Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 12, Number 47 | December 4, 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 http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
MyHeritage.com Acquires American Genealogy Company
Israel-based MyHeritage.com apparently wants to become a contender in the world genealogy market. They have acquired the parent company of FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com. In their announcement, MyHeritage.com stated the motivation for the acquisition was because the acquired company “has a major asset that we lacked: historical records. Billions of them. Historical records are the natural companion for family trees, which are our specialty.”
Progenealogists.com ranks FamilyLink.com and WorldVitalRecords.com respectively as the #8 and #30 most popular websites in 2011. MyHeritage.com itself is #2 on the list, second only to Ancestry.com. (FamilySearch.org is #4 and JewishGen.org is #44.) The complete list can be found at http://www.progenealogists.com/top50genealogy2011.htm.
The announcement can be found at http://tinyurl.com/7upxabt.
Lo Tishkach Latvia Cemetery Survey Completed
Lo Tishkach Foundation European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative has performed its third regional survey in Latvia. Students and Jewish youth surveyed 36 cemetery and mass grave sites in the western region of Kurzeme during the spring and summer. The Foundation states that while many of these sites have received the necessary protection in recent years, many other sites still suffer from lack of demarcation and general neglect. The report on Kurzeme represents the third of its kind in Latvia and preceded by reports produced by Lo Tishkach this year on the Vidzeme and Zemgale regions. The final Latvian report on the Latgale region will be produced in the coming weeks bringing to a close a vast two-year project surveying all the burial grounds in the country. Their online database can be found at http://www.lo-tishkach.org/en/index.php?categoryid=9.
Ancestry.com Offering Free Public Access to Its World War II Collection
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into World War II, Ancestry.com is making its Historical World War II Collection available to the public at no charge from December 2–7, some 60 million records.
Highlighting the collection is the release of the World War II Navy Muster Rolls (1939–1949), that includes more than 33 million records detailing nearly all enlisted personnel who served aboard a U.S. Navy ship between January 1939 and January 1949.
New to the collection is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Cemetery) Database- This collection contains more than 120,000 records from 1949 to 1976, including headstone images and photos of names on war memorials. Also new is the Young Men’s Draft Cards. This collection includes draft cards from the seven draft registrations held between November 1940 and December 1942. Because of privacy laws, information on most of these registrations was not previously available to the public. The first installment of these cards includes almost two million filled out by men living in North Carolina who were born between 1897 and 1929.
The collection includes information provided by the American Jewish Historical Society about 106,000 Jewish-American soldiers who served during the period.
To search the WWII collection only, go to http://tinyurl.com/8yzopy3. A complete description of the announcement can be found at http://tinyurl.com/7sxyu3b.
British Newspaper Archive
The "British Newspaper Archive” is now online at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk. It consists of pages from more than 200 newspapers of the UK and Ireland published during the 19th century. To date, more than 3 million pages have been scanned and extracted. It is a fee-for-service site where the minimum cost is ₤6.95 which entitles the subscriber to two-day access and 500 credits toward downloading images. (The site implies that this might amount to as many as 100 images.)
The search engine appears to be a simple one with no wildcard searching. A search produces a snippet of information. There were a number of spelling errors in snippets implying the scanning and extraction process was difficult to do. In one snippet, “St. Petersburg” appeared as “ST. PsRaasssuR.”
A Source of Holocaust Victims’ Names
Many Holocaust victims go undocumented because no living family member remembers the names of these people. A typical comment is “My great-grandmother had two sisters who were murdered in the Holocaust with their families, but no one knows their names.” As the Holocaust slips into history, there is an excellent source of these names: their birth and marriage records. Most countries make publicly available vital records 100 years after the event, sometimes earlier for marriage and death records. This means that today, family historians have access to the birth record of any Holocaust victim who was born before 1912—if the records exist. I have successfully used this method to capture names.
Revised Edition Planned for Google Your Family Tree
One of the great tools for family history research is the book Google Your Family Tree. Avotaynu is not the publisher, but as a reseller we have sold nearly 1,000 copies. It is the complete guide to Google using genealogy as examples. The book has relevance to applications other than genealogy. A more appropriate title for the book might be “How to Use Google with Examples from Genealogy.” Whoever uses Google must get this 352-page book, whether you are a genealogist, a student with a homework assignment, or a cooking buff looking for a recipe.
The book is now three years old and Google has grown in functionality, so author Dan Lynch plans a revised edition in the Spring. To clear out existing inventory, he/we are offering the existing edition at a discount—$29.95 rather than $34.95. Included with the book will be a coupon that entitles to bearer to a free copy of the new edition when published. The purchaser will pay only shipping/handling costs of $6.95 in the U.S. and $11.95 elsewhere.
Consider taking advantage of the offer now. We have only 16 copies in inventory, although we will send excess sales to Lynch for him to distribute. Additional information can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/Google-Your-Family-Tree-Star.htm.
Budapest Marriage Index Site Has Birth and Death Records
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? stated that there is a Budapest marriage index at http://www.hatvany-online.net/MyProgs/crmbp/marriages.aspx. Tracey Rich of Pennsylvania notes the site also includes some birth and death indexes.
