Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 10, Number 24 | November 16, 2009
This edition is going to 8,565 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.
Research in Argentina
It is said that every Jew has a relative in Israel. I sometimes wonder if this is also true of Argentina. Alberto Guido Chester of Buenos Aires recently posted to JewishGen a discourse on the major online Jewish genealogical resources in Argentina. He noted that the Argentine Jewish Community is large, perhaps a half a million in the 1960s and now 300,000. Here are some of the resources.
AMIA. The Argentinean Jewish community association is called Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA). Its Internet site is http://www.amia.org.ar. The site includes burials at four cemeteries in the city of Buenos Aires. The majority of Jews in Argentina lived and now live in this city, according to Chester. The database is not complete. Some names may not appear, especially older burials. AMIA does have the names of those not appearing.
CEMLA. Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinamericanos (CEMLA) is devoted to information about immigrants. Its Internet site is http://www.cemla.com/home.php. Included is a database of surnames of persons extracted from passenger arrival records and the number of persons who arrived with that surname. The count for “Levy” is 875. To perform a search, from the home page click on the image that says “Búsqueda del Arribo Inmigrantes” (Search immigrant arrivals). On the following page, key in a surname where it says “Appelido” (name) and then click “Consulta Appelido.” If you provide only the initial letters of the name, the results include all names that start with the search parameter. For example, searching for “Mokot” produced results that showed (name followed by the number of records in parentheses): Mokotof (1), Mokotor (1), Mokotor de Cohan (1), Mokotow (1) and Mokotowicz (3). Clearly the first three are misspellings of “Mokotoff.”
CEMLA will provide a transcript of the actual record—not a copy of the document—for a fee. The information provided includes family name, first name, country of birth, marital status, age at arrival, profession, religion, port of shipment, ship’s name, date of arrival (sometimes also members of family travelling together). Some of the information may be missing from the record. Town or province of origin exists only from 1923 and is sometimes missing.
Additional ordering information can be found at a link located in the box below the area where search information is given. The box has the heading “Explicativo.” At the very bottom of that box is a link identified (in English) as “Non-residents of Argentina, please click here.” The cost is €17.
Online telephone directory. Located at http://www.telexplorer.com.ar. This is the current phone book for all of Argentina. Alberto Chester claims that Argentineans move very little in comparison to Americans, so “it is probable a family will be living at the same address found in an old letter and [they kept] the same phone number as 30 years ago.” The country code for Argentina is 54, Buenos Aires city area code is 11 and then the local number. If the phone number is more than ten years old, Chester states it may be necessary to add a 4 to the beginning of the local number.
New Records at JewishData.com
Jewishdata.com contains a mélange of records of interest to Jewish family history research. It is a fee-for-service site. Recent additions include:
• More than 20,000 images from Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn. This brings the total for this location to 74,000
• More than 5,000 images from the Baron Hirsch cemetery in Staten Island, New York
• Several thousand new images from the Baron De Hirsch cemetery in Montreal, Canada
• More than 25,000 images from Chicago’s Rosehill, Rosemont Park, and Waldheim cemeteries.
• A small but historic batch of images from several Ukraine cities including Berdychiv, Medzhibozh and Nizhyn. To view these records enter “Ukraine” in the location field.
Planned acquisitions include:
• An additional 60,000 images from Chicago’s Waldheim cemetery
• Thousands more images from Staten Island
• Images of the entire old Back River cemetery in Montreal
• Several old books on Jewish communities in New York, Boston, and Baltimore.
Conference Now Accepting Lecture Proposals
Persons who would like to lecture at the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy can now submit their proposals at https://www.goeshow.com/jgsla/IAJGS/2010/call_for_papers.cfm. The conference planners are accepting proposals on a wide variety of topics from research sources and methodology for beginning genealogists to klezmer music. The proposal deadline is January 15, 2010. Notice of acceptances will be made by March 1, 2010. Additional information about the conference, which this year is in Los Angeles, can be found at http://www.jgsla2010.com.
News from Footnote.com
Holocaust data. Due to the great interest demonstrated to date, Footnote.com has extended free access to its Holocaust collection until the end of the year. After that date it will become part of their subscription service. For information about the collection read Nu? What’s New? Volume 10, No. 20 at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/V10N20.htm.
Census data. Numerous organizations are making U.S. census images available online, and Footnote.com has decided to join the party—with an enhancement. Their version will be interactive. Footnote will allow any paid subscriber to add photos, documents, stories or other facts about a person to the census record. There will be a mechanism to link families together that appear in the census. An “I’m Related” button provides a method for people to show relations and actually use the census records to make connections with others that may be related to the same person.
