Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 28 | July 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.
Summer Holiday: Avotaynu Offices Closed
Avotaynu offices will be closed from July 4–July 23 for summer holiday. During this period we will be attending the 32nd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy being held in Paris. Get your book orders in before July 3 to assure no delay in shipping. We will not be exhibiting at the Paris conference. There will be an issue of Nu? What’s New? next weekend but none the following weekend.
International Tracing Service (ITS) Issues Annual Report
The International Tracing Service (ITS) issued its annual report for 2011. The 45-page PDF document can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ITS2011AnnualReport. It is in both German and English. The report notes that to date ITS has digitized a total of 88 million images, including documents about concentration camps, ghettos and prisons (approximately 18 million images), the ITS Central Name Index (about 42 million images), registration cards of displaced persons (about 7 million images), documents on the subject of forced labor (13 million images), documents from DP camps and about emigration after the Second World War (5 million images), the collection of the Child Tracing Branch and the so-called Sachdokumente (general documents) (2 million images) as well as the first correspondence files (to date 1.2 million images).
There was a hint of possible future online access with the statement, “The new ITS agreement also envisages external access options to the database. The first technical requirements were implemented in 2011.”
For those interested in Holocaust research, much of the annual report is worth reading.
ITS Planning to Publish Scholarly Works
Demonstrating its shift from a humanitarian organization to a historical archives, the International Tracing Service (ITS) is planning to publish a scholarly series of works. Its first, titled Freilegungen - Auf den Spuren der Todesmärsche (Uncovered – On the traces of the death marches) has been published by Wallstein Publishing. It examines the death marches from concentration camps at the end of the Nazi regime, a subject, ITS states, only in recent years has featured more prominently in Holocaust research. The book can be ordered at http://www.wallstein-verlag.de/9783835310117.html.
ITS indicated its collection on the subject of death marches comprises about twelve running meters. It contains information from local communities, witnesses’ accounts, details on evacuations, reports of police investigations, maps and original documents from the last days of the concentration camps. The documents provide further insight into the number of prisoners, individual fates, the route of the marches, participation of the local population and attitudes towards this issue in postwar Germany.
ITS was originally founded as a tracing service for victims and the persecuted of the Nazi regime. Since the opening of its archives for research at the end of 2007, with the number of humanitarian inquiries declining, the organization is developing into an international centre for documentation, information and research on Nazi persecution, forced labor and the Holocaust.
1940 Census Update
FamilySearch has now made available at their site indexes to 30 (if I counted correctly) of the 50 states. A map showing the status of each state can be found at https://familysearch.org/1940census/?cid=fsHomeT1940Text_v2. To limit the search to a particular state, go to the website above, and click “View All States” in the “Indexing Progress” section of the page. Then click on a particular state’s name. If you choose one that is not yet on the Internet, you will get a “404” error (page not found).
Ancestry.com has released indexes to six more states: Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia. Two of them, Ohio and Pennsylvania, are not yet available by FamilySearch. Other states unique to Ancestry.com are Maine and New York.
MyHeritage.com has not announced any new completed states, but it is clear from using the site that they have added indexes—at least—to portions of New York State.
MyHeritage Announces SuperSearch
MyHeritage has taken the billions of indexed records in its possession—including data from family trees posted to its site—and made them searchable in an engine they call SuperSearch. It is located at http://www.myheritage.com/research.
SuperSearch features include:
• A given name synonym feature. The company notes that “a search for William will also catch Bill, Vilhelm, Guillaume, Guglielmo and many other variations, even when written in other alphabets such as Russian or Hebrew.”
• Search by first name and/or last name, with optional dates or places.
• Search by keywords, events, relationships and other advanced criteria.
• Find people without knowing their last names, for example, find three brothers in the same family using only their first names and relationship as siblings, or find all people born on a certain date or in a certain town.
• Perform a global search or search only in one collection or category.
• Choose between a mode that shows all results and a summary mode that shows the count of matches from each collection.
• Refine results by collection or by any other common criteria.
SuperSearch is open to all and requires no registration. Search result lists are displayed at no charge, but access to the actual records usually requires an annual subscription or a pay-as-you-go credits system. A few databases are at no charge. They include the 1930 and 1940 U.S. Census, Social Security Death Index and Find-a-Grave.
FindMyPast Adds Prisoner of War Records
FindMyPast has added records of 7,703 British Army officers who were prisoners of war during World War I. Also added were World War II prisoners of war including 19,229 British Navy and Air Force officers, 39,808 Officers of Empire serving in the British Army and 107,000 British Army POWs held in German territories. Links to the data are at http://tinyurl.com/UKPOW.
Gravesites of North American Tzadikim Online
The gravesites of nearly 1,000 North American rabbis considered tzadikim (righteous ones) are displayed at http://www.kevarim.com. There is an alphabetical listing by given name. Information provided for each individual includes cemetery where buried, date of death and a picture of the tombstone. Plans call for listing the rebetzins (wives of rabbis). There is even provision for writing a kvitel to a specific rabbi. Thank you, Philip Applebaum for referring me to this site.
JOWBR Now Has 1.86 Million Records
The power of volunteering for JewishGen projects can be seen in the latest announcement from JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). The database of Jewish grave sites grew by 105,000 new records, 21,000 new photos and 244 new cemeteries. There are now 1.86 million records from nearly 3,600 cemeteries in 46 countries. The JOWBR database can be accessed at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery/. If you’re a new JOWBR user, JewishGen provides explanatory screencasts at http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Cemetery/Screencasts/.
New data has been added from Algeria, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Martinique, Morocco, Myanmar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Switzerland, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Search Canadian Records at No Charge through July 2
In celebration of Canada Day, Ancestry.ca is providing access to its immigration, military, census and vital records at no charge. The offer is good only through July 2.
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