Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 12, Number 18 | May 3, 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.
Two major announcements occurred in the past two days warranting this special edition of Nu? What’s New? One is from the Joint Distribution Committee and the other from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com.
Did You Receive the May 1 Edition of “Nu? What’s New?”
First, a business matter. The May 1 edition of “Nu? What’s New?” was treated as spam by a number of major Internet Service Providers including, but are not limited to Charter, Comcast, Cox, EarthLink, Optonline, Mindspring, RR (RoadRunner) and Verizon. If you did not receive the edition (its lead article was about the 1940 U.S. census), you can find it at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/Week17NWN.htm
American Joint Distribution Committee Places Index to 500,000 Records on Internet
The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has placed an index to more than 500,000 names of people who they aided during the Holocaust and post-Holocaust era. It is located at http://archives.jdc.org/sharedlegacy. The indexing was accomplished by volunteers, many of whom are members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York. The search engine permits wildcard searches. Searching for Mokot* brought up all variants of the Mokotoff name.
The results are a display of the persons in the index that match the search criteria with a brief indication of the source of the name within the JDC collection. Clicking on the name gives a more detailed description of the record collection. Most search results also provide links to the records which can be downloaded from the site. Only the Australian collection does not include images.
JDC, also known as “The Joint,” plans to put even more documents online, from earlier periods, this summer.
The site also includes 53 photo galleries from 24 different countries in which JDC worked during and after World War II. Users are asked to help identify people they recognize in the photographs. JDC has already received feedback from users who have recognized family members in the photo galleries.
For 96 years, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has been in the business of rescuing Jews in trouble. Sometimes their solution is to get Jews out of an area where they are in danger. In other cases they resolve the problem locally with supplying food and/or other relief services.
An example, from my own family, are my Holocaust survivor relatives who now live in Australia. Judel and Sarah Mokotow lived in Warsaw before the war with their daughter and three sons. When Germany invaded Poland, the three older children decided to flee east toward Russia. They were arrested by the Russians and placed in a refugee camp in Siberia for the duration of the war. The father, mother and youngest brother remained in Warsaw and were murdered in the Holocaust. Most likely they were deported to Treblinka to their deaths.
After the war, the brothers and sister returned to Warsaw. They found anti-Semitism was so strong in Poland at that time, that they decided to flee Europe. They immigrated to France where the Joint Distribution Committee assisted them in gaining passage to Australia where they now live.
I first became aware of their existence through the Central Names Index of the International Tracing Service. Yad Vashem has had this index since 1955 and, during my first visit to Yad Vashem in 1984, I found their names in the ITS index. Click on the sample ITS index card to the right for a larger image. The source of the ITS information are the very same files the Joint has now indexed and placed online.
The full news release about the JDC project can be found at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=135911836.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Partners with Ancestry.com
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and Ancestry.com today announced the launch of the World Memory Project, http://www.WorldMemoryProject.org, which will recruit the public to help build the world's largest online resource for information on Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of non-Jews who were targeted for persecution by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. The project will dramatically expand the number of Museum documents relating to individual victims that can be searched online.
The Museum's archives contain information on well over 17 million people targeted by Nazi racial and political policies, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Ukrainians, political prisoners, and many others.
The World Memory Project will utilize proprietary software and project management donated by Ancestry.com, which hosts its own online archival project to expand its transcribed records collections. Once transcribed, the indices will be hosted exclusively on Ancestry.com where they will be able to be searched and results viewed at no charge. No documents will be available through Ancestry.com. Instead USHMM will provide copies of documents to survivors and their families at no cost. The original documentation will remain in the Museum's archival collection.
Important note to people who do not have paid subscriptions to Ancestry. The company frequently changes its home page and it is not always obvious how to gain access to the databases that are accessible at not charge. To search their databases, click the Search button at the top of the page. This gives you access to their collection. If the information is available at no charge, the results will be provided. If the information is part of their paid subscription collection, a portion of the information will be displayed, the balance made available only to paid subscribers.
The index will be created by volunteers, so the success of the project depends on people volunteering to do the indexing. This process has started and as of today, 445 volunteers have already indexed more than 50,000 documents. They will be placed on Ancestry.com as collections are completed. If you are interested in volunteering to do the indexing, information is available at http://www.WorldMemoryProject.org.
To search the Ancestry.com databases that are available at no charge, click the Search button at the top of their home page.
The complete news release can be found at http://www.geneapress.com.
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