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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 22 | May 29, 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.
Center for Jewish History Institutions Place Collections Online
 The various institutions that make up the Center for Jewish History in New York are starting to digitize parts of their collection. The majority of the digitizing has been from photograph collections, but others may be of genealogical value. An example (pointed out to me by Frank Hochheimer) is the Alex Bernstein collection at Leo Baeck Institute. Bernstein documented the Jews of the Hoexter Kreis of Westphalia providing lists of names, marriages, births, and deaths. Access to the collection is at YIVO Institute has digitized a book of checking account holders at the Postal Savings Bank throughout interwar Poland located at American Jewish Historical Society has placed online a handwritten book of works by Emma Lazarus. It includes her sonnet “The New Colossus” written for the planned erection of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. The well-known portion of the sonnet is "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" The document can be viewed at

These are just examples. A description of what has been digitized by the various Center institutions can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Below are the additions of images and/or indexes to FamilySearch that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at

Significant additions to the FamilySearch site include:
  • Netherlands, Passenger lists Holland–America Line, 1900–1974, 113,000 browseable images
  • New Zealand, Immigration Passenger Lists, 1855–1973, 85,000 index entries
  • Completion of the 1930 census of Mexico, nearly 13 million records

Other additions are:
Indexes and images:
  Austria, Vienna, Population Cards, 1850–1895
  Puerto Rico Civil Registration, 1836–2001
   U.S., Alabama, County Marriages, 1809–1950
  U.S., District of Columbia Deaths, 1874–1959
  U.S., Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796–1940
  U.S., Minnesota, Death Records, 1866–1916
  U.S., Tennessee County Marriages, 1790–1950

Images only:
  Germany, Mecklenburg–Schwerin Census, 1867
  Italy, Civil Registration, 1806–1940
  Peru, Civil Registration, 1874–1978
  Philippines Civil Registration, 1945–1996
  U.S., Alabama, County Probate Records
  U.S., Arkansas, Draft Registration Cards, compiled 1948–1959
  U.S., California, San Mateo County Records, 1856–1967
  U.S., Illinois, Probate Records, 1819–1970
  U.S., Louisiana, First Registration Draft Cards, compiled 1940–1945
  U.S., Maryland, Register of Wills Books, 1792–1983
  U.S., Michigan, County Marriages, 1820–1935
  U.S., New York, Orange County Probate Records, 1787–1938
  U.S., New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1899–1921
  U.S., South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671–1977
  U.S., South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732–1964

Fully Searchable UK Death Indexes Online at has completed its project to index 85 million death indexes of England and Wales. The digital images are from register books prepared for each quarter of the year that show alphabetically who died during the quarter. Prior to the completion of the project, the Findmypast index identified which page the name might appear based on the starting and end surnames on the page. This created false positives. Because every name on the page is now indexed, only those pages that include the name are selected.

The record groups indexed are
  • England & Wales deaths 1837–2006
  • British nationals died overseas 1818–2005
  • British nationals armed forces deaths 1796–2005
  • British nationals died at sea 1854–1890

s is a fee-for-service site. Results can be purchased by individual record or by subscribing for six or twelve months.

Archivist of United States To Talk at Conference Gala
David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, will be the speaker at the Conference Gala on Thursday evening, August 18. The conference planners previously announced that Sara J. Bloomfield, Executive Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will be the keynote speaker at the opening session on Sunday, August 14.

The Gala evening—called the Banquet in previous conferences—will also include music and vocals of the world-renowned Robyn Helzner Trio. Information about the conference can be found at’s name belies its content. It is still a startup effort that is encouraging people to download its iPhone app and start clicking away at gravestones in cemeteries. The images are then uploaded to their site where anyone can transcribe the name of the deceased into their database.

At present it appears just to have tombstones located in a few cemeteries in Utah. Searching for “Cohen” produced no results. Searching for “Smith” yielded only 24 results.

Avotaynu 1, Wikipedia 0
For those who subscribe to AVOTAYNU, the Spring issue had an article written by me about my vain attempt to add to the biography of the late U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke that the original surname when his father, Dan, immigrated from Italy (originally he was from Warsaw) was Goldbrajch. I am happy to say that about two weeks ago I once again attempted to add that fact citing Dan’s naturalization papers (which I previously gave as a citation), and apparently Wikipedia has now accepted the resubmission.
 You can subscribe to Avotaynu at

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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