Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 12, Number 49 | December 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 http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
International Tracing Service Announces Future Plans
A new agreement has been signed by the International Commission which is composed of representatives of the 11 countries that oversee the International Tracing Service (ITS). It defines how ITS will operate once the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ends its function as operator of the institution at the end of 2012. Elements of the new agreement include:
• A new director will be appointed by the International Commission. Currently the director comes from ICRC.
• The German National Archives will become an institutional partner and give support to and work with ITS but not control its operation.
• With the approval of the 11-nation commission, distribution of further copies of the collection will be possible in addition to the single copy given to each of the member countries. This means that other countries will be able to apply for a copy of the collection. Also it may include having more than one copy in a given country.
• Any holder of the collection may allow remote access within its country. This does not mean general Internet access but controlled access.
• Apparently the ITS facility in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has digitized images not yet in the collection of the member countries. There is provision for these member countries to remotely access the collection as it exists in Bad Arolsen.
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum reports that since receiving its copy of the ITS collection in December 2007, they have responded to more than 13,000 requests from 67 countries—the vast majority coming from Holocaust survivors or their family members. Additionally, since 2008, the Museum has organized or co-organized four academic seminars on the ITS records to facilitate scholarship on the archive’s contents. Sixty-eight researchers and advanced university students from more than 60 institutions in North America, Europe and Israel have taken part in the seminars.
The International Tracing Service, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, is the largest archives for information about individuals persecuted by the Nazi government. As a consequence, it has millions of records of Jews during the Holocaust period. In November 2007, ITS ended a 60-year ban on public access to their records. This latest agreement shows an even greater relaxation of the rules regarding access to the ITS files. The ITS press release about the new plans can be found at http://tinyurl.com/7ymvh7j. I accidentally stumbled on the actual agreement under which ITS operated through May 2011. It was published by the UK government as an official document that required approval of Parliament. It can be found at http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm80/8091/8091.pdf.
ITS Records to Be Available in the UK
The Weiner Library in London will become the seventh repository where the public will have access to the vast collection of the International Tracing Service. The Library already hosts the UK’s largest collection of personal papers and testimonies of refugees and Holocaust survivors. Transfer of the collection was done at the initiative of an organization known as the UK ITS Stakeholder Group which is comprised of UK scholars on Nazi Germany as well as the major groups and institutions from across the UK engaged with the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Additional information can be found at http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?id=705646982&view=News
Ancestry.com Drops Social Security Numbers for Recent Deaths
Undoubtedly in response to Congressional interest in the risk of fraud using the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Ancestry.com has dropped displaying the Social Security Number of any person in the SSDI who died within the past 10 years. In addition, the company has removed the SSDI from RootsWeb.com, which it owns, where it was available at no charge.
Meanwhile, a bill has been proposed in the U.S. Senate that would, in effect, delay posting to the SSDI for up to two years after the person’s death. People with a need to know can apply to the Department of Commerce to request the information on an excluded individual. A companion bill has been presented in the House of Representatives.
The Senate version of the bill can be found at http://tinyurl.com/75de8o9. It is a comprehensive bill that covers the problem of identity theft and tax fraud. The particular section of interest is Section 9 which is on page 6. The SSDI is referred to in the legislation by its official name: Death Master File.
Center for Jewish History Has Research Guides
The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute of the Center for Jewish History has published a large number of family history research guides. Some guides are topical (examples are Holocaust Research and Landsmanshaftn), others are country research (examples are Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria). They can be accessed at http://www.cjh.org/p/60.
Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy – 2012 Version
Avotaynu has just published the 2012 version of Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy. There are many changes from the 2011 version, reflecting the dynamic aspect of family history research, but the older book is still usable.
Some changes are: There is no longer a company called Footnote.com. It is now Fold3.com. ShtetlLinks has been changed to KehilaLinks. There are two new SIGs: Bessarabia and Sub-Carpathian. The 1940 census access will be a fact in 2012 rather than a future resource. Nu? What’s New? went to paid subscription in 2011. The Family Search section is rewritten to reflect the new design of the web site. Numbers have increased in most areas. FamilySearch now claims they have 3 billion records in databases; the 2011 book stated 2 billion.
In addition to changes, the book has grown by two pages—now 98 pages because of addition content added. Nearly 3,000 copies have been sold since it was first published in 1999. Additional information is available at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/GettingStarted.htm.
JOWBR Now Has 1.76 Million Records
The JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) now has 1.76 million records from more than 3,350 cemeteries in 64 countries. The JOWBR database
can be accessed at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery. The latest update includes the first listings for Bolivia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Russia, Slovenia, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
The announcement noted that they added records for the Catskill region of New York State. I had a grand-aunt who lived in the area much of her life, and past attempts to determine where she is buried were unsuccessful. This latest JOWBR update has her record and notes she is buried in the Workmen’s Circle Cemetery in Monticello, New York.
More About FindAGrave.com
Alex Friedlander notes that FindAGrave.com is becoming a very useful site as they increasingly expand their collections from Jewish cemeteries. In some cases there are tombstone images. Sometimes they include an obituary or links to graves of relatives. They list graves—but not all interments—from many New York City-area cemeteries including Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens, New Montefiore, Mount Zion, Riverside Cemetery in New Jersey and Mount Ararat in Farmingdale. Also Star of David in North Lauderdale, Florida; Myrtle Hill in Tampa, Florida; Machpelah in Ferndale, Michigan; Mount Hope in Rochester, New York. They also have large collections from a few Baltimore cemeteries, from the Norfolk-Portsmouth area, McKeesport near Pittsburgh, and Dallas and other Texas cities. They have smaller and apparently expanding indexes from several Massachusetts cemeteries (such as Woonsocket, Lynn); St. Joseph in Missouri; Laurel Hill in Philadelphia, etc.
New Jewish Genealogy Site for Argentina
There is a new website that provides information about Jews who live(d) in Argentina. It is located at http://www.hebrewsurnames.com. The site provides information about immigration, obituary and burial records. Ostensibly it is a site about Jewish surnames.
Obituary notices come from the newspaper La Nacion and only date from October 7, 2011. Immigration records likely come from the CEMLA (Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos) site at http://www.cemla.com/busqueda.php# described in the August 28, 2011, edition of Nu? What’s New? because search results include non-Jews. Burial notices likely come from the AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) site at http://www.amia.org.ar/index.php/services/default.
A search unconditionally uses the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System and produces results for all surnames that have the same D-M code. However, there is an error in the implementation of the system. There is a D-M rule that if two consecutive letters have the same code, they are treated as if it was a single code. This was not implemented at the site. (Example: The surnames Mokotow and Mokotoff both have the same D-M Soundex code (653700). In this implementation they differ because the “ff” portion is coded as two independent letters producing 653770.)
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