Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 14 | April 1, 2012
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.
Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover Holiday)
A sweet Passover for all.
1940 Census Available April 2
Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow, Monday, April 2, the U.S. 1940 census will be available to the public at 9:00am New York time at http://1940census.archives.gov/. Come join the millions who will be accessing the server.
Tomorrow will also begin the race to index the census. It is likely to be made available state by state as the organizations planning to create an index rush to be first. At least three organizations have indicated they will provide an index: Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and a consortium of FamilySearch, Archives.com and Brightsolid (FindMyPast.com). My prediction? Ancestry.com will win the race.
From a Jewish genealogical standpoint, I find the questions asked on the 1940 census very uninteresting. Gone are “When did you come to the U.S.?” and “When were you naturalized?” Parents’ place of birth is provided only for those persons on the second half of the page. This is also true for questions for women who had ever been married. Perhaps a lazy census taker could avoid asking these extra questions by starting a new page once the first 13 lines were filled. The country was still in the Great Depression and many of the questions on the main portion of the form focused on employment status.
Information about the census, including sample forms that show what questions were asked, can be found at http://www.archives.gov/research/census/1940/.
1921 Canadian Census To Be Released in 2013
Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that on June 1, 2013, the 1921 Canadian census will be transferred to Library and Archives Canada and will be opened for public use. However, the census records will not be available to the public on that day. Workers will require time to catalog, scan, and place the images online. The work cannot begin until June 1, so online access may not occur for months after that date. Additional information about the census can be found at http://thediscoverblog.com/2012/03/27/1921-census-countdown/.
Using City/Telephone Directories Online
One of the best resources for finding street addresses of families in the year of a national census is city directories and their successors: telephone directories. Many are online, but I cannot find a site that has a comprehensive listing. Use Google to find possible sites by searching for “<town or country name>
The Cincinnati Public Library has city directories 1819–1941 online at http://virtuallibrary.cincinnatilibrary.org/VirtualLibrary/vl_CityDir.aspx. The New York Public Library was supposed to place New York City telephone books for 1940 online, but I cannot locate it at their site.
Some large online databases are alphabetical lists that are unindexed. Typical are city directories. The question is what is the fastest way to get to a specific location in the list? One good technique is called a binary search. Amazingly, if the database has one million pages, it would take only 20 searches to locate any page.
Go through the following process. Start on the middle page of the list. If it is not on the page, go halfway forward (or backward) to locate what is being searched for. If it is not found on that page, go half of what is left either forward or backward. Continue searching half the remaining distance until the page is found.
German Immigrants to America 1850–1897
A list of hundreds of thousands of immigrants to the U.S. who “identified their country of origin or nationality as German or Germanic” is online at five sites:
http://www.germanimmigrants1890s.com/ (to 1897 only)
Information provided may include name, age, gender, from, destination, ship and arrival date.
Name Changes in Israel
The names of some 300,000 Israelis who legally changed their name after Israel became a country can be searched at the Israel Genealogical Society (IGS) website at http://www.isragen.org.il/siteFiles/1/618/7927.asp. The results are the name of the person before and after the change and the date (sometimes only month/year) when the name change was posted in the Yalkut Hapirsumim (Official Publications) of the Israeli government.
You must search for names using the Hebrew alphabet. If you do not know how to spell a name in Hebrew, use Stephen P. Morse’s English to Hebrew transliteration at http://stevemorse.org/hebrew/eng2heb.html. The project was made possible by a grant in 2010 by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.
Another name-change database by IGS is of people who changed during the British Mandate period (1921–1948). This database is online in Hebrew at
Mormon Church Moving Contents of IGI to FamilySearch
With the new philosophy of the Mormon Church that genealogical and religious records will be commingled under one umbrella called “FamilySearch,” the question was what would happen to the contents of the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The IGI is a database of hundreds of millions of records of deceased people for whom some Mormon religious rite was performed, often posthumous baptism. Ignoring the controversy about whether it is proper for the Church to perform these rituals on persons not related to Mormons, the IGI was used for genealogical purposes because included in such information as date of vital events and names of spouses or parents.