6,718 births at http://www.hatvany-online.net/MyProgs/crbbp/births.aspx
18,299 deaths at http://www.hatvany-online.net/MyProgs/crdbp/deaths.aspx
She also indicates that the marriage index (and birth and death indexes) on that site contain hyperlinks to an image of the marriage registry page, which includes the dates of birth, religion and addresses of the bride and groom, as well as the occupation of the groom.
There are often follow-up comments about things that happened after the marriage, only some of which are transcribed in the index, They include comments such as name changes after the marriage, conversions to Christianity, divorce, status as a WWI veteran. Once you have the exact date of birth of the bride and groom, she commented, it is not very difficult to find the birth registry entry in the FamilySearch.org database.
Contribute to Genealogy Causes
It is getting near the end of the year which is a good time for Americans to evaluate whether they have made tax-deductible contributions for 2011 to worthy genealogy causes. My two favorite are JewishGen and the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.
JewishGen. We all use JewishGen throughout the year. We subscribe to its Discussion Groups, are members of its Special Interest Groups, check the JewishGen Family Finder from time to time to see if any new listings involve your research areas. On occasion we use the Jewish Community Finder when we come across a new town whose location is unknown to us. When there is a document in a language we do not understand, we post it to Viewmate so a volunteer can translate it. We take advantage of the 20 million records JewishGen currently hosts and view many of its 70,000 web pages.
Do you contribute monetarily to its sustainment and growth?
If you have not made your annual contribution to JewishGen, do it now on its JewishGen-erosity page at http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen-erosity. Consider contributing $100 for the year. If you do, you are entitled to Value Added Services described at http://www.jewishgen.org/jewishgen/valueadded.asp.
International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG). Not every worthwhile genealogy organization produces instant gratification in the area of your personal family history research. The primary goals of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy are two-fold:
• To advance the academic status of Jewish Genealogy within the field of Jewish Studies, through research and teaching at the university level;
• To contribute to Jewish continuity, on the premise that knowledge of one’s roots helps assure a Jewish future. In a very short period of time, the Institute has made tangible progress in pursuing its goals, at both the scholarly and broader Jewish levels. It has:
• participated in international Jewish Studies conferences to promote family history as an academic discipline.
• developed innovative tools and technologies, specifically designed for the Jewish family historian
• elaborated “Academic Guidelines” for BA and MA courses in Jewish genealogy • carried out ten ground-breaking research projects.
Actually, there has already been tangible value from IIJG projects. The Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System was a direct result of an ongoing IIJG project.
Contribute to IIJG at http://iijg.org/Donate/Contributions.aspx.
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 http://tinyurl.com/6vp2fyx.
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.
U.S., Connecticut, Marriage Index, 1959–2001 New index collection of more than 1 million records
U.S., Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797–1954 New index collection
U.S., New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682–1956 New index collection
U.S., Tennessee County Marriages, 1790–1950 Added index records and images to existing collection
U.S., Texas, Death Index, 1903–2000 New index collection of more than 7 million records
United States, National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, 1866–1938 1Added index records to existing collection
Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921
Czech Republic, Land Records, 1450–1850
Germany, Bavaria, Nördlingen Miscellaneous City Records, 1400–1943 New collection
U.S., California, Los Angeles Passenger Lists, 1907–1948 New collection
U.S., California, San Joaquin, County Public Library Obituary Index, 1850–1991 New collection
U.S., Louisiana, Naturalization Records, 1831–1991 New collection
U.S., Maine, Knox County, Probate Estate Files, 1861–1915 New collection
U.S., Minnesota, Clay County Land and Property Records, 1872–1947 New collection
U.S., Montana, Flathead County Records, 1871–1981 New collection
U.S., South Dakota, Minnehaha County, Probate Case Records, 1873–1935 New collection
U.S., Texas, Naturalization Records, 1906–1989 New collection
U.S., Vermont, Washington County, Probate Estate Files, 1862–1915 New collection
U.S., Washington State Postmaster Indexes, Prior to 1965 New collection
U.S., Wisconsin, Dane County Naturalization Records, 1887–1945 0 32,499 New collection
Annual Research Trip to Lithuania with Side Trips to Latvia
Once again, genealogists Howard Margol and Penny Mosinger Freedman are organizing a group trip to Lithuania with side trips to Latvia from June 19–29, 2012. This will be their 19th annual trip. Included are visits to the various archives, synagogues, former ghettos, Holocaust sites, meetings with Jewish leaders, sightseeing guide/interpreters, and two days to visit and spend time in your shtetl or shtetlach of interest. Trip cost includes meals (except for one dinner and two lunches), accommodations in new and modern hotels, bus transportation, and much more. The tour operators are on a first-name basis with many of the archivists and Jewish leaders in Lithuania. Additional information can be found at http://www.litvaktrip.peggyspage.org or by sending e-mail to email@example.com.
Annual Research Trip to Salt Lake City
Eileen Polakoff and I will be holding our annual (20th) Jewish Genealogy Research Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City October 18–25, 2012. Information can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/slctrip.htm.
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