2020
  • 12:30 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. - Registration and networking, 12:30. Guest speaker 1:00 pm. Photo analysis, help desk and library: 2:30-3:30 pm.

Ava ‘Sherlock’ Cohn to speak at May 31 JGS of Illinois meeting:

Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois member Ava “Sherlock” Cohn will speak on “Clued-In: Interpreting Real Photo Postcards from the Diaspora” at the Sunday, May 31, 2020, JGSI meeting. Her presentation will begin at 1 p.m. at Temple Beth-El, 3610 Dundee Road, Northbrook, Ill. The JGSI research library and genealogy help desk will be available starting at 2:30 p.m.

After her 1 p.m. talk, from about 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Ava will conduct free one-on-one consultations about old family photos with a limited number of JGSI members or guests. A raffle-ticket lottery system will be used to randomly select whose photos—no more than one per person—will be analyzed by Ava.

During the same time period, the JGSI research library and expert help desk will also be available.

Ava Cohn, “Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist,” is an internationally-known expert on Jewish family photographs. She holds a degree from Brandeis University with coursework in decorative arts, art history and costume history at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Recognizing the need for accurate dating of Jewish photographs with specialized knowledge of immigrant and Eastern European culture and traditions, she devotes her work, almost exclusively, to Jewish family photographs from throughout the world. In addition to being a popular speaker and writer on photography and genealogy, Ava is also a collector of 19th and 20th century Jewish photographs.

Ava says of her May 31 presentation: “As our ancestors moved throughout the world, they communicated with friends and loved ones with photographs on the fronts of postcards and messages, often intimate ones, on the backs. These real photo postcards were the social media of the day starting around 1900 and lasting into the 1960s. The photographs on these cards captured the everyday lives of our ancestors, their celebrations, their triumphs and at times, their tragedies.

“This ‘new’ medium gave our relatives a quick and inexpensive way to send messages near and far, before cellphones and modern social media,” Ava says. “Learning to recognize and interpret the clues in real photo postcards can lead us not only to date the images more accurately but also learn more about the everyday lives and relationships of our family members as they moved throughout the Diaspora.”

For more information about the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois or the JGSI schedule of future events, visit or phone 312-666-0100.

While this program is free, those who join the society have access to several valuable members-only resources on the JGSI website. They include video recordings of more than 50 presentations from past JGSI events, valuable informational handouts from past speakers, access to past Morasha newsletters containing informative articles about Jewish genealogy, and more. To learn about the benefits of joining the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, go to

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