Noting that the additions to FamilySearch this week include a large number of indexed collections. Example: “France, Births and Baptisms, 1546–1896, 1,053,892 indexes.” I checked the source of the FamilySearch entries, and it was the IGI. In fact, most of the new additions this week to FamilySearch are from the IGI.
I still get inquiries from Jewish genealogists who state they found the name of a relative in FamilySearch and want to know if some Mormon religious rite was performed on the person. Even though the IGI will now be commingled with non-religious data in FamilySearch, it is possible to tell if the origin of the entry is the old IGI, because FamilySearch cites the source of the entry. After displaying the detail of a result, there is a link “About this collection.” Under the description of the collection in the section “Citation for this Collection,” it will describe the source as the IGI. As of now, I am unaware of a way for the public to determine if a religious rite was performed on a person after the IGI was abandoned and the entry only exists in FamilySearch. Probably the easiest way is to find a sympathetic Mormon who has access to the religious database to look it up for you.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week Include
More Than 25 Million World War One Draft Registration Cards
Most of the additions of images and/or indexes to FamilySearch this week may be of interest to people researching their Jewish family history. Rather than itemize them all in this column, the complete list can be found at http://tinyurl.com/d2zxfj7. This site provides links directly to the collection described. Note that announced new collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.
One major addition to the collection is 25 million unindexed World War One draft registration cards. These records are organized by draft board. Most of the other additions are indexes taken from the IGI (see previous article above).
Early-Bird Registration for Conference Extended to April 10
The planners of the 32nd IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have extended early-bird registration until April 10. Register now at http://www.paris2012.eu/products and save 20 euros per person. They have also indicated they negotiated with the hotel a special Internet-access rate of 7 euros (about $10) per day. The regular rate is 19.95 euros.
Registration for tours, lunches and breakfasts, and the Gala (banquet) can be done at the same site. Joubert-Voyages is offering eight different tours with special conference rates: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Baltic States, Hungary, Normandy, Belgium and Portugal. Additional information is at http://www.joubert-voyages.com/cercle-genealogie-juive.php.
Visit the conference site to get information about the program and hotel. The event is from July 15–18, 2012, at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center in Paris. Visiting the hotel’s registration site, I see it now points to the English-language version rather than the French.
New JewishGen Course: Exploring JewishGen
From April 15 - April 30, JewishGen will hold a new education course on “JewishGen–An Essential Resource.” The course is a series of exercises that will take the student “on a guided tour of the paths and byways that make up JewishGen's massive website. You will visit the links that connect the composite databases, projects, SIGs and open up the wonders of JewishGen.” Tuition is $18. Additional information and registration is at http://www.jewishgen.org/education. Enrollment is limited to 50 people. Previous JewishGen courses have sold out quickly, so enroll now.
How Big Is Ancestry.com?
A recent article at Cio.com provides some interesting statistics about Ancestry.com.
• 6.7 billion historical records online
• 4.8 billion people named in family trees
• 5,000 servers which will be necessary to accommodate the anticipated surge starting tomorrow with the release of the 1940 census
• $400 million in sales in 2011
• 1,000 employees
• 1.7 million subscribers
The complete article is at http://www.cio.com/article/print/703173.
More on Russian Veterans Database
In the last issue of Nu? What’s New? I reported a searchable database of Russian veterans of World War II located at http://english.pobediteli.ru/. The database provides the last name, first name, and father's name as well as the date of birth. According to Valery Bazarov, Director of Family History and Location Services for HIAS, the list is primarily of veterans alive today in Russia and Belarus. Those who immigrated to other countries are not included. Bazarov contacted the organization that created the list, and they admitted that they used only information they had locally. Zalman Lakowicz of Israel notes that the list appears to include only veterans who were living at the time the list was compiled and, therefore, does not include anyone killed in action during the war or predeceased the compilation of the list.
Discount Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies
You can receive a 10% discount on a FindMyPast subscription by using promotional code SUB10.
is published weekly
by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2012, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved
To change an e-mail address, send a request to email@example.com
To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to http://www.avotaynu.com/journal.htm
To order books from our catalog, go to http://www.avotaynu.com/catalog.htm
To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621
Telephone (U.S.) : 201-387-7200