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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 11 | March 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.
Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports on, a search engine site that provides results only from genealogy-related websites on the Internet. claims it is the first large-scale, free search engine for family history research. It searches only sites from industry sources such as genealogy message boards, family trees, state and local historical societies, the Library of Congress, National Archives, Ellis Island, Find a Grave, the Internet Archive, various U.S. state archives, and many tens of thousands of genealogy sites built by individuals.

When I used Mocavo, the results included such sites as the Ellis Island Database; message boards; and JewishGen pages such as ShtetLinks and JRI-Poland surnames list by town. Information in JewishGen databases is not included because it does not exist on a website but is retrieved by a search engine. It currently does not include Avotaynu’s site, but I suggested it be added at

Use the NOT option (a minus sign before a word) to reduce the number of hits, if the results of an initial search are too great. For example, because I am so active in Jewish and American genealogy, a search for “mokotoff” produces 8,692 hits, but a search for “mokotoff -gary -daitch -sack” reduced the number of hits to only 14. These included a list of World War II Kings County Archives Military Records [Brooklyn]; an obituary index for Suffolk County, New York; and some reference to the Mokotoff name in the Madera County Genealogical Society Journal (the society is now defunct).

There is a significant, secondary advantage to this site. It makes you aware of genealogy sites new to you. For example, I found a reference to a criminal case involving a Tartasky relative of mine. The source was a newspaper called the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union. A web site unfamiliar to me,, has indexed the publication and has a wealth of information about Brooklyn as old as a 1703 census. If you have ancestry in this borough of New York City, you must browse the site. Furthermore this site has links to other sites of interest to Brooklynites. is still in its early stages, and there is very little information about it at the site. The announcement of can be found at its blog,

RootsTech 2011
For years there has been a conference concerning the technical aspect of genealogy called GenTech. There technology creators would gather to share information and thoughts on how to advance the technological aspect of genealogy.

When this year RootsTech 2011 was held in Salt Lake City, I assumed it was just another GenTech gathering under a different name and decided not to mention it in Nu? What’s New? I was wrong. RootsTech included all the function of its GenTech predecessor but now includes sessions for users of technology. As a consequence, it attracted the general genealogy audience, and 3,000 in-person attendees and another 4,500 attended remotely over the Internet.

The three-day conference included more than 100 lectures, and the printed program identified each lecture’s value to Technical Users, Programmers, Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced or All. Dan Lynch, author of Google Your Family Tree, gave two lectures on how to use Google for family history research. Steve Morse gave lectures on “DNA and Genetic Genealogy” and “One-Step Web Pages: A Potpourri of Genealogical Search Tools.” An example of another topic of interest to all was “Using Your Digital Camera To Copy Records.”

The RootsTech 2012 conference is scheduled for February 2–4 in Salt Lake City, Utah. More information about the 2011 conference can be found at

Yad Vashem To Acquire Ukraine KGB Records
It is reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’Aretz that Yad Vashem recently signed an agreement with the Ukraine KGB archives stating that the archives will give Yad Vashem documents from the Holocaust period including such records as deportation lists and lists of murdered Jews. These names will be added to the Shoah Victims’ Names Database which currently has some four million names.

The Ha’Aretz article disclosed that Yad Vashem is attempting to reconstruct family trees from the wealth of information it is gathering from various sources. It cites an example of a family for whom there were no survivors of the Shoah, yet from documentation at Yad Vashem, they were able to construct a family tree of the members of the Begun family of Brest-Litovsk.

The complete article can be found at

British Library and to Digitize
Five Million Pages of Family History Records plans to digitize five million pages of material located at the British Library. It includes two collections: UK electoral registers covering the century that followed the Reform Act of 1832 and India Office records.

The British Library holds the national collection of electoral registers covering the whole of the United Kingdom. The registers contain a vast range of names, addresses and other genealogical information. The holdings of the East India Company and India Office relate to Britons living and working in the Indian sub-continent during the 18th–20th centuries, up to India’s independence in 1948. They include more than 1,000 volumes of ecclesiastical records of births, marriages and burials, together with applications for civil and military service, and details of pension payments to individuals.

Additional information can be found at

Congressman Declares October Family History Month
U.S. Representative Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia has read into the Congressional Record a statement declaring October 2011 to be Family History Month. Representative Connolly stated that the study of family history gives individuals a sense of heritage and sense of responsibility in carrying out a legacy that their ancestors began. The involvement of national, state, and local officials in encouraging genealogy and providing family history records in archives and libraries is an important factor in the successful perception of nationwide participation and support. Our nation’s libraries and archives hold treasured records that detail the history of our nation, states, communities, and citizens. Increasingly, individuals across our nation are embarking on genealogical journeys, discovering who their ancestors were and learning how various forces have shaped their pasts.

This is an annual proclamation issued by both a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It may have been started in 2001 by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Basic Jewish Genealogy (U.S. Research) Class Stars April 1
JewishGen will again be offering its Basic Jewish Genealogy (U.S. Research) class starting on April 1. The online text lessons begin with data collection, organization and search techniques, and focus on researching census, vital records and Ellis Island passenger arrivals. There is a section on Computer Basics for Genealogy. The course includes a personal mentoring program using an online forum where students are encouraged to post an ancestral branch, set goals for their research, and work one on one with the instructor. The course runs from April 1 – May 6. Cost is $80, but free to persons who have donated at least $100 to the JewishGen General Fund in the past 12 months.

To date more than 1,400 people have taken advantage of JewishGen education programs. Additional information and enrollment procedures can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Some additions to FamilySearch for this week include:
   Germany, Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census, 1890. This completes the project.
   U.S., Texas, Comanche County Records, 1858–1955 (images only)
   U.S., Texas, Mills County Clerk Records, 1841–1985 (images only)
   U.S., Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907-1933 (nearly 2 million browseable images)
   Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), Death Notices, 1904–1976 Death
   Zimbabwe Death Registers, 1890–1977; Index to Death Register, 1892

These are the only additions that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at

Turn Rejection Into Success
We have heard reports that there were so many lecture proposals for the Washington conference that two-thirds of the proposals had to be turned down. Don’t fret if yours was one of them. There is hope. If you think the nature of the lecture would make a good article in AVOTAYNU, send the proposal you submitted for the conference to Avotaynu’s editor Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus at and she will evaluate whether there is interest among our readers for the topic.

Reminder: Renew AVOTAYNU at a Discount – Only 10 Days Left
If you received a yellow form with the Winter issue of AVOTAYNU, your subscription is about to expire and you must renew by March 30 to receive the renewal discount. Furthermore, you will be part of a drawing that has valuable prizes. We will be awarding a copy of any book published by Avotaynu to three winners of a drawing to be held on April 15, 2011. Renew for three years and have three chances to win. Renew for two years and you will be entered in the drawing twice.

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Additional Names.”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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