Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 11, Number 17 | September 28, 2010
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.
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ITS Distributes Children’s Tracing Branch Data
The International Tracing Service (ITS) of Bad Arolsen has forwarded copies from its inventory to five partner organizations in Belgium, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland and the U.S. The data consists of documents from the children’s tracing branch—some 2.3 million images—as well as files on Nazi persecution which do not reference specific individual fates. These files include, for example, documents involving concentration camp logistics, medical experiments, the ‘Lebensborn’ association and trials from the post-war era.
The documents from the children’s tracing branch pertain to non-German children who had been reported missing. The files also document the search for the family members of children and adolescents who survived forced labor, abductions or concentration camps who were under the age of 18 when they were found alone at the end of WWII.
The recipients include Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, the National Institute for Remembrance in Warsaw, the Centre for Documentation and Research on Resistance in Luxembourg and the Belgian State Archives in Brussels.
To date, about 87 million images have been given to the different institutions, including documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (ca. 18 million images), the ITS Central Name Index (ca. 42 million images), registration cards of displaced persons (ca. 7 million images), documents concerning forced labor (ca. 13 million images), files from DP camps and emigration after World War II (ca. 5 million images), as well as general documents and the inventory from the children’s tracing branch (ca. 2 million images to date). ITS’s three million correspondence files between survivors or family members and the authorities still need to be transferred, but their digitization will still take some years to complete.
Dick Eastman’s daily e-zine notes a very useful Internet site that identifies all online death indexes in the U.S. It is located at http://www.deathindexes.com. Included are death records, death certificate indexes, death notices and registers, obituaries, probate indexes, and cemetery and burial records.
Index to Australian Death Notices Online
WorldVitalRecords.com has placed an Australian Newspaper Index database (Ryerson Index) of death notices appearing in current Australian newspapers. It also includes some funeral notices, probate notices and obituaries. It is located at
http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/indexinfo.aspx?ix=ryerson. Numerous Holocaust survivors immigrated to Australia after World War II. I found two entries for probate notices for family members who lived in the Melbourne area.
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 login 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. Hungary is reevaluating its privacy/record access laws regarding birth, marriage and death records. The change may require 90 years to pass before the release of records. This law becomes effective January 1, 2011. FamilySearch.org, the record acquisition arm of the Mormon Church, is no longer delivering images to the Internet from Hungarian archives beyond 1920. The law appears to be vague and subject to interpretation. For example, there is evidence the rule will be more lenient if the purpose of the record acquisition is historical research (is family history research historical research?). On the negative side, if a person dies in 1960 at age 60 and a marginal notation is made to his birth record noting the death, does that mean the birth record is not in the public domain because 90 years has not passed since the entry of the death data on the birth document.
Latvia SIG. An Internet site, http://www.periodicals.lv, has digitized and full-word indexed 41 Latvian newspapers for years ranging from 1895–1957. The site displays the actual news article with the search words highlighted.
Ukraine SIG. The Bessarabia Revision List project now includes 9,342 records from 1,229 families. Records are from Beltsy, Romanovka (Bendery district), Kishinev, Akkerman, and the agricultural colony of Alexandreny (Yassy, Beltsy district). It is estimated that all revision lists contain about 120,000 entries. Volunteers are needed who can read Russian and use Excel. The database can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Romania/BessarabiaRevisionLists.htm.
Ancestry Acquires Parent Company of Foootnote.com
The big fish is starting to swallow the minnows. Ancestry.com is in the process of acquiring iArchives, the parent company of Footnote.com. Footnote.com focuses on providing original documents pertaining to American history. Its primary source is the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Plans call for the Footnote operation to continue to act independent of Ancestry. It will still be necessary to have separate subscriptions to the two fee-for-service sites. One possible benefit to family historians may be that Footnote will now have the financial backing to accelerate their record acquisition program.
Museum of the Riga Ghetto Opens
A Riga Ghetto Museum opened on September 21 in the city of Riga, Latvia. The site http://shamir.lv states that during the Holocaust more than 70,000 Latvian Jews and about 20,000 Jews deported to Riga were murdered. The museum has also opened a photo exhibition dedicated to anti-Semitism propaganda, the Holocaust in Latvia, and the Resistance and the Righteous Among the Nations. The Shamir site has much information about Latvian Jewry. There is a database of names of Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust in Latvia at http://www.rgm.lv/db/. They publish an annual Jewish calendar dedicated to the history of Jewish development during Latvia’s First Republic. Information can be found at http://shamir.lv/en/item/117-jewish_calendar_5771.html. The site can be viewed in English, Hebrew, Latvian or Russian.
Ukraine Archives to Place Looted Property Documents Online
The State Committee on Archives of Ukraine located in Kyiv plans to place online German records of art, archives, books and other cultural valuables stolen in Nazi-occupied countries during the Second World War. These are records of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), one of the main agencies responsible for looting cultural valuables. The records of the ERR were scattered after the war and are now to be found in 29 repositories in nine countries. The collection of ERR records held by Ukraine, seized by Soviet forces at the end of the war, is the largest in the world. During the Soviet era they were classified as secret. Additional information can be found at http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/81263/#ixzz10kctV9Cc.
IIJG Awards Grant for Hungarian Research
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has awarded a grant to Erzsébet Mislovics to do a study of two leading—and representative—Hungarian families, the Munks and the Goldzihers, from the 18th century until the outbreak of World War II. Dr. Mislovics is a Hungarian scholar who has a doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The grant is to use archival and printed sources that will allow a detailed reconstruction of the genealogy and physiogamy of the two families, including their geographic, social, economic and occupational mobility, education and religious affiliations, and responses to cultural and political change. IIJG claims the study will make a significant contribution to the understanding of Hungarian Jewry during a critical period that witnessed radical transition from a traditional Jewish framework to a modern, acculturated and in some cases highly assimilated milieu, with all the impact the process had on the Jewish family. Information about the IIJG research grants can be found at http://www.iijg.org/Research/ResearchGrants.aspx.
News from Ancestry.com
Family Tree Maker 2011. Ancestry.com has announced the availability of Family Tree Maker 2011. FTM is the #1 selling genealogy software system. With the announcement, the company stated the newest version is bigger, better, prettier, etc. Information about the enhancements can be found at http://www.familytreemaker.com/Pages/Overview/Overview.aspx.
England and Wales National Probate Calendar, 1861–1941, reveals the value of more than 6 million estates, including some left by famous people. It is located at http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=1904.
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