Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy
Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 6, Number 3 | March 13, 2005

Announcing A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames
 Avotaynu's latest major work is A Dictionary of German-Jewish Surnames by Lars Menk. It is the largest book we have yet to publish: 824 pages--a work nearly ten years in the making. My archived files on the book show Menk first approached Avotaynu in August 1997 with the dictionary, and he has been improving on it ever since.

The dictionary identifies more than 13,000 German-Jewish surnames from the pre-World War I Germany. From Baden-Wuerttemburg in the south to Schleswig-Holstein in the north. From Westfalen in the west to East Prussia in the east. In addition to providing the etymology and variants of each name, it identifies where in the Germany the name appeared.

Readers of the book will clearly recognize that the author patterned his book after the dictionaries of surnames produced by Alexander Beider. But scholarship grows by improving on your predecessors. Beider shows the districts where a surname appears; Menk shows the actual towns--and time period.

I had Dr. Beider preview the book. His comments were that "the results of (Menk's) efforts are excellent. The quality of (the) book is much better than any other book written on Jewish names in Central and Western Europe. It is done in exactly the same manner I would have compiled it myself."

The bibliography in the book testifies to the fact that Menk used more than 300 sources of information. As recently as six months ago he told us to "hold the presses" because he found yet another source of names.

The book will retail for $89.00. There is a pre-publication discount for people who order the book now. If you order the book before April 1, you can purchase it for only $79.00. If you subscribe to AVOTAYNU, our quarterly journal, you can purchase the book for only $69.00 until the deadline. If you are not a subscriber to AVOTAYNU, subscribe and order the book for only $99.00; you will be getting a 2005 subscription to our journal for less than half-price (the regular subscription price is $35.00).

The book will go to the printer this coming week; therefore, it will be in print in May. Sample pages from the book, its complete Table of Contents, and ordering information can be found at

New York Public Library Places Many Yizkor Books on Internet
New York Public Library (NYPL) appears to have completed its plan to place more than 700 yizkor books on the Internet. The portal to this collection is at Each book can be browsed page after page. As promised to Stephen Morse, they added a feature that allows the user to go to any specific page of the book. Those towns listed that are not available seem to have recent copyright dates, and the Library may not have been able to get permission from the copyright owners.

Yizkor books are Holocaust memorial books. After World War II, the remnant of European Jewry published these books to memorialize the towns and townspeople destroyed in the Holocaust. More than 1,200 books have been published, each for an individual town or region. The largest collection is at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Yizkor books provide a history of the Jewish presence in the town. Also included are articles written by survivors that often provide a great deal of information about specific individuals. Many include a necrology--a list of townspeople murdered in the Holocaust. Most are written in Hebrew and Yiddish.

The Library also announced a Digital Gallery that provides access to over 275,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of the Library, "including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books and printed ephemera." It is located at I spent some time searching for images that might be of interest to Jewish genealogists but found none. That does not mean they are not there. Persons who find success at that site with material that might be of interest to Nu? What’s New? readers should write to me. There is an interesting collection of photographs of famous persons both American and European in a collection identified as "Cabinet Card Portraits in the Collection of Radical Publisher Benjamin R. Tucker". It is at Collections like this one suffer from the fact that if you do not know what is there, you do not know what to search for. At first, I went through portions of the collection by using common given names such as "John" and "Mary." But I accidentally stumbled on a way to browse the entire collection. Using the search argument "Benjamin" the complete collection was shown. This is because every image includes the statement "Collection Guide: Cabinet Card Portraits in the Collection of Radical Publisher Benjamin R. Tucker." So I got 100% hits. Just the letters B-C include photographs of Georges Bizet, Johannes Brahms, Robert Browning, Randolph Churchill and Georges Clemenceau. Many of the photographs are of people in the arts (writers, composers, actors) of the late 19th century.

