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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 7 | February 20, 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.
American Israelite 1859–1867 Now Online
All weekly issues of the Cincinnati-based American Israelite newspaper from July 1859-June 1867—the Civil War period in American history—are now on the Internet at The newspaper is still in existence today and has been published continually since 1854. It was created by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, founder of Reform Judaism in America.

There is a simple design to the website. It provides images but no easy way to browse the site. The best way to browse a particular issue is to change the URL. This works most of the time. For example, the first page of the January 1, 1864 edition is at Changing the “011” portion of the URL to “012” ( provides the next page.

There is no search engine, but the author of the site, Don Canaan, has created a DVD version which, he states, includes a full-word search engine. The price of the DVD is $120, but I have arranged with Canaan for the DVD to be available to Nu? What’s New? subscribers for only $99 if purchased within the next 10 days—until February 28. Order it directly through Canaan. Information is available on the home page at

Guide to Jewish Materials Stored in Latvian State Historical Archives
Shamir, the Jewish religious community of Latvia, reports that the first stage of the Guide to Jewish Materials Stored in Latvian State Historical Archives has been completed. The result is a 103-page document that can be downloaded at Natsional_nom_Istoricheskom_arkhive.html. They state that there are still thousands of files yet to be inventoried.

The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum has placed on the Internet a searchable list of 76,122 Latvian Jews murdered in the Holocaust. It is located at

There is other material at both sites. They are worth browsing if you have Latvian ancestry. describes itself as a “loose organization of genealogists or historians who produce databases on their own or as a part of a group and offer these databases to all researchers without any fee.” The area covered is present-day Austria and its neighboring lands.

There are many searchable databases. Examples include:
   • An index to records of different Jewish communities in Moravia. Entries for communities of other crown lands will be added in the next few months.
   • Obituaries of the Neue Freie Presses of Vienna between 1864 and 1938,
   • Index to Jewish Viennese births and marriages (1826–1910) and deaths (1866–1910).
   • Forced baptism of Jewish children in the foundling hospital of Vienna 1816–1868
   • Jewish converts in Vienna.

A complete list of databases is at⟨=en.

The site recently instituted a mailing list for people researching any of the lands of the former Austrian Monarchy. Queries in English and German are accepted.

Sandra Hargreaves Luebking
One of my dearest friends in American genealogy died last Thursday. Sandra Hargreaves Luebking succumbed to her long bout with cancer. Someday a book will be written about the history of American genealogy. Sandra’s name will appear in the index—with numerous page references.

She was co-editor of the landmark The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. When Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus suggested a number of years ago that what Jewish genealogy lacked was a definitive guidebook to doing research, I patterned Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy after “The Source.” Sandra also coauthored The Archives: A Guide to the National Archives Field Branches. Both books were done with her close friend Loretto “Lou” Dennis Szucs, who is now a vice-president of

Sandra was also a lecturer and teacher. To this day I remember her advice at a lecture I attended many years ago about “How To Get Around Brick Walls.” Her opening remarks were that the first thing you do is gather all the evidence you have to date. Maybe that evidence has the solution to this seemingly brick wall. I was amazed to find out through the years that she was right—often the answer to this apparent brick wall was right in front of you once you gather all the evidence you had regarding the problem.

My close association with Sandra was through FORUM, the magazine of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. She was editor-in-chief for 25 years—nearly since its inception—and I was production manager for the publication for 16 years. Both roles ended when Sandra decided to retire from the position in December 2010. Over her objections, we made the final issue she edited a tribute to her numerous accomplishments in the field of genealogy.

More significantly, Sandra was one of the warmest persons I have ever met. She had a constant smile and always an upbeat attitude—even during the last stages of her life. Her favorite hobby was line dancing and often threatened to take me to a session.

She will be remembered.

Frequency of Names in the U.S. will provide you a count of given names, surnames or a person’s name in the United States based on their telephone number database. The results include frequency by state. It is located at For example, there are 85,893 Cohens in their database, most commonly found in New York and Florida.

Remarkable Offer! Where Once We Walked for only $25 for Just Three Days
In the days before Print-On-Demand technology existed, Avotaynu was forced to guess how many books it could sell when publishing a new book. Sometimes we guessed wrong. Although we sold more than 1,000 copies of the award-winning Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition, (WOWW) we guessed wrong and at present—given the current selling rate—we have more than a ten-year inventory of books in our warehouse.

To reduce our inventory, we are going to have a sale for three days only—through Tuesday, February 22, 2011—Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition for only $25.00 plus shipping. The regular price is $85.00. That is a 70% discount!

Although published in 2002, this book is timeless. It is a gazetteer that identifies more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. It also includes more than 17,500 alternate names for these towns—pre-Word War I, interwar, Yiddish and other names for these towns. It is unique in that it cites up to 50 different books that have information about the Jews of the town.

All these names appear in an index organized by the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. This means that if you do not know how to spell your ancestral town, spell it phonetically and look in the index to determine which town names sound like your spelling.

WOWW was the first major work to use the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. To this day I recall a letter I received in 1991, when the first edition of WOWW was published, from a person who said she had spent the past 15 years looking for her ancestral town of “Selochin.” Within five minutes of looking up the name in the WOWW index, she discovered in was Dzialoszyn, Poland.

Take advantage of this offer now! Tuesday, February 23, 2011 will be the last day possible to buy this book at $25 plus shipping. Order the book at When checking out, use the discount code “WOWW.” Additional information, including a sample entry, is also located at the site. Act now!

Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU Is in the Mail
The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU has been mailed. Subscribers in the U.S. should receive the issue within the next 15 days. Non-U.S. subscribers in the next 30 days.

If your subscription expires with this issue, there will be a yellow renewal form enclosed. Please look for it and take advantage of the limited-time offer to resubscribe to AVOTAYNU at a reduced rate.

Become a new subscriber to the jouirnal at

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