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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 12, Number 37 | September 18, 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.

Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at
September 11, 2001
It is anti-climactical, but I forgot last week that Nu? What’s New? was being published on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. On September 11, 2001, I was attending the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies in Davenport, Iowa. I was awakened by a phone call from a friend who said “turn on the television.” After watching the horror of the collapse of the two towers, I got dressed and went downstairs. My friends were milling around the lobby in shock. The first words out of my mouth were “Welcome to Israel.”

1940 U.S. Census a Big Yawn?
The questions asked in the 1940 census—to be released next April—will not be as great a value to Jewish genealogists as earlier censuses are. Where prior censuses asked such questions as when the person immigrated and year of naturalization (1920 census only), the sole question in the 1940 census is what is your citizenship status.

Beyond the fact that it will give an address of a household and basic information about its members, the 1940 census may turn out to be a big yawn for family historians. Because the U.S. was still in the Depression, many useful pieces of information asked on previous censuses were dropped in favor of 15 questions about employment status. Gone are place of birth of father and mother, year of immigration, year of naturalization, and age at first marriage.

Actually, some of these questions were asked in a Supplemental section, but NARA states that these “questions were asked for the people listed on lines 14 and 29 of each page of the census schedules (about a five percent sample of the census).” I do not understand how it could represent only five percent of the people unless census takers deliberately ended use of a form on line 13 so they would not have to ask the additional questions. (Maybe they were paid piecework rather than by the hour.) Some of the Supplemental questions were place of birth of the person's father and mother; language spoken in earliest childhood home; and for women whether they had been married more than once and if so, age at first marriage and number of children ever born.

One question in the main section is where did you live on April 1, 1935. The government wanted to study migration patterns. This question might be of value to genealogists in selected cases. Some economic status questions are whether the person had a regular job, one provided by one of the government’s programs or unemployed and annual income for 1939,

A sample form is located at General information about the census can be found at An FAQ: site is at

Article Planned on History of Jewish Genealogy
One of the behind-the-scenes heroes of Jewish genealogy is Bernard Israelite Kouchel of Plantation, Florida. Bernie was founding president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County (Florida), but his major contribution to Jewish genealogy has been ideas. It was Bernie’s idea to create on JewishGen Infofiles, Viewmate and JewishGen Calculator Tools. It was Bernie’s idea to create a poster to promote Jewish genealogy that caused me to invent Jewish Genealogy Month. There were others. Now Bernie has come up with another idea worth implementing. He recently sent me a number of e-mails describing the origins of JewishGen. This caused me to realize that contemporary Jewish genealogy is now nearly 35 years old (reckoned from the founding the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. of New York) and some of the founders/innovators are aging. There is no documented history of what has transpired in the past 35 years.

Consequently, AVOTAYNU would like to publish in its Fall issue a history of contemporary Jewish genealogy—how various components got started. Below is a list of potential topics to include in the history. There are certainly more.

If you are one of those who started (or grew) a component of Jewish genealogy, write it up and send it to

How Did It Get Started
Avotaynu Journal
Avotaynu - Books
Avotaynu -Nu? What’s New?
Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System
Conferences on Jewish Genealogy
Conferences - Birds of a Feather Meetings
Conference - Breakfast with Experts
Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System
International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies
Jewish Genealogical Societies
Jewish Genealogical Societies (specific societies)
JewishGen - Family Tree of the Jewish People
JewishGen - JewishGen Family Finder
JewishGen - JOWBR
JewishGen - Viewmate
Jewish Genealogy Month
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland
Special Interest Groups - General
Special Interest Groups (specific groups)
Stephen P. Morse One-Step Site

FamilySearch Moving Toward Online Ordering of Microfilms
People who use local Mormon Family History Centers for their research will find that FamilySearch is moving toward online ordering films from Salt Lake City. Previously it was necessary to order films at the local Center.

To order films online:
 • Go to and sign into FamilySearch using the Sign-In link located in the top right corner of the screen. If you do not have an account, clicking the Sign-In link will help you register
 • Locate the microfilm number(s) you want to order from the Family History Library Catalog located at Before ordering any film, check to see if the Family History Library Catalog has a digital copy available online.
 • Select your loan type, enter the microfilm number, and click Search. Repeat this step for each additional item.

The complete announcement can be found at

South African SIG News
The South African Judicial system has created an Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) web portal at It is an index to trusts, liquidations, curators and deceased people as of 2000. You have to register to use the databases.

There have been major updates to the South Africa Jewish RootsBank at Items include:
• Germiston Marriage Register
• Johannesburg: Braamfontein Cemetery 4284 entries.
• Johannesburg: Brixton Cemetery 7954 entries.
• Johannesburg Westpark Cemetery 42,506 entries.
• Queenstown Cemetery 182 entries
• Cape Town has an additional searchable database at Releases 1930 National Census of Mexico now has as part of its collection the 1930 census of Mexico. But as a footnote to the news release, the company noted that ”while the 1930 Mexico Census collection is the most recent and extensive Mexican Census available, citizens from the Federal District, which includes Mexico City, were not included in the collection.” The database can be found at

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. The complete list can be found at

To search indexes, use the search engine at 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.

Indexes Only
U.S., Illinois, Northern District Naturalization Index, 1840–1950 New collection

Images Only
Canada, Saskatchewan Judicial District Court Records, 1891–1942 New collection
U.S., California, San Mateo County Records, 1856–1967 Additions to existing collection
U.S., Louisiana, First Registration Draft Cards, compiled 1940–1945 Additions to existing collection
Louisiana, Second Registration Draft Cards, compiled 1948–1959 Additions to existing collection
U.S., Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796–1940 Additions to existing collection
U.S.,Minnesota, County Birth Records, 1863–1983 New collection
Washington State County Records, 1885–1950 Additions to existing collection
Washington, Seattle, Passenger Lists, 1890–1957 New collection

Indexes and Images
New York, County Marriages (does not include New York City), 1908–1935 Added images and index to existing collection
United States, World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 Additions to existing collection

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