Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 12, Number 12 | March 27, 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.
Plan to Restore Lithuanian Jewish Cemeteries
Next Friday, April 1, an event will be held at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Washington, DC, that will launch a project to restore Jewish cemeteries in Lithuania. Lithuanian officials who will be present include Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis and the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Emanuelis Zingeris. Zingeris, who is Jewish, was once honorary chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community.
The project will identify distressed cemeteries, obtain the necessary permission, create a plan to restore along with a long term plan for the continuance of the cemetery site. The first venture will be the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Druskininkai.
The project is the brainchild of Harley Felstein, who is Family Services Counselor of Garden of Remembrance Cemetery, located in the Washington suburb of Clarksburg, Maryland. Felstein has spent more than 40 years administering, advising, researching and restoring cemeteries, primarily throughout North America. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is not the first cemetery restoration project initiated by Jews of Lithuanian ancestry. For example, in 2003, Olga Zabludoff of Washington, DC, with the help of local Lithuanians, restored the cemetery and mass grave in Butrymonys. The project was described in the Winter 2004 issue of AVOTAYNU and is one of the 72 stories from AVOTAYNU selected for the book Every Family Has a Story.
A number of Jews of Lithuanian ancestry have questioned the motivation of the Washington event pointing to the Lithuanian government’s continual downplaying of the Holocaust and even overt anti-Semitic remarks by right-wing government officials. Last October Lithuanian Foreign Minister Andronius Ažubalis declared in response to a bill that would give dual citizenship to people born in Lithuania but living in other countries, that the bill was being promoted primarily by “Jews who seek citizenship to press compensation claims against the state.” Emanuelis Zingeris is controversial among the Jews in his own country.
Information about Felstein’s previous restoration projects can be found at http://www.atlantajewishnews.com/newsarticles/part-5-restoring-jewish-cemeteries-harley-felsteins-mission.
Also read the comments by a news reporter about the recent conference on Holocaust education held in Vilnius. It questions the motivations of the Lithuanian government given its track record in downplaying the Holocaust and the role Lithuanian citizens played in the event. It can be found at http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/134211.html.
Canadian Jewish News (1960 to 1993) Is Now Online
AVOTAYNU Book Review editor, Bill Gladstone, motes that back issues of the Canadian Jewish News (1960–1993) are now online and searchable at http://multiculturalcanada.ca/. Other publications at the site include the Canadian Jewish Review, Jewish Western Bulletin and other Canadian ethnic newspapers. The searched word(s) are not highlighted on the results page.
To exclusively search a specific newspaper or group of newspapers, click “More Options” which is below the “Search the Collections” header. In the resulting window, check off the publications of interest. The only way I could get this selective search to work was to place my search parameters in the box supplied in the new window and then slide all the way to the bottom of the page to click the Search button.
Ancestry.co.uk Allowing Access to Census Data at No Charge Today Only
For one day only—today, Sunday, March 27—Ancestry.co.uk is allowing free access to the index to all its censuses for England, Wales and Scotland from 1841–1901. This is the index only, which for the 1901 census includes name, names of other household members (maximum two), birth year, birthplace, relation to head of household and town of residence. The company notes to get a copy of the actual census page, users can take advantage of their 14-day free trial offer.
Sunday, March 27, is Census Day in the UK, the day the 2011 census will be taken. The complete announcement can be found at http://blogs.ancestry.com/uk/2011/03/21/free-census-access-%E2%80%93-27th-march.
JRI-Poland Assists “Who Do You Think You Are?”
The Who Do You Think You Are? program featuring actress Gwyneth Paltrow will focus, in part, on her paternal rabbinic roots. Producers of the show relied on the Jewish Record Indexing – Poland project to find records of her Paltrowicz ancestors. The database, which to-date has indexed 4.2 million birth, marriage and death records has 90 entries for Paltrow's ancestors who came from Suwalki, Lomza and neighboring towns. The Paltrow show is scheduled to he aired on Friday, April 1. The home page of JRI-Poland is http://www.jri-poland.org/.
1940 Latvia Telephone Directory Online
Logan Kleinwaks has added to his collection of online directories a 1940 Latvia telephone directory. His site is http://genealogyindexer.org.
To restrict searches to only this directory, change "Any Place" to "Latvia" in the drop-down list below the search box. Because the directory is organized by locality, if you are only interested in a few small places, you might prefer to manually search/browse those places' entries, rather than rely on the full-text search across the entire directory. The search is not 100% accurate due to OCR inaccuracies. To facilitate manual searches, Kleinwaks has prepared a locality index at http://genealogyindexer.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1532 that links to the start of each locality's section.
Google Loses Book Publishing Rights
The class action settlement between the Authors Guild and Google has been rejected by a U.S. federal court. Had it been accepted, it would have given Google the right to place on the Internet any copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner in exchange for giving the owner a royalty as stipulated in the settlement.
The courts stated that Google was circumventing copyright law by using the mechanism of a class action suit to require copyright holders to notify Google if they did not want their works to be part of Google’s plan. Copyright law says Google must come to the copyright owner to get permission.
The settlement caused an uproar internationally, because the implication was that a U.S. legal action would have affected the millions of copyright owners throughout the world. Australia formally objected to the U.S. courts in writing. The French took a more pragmatic approach: they announced that if Google started posting books that were protected by French copyright, they would ban Google from France.
When the settlement was first announced, I wrote my opinion in Nu? What’s New? which can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/V10N21.htm. I also wrote a letter to the federal court objecting to the settlement. It can be found at http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2005cv08136/273913/543/0.pdf.
You can read about the court’s decision at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20045967-36.html.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Some additions to FamilySearch for this week include:
Canada, Quebec, Notarial Records, 1800–1900
Chile, Concepcion, Civil Registration, 1885–1903
El Salvador, Civil Registration Records, 1836–1910
Guatemala Civil Registration, 1877–1934
Italy, Civil Registration, 1806–1940 for Rovigo, Oristano, Trieste, and Teramo.
U.S., Illinois, Probate Records, 1819–1970
U.S., New York Passenger Lists, 1820–1891
U.S., Virginia, Surry County Marriage Records, 1735–1950
U.S., California, County Marriages, 1850–1952
U.S., California, San Diego Naturalization Index, 1868–1958
U.S., California, San Mateo County Records, 1856–1967
Indexes and images:
U.S., New York, Kings County Estate Files, 1866–1923
These are the only additions that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/1129.
Jewish Farmers in Utah?
There once was, briefly, a settlement of Jewish farmers in Clarion, Utah, which today is a ghost town. On September 10th, 1911, eleven Jewish colonists rode an open wagon through Gunnison, Utah, on their way to their new settlement of Clarion, three miles to the southwest. A Brigham Young University website claims they were singing Ukrainian folk songs (which I find highly unlikely).
According to Wikipedia, the project was funded by the Jewish Agricultural and Colonial Association, an organization of some 200 Jewish families living in northeastern U.S. cities. Due to problems with harvests and the incompetence of the urban settlers, the settlement faced financial problems, and the state foreclosed on the property in 1915. Most of the settlers returned to New York City.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the colony, Friday, September 9, there will be a reception and the Jewish Community Center, and on Saturday, the Sabbath, there will be a bus tour to Gunnison and Clarion. Sponsors for this event are Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts, Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, Tanner Humanities Center, Jewish Community Center, Snow College, Utah State Historical Society, and the Utah Jewish Federation.
A description of the Clarion experiment can be found at http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/clarion/. It notes two books written about the project.
Reminder: Renew AVOTAYNU at a Discount – Only 3 Days Left
Last chance! 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.
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