Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 12, Number 26 | July 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.
IIJG Establishes Guidelines for BA and MA Courses in Jewish Genealogy
For the last 2–3 years, the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) has been working on Academic Guidelines for courses in Jewish genealogy at the university level (distinct from basic “how-to” courses readily available on the Internet and elsewhere). It assembled an international team of experts—19 in all—headed by Prof. Aaron Demsky of Bar Ilan University. The group took the view that faculty members would not wish to follow course outlines worked out to the very last detail. Therefore they decided to elaborate broad Guidelines to suggest the form BA and MA courses in Jewish genealogy should take and what they might contain. These Guidelines are now available at the IIJG website http://www.iijg.org/Teaching/Teaching.aspx. By IIJG’s estimation, they are extremely rich and ambitious and while they are configured for various BA and MA formats, they can readily be drawn upon for a variety of other teaching purposes. The committee welcomes comments. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. A list of participants in the project can be found at http://www.iijg.org/Teaching/Teaching/TeachingCommittee.aspx.
ITS Makes Available Additional Documents
The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has handed over further copies of its data to six partner organizations in Belgium, France, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland and USA. The data consists of the first 76,000 of a total of 3 million correspondence files, as well as remaining documents from the Child Tracing Service and general, non-personal documents on Nazi persecution. ITS indicated they have scanned almost their entire archive of historical documents from the Nazi period and the immediate post-war era.
Over the next few years, the ITS effort will largely involve scanning the Tracing Service's correspondence with survivors of Nazi persecution, as well as with their family members and other institutions. Involving approximately 60 million sheets of paper, it will be the most extensive stage of the digitization project.
The documents from the Child Tracing Service depict the search for missing children or family members of children and young people found on their own who had survived forced labor, abduction or concentration camps.
To date nearly 88 million images have been handed over to the different institutions, including documents on concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (approx. 18 million images), the ITS central name index (approx. 42 million images), registration cards of displaced persons (approx. 7 million images), documents concerning forced labor (approx. 13 million images), files from DP camps and emigration after World War II (approx. 5 million images), as well as general documents and the inventory from the children’s tracing branch (approx. 2 million images). The digitization of the correspondence files (so far 1.2 million images) with survivors or family members and the authorities will still take some years to complete.
The complete annuoncemnt can be seen at http://www.its-arolsen.org/en/press/index.html.
Google Image Analyzer
Google recently announced an Image Analyzer where you submit a picture instead of keywords and Google locates identical or similar images on the Internet. The technology behind Search by Image, according to Google, is that it analyzes your image to find its most distinctive points, lines and textures and creates a mathematical model. They then match that model against billions of images in their index, and page analysis helps to derive a best guess text description of your image.
I played around with this new function and have yet to find a positive use for it. I submitted a picture of my grandfather and his father taken in Volkovysk, Belarus, in about 1890, and it showed “visually similar images” that that had nothing to do with the subject of my photo. A portrait of Casimir Pulaski, the Polish officer who participated in the American Revolution, was declared to be visually similar to a photo of Mother Teresa. (Pulaski had a moustache.)
Write to me if you have found a use for this new function. The feature is located at http://images.google.com. Click the camera icon to upload an image from your computer. This will start the image analysis.
I did find an interesting, not intended, use of the function. If you placed a copyrighted image on the Internet and want to determine if someone “borrowed” the image, use the Google Image feature. It will identify all occurrences of the image in Google’s index. For example, the front cover of “Where Once We Walked” appears on 57 websites. We, of course, have no objection to the use of the image.
Resource Center at Annual Conference
The Resource Center at this year’s International Conference on Jewish Genealogy will have 35 PCs that attendees can access many fee-based Internet sites at no charge. Included are Ancestry.com, Footnote.com, Accessible Archives, British Newspapers Database of the British Library, Find My Past and Ancestors on Board, MyHeritage, New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Godfrey Memorial Library and many others. Proquest, has agreed to make their databases available only for the Wednesday of the conference.
In addition, five computers will be dedicated to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Central Names Index. This is an index to their collection and does not include the Central Names Index of the International Tracing Service. The ITS index can only be accessed at the museum.
The 35 computers can, of course, be used for general purpose such as accessing e-mail accounts and telling your Facebook friends what a great time you are having at the conference.
In addition to computers, the book and map collection of the host society, Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, will be available.
Complete information about the conference can be found at http://dc2011.org.
Morse Site Has 1940 Census Learning Aid
If you are Internet impaired, Steve Morse and his associates have created an “educational utility” to help people learn about the different 1940 search tools on the One Step site, as well as information about the 1940 census itself. As of now, the evidence is that when the census is made available on April 2, 2012, an index will not exist. This means that you must know the street address and, subsequently, the Enumeration District to find a person in the census.
The only website that currently has location tools for the 1940 census is the Steve Morse One Step site at http://stevemorse.org. It may be overwhelming to use these tools so a tutorial has been created to clarify it at http://stevemorse.org/census/intro.html and an extensive FAQ at http://stevemorse.org/census/faq.htm.
Now a new utility, in the form of a quiz, should help people to learn how to search an unindexed census by location. The new utility is at http://stevemorse.org/census/quiz.php and is called "How to Access the 1940 Census in One Step".
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