Nu? What's New?
The E-zine of Jewish Genealogy From Avotaynu

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 18 | April 22, 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.

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JewishGen Looking for Volunteer Manager
JewishGen is once again experiencing growing pains and is looking for a volunteer to manage its ever-growing group of persons who volunteer their time and skills to the organization. This is itself a volunteer position which should require approximately 2–5 hours per week.

Avraham Groll, Director of Business Operations, states that the Volunteer Manager will strengthen JewishGen’s ability to match potential volunteers and appropriate projects by maintaining a Volunteer Database, serving as the central contact person for Volunteer needs, and assisting with Volunteer recognition efforts. Persons interested should send their résumé to Groll at

A complete description of the job can be found at

Routes to Roots Foundation Databases To Have a Second Home
The Center for Jewish History ( has reached an agreement with the Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation (RTRF) to include the Foundation’s Eastern European Archival Database and Image Database in the Center’s online catalog. The announcement did not indicate when the data will be available at the Center’s site, but it is expected to be in the next few months.

The RTRF site, located at, is one of the most important Internet sites for doing Eastern European Jewish family history research. It has the most complete Jewish holdings of the State Archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine in a common searchable database. Because of the political upheavals in the past century, records are scattered for many towns and cities. The consolidated inventory brings them all under one umbrella. As an example, using the RTRF database, I was able to determine that the Jewish records of Volkovysk (now in Belarus), where my maternal grandfather was born, are in three different countries (Poland, Russia and Belarus) and five different archives.

The site also has a archives of more than 2,000 photos of pre-World War I and current town views, Jewish cemeteries, synagogues, and Holocaust monuments and memorials.
From the home pages, placing the mouse over one of the five named countries reveals links to articles and essays about research in the country; contact information for the archives including name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address and Internet site; historical maps; and insights to the country’s archival system written by the archivists themselves. There are numerous links to other sites on the Internet associated with record gathering from Eastern Europe.

A site map page at provides an understanding of the vastness of the site.

1940 Census Update
FamilySearch claims the following states have been indexed more than 50%. About 14% of the entire census has been indexed by 75,000 volunteers. Progress can be seen at
   Alaska 90%
   Arizona 79%
   Colorado 100%
   Delaware 100% and searchable
   Florida 79%
   Idaho 93%
   Indiana 90%
   Kansas 100%
   Nevada 90%
   New Hampshire 95%
   Oregon 99%
   Utah 98%
   Virginia 99%
   Wyoming 90%

Another 3-Day Sale: Buy One, Get One Free
Avotaynu is having another three-day sale of its major books. Until Tuesday midnight (New York time), buy any two of our major works, and get the lesser priced free of charge. It is a minimum saving of $69.50.

Select any of these two books, or two copies of the same book, from our catalog page at
   Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy ($85.00)
   Where Once We Walked ($85.00)
   Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants($85.00)
   Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire ($118.00)
   Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia ($85.00)
   Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland ($69.50)
   Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames ($89.00)
After adding the first book to the order, click “Continue Shopping” to add the second book.

When checking out of our shopping cart system, use one of the appropriate discounts codes:
   DISC6950 = Lower priced book purchasing is Kingdom of Poland book
   DISC8500 = Lower priced book costs $85.00
   DISC8900 = Purchasing German plus Russian Empire books
   DISC11800 = Purchasing two Russian Empire books

If you wish to buy four or more books, place them on separate orders, two books per order, because there can only be one discount code per order.

About the Books
Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy is the definitive guide to Jewish genealogical research. Its 100 chapters were written by more than 60 authors, all experts in their own field.

Where Once We Walked is the award-winning gazetteer of more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust.

Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants is the most comprehensive compilation and analysis of Ashkenazic given names ever. Its 300-page introduction is a complete analysis of the origin and evolution of Ashkenazic given names.

Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire is the landmark work that placed its author, Dr. Alexander Beider, on the map as the world’s authority on Jewish surnames from Eastern Europe.

Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia contains information about 25,000 surnames from the region identifying the districts within Galicia where the surname appeared, the origin of the meaning of the name (etymology) and variants found.

Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland follows the pattern of the two previously mentioned surname dictionaries.

Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. This work won its author, Lars Menk, the prestigious Obermayer German Jewish History Award.

Take advantage of this offer while it lasts!

Searchable Australian Newspapers Online
TROVE, the search engine of the National Library of Australia, currently has digitized images of 234 Australian newspapers and magazines online with a full-word search engine. It is located at TROVE allows searching for any item in the National Library. Results are broken up into the following categories book; pictures, photos or objects; journals, articles or data sets; digitized newspapers; music, sound or video; maps; diaries, letters and archives; or people or organizations that include the search argument. Examining a result indicates whether it is available online, in particular libraries or it is possible to purchase a copy.

Immigration to Canada from United States
Library and Archives Canada released unindexed images of immigration records for people who passed into Canada from United States from 1908–1918 and 1925–1935. They are located at Information about each immigrant varies for different years. In the late 1920s–1935 it included name, age, sex, place of last residence, place of birth, nationality, race, religion, occupation, destination, name/address of relative from whence came and other less significant information.

Kaunas Area Vital Records Indexed
Litvak-SIG has announced that all publicly available vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and deaths) for the Kaunas region have been indexed at Access requires membership in the Kaunas Research Group which is $100. Indexes are available for the following towns: Babtai, Cekiske, Dotnuva, Grinkiskis, Jonava, Josvainiai, Kaunas, Keidainiai, Krakes, Rumsiskes, Seredzius, Vandziogala, Veliuona, Vilijampole and Vilkija

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
FamilySearch likely spent the week focusing on the 1940 U.S. census because there are few additions to their site. 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 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.

Germany, Bavaria, Nördlingen, Miscellaneous City Records, 1385–1943 Added images to existing collection.
Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592–1910 Added images to existing collection.
United States, New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682–1956 Added indexed records to existing collection.

Latest in Tombstones Meet Technology
Some years ago, a company was offering a service where they would embed a microchip in a tombstone that could be read out. The contents would be the history of the deceased. Apparently the idea did not catch on.

Now a company is offering to place a Quick Response Code on a tombstone, according the Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. QR Codes are those funny square boxes that are starting to appear in newsprint and websites that can be scanned by smartphones. They take you to a website (example shown to the right). In the tombstone application, its purpose is the same as the microchip idea, to provide more information about the deceased. Eastman quotes the creator of the idea as stating they are “probably selling a few a day.” Eastman’s article can be found at

Discount Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies is offering unlimited one year access for a special price of $69.95 at The offer is ostensibly to Family Tree DNA users “and their friends.”

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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