Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 13, Number 16 | April 8, 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.
1940 Census Mania Abounds
1940 census mania is upon us as the public tries to access the four sites that have information about the U.S. 1940 census.
• Two of the three companies, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com have the complete census online at their sites. FamilySearch.org only has 17 states online as of Saturday, April 7. These are all in addition to the official NARA site at http://1940census.archives.gov.
• MyHeritage.com achieved a marketing coup by declaring they were the first to place an index online. It is only for one county of one state: Bristol County, Rhode Island. Ancestry.com already has two states completely indexed and online: Delaware and Rhode Island. The FamilySearch.org site implies they have Delaware completely indexed too, but it does not appear to be online. They also claim that volunteers have already indexed 80% of Colorado.
• For the totally lazy, Findmypast.com is offering to find any person in the 1940 census. Tell them who you want to find and some additional clues and they will email you the document once the records are indexed. That’s the catch—once the records are indexed by the company. That could take months.
• Stephen P. Morse, whose site provides tools to locate people in the 1940 census without using an index claims his site normally receives 100–200,000 hits a day. On the opening day of the census, April 2, his site had more than two million hits. Morse notes that traffic for his One-Step ED Finder tools was even greater because there now are other sites, such as the National Archives, that use these tools.
• NARA reports that in the first seven hours the census was available on the Internet there were more than 37 million hits, which made it virtually impossible to get results from the site. Technicians quickly started addressing the problem, and the evidence is that now there is excellent response time at the site. I use Ancestry.com regularly, and I sensed this past week that overall response time at the site was a bit sluggish, perhaps due to the activity of the 1940 census.
Questions on the 1940 census focused on economic matters because the country was still in the Great Depression. My father stated that his 1939 annual income from a full-tome job was $1,200. My father-in-law did better. In 1939 his annual income was $1,850.
Old FamilySearch Accessible Again
For some reason, the FamilySearch people have placed back on their home page a link to the Old FamilySearch (they call it Classic FamilySearch). The link is identified by “Go to Previous Site.” The older version allows you to search certain databases individually, such as the International Genealogical Index, Pedigree Resource File and Ancestral File. As noted in a previous issue of Nu? What’s New? the Library Catalog is easier to navigate than the new version. Classic FamilySearch is expected to be removed from the Internet in the next few months.
Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names Has a New Look
Yad Vashem’s Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names located at http://db.yadvashem.org/names/search.html?language=en has a new look. Additional features of value to genealogists include:
• Ability to limit searches to recent submissions (Updates Since) or even older submissions (Updates Until).
• Now 50 results are displayed at a time requiring less time to browse a large number of results. Previously only 15 results were shown at a time.
• Search only Pages of Testimony or only Other Material
Yad Vashem, together with its partners, has collected and recorded in the Central Database of Shoah Victims’ biographical details of two-thirds of the six million Jews murdered by the Germans and their accomplices. Two million more still remain unidentified. Search the database for victims known to you, and if they are not recorded, download a form at http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/downloads/pages_of_testimony.asp and submit it to Yad Vashem.
Old Maps Online
Oldmapsonline.org has more than 60,000 old maps from all over the world. Searching this vast collection, I located maps from such diverse locations as Poland, Japan and Bergen County, New Jersey. Be sure to register. This allows you to enlarge and download images. When exporting images, use the extra-extra large option to get proper resolution.
MyHeritage Adds Two Senior Executives to Staff
MyHeritage.com has added two senior executives—former founders of Footnote.com— to their staff. This provides further evidence of the company’s interest in penetrating the U.S. genealogy market and even the global market. It also shows the company’s increased interest in having content as well as family social-networking and massive user contributed content that has made MyHeritage one of the most visited websites for family history.
Russ Wilding will be Chief Content Officer, and Roger Bell will be Vice President Product at their Provo, Utah, office. Additional information is at http://tinyurl.com/7eqyjh6.
MyHeritage states they have more than 62 million registered users and 22 million family trees. Their site is available in 38 languages. The company is backed by Accel Partners and Index Ventures, the investors of Facebook and Skype.
Ancestry.com Going That Extra Mile with 1940 Census
Ancestry.com is collaborating with the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota to create the largest database of detailed information about people and their households ever made available for scientific research. The source will be the 1940 census.
The database will include all of the information collected on the 132 million Americans recorded in the census describing the demographic and economic characteristics of all individuals, families, households, and group quarters present in the United States in 1940. This database will be a new resource for economists, demographers, geographers, epidemiologists, other social science and health researchers, and the general public.
Additional information about the project can be found at http://www1.umn.edu/news/news-releases/2012/UR_CONTENT_380428.html.
ScotlandsPeople Adds 1915 Valuation Rolls
ScotlandsPeople at http://scotlandspeople.gov.uk has added Valuation Rolls for the year 1915 to its site. The rolls are property records that show the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property, unlike the full lists of family members found in censuses. Usually the named person is the head of the household, but sometimes a husband and wife might be listed. Frequently, the wife is the named tenant of rented property.
Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Spring issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer in the next 30 days. If you received a renewal form that your subscription has expired and have not returned it, do so now. Among the articles in the issue are two long, rigorous articles about landsmanshaft societies and the latest technological innovation for genealogy: LeafSeek.
More information about the issue will be posted in future issues of Nu? What’s New? If you are not an AVOTAYNU subscriber, you can subscribe at http://www.avotaynu.com/journal.htm.
Special Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies
Fold3.com is offering throughout the month of April free access to their WWII content located at http://go.fold3.com/wwii/.
Ancestry.com has announced that in conjunction with the release of the 1940 census, the “1940-era” records in their collection are available at no charge through April 10. This includes the 1930 Federal census. Glancing at the results of a search as a non-subscriber, the years involved include records from the 1930s through 1950s.
Winners of AVOTAYNU Subscription Renewal Contest
Each year Avotaynu offers people who are renewing their subscription to our journal AVOTAYNU the opportunity to enter a contest to win a book of choice published by Avotaynu. Winners of the drawing this year are Freya Blitstein Maslov of Illinois, Linda Gilmore of Massachusetts and David Lederman of Israel.
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