Footnote.com has already completed census collections for 1930 and 1860 with plans to do other censuses. Additional information can be found at http://www.footnote.com/census/.
Jewish Conference in Jamaica
A suggestion to the planners of the annual conference. It would be nice to hold the conference on a warm Caribbean island. On January 12–14, 2010, an international conference will be held in Kingston, Jamaica, that will explore the history, culture, and identity of Caribbean Jewry. Titled “The Jewish Diaspora of the Caribbean” it includes a Sephardic genealogy workshop. The host is the United Congregation of Israelites in Jamaica. Additional information can be found at http://www.ucija.org/conferenceaa.htm.
News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A log in is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen/sigs.htm. There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/members/members.html.
Hungarian SIG. Approximately 15,000 birth, marriage and death records have been added to the All-Hungary Database. Records have been added from Ajak; Anarcs; Apagy; Balkany; Beregszasz, including records from Mezö-Vári and Mezö-Kászony; Bonyhad, both Neolog and Orthodox communities; Miskolc; Orasvar; Rajka; and Stropkov. With the addition of these records, all Miskolc birth records (1835–1895) have been transcribed. The Beregszasz records are the first records available from Sub-Carpathian Ukraine. The database is located at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Hungary/
Latvia SIG. The English translation of the book, Churbn Lettland: The Destruction of the Jews of Latvia by Max Kaufmann, is now available online at http://www.jewsoflatvia.com/index.html. Susan Kan Rotsztajn, in her introduction on the website, calls the book a well-documented and erudite testimonial of the horrors that took place in Latvia during the Holocaust. Each of the fifteen parts of the book can be downloaded as PDF files and/or the entire book can be downloaded as a single file.
Litvak (Lithuania) SIG. In the last issue of Nu? What’s Nu?, I noted the importance of volunteering time and money to developing databases located on JewishGen. Here is an example. LitvakSIG has 12 District Research Groups (DRG) matching administrative districts (uyezds) of the Russian Empire period (1795–1917). They focus primarily on translating revision lists (censuses), family lists, tax lists and voter lists for the entire district, including all shtetls in the district. The premise on which DRGs are organized is that families often lived in one shtetl but were officially registered in another one or had extended family within a close geographic area. Collecting and researching on the district level is generally more fruitful than narrowly focusing only on the shtetl a family was “from.”
Qualified contributors for a given DRG are rewarded with Excel files of all records translated for that district and new translations generated from available funds. The qualification level varies by district but is generally $100 per district and $200 for the Telsiai and Vilnius districts. Smaller donations can be made over time to build up to the qualification level. Data is provided to the qualified contributors at least one year before it is made publicly available on the All-Lithuania Database (“ALD”). This week 30,000 lines of new data have become available to the public because of the work of these Districts, their coordinators and the generosity of their contributors. It is now searchable via the ALD. The new data comes from shtetls in the districts of Kaunas, Oshmiany, Siauliai, Trakai, Telsiai, Vilnius, Ukmerge and Zarasai.
You can make a monetary contribution at http://www.litvaksig.org.
Ukraine SIG. An article at the Internet site of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS states that the Jewish Community of Zhitomir has begun a project to restore and preserve approximately 1,500 Jewish cemeteries scattered throughout Ukraine. The article can be read at http://www.fjc.ru/news/newsArticle.asp?AID=1018345.
Holocaust Research and the Internet
When the word “Holocaust” is mentioned, it immediately brings to mind the six million whose lives were abruptly terminated. But too rarely is there mention of the impact on the survivors, many of whom had their lives permanently damaged by the event. What is life like when you are the sole survivor of a large family? What is it like to be the child of a sole survivor and be brought up without grandparents, uncles, aunts or cousins, yet all your friends have grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins?
It is a pity that the Internet was not invented 20 years earlier. It would have meant that Holocaust survivors of that time might have found relatives, albeit sometimes only distant relatives. Today too often it is the children of survivors that are doing the connecting because their parents are now deceased.
An example is the story of Debbie Long of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the child of a survivor who was interviewed by The Story, a group that describes itself as an American Public Media organization. You can hear her quest for family at
There are two stories on the show. Debbie Long’s is the second, so start listening halfway into the program. In the interview Long states:
What is most important to me is to feel a sense of belonging. To know that there is a past that I can embrace. That there are people who can remember. One of the most terrifying things that people can experience is to feel that they come out on nowhere; that they are rootless, that they are homeless. For me to find these two cousins is proof that (my) world existed and even after sixty years of searching for family that hope exists.
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Be sure to take advantage of the discounts Avotaynu is offering until the end of November. Additional information is available at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/V10N23.htm.
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