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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 1 | January 9, 2011

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. Library of Congress Newspaper Collection
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? focused on Internet sites that had digitized versions of newspapers with search engines. Add to the list the U.S. Library of Congress whose collection is at Called “Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper,” this site allows searching and viewing newspaper pages from 1860–1922 and includes information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. The limit of 1922 for viewing may have to do with copyright restrictions.

The section about American newspapers published between 1690-present provides information about thousands of newspapers published, some for only a brief time.

Ethnic Newspapers To Be Online
Readex, a division of NewsBank, is planning to make available online ethnic American newspapers from the Balch collection, 1799–1971, in Spring 2011. Featuring more than 130 fully searchable newspapers in 10 languages from 25 states, this online collection will provide extensive coverage of many of the most influential ethnic groups in U.S. history with an emphasis on Americans of Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Lithuanian, Polish, Slovak and Welsh descent. The organization did not indicate which newspapers would be made available. Additional information can be found at

Family Tree of the Jewish People Now Has 5 Million Entries
JewishGen’s Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) now has more than 5 million entries. It is a database of family trees submitted by more than 4,200 genealogists throughout the world.

FTJP began in 1984 at the Douglas E. Goldman Genealogy Center at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv. Goldman invited Avotaynu co-owners Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack to view his new computer installation and suggested that all Jewish genealogists should submit their family trees to a common database at the Genealogy Center so that researchers could determine the familial relationships between various trees. We offered to help promote the concept, and I gave it the name “Family Tree of the Jewish People.” The database never grew much due to lack of publicity and the fact there was a charge to submit a tree.

In 1991, I decided to develop my own database of family trees giving it the name Jewish Genealogical People Finder. It was distributed on microfiche free of charge to the Jewish genealogical societies. There was a matching program that was part of the system which informed contributors if there was a new entry that might match one on their tree.

In 1999, JewishGen took over the project returning it to its original name of Family Tree of the Jewish People. It reached 1 million entries that year.

In 2010, JewishGen partnered with to create an arrangement where family trees built online on—with the consent of their owners—will be periodically transferred to the Family Tree of the Jewish People Project.

If you have not submitted your family tree to the project, do it now. Addition information about FTJP can be found at

Register Now for the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Registration is now open for the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy which is being held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington D.C. The Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington is the host. Full registration prior to May 1 is $275 with spouse/partner an additional $175. There are also discounts for full-time students (age 19 or older) or those persons 18 or younger. It is also possible to register on a daily basis. To register, follow the link at

The conference is the premier event of the year for Jewish genealogy. It is anticipated that more than 1000 people will attend to hear presentations by renowned scholars, archivists and research specialists from around the world. Washington is the home of major institutions such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Archives, and Library of Congress. Attending the conference will be a splendid opportunity to do onsite research at these locations.

There will be the usual 100–150 lectures on a variety of topics of interest to Jewish family historians. There will be a special track for beginners. Planned luncheons by Special Interest Groups will also provide education. Equally important, these conferences are an opportunity to network with researchers that have similar interests.

A Resource Room will abound with books, maps and 40 computers (PC and Mac) for research. There will be links on these computers to two dozen databases that are normally fee-based, but for the conference, will be available at no charge.

The 2012 conference is scheduled for Paris; 2013 for Boston and 2014 for Jerusalem.

January 15 Deadline to Submit Lecture Proposal for Annual Conference
January 15 is the deadline to submit a lecture or workshop proposal for the annual conference. The lecture can be on a variety of topics including repositories and resources in the Greater Washington, D.C., area; Holocaust resources and research; tools of the trade: sources and methodology for genealogists; technology and internet resources; computer/genealogy software workshops (PC and Mac); publishing family histories (self-publishing, on-demand and professional publishing) and a host of other topics. Information on how to submit a proposal is at

Use Google Translate for Foreign Language Documents
Jewish genealogy is a worldwide effort, and sometimes it is necessary to communicate in languages that you are not familiar with. This has been a problem in the past. I recall many years ago asking a Polish friend to translate a letter I received from Poland.

Today, when most correspondence is by e-mail, it is possible to translate e-mail or web sites using Google Translate. Google Translate will translate a document written in any of 52 languages into your native tongue. It does an excellent job. There are add-ons for all major web browsers that will automatically sense a web page is in a foreign language and offer to translate the page for you. These add-ons can be found at:
     Internet Explorer:

If you want to translate e-mail, go to and paste in the message.

Recent Additions to FamilySearch Database
In the past week, some of the records added to include (images and/or indexes):
   • Canada, New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815
   • U.S., Indiana, Marriages, 1811
   • U.S., Minnesota Will Records, 1849
   • U.S., Ohio, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Probate Files, 1813
   • U.S., Tennessee, Death Records, 1914
   • U.S., Texas, County Marriage Index, 1837
   • U.S., Wisconsin, Probate Estate Case Files, 1861

JewishGen Yizkor Book Project
The opening words of the chapter on Holocaust research in Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy states “Every Jewish person with roots in Central or Eastern Europe has family members who were murdered in the Holocaust.” Holocaust research is an important part of Jewish family history research, and one of the more valuable collections are yizkor books.

After World War II, many survivors of the Holocaust published books that memorialized the destroyed Jewish communities of Europe. Called yizkor books (yizkor means "memorial" or "remembrance" in Hebrew), they commemorate the victims as well as the Jewish communities. To date, more than 1,000 towns have been commemorated in this manner. (Avotaynu has published five yizkor books for the towns of Kaisiadorys, Kamenets Podolsk (out of print), Kopcheve, Schneidemuhl and Stropkov.) Yizkor books were created independently, but they have a typical format. First, there is a history of the Jewish presence in the town from its beginning to post-Holocaust. Then there are individual remembrances by survivors about their family, especially those who perished. This is followed by remembrances of families where there were no survivors. Finally there is a necrology, a list of all Holocaust victims from the town. All these sections are important to family history research.

The New York Public Library has placed hundreds of yizkor books online at

Almost all yizkor books are written in Hebrew and Yiddish. This creates a challenge to those not familiar with these languages. Enter the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project. Starting in 1994, JewishGen volunteers have been providing information—written in English—about the contents of yizkor books. Because it would be an enormous undertaking to completely translate these books into English, mostly, key portions have been translated to date—sections such as the Table of Contents, captions to pictures and the necrology (list of victims).

Go to the project’s home page at The very first link, “Read Translations,” provides a list of towns for which some translations have been provided. The second item allows searching a list of all persons found in those necrologies extracted to date. “Yizkor Book Master Name Index” identifies persons mentioned in the translated portions of the Yizkor Books on the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project website. The Bibliographic Database lists all known yizkor books and identifying information including which libraries have copies. A hyperlink has been added to each Yizkor Book's entry which points to the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) website at This will show additional libraries that hold particular yizkor books. Worldcat has the ability to search by location and, therefore, can provide a list of libraries in your area that hold a particular book.

People are always welcomed who are willing to assist in translating yizkor books or contribute money toward the growth of the project. Information about these activities can be found on the project’s home page. Releases Family Tree Maker for Mac
Last May, announced plans to make their popular genealogical software system, Family Tree Maker, available for the Mac. The company just announced the availability of FTM at the Mac App Store. Currently, the most popular system in use by Mac users is Reunion. Information about FTM can be found at Information about Reunion can be found at

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail it to the Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, 155 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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