Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 10, Number 11 | June 21, 2009
This edition is going to 8,547 subscribers
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
U.S. National Archives to Get Alien Registration Records
During World War II, all persons over the age of 14 residing in the United States who were aliens were forced to register. They include people who immigrated decades earlier never bothered to become naturalized citizens. These records have been in the possession of the Citizenship and Immigration Services and are now in the process of being turned over to the National Archives. These Alien Case Files (commonly referred to as A-Files) will be sent to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birth date of the subject of a file. At that time, they will be available to the public. The files include information such as photographs, personal correspondence, birth certificates, health records, interview transcripts, visas, applications and other information on all non-naturalized alien residents, both legal and illegal. Additional information can be found at http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2009/nr09-90.html
Museum of the History of Polish Jews Creates Virtual Shtetl Site
In 1996, the Jewish Historical Institute Association in Warsaw undertook a project to build a Museum of the History of Polish Jews. It will open in 2011 on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The museum will be a multimedia narrative museum and cultural center that will present the history of Polish Jews and the rich civilization they created over the course of almost 1000 years.
The museum now has developed a Virtual Shtetl site at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/?lang=en_GB. The site development is in its infancy but already there is information about a large number of Polish towns. Potentially each town will have subsections identifying the town’s location through maps, general history of the locality, Jewish history, demography (general and Jewish population through the years), Jewish cemeteries, places of martyrology (sites that memorialize the Jews of the town), location of archival material, bibliographies and links to other sites with information about the town. Viewers are encouraged to contribute information about the Jewish presence in the town either as text, photographs, audio or video recordings.
Using the search engine requires a bit of training. In the area just below the word Search there is a place to key in any word or portion of a word. The result is any place at the site that contains the characters in the search argument. Below the data entry field is another field to search for information about a specific town. It requires the correct spelling in Polish. Searching for Bialystok produces no results but Białystok yielded successful results. Possibly to help viewer who are unfamiliar with the Polish spelling, as each character is typed, all towns at the site that start with the letters are immediately displayed. Therefore typing “Bia” is sufficient to determine they have a site for Białystok. This scheme does not work, of course, for towns whose initial letter starts with a letter that has a diacritic mark such as Łańcut.
Additional information about the Museum of the History of Polish Jews project can be found at http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/index.php?lang=en
British Library Places 19th-Century Newspapers Online
The British Library, in partnership with JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and Gale, part of Cengage Learning, has launched the public version of its 19th-century British Library Newspaper website. It is located at http://newspapers.bl.uk/blcs. There are some two million digitized pages with full-word indexing. Searches of the site are free and downloads of full-text articles are available by purchasing either a 24-hour or seven-day pass. Users can buy a 24-hour pass (up to 100 downloads) for £6.99 or a seven-day pass (up to 200 downloads) for £9.99. For additional information see http://www.bl.uk/news/2009/pressrelease20090616.html
Canadian Censuses 1851–1916 Now Online
Ancestry.ca, in partnership with Library and Archives Canada, has completed the first online launch of the Canadian censuses, 1851-1916. The censuses are fully indexed and include original document images. Included are more than 32 million names and 1.3 million images of original records. Additional information can be found at http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/? Ancestry.ca is a fee-for-service site.
Israel Genealogical Society Places Mount of Olives Cemetery Data on Internet
The Israel Genealogical Society has placed at their web site an index to burials at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The source is the book, “Helkat Mehokek,” which was published in 1913. It is a bi-lingual (Hebrew-English) searchable database of 8,092 tombstones, mostly covering the period between 1740–1906, although the earliest inscription dates from 1646.
The database was originally made available at the 2004 International Conference on Jewish Genealogy on CD. The English version is located at http://www.isragen.org.il/siteFiles/1/153/4977.asp. The Hebrew version is at http://www.isragen.org.il/siteFiles/13/79/5778.asp.
The actual search function is at the very bottom of each of the pages named above. These pages start with a lengthy description of the history of the index followed by guidelines for using it. Unfortunately, this lengthy description is displayed again on the search results page. Scroll down the page to find the results.
New York State Newspaper Site
A number of New York State newspapers have been digitized and indexed at http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html. Of greatest interest to Jewish genealogists will be the Brooklyn Eagle. There are even more recent editions of this newspaper than on that newspaper's own Internet site. I could find no place at the site that listed which newspapers and years have been indexed, but there are Brooklyn Eagle pages into the 1950s and New York Times pages into the 1920s.
The Importance of Family Health History
An article in the Wall Street Journal provides a good description of how family health history can save lives. One professor of genetics is quoted as saying, "For most common diseases, it's more informative to work out your family history" than to get a genetic profile. There are a number of links to sites that will evaluate your propensity for cancer and/or heart disease based on providing family history information. The article can be found at http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB124467618643403993-lMyQjAxMDI5NDE0NTYxNzU2Wj.html
HIAS Helps Darfur Child to Reunite with Parents
HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, is a social service organization that for more than 100 years has helped Jewish immigrants settle more easily in the United States. On many occasions, when a Jewish immigrant was turned away by government authorities, HIAS would step in to champion the immigrant’s cause if they felt the government official was unreasonably following the letter of the law.
Today HIAS is also involved in the plight of non-Jewish immigrants too. It is currently involved in the Darfur refugee problem and recently helped a Darfur couple reunite with their four-year-old daughter who was denied admission into the U.S. on a technicality even though the parents were given political asylum in the U.S. The full story is at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/nyregion/16asylum.html?_r=4&ref=nyregion
New Avotaynu Catalog Mailed
Avotaynu’s 2009 catalog has been mailed to (1) all subscribers to our journal, AVOTAYNU, (2) those who requested that they be placed on our mailing list, or (3) those who have purchased an item from us in the past three years. Featured are more than 50 books designed to assist in Jewish genealogical research as well as maps and CDs. You can request a copy of the catalog at http://www.avotaynu.com/order.html. In the comment box, specifically ask for the catalog.
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