Volume 6, Number 8 | June 12, 2005
Consolidated Jewish Surname Index Updated
A major update has been made to Avotaynu's Consolidated Jewish Surname Index located at http://www.avotaynu.com/csi/csi-home.html .
CJSI is a database of databases. It is an index to 42 different sources of information about 700,000 (mostly) Jewish surnames. These databases combined represent more than 7.3 million records. Using CJSI means it is unnecessary to search each source separately to determine if there is information about a surname of interest. CJSI identifies which of these databases reference the surname. Links are provided to other web sites that either have the databases or information about how to access the data. Most of the sources are online; others are published in books or on microfiche.
Some of the most important surname databases for Jewish research are included. They are:
JewishGen Family Finder
Family Tree of the Jewish People
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
The surnames in books including:
CJSI has some special features to enhance it usefulness. The index is presented in Daitch-Mokotoff soundex order rather than alphabetically. This means that many spelling variants of a surname appear on consecutive lines. An advanced search feature allows mixing exact matching and soundexing of the letters of the surname lowering the incidence of false positives (the procedure is described at the Internet site).
"Index of the Repressed"
During World War II, many Jews fled eastward to avoid the advancing German army. They were arrested by the Soviet authorities and sent to refugee camps in Siberia. There is now an online database called the "Index of the Repressed" that includes detailed information about some of these people. The site states that it "includes verified information on 203,779 people arrested and deported into the USSR during the Second World War." Only a portion are Jews. It is located at http://www.indeks.karta.org.pl/wyszukiwanie.asp.
The entire site is in Polish, and it is necessary to use the correct diacritic marks for the search engine to work properly. For example, searching for a list of all persons from the Polish town of "Grojec" produced no hits, but for the town of "Grójec" it displayed 26 people, 19 of whom were Jews. This requirement is also true for given names and surnames.
There are two search engines. The simple search allows searching by surname (nazwisko), given name (imie), father's given name (imie ojca), and birth date (data urodzenia). Under the advanced search (zaawansowane) tab is a more powerful search engine that includes searching by surname (nazwisko), maiden name (nazwisko panienskie), given name (imie), father's given name (imie ojca). mother's maiden name (imie matki), birth date (data urodzenia), and birth place (miejsce urodzenia).
There were members of the Mokotów family now living in Australia that spent the war in a Siberian camp. They are not on the list, but a distant relative on my mother's side, Solomon Tartasky, who died recently in Florida, is included. He can be used as an example of how extensive is the information provided.
This "Index of the Repressed" site is associated with A Forgotten Odyssey, a recent documentary film. It deals with "the forgotten tragedy of 1.7 million Polish citizens of various faiths and ethnicities (Polish, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish) deported from eastern Poland (Kresy) in 1940-42 to special labor camps in Siberia, Kazakhstan and Soviet Asia. Some 120,000 of these escaped through Persia in 1942 as soldiers of Anders Army and their families, and eventually made their way to the West because their pre-war homeland was consigned by the Allies to remain under the hated Soviet regime." Information about the film can be found at http://www.aforgottenodyssey.com.
News from the NGS Conference
I recently attended the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society which was held in Nashville. Below are some items gleaned from the conference.
ProQuest now offers online full-word indexing for the following major U.S. newspapers:
Ancestry.com hopes to unveil an every-name index to the 1920 U.S. census some time this summer.
One person I always seek out at genealogy conferences is Bennett Greenspan, president of FamilyTreeDNA. I enjoy associating with people who have a passion for what they are doing, and it is clear when you speak to Bennett, he has a passion for the potential DNA matching has for genealogy and other purposes. The latest discoveries are that a good number of New World Hispanics, as suspected, have Semitic (Jewish) DNA. He informed me that there are plans to do a rigorous acquisition of Sephardic DNA samples in order to create a DNA profile of Sephardic Jewry. They will then sample non-Jewish New World Hispanics for a Jewish connection. There are many stories of today's Hispanics descending from crypto-Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity in Spain and Portugal at the time of Christopher Columbus. It is theorized that many crypto-Jews colonized the New World in order to avoid the Inquisition.
Typical is the Spanish colony Santa Elena which existed briefly (1566-1584) in what today is South Carolina. The leader of the colony was a Spanish soldier named Juan Pardo. Pardo is a Spanish-Jewish name. Other colonists were named Braganza, Castillo, Chavez, Gallegos, Gomez, Lopez, Martin, Molina, Moreno, Navarro, Peres, Rivera and Zamora --all Spanish-Jewish names.
A modern-day example is that I had my DNA typed by FamilyTreeDNA and I am part of a pool of ten persons whose DNA very closely match. Nine are persons of Eastern European Jewish origin and the other person is a Puerto Rican Roman Catholic.
Additional information about FamilyTreeDNA can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/dna/
A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire Out of Print
The landmark work of Alexander Beider, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, is now out of print. A revised edition is planned for 2006. Originally published in 1993, it has sold more than 3,000 copies.
How will the new version differ from the old? It can best be described by stating the first version was written when Dr. Beider was a 27-year old with a doctorate in applied mathematics from the University of Moscow whose hobby was collecting and analyzing Jewish surnames from the Russian Empire. The revised edition will be written by Dr. Beider who is now a 42-year old scholar with a doctorate in history from the Sorbonne and is considered by many to be the world's foremost scholar on Eastern European Jewish surnames. His doctoral thesis is the introductory portion of his book, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names.
Dr. Beider has established his reputation with the publishing of four books on the subject as well as papers in scholarly journals. The books are:
Using Stephen P. Morse Portals for Ancestry.com Databases
For those who subscribe to Ancestry.com databases, Stephen P. Morse has added to his site at http://www.stevemorse.org the ability to search using only one or two characters for a given name or surname. Ancestry.com requires that at least three characters be included.
Morse accomplishes this capability by repetitively submitting to the Ancestry.com search engine all possible combinations and collecting the results before displaying them. Thus, a search using two characters of a name submits 26 searches and providing only a single character requires 676 searches. Morse claims the former search is achieved in about 10 seconds but the latter may require up to 5 minutes.
State Archives in L'viv Closed to Investigate Thievery
The Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in L'viv has been closed to investigate evidence that documents and archival records have been stolen and sold at European antique markets, shops and even through Internet auctions.
The State Committee on Archives of Ukraine stated that it is likely that in Spring/Summer 2004 a large-scale theft of documents of 16th-20th centuries was committed at the L'viv archives. Similar documents from this archives were confiscated by Polish authorities from a numismatic shop in Gdansk in 2004.
In another case, in July 2004, the National Museum of History of Ukraine was presented with some letters on behalf of the Prime Minister of Ukraine. It turned out to be archival material stolen from the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in L'viv.
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