Hamburg Emigration Index to Include New Records
Juergen Sielemann of the Hamburg State Archive has stated that the Hamburg Emigration Index will be updated shortly to include the years 1907 and 1908. The index, located at already includes all emigrants for the years 1890-1906. All told, some 2 million names are now in the database.

The index provides basic information about the emigrant: name, country/state of origin, approximate age, and destination. The search engine does not allow soundex searches. Use the wildcard feature which is explained on the search page to find name variants. For a fee, you can receive an abstract of the entire entry from the ship's manifest. The cost for an abstract is $20 for 1-3 persons, $30 4-10 persons, $40 for 11-20, $50 for 21-30 persons. Because it is an abstract rather than the actual manifest, each member of a family of three on a specific page would have his/her own abstract. Therefore, they would count as three persons if you requested information about all three. Funds are used to support the Internet site.

Book on Hamburg Experience
Avotaynu sells a wonderful 80-page book titled "Auswandererhafen Hamburg" (Hamburg Emigration Port) published by the Hamburg City Archives that shows, through photographs, the emigration experience of our ancestors through the Port of Hamburg, Germany. There are more than 50 high-quality photographs plus numerous illustrations and posters. My favorite, which is shown at the Internet site, is the German-Jewish community assisting in processing their Eastern European coreligionists through the Hamburg port facilities. Most of the pictures are on the Internet at, but you cannot fully appreciate the quality and interest of the pictures except through the book. It is a worthwhile addition to your genealogy book collection and can even be used as a coffee-table book for guests to peruse. All descriptions are in German and English. You can find additional information about the book at The price is only $17.

The Latest from Stephen P. Morse
Stephen P. Morse has added more functionality to his web site at

Do you belong to the majority of people who cannot determine the familial relationship between two people? Are they first cousins? Are they first cousins twice removed or second cousins once removed? Steve Morse has added a "Relationship Calculator" to his site. Just click on buttons until you describe the association between two people and Morse comes up with the relationship. Your father's father's fathers' brother's son's son's son, is your third cousin the site determines. His father is your second cousin once removed. The function is located in the "Birth, Deaths and Other Vital Records" section of the page.

Converting between Hebrew Print and Hebrew Cursive. Genealogy-related documents written in Hebrew are sometimes handwritten and therefore, a knowledge of Hebrew cursive is required. This utility will either convert Hebrew cursive to print or Hebrew print to cursive. It is located in the "Dealing with Hebrew Characters" section of the website.

Converting between 1930 and 1940 EDs in One Step. This will be needed when the 1940 U.S. census opens in seven years. The government will not be providing name indexes for that census, so searching by ED will be the only way to go on opening day. An associate of Morse, Joel Weintraub, is transcribing the conversion tables from the NARA microfilm rolls. The new tool is in the "Census" section of the website.

The Latest from
Illinois Marriages, 1851-1900 at This is also available as an Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1763-1900 at

Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943 are now complete. The final update added 1934-43. It can be searched at is a fee-for-service site.

Jewish Genealogy Month 2005
Once again, Avotaynu is sponsoring Jewish Genealogy Month. This year it is April 10-May 9, 2005, which corresponds to the Hebrew month of Nisan 5765--the Passover season. In association with this event, Avotaynu has created a poster, copies of which will be distributed free of charge to each of the approximately 80 Jewish genealogical societies throughout the world. Societies are encouraged to post them in synagogues and other Jewish institutions in their area and to include the address and phone number of the local society so that residents can contact them for information. Some societies have indicated they are planning events is conjunction with Jewish Genealogy Month. This year's theme is "Changing Numbers Back to Names," which was motivated by the launch of the Shoah Victim's Names database on the Internet by Yad Vashem. At the 1995 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, Arthur Kurzweil identified Jewish genealogy's responsibility in documenting the Holocaust with the statement, "When the Nazis rounded us up, they took away our names and gave us numbers. We genealogists are involved in taking away the numbers and giving back the names."

The 2005 poster, as well as all its predecessors, can be viewed at

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