Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy From Avotaynu

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 9, Number 18 | July 27, 2008

This edition was delayed because of problems with ISPs blocking messages from the company that sends out Nu? What's New?  This is the second time in the past nine years, an edition of Nu? What’s New? was blocked by a number of major Internet Service Providers. The first time it was blocked because I used the “p” word in a sentence that said that genealogy was the second most popular use of the Internet, surpassed only by “p-word” sites.

Not much of general interest has happened in the past two weeks.

FamilySearch Partnering with Commercial Ventures
FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Mormon Church, is partnering with and to provide better access to indexes and records.

FamilySearch is working with to significantly enhance the online U.S. Federal Census Collection, 1790 to 1930. was the first organization to make images of these censuses available, and it was done at a time when digitizing images was in its infancy. As a consequence, it is claimed that the quality of the images is not as good as today’s technology permits. FamilySearch is now digitally converting master microfilm copies of the original U.S. Federal censuses from 1790 through 1930 and will give these improved images to In exchange, will give FamilySearch copies of its existing census indexes. FamilySearch is already creating its own indexing of select censuses using volunteers. It will merge the indexes with the new indexes to create enhanced census indexes which will be added to both sites. These indexes will be free on for a limited time as they are completed. Indexes will also be available free of charge at Where there is a conflict between the original index and that created by FamilySearch volunteers, both will be available in the combined index. Additional information about the project can be found at

FamilySearch is also partnering with to publish online indexes to censuses for England and Wales from 1841 to 1901. The 1841 and 1861 Census indexes are the first targeted under the agreement and are accessible now at and In the agreement, FamilySearch, in conjunction with, will provide digital images for the 1851, 1871, and 1881 censuses. It will also extend the 1871 census index. will provide FamilySearch copies of its English and Welsh census indexes from 1841 to 1901. The Federation of Family History Societies will help complete the index for the 1851 Census. Additional information can be found at

To use the FamilySearch site, go to

Records Preservation and Access Committee Creates Brochure
Preserving historical records and having public access to them is a core requirement to do family history research. That is why, a number of years ago, two major American genealogy organizations—Federation of Genealogical Societies and the National Genealogical Society—created a Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC). This group now also has as members the Association of Professional Genealogists, Board for Certification of Genealogists and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

RPAC monitors the activities of institutions holding records, such as libraries and archives, that might impact family history research in a negative way. Example: An institution plans to digitize records and throw away the original documents. It also monitors government legislative actions such as plans to restrict access to records on the grounds of “homeland security” or “identify theft.” RPAC has been successful in many cases in influencing the final decision of these groups.

RPAC now has created a brochure "The Case For Open Public Records." It can be downloaded and printed from Visit the RPAC website at to read about the multitude of activities of this group.

1891 Canadian Census Now Online at with Morse One-Step Access now has the 1891 Census of Canada online. Stephen P. Morse has created a portal to this database. The index to the census contains 4.5 million names from all 10 present-day Canadian provinces and its three territories. Direct access to the database is at

Stephen P. Morse has created a superior portal to the census at Advantages of using the Morse site include:
    * searching all online Canadian censuses (1851, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911) from the same form
    * search may include middle initial, age or religion. This will help filter out false positives on common names
    * searching on birth year being between two values rather than using plus-or-minus
    * selecting district within province from a drop-down list instead of having to type it
    * specifying more than 50 hits per page

There is a charge for using the Ancestry database.

Online FBI Files Accessible for Free
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has made its digitized collection of FBI records free of charge. It is located at and consists of more than two million documents for the period 1908–1922.

So you never had a relative who was a criminal? The FBI did not merely keep track of potential violators of the law, but also potential “troublemakers.” Jews have always been social activists and many of them were tracked by the FBI. I searched the database for the great union leader Samuel Gompers and found a number of records. Also Henrietta Szold, the founder of the Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. She was there merely as a reference in a passport application for her sister who was described as a Socialist.

Order Books for Conference
Avotaynu will be selling more than 60 books and map sets at the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy being held in Chicago this year. For the most part, we will have only one copy of each book and will ship to you, free of charge within the U.S., any book you purchase. If you plan to buy books and prefer taking them with you, e-mail us at; we will bring an extra copy and reserve it for you. If you live outside the U.S., send your order now to the above e-mail address. We will reserve copies of the books you wish. You will save time and shipping costs by taking the books with you.

A complete list of our products can be found at

Wanted: Tree Expert
Gary Palgon of Atlanta, Georgia, is a genealogist who has an excellent Internet domain name: People interested in getting advice who use the keywords “family tree expert” on Google will find his site is at the top of the list.

But sometimes people get a little confused as to exactly what is a family tree expert. Palgon recently received the following message which was asking for advice:

“Hi, I have a 30+ yr old Camfer tree in my backyard and it's between 40 to 60 ft tall. Beautiful tree that frames my entire backyard. Recently I've started doing some excavating to prep the area for a 600 sq ft patio and ran into some large Camfer roots that need to be removed. I removed some a few months back and only really noticed some additional leaf drop. I'm in the final stage of prepping and ran into a few more roots that are between 6 to 8 inches around or larger that I need to remove. I wish I didn't have to disturb them but don't know of any way around it. This tree must be heavily rooted and it's in clay soil so it's not going anywhere but I'm concerned that I could possibly kill the tree. Will cutting a few more large roots possibly kill the tree or just stress it a little more. I'm in Northern CA so the winters are mild. Wondering what your thoughts are on this and if you have any suggestions to keep the tree healthy in the future. I appreciate any advice you might have.”

Amazon Clearance Sale
The German Amazon site,, is selling through a reseller, copies of Peter Simonstein Cullman’s History of the Jewish Community of Schneidemuhl: 1641 to the Holocaust, for €266,98 ($400.00). You can purchase the book at the Avotaynu site for $46.00.

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 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 Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

Nu? What's New is published biweekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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