Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 12, Number 27 | July 10, 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.
Holocaust Conference: “Recording the Names”
This past week I participated in a conference at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to discuss how to capture the names of the two million Holocaust victims yet to be identified. Yad Vashem’s Shoah Victims’ Names Database now contains approximately four million names. The participants—about 20—were primarily archivists from Eastern European countries: Belarus, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. The head archivist of the International Tracing Service also participated. Other persons were representatives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, members of the Israel Genealogical Society and Claims Conference. Alexander Beider, co-creator of the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System and I were the only unaffiliated persons invited.
I went to the conference anticipating that these archivists would state that all the documentation has been accounted for in the past 65 years and there was no other significant sources of information. Instead, person after person described material available within their realm or projects being undertaken to collect names.
It was surprising that only one archivist mentioned vital records as a source of information. In my presentation, I noted the Holocaust was becoming a historical event rather than a contemporary one. The fact that countries have rules that keep birth records private, usually for 100 years, means today that births prior to 1911 are in the public domain. In other words, the birth records of all Holocaust victims murdered when they were 34 years old or older are in the public domain. Next year, all birth records of victims who were 33 years old will be available, the following year 32 years old, etc. As an example, I displayed a Page of Testimony for an aunt-by-marriage whose unmarried name and names of parents were not known to the submitter, but today that information is available online in the Jewish Records Indexing-Poland database where the marriage record of the couple is indexed.
The conference was called by Yad Vashem under the sponsorship of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure. This organization was created last year to support the European Holocaust research community by opening up a portal that will give online access to dispersed sources relating to the Holocaust all over Europe and Israel, and by encouraging collaborative research through the development of tools. The project is financed by the European Union and is a four-year program. To achieve their goals by 2014, 20 organizations in 13 countries—research institutions, libraries, archives, museums and memorial sites—are working together in a consortium. Most of the archivists attending the conference were not from partner institutions. Information about EHRI can be found at http://www.ehri-project.eu.
Random Bits of Information Gleaned at the Conference
Auschwitz. At Auschwitz: 400,000 survived selection, 905,000 did not. The names of 230,000 survivors are known. Almost all of the Auschwitz records were destroyed by the retreating Germans. The names of the survivors that are known are primarily from records of other camps which included information that the prisoner originally came from Auschwitz.
USHMM. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has some collections that are not available to the public but are available to staff members. This is by request of the contributor of the collection (they invariably involve information about living persons). Persons mentioned in these documents are not in the online USHMM names index but can be located by staff members.
USHMM. The World Memory Project between USHMM and Ancestry.com to index USHMM records now has about 1,800 volunteers. They have produced 314,000 records to date. Every record is keyed by two persons and is accepted only when the two entries agree (double blind system). The initial set of data will be made public online in late summer or early fall 2011. Information about the project is at http://www.worldmemoryproject.org.
Czech and Slovakian Jewish Records Online at FamilySearch
Due to poor titles of two record collections, it may not be obvious that FamilySearch has placed online digital images of the Jewish metrical records for the Czech and Slovak Republics. They are described as “Czech Republic Church Books, 1552–1935” and “Slovakia Church Books, 1592–1910.” In fact, they include records for all faiths, including Jewish. The collections can be viewed at (Czech) http://tinyurl.com/3ujnqqz and (Slovak) http://tinyurl.com/3ndafju.
Three Major Polish Resources Now Cross-link to Each Other
The “town pages” of JewishGen, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland, and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews now contain links to each other’s sites. For JewishGen, it is the Communities Database that includes the link, not the ShtetLinks pages. For JRI-Poland it is the "Your Town" pages. The Museum’s shtetl site is at http://www.sztetl.org.pl.
The Museum is under construction in Warsaw and expects to open in 2012 on the site of the former Warsaw ghetto. It will be a multimedia narrative museum and cultural center that will present the history of Polish Jews and the rich civilization they created over the course of almost 1000 years. Its general website is at http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/en/cms/home-page.
Jewish Genealogy Conference News
The 31st International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is not much more than a month away. It is from August 14–19 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Here is the latest news.
Jewishdata.com. One of the more useful online fee-based databases that will be available in the Resource Center is Jewishdata.com. It was inadvertently not mentioned in the original news release. It has more than 500,000 records from various places.
Breakfast with Experts. The Breakfast with Experts component of the annual conference has been announced. It is an opportunity to pick the brains of the resident experts after having a kosher buffet breakfast. Sessions are limited to 35 attendees. Sign up before July 31 at the conference website. There will be seven events:
Monday: “Researching Rascals and Hard to Find Folks” with Ron Arons and Mike Karsen
Tuesday: “From Bratislava to Budapest to Baia Mare: Tips on Travel and Research in Greater Hungary” with Robert Friedman and Vivian Kahn
Tuesday: “The Role of Genetics in Genealogy with Stephen Morse and Bennett Greenspan
Wednesday: "Yad Vashem: Portal to Connections and Discoveries” with Cynthia Wroclawski
Wednesday: “Breakfast with the German Research Experts” Roger Lustig and Jeanette Rosenberg
Thursday: “Practicing Safe Computing” with Hal Bookbinder
Thursday: “Overcoming Hurdles in Polish Research” with Stanley Diamond and Judith Frazin
Accessing e-mail. In the last issue of Nu? What’s New? I indicated people can check their e-mail in the Resource Center. In reality, such use of the computers will be discouraged. Anticipating a huge demand for the purpose of the Center—access to a multitude of online databases that are usually fee based—guidelines will be posted that specifically discourage people from using the computers for e-mail and similar uses. Volunteers will be instructed to monitor the situation to assure that conference goers won’t be standing in line waiting for machines that are used for e-mail.
