Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 13, Number 17 | April 15, 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.
Yad Vashem To Acquire One Million More Testimonial Pages
Last March, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Yad Vashem signed an agreement with the Ukraine KGB archives that will give Yad Vashem documents from the Holocaust period including such records as deportation lists and lists of murdered Jews. (See Nu? What’s New? Volume 12, Number 11, March 20, 2011.) Now Haaretz is reporting that agreements have been signed with the national archives of Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that will add more than one million testimonials by survivors.
The document collection includes passports, identity papers, documents about house use (attesting to entry and occupation procedures enforced under Communist rule), demographic registries, medical records, personal files of school teachers, and more.
The entire report can be found at http://tinyurl.com/6tl4gzs.
1940 Census News
FamilySearch now has all census images online at their site. Progress of volunteers who are indexing:
Colorado 99% complete
Delaware 100% and searchable
Indexing has started on other states and is less than 50% complete. You can view the status by state at https://www.familysearch.org/1940census/?cid=fsHomeT1940Text_v2.
FamilyLink. The 1940 census can now be accessed from FamilyLink.com. The evidence is that it is using the MyHeritage version, because the only indexed records are for Bristol, Rhode Island, which are the only indexed records at the My Heritage site.
Ancestry.com. In the last issue of Nu? What’s New? it was incorrectly stated that Ancestry.com had indexed Delaware and Rhode Island. The two states indexed are Delaware and Nevada.
Searching the Joint Archives Database
When searching for names in the database of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee archives at http://archives.jdc.org, use the Advanced Search feature located at http://tinyurl.com/6nhctzh. This is because the basic search feature does not distinguish between given and surnames and defaults to a fuzzy search. The consequence is, for example, a search for the surname Jacobs produces results for all men whose given name is Jacob. In the Advanced Search feature, set the Search Profile to “Names Search,” and use the Search All Fields with the “Literal” option. The “Literal” option is equivalent to what most search engines call “Exact.” The Jacobs basic search produced more than 500 results. The Jacobs Advanced Search produced only 93 results. Alternately, search using the Name field which gives more options: Exact, Begins with, Phonetic Fuzzy and Synonyms.
Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas Now in Book Form
Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, located at http://holocaustatlas.lt/EN/, is a website where there is information about mass murder sites of Jews throughout Lithuania. In early February, Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas was released in book form. It describes 227 sites of the extermination of Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust. The book is available in English and Lithuanian and is part of a project launched in 2010 by the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius and the Austrian Verein Gedenkdienst organization. Under this project, workers at the Vilnius museum and Austrian volunteers visited Jewish extermination sites to take photos and collect information in archives and local offices. The online version of the Atlas was launched last year.
The Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas claims it is the only chronicle of these historical events, comprising a register of victims, details of the mass murders and proof of the names of the perpetrators of the executions. Nowadays, the entrance to these memorial sites is often times hindered because some are located outside of cities and towns, far away from main roads and/or hidden in forests. The Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas may therefore serve as a guide book with detailed maps and transportation guidelines. Photographs of monuments and memorial boulders that have been placed at execution sites also provide a great source of information.
Additional information about the project is available at http://www.shtetl.lt/m/en/news/2301/.
Long Lost Family Returns to British Television
Long Lost Family, a genealogy-related program about reuniting family members who were apart for years, returned to British television (ITV1) on April 12 at 9pm. The show is sponsored by Genes Reunited. Information about the British program is at http://www.itv.com/beontv/long-lost-family.
A program with a similar format was on the American Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) last season. It was called Searching for.... It was not renewed for this season.
If the Pieces of the Puzzle Don’t Fit…
Family history research has sometimes been described as fitting pieces of a puzzle together. One maxim is “if the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit, don’t force them together.” Too often genealogists explain away exceptions to the rest of the evidence to make the pieces of the puzzle fit.
Even this veteran can fall victim to this principal.
Many years ago, when Alexander Beider was working on his landmark A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants, I told him that my half-uncle Howard Mokotoff was likely named after his father’s father (my great-grandfather) Hyman Mokotoff, whose Hebrew name was Chaim. I also indicated that Howard’s mother always called him Chemya. Dr. Beider told me Chemya was a variant of Nechemiah and he did not know of any case where it was used as a variant of Chaim. I rationalized the situation by stating my step-grandmother was a very illiterate woman and probably liked the name Chemya and used it as an alternate for Chaim.
Recently, I visited Jewishdata.com and found that their photograph collection now has the tombstone of my step-grandmother. It shows her father’s name was Nechemiah demonstrating that my half-uncle was named after his mother’s father, not his father’s father.
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/ca4df22. 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.
Czech Republic, Censuses, 1843–1921 Added images to existing collection.
Czech Republic, Land Records, 1450–1850 Added images to existing collection.
Dominican Republic, Civil Registration, 1801–2010 Added images to existing collection.
Estonia, Population Registers, 1918–1944 Added images to existing collection.
Germany, Bavaria, Fürth, Emigration Records and City Directories, 1805–1921 New image collection.
Peru, Civil Registration, 1874–1996 Added images to existing collection.
Philippines, Civil Registration (National), 1945–1980 Added images to existing collection.
United States, Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871–1920 Added images to existing collection.
United States, Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797–1954 Added images and index records to existing collection.
United States, New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682–1956 Added indexed records to existing collection.
United States, New York, County Naturalization Records, 1792–1976 New image collection.
United States, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789–1994 Added images to existing collection.
United States, Tennessee County Marriages, 1790–1950 Added images and index records to existing collection.
Discount Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies
Fold3.com is offering all of its WWII content at no charge through April 30. Among the collections in the offer are:
"Old Man's Draft" Registration Cards. Any man between the ages of 43 and 62 in 1940 would be required to register in 1942. It's called the "Old Man's" draft.
Missing Air Crew Reports recount tales of planes shot down with and without survivors.
War Diaries, Official Navy accounts of command units' strategies and actions in battles on land, sea, and air, as well as between engagements.
European Theater Army Records. These records include virtually all administrative and strategic documents relating to U.S. operations in the European Theater during World War II.
Fold3, a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, provides access to U.S. military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served.
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