Sherlock Cohn: The Photo Genealogist Cometh

Join us on Sunday, May 15 for what is sure to be a fascinating Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado session with Ava Cohn!  There is no fee for this session and it is open to all!

All Jewish genealogists, at heart, are detectives. We search for the tiniest scraps of evidence that can help us solve the mysteries of our families’ lives. Whether our families came from Belarus, Ukraine, Galicia, Romania, Germany or other parts of Eastern Europe or the world, whether they were Ashkenazi or Sephardic, they left us very personal records of their lives in the photographs and portraits for which they sat.  But by the very nature of Jewish genealogy, analyzing Jewish family photographs presents unique challenges unlike those of any other ethnic groups. An understanding of the effects of immigration and assimilation, religious customs and practices of Jews, more often determine the stories hidden within the photos than mere fashion clues can provide. Using all available clues, Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist will discuss how this evidence can help us overcome our brick walls by dating our family photographs and learning the stories our mishpacha (family) purposely left for us. Ava will illustrate this by presenting two of her challenging cases.

Ava "Sherlock" Cohn

Ava Cohn aka Sherlock Cohn, The Photo Genealogist, brings a lifelong fascination with heirloom photographs and a multidisciplinary background to photo dating and interpretation. She grew up, surrounded by antique furniture and the distinctive architecture of the 19th and early 20th centuries in Saratoga Springs, New York, a Victorian-era town. Ms. Cohn holds a BA degree in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University with coursework in decorative arts, art history, and costume history at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. A former marketing executive, she has been studying her family history as a hobby for over 30 years and full time since 2005. As she began to recover her own Jewish family history, she recognized the need for accurate dating of family photographs combined with specialized knowledge of Jewish immigrant and Eastern European culture and traditions to tell the background stories within our photos. She has made it her mission to help as many Jewish genealogists as possible to recover the personal information that our ancestors knew when they had their portraits originally taken, and as such, specializes exclusively in Jewish family photos of the period 1880-1960. Ms. Cohn maintains an extensive library of primary and secondary-source history, costume and furniture references. Her personal family history locales include Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, the Austrian Empire, Israel, Montreal, Philadelphia, upstate New York and Los Angeles.

The session is at Congregation Har HaShem (North Building) at 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder, from 10 am to noon.  Bring your photos!

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