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

Volume 6, Number 17 | November 27, 2005

Help Grow the Shoah Victims' Names Database
The six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust were more than a statistic. They were individuals and the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names located at demonstrates that fact. It contains information about more than three million Holocaust victims on "Pages of Testimony". Each Page represents one life. It ties the victim to a family: a spouse, a father, a mother and sometimes children. It links the person to the living remnant of the family through the submitter of the Page of Testimony, invariably a relative.

It is time for the genealogical community to add to the database all the names of victims that appear on our family trees. Over the years, I have submitted 82 Pages of Testimony, but there are now nearly 300 Holocaust victims on my family tree. A check of the Shoah Victims' Names Database demonstrated that very few of the persons I have not submitted are named on Pages of Testimony. I have a data entry task to do over the next few months. We all do.

You can get a list of all the Pages of Testimony you have already submitted by locating the Page of Testimony for any one of the victims, and then clicking on the link "Pages of Testimony by submitter with the same name." This will display the names of all of your submissions.

New entries can be submitted in two ways. Submit directly online at!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_9M or download a form at and complete it by hand. (Available in several languages)

There is even a method for correcting the extracted information that is the basis of the site's search engine. After bringing up a page for a specific victim, click the "More Details" button to view the extracted information. On the Detail page is a link "Correct Our Deciphering" which permits a message to go to Yad Vashem for review.

One of the more emotional aspects of the Yad Vashem Shoah database site is the pictures of people on the Basic Search page and the underlying story behind the pictures that can be read by clicking on the image. It puts a face behind each Page of Testimony. To a certain extent, the 2 million Pages of testimony are just 2 million pieces of paper. Adding pictures to the documents of the members of your family humanizes them. To add pictures for Pages of Testimony already submitted, bring up the initial web page for an individual and click the link that says "Attach Image or Documentation." It must be done through this process, because the submission screen includes the victim's record number; therefore, the image can be automatically linked to the Page of Testimony.

Yad Vashem is also seeking individuals and organizations to assist in recovering names on a local level. For more information and a free resource guide to initiating a names recovery campaign in your community, contact

Who Owns the Copyright?
It would seem logical that if you pay for something, you own it. This is not true when it comes to ownership of intellectual property that can be copyrighted. This problem raises its ugly head in the genealogical community when professionals are retained to do work. The law (all countries to my knowledge) is that the creator of the work is the copyright owner, even if s/he has been paid to do the work. The exception is if there is a written agreement to the contrary.


You pay someone $10,000 to write a family history and to publish the results in book form. Who owns the copyright? The author of the work, even though you paid money to have the work done.

You pay someone $1,000 to photograph all the tombstones in a cemetery. Months later, the photographer offers the photographs to the public for a fee. Perfectly proper. The photographer owns the pictures.

You find a picture on the Internet that is a photograph, illustration or postcard that was made more than 100 years ago. The copyright on the original work has long expired. Is the Internet image in the public domain? No. The creator of the image is the copyright owner of that version of the original image.

If you object to any of the above considerations, discuss it with the creator of the original work and have a written agreement acceptable to both of you.

Registration for 2006 Conference Now Online
Registration is now open for the 26th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in New York from August 13-18, 2006, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The Jewish Genealogical Society (New York) is hosting the conference. You can register online at by clicking on the registration in the left portion of the screen. Also at the site are instructions for a downloadable version for printing, a link for hotel registration and further details about the conference.

Early registration is $215 and must be submitted by May 15, 2006. Early registration for a spouse/companion is $150 (syllabus not included). Regular registration after May 15th is $250, $175 for a spouse/companion. There will be a daily rate of $75 per day (no syllabus provided). It is more economical to register for the entire conference if you plan to attend more than 3 days.

A gala banquet will be held on Thursday, August 17 and costs $80. The fees for special events are listed on the registration form. These include the Special Interest Group (SIG) luncheons, cemetery visits, computer courses, and tours.

Plan to Place Canadian Ship Manifests Online
National Archives Canada plans to have digitized images of passenger lists in a database online for almost every port of entry for the years 1865 to 1921. This work is part of a larger virtual exhibit entitled "Moving Here, Staying Here: The Canadian Immigrant Experience." The first images should be online by year's end. Currently there are no plans for the Archives to include a name index to these records. The Nanaimo Family History Society of British Columbia plans to index all passengers at Halifax and Quebec (Montreal is included in the Port of Quebec) from 1900 to 1921. This was reported in the last issue of Nu? What's New?. The index now covers Quebec Ports for the periods 2 Jul 1908 to 5 Jun 1909, 25 Jul 1909 to 26 Apr 1910 and 17 Sep 1910 to 13 Oct 1910. The entries are available at Information provided is name, age, country of birth, arrival date, name of ship, port of entry, microfilm number and page number.

