Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 8, Number 23 | December 2 2007
USHMM To Have Public Access to ITS Records This Month
The U.S. Holocaust Museum (USHMM) plans to accept inquiries regarding the collection of Holocaust-related records of the International Tracing Service this month, perhaps as early as December 3. Consult local newspapers or other news media for the formal announcement. What USHMM currently has is part of the record collection of ITS plus the entire Central Names Index (CNI) of 50 million digitized index cards providing information about 17 million people. These cards place an individual in a specific place at a specific time. The balance of the record collection will be given to USHMM and other repositories, such as Yad Vashem, over the next two years.
In most cases, genealogists will find the information contained on the Central Names Index to be adequate and the actual document from which it is derived to be more of historical interest. This is because most of the information on the source document about a specific individual was transcribed onto the index card. I have placed on the Internet sample index cards at http://www.avotaynu.com/arolsen.htm. They include sample cards of deportations, deaths, refugees, inquiries (T/D file), etc.
People will be requested to fill out a form that will be available at the USHMM website and other means. In theory, USHMM will be willing to make any reasonable search, and if there are results, they will provide the inquirer with copies of the original source documents. This may be a long-term goal, because it is guaranteed that USHMM will be swamped with requests in the short term.
The Museum will allow people to come to their facility in Washington, DC, and do searches of the Central Names Index by themselves. This may be necessary for those who want to browse the index to do searches that are unreasonable requests (for example, would occupy too must time of a member of the USHMM staff), generic searches (all persons named “Mokotow”) or do not want to wait for a response from the Museum.
USHMM Now Has Online Inventory of ITS Collection
A list of the complete inventory of ITS is on the USHMM website at http://resources.ushmm.org/itsinventory. It is in German and English. This is merely a list of the more than 21,000 separate collections of historical documentation. It consists of the name of the record group and a brief description. A full-word search engine will locate record groups of interest. I personally do not see the value to family historians of knowing these record groups, because all the names from the documents were extracted and are in the Central Names Index with a reference to the original source. For example, a Page of Testimony submitted by the brother of Bronka Mokotow says she died in Mauthausen. This seemed unreasonable to me since she was in the Warsaw ghetto, and the Jews of the ghetto were deported to their deaths at Treblinka. Searching the ITS inventory online shows there are 420 record groups that reference Mauthausen. There is no need to search all these groups; the CNI would have included her name if she was on any list.
T/D Files at ITS: What Are They?
There has been much fuss about the T/D record collection at the International Tracing Service. (T/D stands for “Tracing/Documents.”) This is the collection of all inquiries made to ITS since their inception abut 60 years ago. It is felt these letters will be a boon to genealogists, because inquirers may have described their families by name and perhaps included birth dates and places. Every inquiry went into the Central Names Index, catalogued under the name of the person sought. The index card includes the name and address of the inquirer. Unfortunately, the only examples I have of T/D file records in the Mokotow history are requests for information about one person. I do not know, at this time, if a person inquired about an entire family and named all members of the family, whether an index card was created for each family member, including children. Examples of T/D index cards are at the Avotaynu website http://www.avotaynu.com/arolsen.htm.
Findmypast.com Adds 10 Million British Burial Records
I reported in September about the excellent commercial genealogy site created by the British firm, Findmypast.com. Included in their collection is a British emigration index, 1890–1930, with plans to extend it to 1960. This firm has just announced the addition of an index to 10 million burials in England and Wales for the years 1538–2005. It provides the full name; date of burial; age at death (when given in the original source); name of the county; parish and place of burial.
It is a fee-for-service site. At no charge, the site displays the deceased’s name, year of burial and county. They have various pricing arrangements including monthly and annual subscriptions as well as the ability to buy electronic scrip. All the prices seemed reasonable.
FindMyPast.com has a number of other databases, such as 1841–1891 census data, military records, and vital records index books.
JOWBR Approaches One Million Records
The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) now has 980,000 records of Jewish burials throughout the world. The latest additions include more than 148,000 Austrian records, 4,400 Canadian records (Beth Tzedec, Toronto), 1,328 records from India, 4,830 records from Romania, and the first batch of records and photographs from Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), Ukraine. The Ashkenazi Cemetery at Guanabacoa, Cuba, has been updated, and photographs of more than one-third of all the tombstones have been added. JOWBR is located at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/cemetery/.
