Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 13, Number 31 | July 29, 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.
IIJG Receives $100,000 Donation from Lisa and Douglas Goldman Trust
Neville Lamdan, Director of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, issued a four month report (February-June 2012) in which he announced that the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Trust made a grant to the Institute of $100,000, primarily for general purposes and capacity building.
Dr. Erzsébet Mislovics of Budapest provided IIJG with a 330-page monograph and database on her IIJG-sponsored research into "Hungarian Jewish Families in the Modern Era" (focusing on the Munks and Goldziehers). This study is currently under review for publication.
Michael Tobias, principal researcher of the Institute's project "200 Years of Scottish Jewry – a Demographic and Genealogical Profile,” submitted a 150-page report on his work to date, replete with new knowledge and solid statistics on the growth of Scottish Jewry in the 19th century.
IIJG has recently found a sponsor for an in-depth study of "Village Jews in the Pale of Settlement through a Genealogical Lens." A qualified scholar has been identified to carry out this 3-year research project.
Plans proceed for a Joint Symposium with the Russian Institute for Genealogical Research to be held in September at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg. The main focus will be on Jews who resided within the borders of Russia proper (i.e. outside the Pale of Settlement). Papers will be presented on a wide range of genealogical topics, most of which, according to Lamdan, have “barely been explored in the past, if at all.”
The IIJG site is at http://iijg.org.
SSDI: I Just Had a Talk with My Banker
This past week I had a discussion with my banker about Congress wanting to ban public access to the Death Master File (Social Security Death Index) to forestall identity theft and other illegal uses of Social Security numbers (SS#) of recently deceased persons. My banker demonstrated to me that in no way will it lower this abusive practice.
In the U.S., one’s Social Security number was once a guarded secret. It now has become a National Identity Number. Not only does my banker have access to the SS# of every person doing business with the bank, but the tellers do too! Doctors’ offices have your SS# as do hospitals, insurance companies, etc. My banker related to me that she once wanted to apply for check-cashing privileges at her local supermarket. She had to fill out a form that requested her SS#. She declined applying for the privilege.
An identity thief need only work in one of the many industries that have SS#s of Americans, read the daily obituaries, and then match them against the names on file in his/her office to steal the deceased person’s identity.
Once again Congress has come up with a non-solution to a problem that penalizes the honest and allows the dishonest to continue their practices.
International Tracing Service Publishes Annual Report
International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany, received nearly 13,000 requests for information about the fate of victims of Nazi persecution in 2011. Interestingly, the latest 2012 data indicate the number is growing, according to ITS because of the increase in number of requests from Eastern European countries.
Still ITS continues its process of transition from a tracing service to a center for documentation, information and research. In the areas of research and education, further co-operation and projects have been initiated with schools, universities and Holocaust memorial centers. ITS has produced teaching resources for high schools and published its first scholarly yearbook presenting recent research on the subject of death marches. Currently, a directory of DP camps in the western occupation zones is being compiled.
Following the near completion of digitizing the historical documents, about three million files of correspondence between the tracing service, government offices and victims of Nazi persecution and their families are being currently scanned. By the end of June 2012, 460,000 of the so-called T/D cases (Tracing/Documents) were digitized and 350,000 of them were indexed. Another transfer of documents to international partner organizations is planned for autumn 2012.
At the beginning of this year, there were 244 positions and 289 staff employed at ITS, down from 297 in 2011. The trend of a gradual reduction of staff will continue as many employees retire in the coming years and, as a rule, their positions will not be filled again. About 35 percent of the staff is employed on a part-time basis. ITS is requesting the German Federal Government to approve further permanent positions for academics in research and archival description to be able to manage the additional tasks in those areas.
Complete information can be found at http://www.its-arolsen.org/en/service/publications/annual_reports/index.html#c448.
1940 Census Indexing Nears Completion
It was only four months ago that the U.S. 1940 census was released with its 132 million entries. Today the indexing of the census is nearly completed by both Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com. Only the following states have not been completed by at least one of the organizations: Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Most of these states show 100% completed at FamilySearch, which means they are going through the process of accuracy verification. Ancestry.com does not show status of uncompleted states.
Audio Recordings of Conference Now Available
Did you miss the annual conference but would like to hear some of the lectures? The French Jewish genealogical society, Cercle de Généalogie Juive, is making available many of the lectures in French and/or English on a flash drive. It can be ordered at http://tinyurl.com/CJGLectures. There are plans to make videos of selected lectures at http://www.akadem.org but they are not yet on the site.
Stern Grant Award Recipients Announced
Each year, the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies gives one or more grants to further the cause of Jewish family history research. This year it was given to two organizations along with awards of $1,500 each.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee grant was given to continue the printing, digitizing and indexing of records in their archives, particularly those focusing on the overseas rescue, relief, and rehabilitation of Jews during the middle of the 20th century. More than 300,000 digitized documents are already available at http://archives.jdc.org/archives-search/?s=archivestopnav.
The second grant was awarded to the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) for the completion of a search engine that will permit both English and Hebrew searches of their databases. The IGRA multi-lingual website at http://genealogy.org.il has a world-wide audience.
The award honors Rabbi Malcolm H. Stern (1915–1994) who is widely considered to be the dean of contemporary Jewish genealogy.
News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at http://lyris.jewishgen.org/ListManager. A login is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen/sigs.htm. There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at http://www.iajgs.org/members/members.html.
Ukraine. An index to 20,000 birth, marriage and death records of Chernovtsi (Czernowitz} is now online at http://czernowitz.ehpes.com. It covers the period 1877–1929.
Ukraine. The 1908 All Odessa Directory is online at http://thefamilytree.com.ar/odessa/RES_Books_Home.asp. Plans call for the book to be indexed.
Findmypast.com Wants To Penetrate the U.S. Market
FindMyPast.com—who claims to be the second largest genealogy site after Ancestry.com—plans to penetrate the American genealogy market. Their short-term plans seem to be limited to records of interest to Americans with British or Irish ancestries, which is what they currently have. They are also partners in indexing the 1940 U.S. census with FamilySearch. One valuable collection to Jewish family historians with no roots in the UK is “Passenger Lists from Ships Leaving the UK 1890–1960.” Many Jewish immigrants who left Europe passed through the UK and then boarded other ships enroute to their final destination.
Additional information about Findmypast.com plans can be found at http://tinyurl.com/FMPUSA.
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/FS0727. 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.
Slovakia, Church and Synagogue Books, 1592–1910. Added index records (more than 1 million) and images to existing collection.
U.S., California, San Mateo County Records, 1856–1991. Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Missouri, Jackson County Voter Registration Records, 1928–1956. Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Texas, Deaths, 1977–1986. Added images to existing collection.
U.S., Utah, County Marriages, 1887-1937. Added index records to existing collection.
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