Online registration ends July 31. This date is the last time you can register online or make modifications to your registration. Thereafter, registration will have to be at the hotel.
All particulars about the conference can be found at http://www.DC2011.org.
Are Your Digital Affairs in Order?
As we age, we start to concern ourselves with disposition of our assets when we die. This usually includes creating a will and making descendants aware of the location of bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. But have you considered your digital assets? Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter notes an article at the Library of Congress blog titled “When I Go Away: Getting Your Digital Affairs in Order.” It is located at http://tinyurl.com/3nz6uzf.
UK Association of Jewish Refugees Journal Online
The Association of Jewish Refugees is an organization that provides an extensive range of social and welfare services to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution living in Great Britain. Since 1946 they have published a Journal which contains articles of interest to Holocaust survivors. Back issues are now online at http://www.ajr.org.uk/pdfjournals as PDF files. Once an issue is identified that contains the search words, a separate search engine for the page will highlight the location of the keywords.
I had difficulty getting this second search engine to work properly. In several cases, searching for the keyword brought you to the correct page but the keyword was not highlighted. Searching then for any word on the page highlighted it, and then searching again for the word(s) of interest highlighted these words.
Resources for Cleveland, Ohio
The Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland has a number of databases for persons with roots in the area.
• A Jewish Independent Obituary Index contains more than 25,000 entries taken from 1898–1982. The source is a variety of Jewish newspapers of the period.
• A second obituary index is the Cleveland Jewish News Obituary Index taken from the Cleveland Jewish News. The database contains over 30,000 entries through June 30, 2011.
• A searchable collection of more than 3,400 photos of ceramic and etched photos that appear on headstones in a number of Cleveland area cemeteries. To search, Click Here.
• A collection of photos of about 800 headstones and other grave markers at the Mayfield Cemetery by Clicking Here.
• Listings of Cleveland Area Cemeteries, and Cleveland Area Congregations.
The society’s website is at http://clevelandjgs.org.
Bibliography of North African Jews (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya)
A bibliography of North Africa Jews (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), which includes more than 3,100 items, is online at http://www.ybz.org.il/_Uploads/dbsAttachedFiles/Attal.bib(1).pdf. It was prepared by the late Robert Attal, scholar at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem. The work is primarily in Hebrew and French.
Jewish Genealogy Yearbook 2011 Online
The 2011 edition of Jewish Genealogy Yearbook is now online at http://www.iajgs.org/Jewish_Genealogy_Yearbook_2011.pdf. Included is information about 195 organizations dedicated to supporting Jewish genealogy and preserving Jewish history. It is published by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and edited by Hal Bookbinder.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Below are the only additions of images and/or indexes to FamilySearch that I have concluded may be of interest to Jewish genealogists. They reflect the increase in the effort of the Family History Library to digitally convert and publish its microfilm collection online. The complete list can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/1251.
To search indexes, use the search engine at https://www.familysearch.org. To view images, go to the same web page and then click the appropriate “Browse by Location.” Narrow it down to the country or state and then click the appropriate record collection.
Notable are 8 million civil registrations of The Netherlands and Jewish metrical records for the Czech and Slovak Republics.
Canada, Ontario Births, 1869–1912
Belgium Civil Registration, 1795–1910 (addition to collection)
Czech Republic Church Books, 1552–1935 (the title is misleading. It also includes Jewish records)
Italy, Civil Registration, 1806–1940
Netherlands, Civil Registration, 1792–1952 (more than 8 million images)
New Zealand, Probate Records
Slovakia Church Books, 1592–1910 (the title is misleading. It also includes Jewish records)
U.S., Arkansas, Draft Registration Cards, compiled 1948–1959
U.S., California, San Mateo County Records, 1856–1967
U.S., Idaho, Clark County Records U.S., Louisiana, First Registration Draft Cards, compiled 1940–1945
U.S., Louisiana, Second Registration Draft Cards, compiled 1948–1959
U.S., Maryland, Register of Wills Books, 1792–1983
U.S., Massachusetts, Plymouth County, Probate Estate Files, 1686–1881
U.S., New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1899–1921
U.S., North Carolina, County Records, 1833–1970
U.S., North Carolina Probate Records, 1735–1970
U.S., Ohio, Montgomery County, Probate Estate Files, 1857–1900
U.S., Ohio, Stark County Court Records, 1809–1917
U.S., Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards, 1883–1948 (more than 1 million cards)
U.S., South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732–1964
U.S., Tennessee Probate Court Books, 1795–1927
U.S., Tennessee Probate Court Files, 1795–1927
U.S., Washington State County Records, 1885–1950
U.S., Washington State, Army National Guard Records, 1880–1947
U.S., West Virginia Will Books, 1756–1971
Wales, Glamorgan Marriages, 1837–1922
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