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

Volume 8, Number 9 | May 13, 2007

Update Web Site Created for Where Once We Walked
It is unlikely that there will be another edition of Where Once We Walked, the award-winning gazetteer of Central and Eastern Europe published by Avotaynu. It was initially published in 1991 and then a revised edition was published in 2004. Since then, we have received some additions and corrections to the book. Avotaynu has established a web site to identify these changes. It is located at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/WOWWUpdate.htm. We invite users of WOWW to send us additional changes.

Where Once We Walked was the first book published by Avotaynu. It was an instant success because it identifies more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. It includes more than 17,500 alternate names (Yiddish, names under previous administrations, etc.). WOWW was the first major use of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. The soundex index permitted many genealogists to locate their town of ancestry when they only knew the phonetic spelling of the name. I still remember the thank-you letter I received from a woman who said she has spent more than ten years trying to locate her ancestral town which she only knew from its pronunciation: Selochin. In less than ten minutes, she found it in the Daitch-Mokotoff index of WOWW. The correct spelling is Dzialoszyn.

In addition to the town name and alternate names, a typical entry also includes latitude/longitude, Jewish population before the Holocaust and cites as many as 50 books that reference each town. A “nearby town” index allows users to identify towns where Jews lived that are near their ancestral shtetl.

Additional information about WOWW including a sample entry and statistics about the number of towns within each country can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/WOWW.htm.


Steve Lasky Adds More Functionality to His Site
Steve Lasky continues to add additional significant content to his website for Jewish genealogists, www.museumoffamilyhistory.com. Lasky was recently given the Salute Award of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies for creating his web site “with dedication and diligence to honor and preserve the memory of our ancestors for present and future generations.”

His most recent announcement is of digital images of all the gravestones found in most Minsk and Grodno burial plots located in the New York metropolitan area. Also included are two Pinsk society plots. People can visit the unique surnames lists found on his Cemetery Project page, and, if they find a name of interest, can contact him for more information and perhaps get a photo of the gravestone itself.

Also new on his site are:
    * Guides to pronunciation for Magyar (Hungarian) and Lithuanian, using town names spoken by those native to these countries to demonstrate the sounds and nuances of these languages;
    * Individual index pages designed for specific country or regional research groups, e.g. Belarus, Galicia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and the Bialystok region;
    * More photographs, now numbering over 2,000, of our families from pre-World War II Europe in his "Postcards from Home" exhibition;
    * "Walk in My Shoes: Collected Memories of the Holocaust," an exhibition containing testimonies of Holocaust survivors who once lived in Hungary, Poland and the Ukraine. This exhibition will be augmented over time and can be found at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/wims.htm .

Steve also plans a "TownSites" section that will provide links to all independent Jewish genealogical web sites that have been specifically created to discuss the Jewish presence in the many town and cities throughout the world. The listed sites will have significant material of interest to the Jewish genealogist. If you have developed web sites for ancestral towns, send links to these sites to Lasky at steve@museumoffamilyhistory.com

The best way to find all that is available at his web site is by browsing the Site Map page at www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/sm.htm.


Public Access to ITS Records; Seven Down, Four to Go
Germany has also approved public access to the records of the International Tracing Service. The four remaining countries to approve the recommendation of the ITS oversight committee are France, Luxembourg, Italy and Greece.


Ancestry.com Adds Mexican Border Crossings to Their Collection
Ancestry.com has added U.S. - Mexico border crossing records between 1903 and 1957 to their online collection. The records include more than 3.5 million names, primarily documenting early 20th-century Mexican immigration to the United States. They contain details, such as names and birthdates of travelers, names of friends or family in Mexico or the United States, as well as some signatures.


Ancestry.com Resolves Problem of Personal Access at Family History Library
For those planning to attend the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in July, the problem of accessing your personal Ancestry.com account at the Family History Library has been solved.

There is a new domain, www.ancestryinstitution.com, for the Family History Library and the Family History Centers to use to get access to the collections available to them by contract. With this new domain name, patrons at the FHL and local FHCs can login to their own personal accounts just like they would from other locations.


Images of Tombstones in Polish Cemeteries
From Gesher Galicia. The web site "Cmentarze Zydowskie w Polsce" (Jewish Cemeteries in Poland) at http://www.kirkuty.xip.pl/indexang.htm features photographs taken at more than 300 Jewish cemeteries in Polish towns. In most cases photos are accompanied by essays describing the cemeteries and the Jewish communities they served. There is an English version of the home page, but most of the town pages are in Polish only. If you click on the thumbnail of a picture, a larger image is provided which often has a legible tombstone inscription. In some cases it appears the photographer filled the inscription with some sort of black material to make more legible.


Revised Edition of Washington Jewish Genealogy Resources Now Available
The fourth edition of Capital Collections: Resources for Jewish Genealogical Research in the Washington, DC Area, is now available. It is published by the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington. The 104-page guide includes information on the many resources in the Washington area. The latest edition updates existing entries and has added new sites. There is a new section on public transportation, including a map of the DC Metro system.

The cost is $18 + $5 S&H for non-society members and $12 for JGS libraries or JGSGW members. Greater details about the contents of the book as well as ordering information can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/jgsgw/capital.html.


Annual Jewish Genealogy Trip to Salt Lake City
For the 15th consecutive year, veteran Jewish genealogists Gary Mokotoff and Eileen Polakoff will be offering a research trip to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City from October 18-October 25, 2007. To date, more than 350 Jewish genealogists from the U.S., Canada, South America, Israel, Australia and Europe have taken advantage of this program. The group size is limited to 40 people and more than 20 alumni have already signed up.

The program offers genealogists the opportunity to spend an entire week of research at the Library under the guidance and assistance of professional genealogists who have made more than a three dozen trips to Salt Lake City. Each attendee has access to trip leaders every day except Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Library for on-site assistance and personal consultations. There is also a planned program that includes a three-hour class on day of arrival introducing the participants to the facilities and resources of the Family History Library in addition to a mid-week informal group discussion of progress and problem-solving. For those new to genealogy, a beginners workshop on the first morning of the trip will introduce them to the wonderful world of Hamburg immigration lists, U.S. passenger arrival lists, naturalization records and census records. A copy of the book, Your Guide to the Family History Library, is part of the pre-trip literature.

Social events include a mid-week Sunday brunch for camaraderie and discussion of successes (and failures); attendance at the Sunday morning broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; informal group dinners; and group planning parties.

Additional information can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/slctrip.htm


Translation Guide Tables of Contents Now Available
For those contemplating purchasing the excellent translation guides for Polish and Russian written by Jonathan Shea and William Hoffman, Avotaynu has published the Tables of Contents for each of the books at our web site. The newly revised Polish translation guide is at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/ITW-Polish.htm. The Russian translation guide is at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/ITW-Russian.htm.

Help Grow the Shoah Victims’ Names Database
Yad Vashem wants volunteers who are willing to contact local institutions and individuals to grow the Shoah Victims Database whose principal documents are Pages of Testimony. With the aid of promotional materials Yad Vashem has developed, volunteers will reach out to survivors and their families and assist them in registering the names of Jews who they know were murdered in the Shoah. This will be done through synagogues, Holocaust centers, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish student organizations, senior centers and social service agencies. To volunteer send your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to names.outreach@yadvashem.org.il with the subject heading "Names Volunteer"

To submit a Page of Testimony, there is a link on the left portion of the screen from the Basic Search page at http://www.yadvashem.org/lwp/workplace/IY_HON_Welcome. Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

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