JewishGen recently upgraded their server that contains all the data files giving the site substantially improved performance.
Accessibility to Major Belgian Resource In Doubt
The records of the Belgian Office des Etrangers (Immigration office) for the period 1911–1945 are being transferred to the National Archives in the next few months. There has been no announcement as to the accessibility of these records after the transfer is made. These documents are one of the three major source of genealogy information about the Belgian Jewish community since all immigrants had (and still have) to be registered. It includes parents names, place and date of birth, moves within Belgium, etc.
The records include those from the time period when many Jews fled to Belgium during the rise of Nazism in Germany. People, many of them Jews, fled Germany, later Austria, as well as Poland with the hope of emigrating to the United States, Canada, etc., but many did not have enough money, or affidavits never came, or visas were not granted. The U.S. and Canada immigration restrictions made it more and more difficult. Many people were trapped in Belgium and had no alternative other than to register.
The records do not include people who were merely in transit through Belgium on their way to another country, for example, those going through the port of Antwerp, and in Belgium for only a few days.
Australia's Electoral Rolls Online
Australia's electoral rolls between 1901 and 1936 are now available online at http://www.ancestry.com.au. Each entry includes name, address and occupation. Nearly 42 million names appear on the rolls. You must be a paid subscriber of ancestry.com.au or Ancestry.com's “Word Deluxe Membership” to access the database.
Shipping New Book: Grin-ealogy
Avotaynu has begun shipping copies of Grin-ealogy to the initial purchasers of the book. We all have our favorite stories of humorous encounters while doing our family history research. The author, George I. Sackheim, has been researching his family’s history for more than 60 years, and he has accumulated enough stories to create a book.
All together, there are more than 100 such items, all of which make delightful, quick reading and are an ideal gift to a genealogy friend...such as yourself! Treat yourself to a Chanukah present with a book of genealogy humor. The price is only $12 plus shipping. Ordering information plus sample stories from the book can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/grinealogy.htm.
More Candidates for Grin-eology
George Sackheim’s book, Grin-ealogy, reminds me that in the past I have published in “Nu? What’s New?” some unusual inquiries Avotaynu has received. Here are some new ones. Some of the items below were received by Miriam Weiner of Routes to Roots Foundation.
How Do You Respond to This Inquiry (Shown in its Entirety)?
Do you have any email address for Mr. Cohen?
There Is Nothing Better Than Narrowing Down Your Inquiry
I am interested in finding my ancestors: Barshadsky, Rosenfeld, Cohen. Maybe from Ukraine or Belarus or Poland.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
[Spelling as in the original e-mail] Hi, I am asking for a little gelp in finding a surviver that would have a number tatooed on them, or lost a family member who did. I know this is probably a weird request, but I wanted to 'honor' a surviver by having their number tattooed on my arm as they did...
Comes the Revolution
She said she needed military records, because an ancestor was in the Revolution—the Industrial Revolution. (Posted to the Discussion Group of the Association of Professional Genealogists.)
Proof that Litvaks Are Better Than Galitzianers
I am doing a project on Poland and I need to know what religions there were pre-war, like the Litvaks and all different types of Chassids and other types of Jews.
Before You Go Into the Business, Learn How To Spell “Genealogy”
We are in the process of creating link partnerships with high quality geneology-related sites and I feel like your site would be a great resource for my visitors. I have already placed a link to your site along with a description at http://www.geneologywizard.com/surnames. [Don’t bother to look, the URL is defunct. They must have gone out of business.]
A Lesson in Geography
My efforts to locate the town of Russpol have hit several walls. Some say it was in Lithuania, others Poland; others say it is where Belarus is currently bordered. [This reminds me of the inquiry from a person who said his family came from “Guberniya.”]
Another Geography Lesson
Could someone please define both in writing, and by sending me a map, where in Warsaw would there be German borders, and what years did they change from Polish to German.
Last, But Not Least, a Delightful Legitimate Inquiry to JewishGen
At the risk of sounding silly may I run this one by you. A friend/distant family remembers the name of his mother's shtetl/town as "sounds like a lot of sneezes"...seriously. [The consensus is that the person was looking for Szczuczyn, Poland!]
You can order Grin-ealogy at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/grinealogy.htm
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