Israel Genealogical Society Site Identifies Family Trees
The Israel Genealogical Society and the Jewish National University Library in Jerusalem have created a Family Tree Joint Project to identify family trees at JNUL. The site presently includes 250 family names, although the number of family trees is fewer. Included as well is the following information: shelf number, surnames, format (text/graphic), years covered, publication year, language, and location (cities and countries). Most of these trees have their origins in German-speaking lands. The list can be found at

This effort is one of a number of projects currently in progress for the society. A complete list can be found at

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU is at the printer. It is an unusually good issue. There are three lengthy articles that rigorously cover their subjects. Nancy Arbeiter offers a seven-page article on Port of New York immigrant arrivals before Ellis Island, giving detailed descriptions of the early 19th-century practices, then Castle Garden and the Barge Office. Chaim Freedman, who has devoted his life to researching the descendants and ancestors of the Vilna Gaon (1720-1797), writes nine pages about his major breakthroughs in uncovering the ancestors of the Vilna Gaon. Freedman is the author of Eliyahu's Branches: The Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family published by Avotaynu. This book identifies more than 20,000 descendants of the Gaon. Information about the book can be found at Freedman has informed me that he has also made breakthroughs in understanding the immediate descendants of the Gaon which he hopes to publish soon. The final large article is by Leon Taranto on how he found his ancestry. There is nothing more boring than an article about "how I found my ancestry" unless. The unless is if the article focuses more on the resources used than on who ones ancestors were. Taranto does exactly that. For eight pages, Taranto discuss genealogical resources in Turkey and Rhodes interwoven with how it applied to his own research.

Avotaynu editor Sallyann Amdur Sack and I have written the two lead articles. My contribution is a report on the status of genealogy with respect to the Jewish community as a whole. Sallyann gives an update on the Mormon/Jewish controversy regarding the Mormon practice of posthumous baptism.

Other articles cover naturalization records in the British National Archives, research in The Netherlands, HIAS records that describe their help to Jews fleeing Europe during the World War II era, vital records of Vienna and the familiant records of Bohemia.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at There is a special six-issue offer that provides the last two issues of this year with all four issues for 2006.

Morse Site Can Search List of 30 Alternatives Too
The last issue of Nu? What's New? described a feature for searching the Ellis Island Database which we thought was unique to the Ellis Island site and not available at the Stephen P. Morse portal located at It allows searching of 30 potential spelling and handwriting variants of the immigrant's surname.

Morse has informed us that his portal does support this search variant. It is available on the White Form (all immigrants, Jewish and non-Jewish). He provides three options for "Sounds Like"
- "Sounds like (many)". This does a search of the 30 spelling/handwriting variants made available at the Ellis Island site
- Sounds like (few). This uses only the first two (most likely) of the 30 variants.
- Sounds like (soundex). This uses the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex system rules to display matches.

You can limit the search to only Jews by checking the "Hebrew (Jewish)" box in the Ethnicity section.

Seeking Web Sites With Jewish Newspapers Online
Nu? What's New would like to publish a list of web sites that have digital images of old Jewish newspapers. These issues should be at least 50 years old. Many currently published Jewish newspaper have sites. We seem to recall that the American Jewish Archives or American Jewish Historical Society had selected newspapers online, but cannot locate the web site. Also there may have been a report of certain Eastern European Jewish newspapers being online. Please supply the addresses by responding to this e-mail. We are familiar with the German-Jewish newspaper collection at

Sephardic Dictionary Now In Stock
Avotaynu now has in stock Dicionário Sefaradi de Sobrenomes (Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames). There were difficulties restocking the book which was published in Brazil. Some of the books arrived in damaged condition. We have gotten rid of the seriously damaged ones but a few, which will be sold, have one or two corners of the covers that are slightly bent. All pages are undamaged.

The book won the "Best Reference Book" award of the Association of Jewish Libraries for 2003. It is a compilation of 17,000 surnames presented under 12,000 entries. All names were used by the Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal for 15 centuries and later spread across the world as Sephardim, marranos and conversos. The book includes hundreds of rare photographs, family shields and illustrations. In addition to the dictionary portion, there is a 72-page summary of Sephardic history, before and after the expulsion from Spain and Portugal, and a 40-page linguistic essay about Sephardic names, including a list of the 250 most common surnames.

The dictionary itself has 274 pages and appendices: geographic glossary, remissive index (in place of a soundex index), and a detailed list of all 335 bibliographical sources on which the book is based. The period covered by the dictionary is 600 years, from the 14th to the 20th centuries. The researched area includes Spain and Portugal, France, Italy, Holland, England, Germany, Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Ottoman Empire, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America (including colonial times), Australia and others. The authors, members of the Jewish Genealogical Society in Brazil, are Guilherme Faiguenboim, Paulo Valadares and Anna Rosa Campagnano.

The book is 528 pages, hardcover and sells for $50.00 plus shipping. Additional information, including the Table of Contents, is at

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