Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 9, Number 29 | December 21, 2008
Unfortunately, I had to attend a funeral this past weekend. The memorial service was held at a synagogue. When I entered the building I noticed a large framed color photograph of an elderly woman holding a very young baby. The woman had a magnificent smile on her face; clearly a great-grandmother proudly holding a fourth-generation member of her family. It struck me as unusual that such a picture would be in a synagogue. A more appropriate place would have been in the family’s home, but as I approached the picture its significance became apparent. On the woman’s arm was tattooed a number. The family, descendants of this Holocaust survivor, refer to the picture as “Am Yisroel Chai.” Click on the picture for a larger image.
Status of Internet Access to Canadian Census and Passenger Lists
If Canadian genealogy is an important part of your research, I suggest you subscribe to “Gordon Watts Reports.” His latest e-zine summarizes the status of the digitizing and indexing of the 1851 through 1911 and 1916 censuses and Canadian Passenger Lists. The chart shows what projects is in progress, in what year digitization of the records are expected to be completed, when an index will be available and when the index will be available free of charge at the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) Internet site. Watts’ latest release is located at
Watts also discusses in the issue that people who are interested in keeping up with what is happening at Library and Archives Canada now have a new way of doing so. LAC has recently incorporated RSS feeds, one of which is “What Is New at LAC.” At that location I discovered that the planned Index to Quebec Passenger Lists 1865–1900 is now available at the LAC site. It is located at http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/passengers-quebec-1865-1900/index-e.html.
These projects are a joint venture between Ancestry.com and LAC. The arrangement allows the commercial venture, Ancestry, access to records with the understanding that after a certain time period that they will be at the Ancestry site on a fee-for-service basis; they will be available at the government site, LAC, for free. Similar arrangements exist between the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and a number of ventures in the U.S.
Videos of Pre-Holocaust Jewish Poland
Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok has placed on YouTube a number of videos of pre-Holocaust Jewish Poland. They can be found at http://www.youtube.com/bagnowka7. They are mostly still pictures presented in video format.
Titles include Jewish Cemeteries til 1945, Hassidim Chasidim - Holocaust, Jewish Cemeteries til 1945, Bielsk Podlaski Synagogue, Jewish Children in Holocaust and Bialystok 1939-1944. All told there are 16 videos.
One film, Chivalrous Wehrmacht, shows photos and films of the German occupation of Poland taken by German soldiers. In one portion, there is a photo of German soldiers who had plundered a synagogue and were mockingly wearing keters (crowns of the Torah) on their heads. Another soldier was removing precious stones from the plates that adorned torahs.
Wisniewski has a major website at http://bagnowka.com, which includes nearly 60,000 photographs—some from postcards—of Poland. Most are pre-World War II and many are of Jewish life in Poland. There is a search engine at the site that allows you to search by surname or town name. Warning: A tiny note states the search is case sensitive. When I searched for the Mokotow ancestral town of “warka” (lower case “W”) there were no hits. Searching for “Warka” (upper case “W”) produced 18 results (although some of the pictures did not appear to be of Warka).
Foundation for Jewish Heritage in Poland
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland is an organization whose mission is to protect and commemorate the surviving monuments of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland. They are also working to reclaim and restore properties which before WWII were the property of Jewish religious communities and other Jewish legal entities. They have a web site at http://fodz.pl/?d=1&l=en. This site has a list of Jewish cemeteries in Poland and their current status that can be searched from the home page. The home page also links to current and past projects of the organization. Click on “Gallery” to view information about specific projects.
Ancestry.com Now Has 1935 and 1945 Florida Censuses Online
Ancestry.com has digitized and indexed Florida state censuses for the years 1867, 1875, 1935 and 1945. Florida is one of only two U.S. states (South Dakota is the other) to have completed a census as recently as 1945. This adds to Ancestry’s Florida State Collection which already includes the 1885 state census, marriages (1822–1875 and 1927–2001), death index (1877–1998), passenger lists (1898–1951) and land records. The Florida census search is located at http://content.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=1506&offerid=0%3a7858%3a0
A Viennese-based organization, Centropa, has developed a remarkable Internet site, http://centropa.org, that is an oral history project which combines old family pictures with interviews. Centropa interviewed more than 1,350 elderly Jews living in Central and Eastern Europe; the former Soviet Union; and the Sephardic communities of Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. They combined the text of the interviews with 25,000 digitized images to created professional-looking autobiographies of these people. The intent was to document—at the family level—what it was like to live as Jews in 20th-century Europe.
When browsing this site, be sure to include http://centropa.org/?nID=1 which provides a list of the surnames, cities and countries of the people they interviewed. From this page you can click on a specific surname, city of country that will lead to a list of persons who met the criteria. From there you can select the interview and photographs of the particular person.
A few biographies have been converted into video presentations. Go to http://centropa.org/nov09/?nID=4 to view a sample of the videos. A complete list can be found at http://www.centropastudent.org/?nID=77&fLang=ENG.
The site is meant to be educational as well as informational. Centropastudent.org includes films and online study guides for educational programs.
Living in America: The Jewish Experience—Philadelphia
In recognition that the 2009 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will be held in Philadelphia this summer, the online Museum of Family History has created a component titled “Living in America: The Jewish Experience—Philadelphia” at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mfh-philadelphia.htm. It currently includes three articles with photographs about Jewish Philadelphia: “The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia,” by Harry Boonin; “The Fabric of our Lives: A History of Philadelphia's Fourth Street,” by Michele Winitsky Palmer; and “Four Jewish Families in Philadelphia: The End of the 19th Century,” by Leonard Markowitz. Boonin is the author of the book The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia: A History and Guide 1881–1930 which is available through Avotaynu.
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