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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 36 | September 2, 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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Tel Aviv University Researcher Claims He Can Pinpoint Ancestral Origins
 Professor Eran Halperin of Tel Aviv University claims that DNA “carries the genetic history of your ancestors down through the generations.” Working with researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, he is developing a probabilistic model of genetic traits for every coordinate on the globe. He claims this gives a more precise geographical location of a person's ancestral origins. The new method, the researchers say, is able to pinpoint more specific locations for an individual's ancestor, for example, placing an individual's father in Paris and mother in Barcelona. Previous methods would "split the difference" and place this origin inaccurately at a site between those two cities, such as Lyon.

To test their method, Prof. Halperin and his fellow researchers studied DNA samples from 1,157 people from across Europe. Using a probabilistic mathematical algorithm based on mutations in the genome, they were able to accurately determine their ancestral point or points of origin using only DNA data and the new mathematical model, unraveling genetic information to ascertain two separate points on the map for the mother and father. The researchers hope to extend this model to identify the origins of grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on.

I find the whole concept amazing, especially coming from an Israeli scientist. Jews have been kicked out of many places in the past few centuries. Does my DNA show that my ancestry is American (1911–present), Polish (estimated 1654–1911) or Belorussian (?–estimated 1654)?

Thanks to Saul Issroff of London for making us aware of the article at The project’s website is at is a fee-based site that does not have any genealogical records, but instead focuses on identifying articles about how to do genealogical research. A major source of their articles is Genealogical Helper, a magazine that was published for more than 52 years. Another major source are (thousands of?) books published by Genealogical Publishing Company . The site includes “articles, tutorials, eBooks, ePeriodicals, maps, videos, podcasts, slideshows, images, a links directory and links to genealogy search engines.”

The site is in its infancy, so not all features are implemented and there is an occasional bug. Searching for “Polish” produced 400 hits. Searching for “Jew” produced no hits. Searching for “Jewish” caused the website to malfunction.

The site is worth browsing. The articles in Genealogical Helper and the books published by Genealogical Publishing Company are valuable contributions to family history research.

ITS Plans Refugee Exhibition – Seeks Memorabilia
The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, is planning a travelling exhibition on displaced persons titled “Life in Transit.” They are now seeking objects from DP camps and memorabilia from this period of life that they will include in the exhibition. If you are in possession of such items and would like to lend them to ITS, write to Dr. Susanne Urban at describing the objects and, where appropriate, the history of the item.

Displaced persons are defined as those who were “persecuted, deported and displaced by force by Nazi Germany.” The exhibition is funded by the foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” which has a website at

FamilySearch Record Group Names Misleading
When FamilySearch announces the addition of digitized records or an index to their online collection, they provide the name of the record group which invariably includes a range of years. Example: “New Jersey, Marriages, 1678–1985.” However, this does not mean they have processed all years in the record group. For example, New Jersey births, marriages and death indexes were searched for the common name “Schwartz” with the following results:
   • New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660–1980. Most recent year online is 1899.
   • New Jersey, Marriages, 1678–1985. Most recent year is 1914.
   • New Jersey Deaths and Burials, 1720–1988. Most recent year is 1967.

It would be wise if FamilySearch noted the range of years currently online with the search results. Otherwise users might be misled to believe a record does not exist. For example searching for Mary Schwartz who was married in New Jersey about 1945 produces no results, not because the marriage record does not exist but because FamilySearch has yet to index that year.

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

Czech Republic, Land Records, 1450–1889 Added images to existing collection.
Germany, Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census 1867. Added indexes to existing collection.
New Zealand, Probate Records, 1878–1960. Added images to existing collection.
United States, Colorado, Denver County Probate Case Files, 1900–1925. New 1.5 million image collection.
United States, Indiana, Marriages, 1811–1959. Added indexes and 850,000 images to existing collection.
United States, Kentucky, Probate Records, 1792–1977. Added indexes to existing collection.
United States, Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796–1940. Added indexes and images to existing collection.
United States, Maryland, Register of Wills Books, 1629–1983. Added images to existing collection.
United States, New Jersey, Probate Records, 1678–1980. Three million new image collection.
United States, North Carolina, Estate Files, 1663–1979. Added indexes and images to existing collection
United States, Ohio, County Marriages, 1789–1994. Added indexes and images to existing collection.
United States, Texas, Deaths (New Index, New Images), 1890–1976. Added 4.5 million indexes and 4.4 million images to existing collection.
United States, Texas, Deaths, 1977–1986. Added images to existing collection.
Venezuela, Civil Registration Added indexes to existing collection.

Jewish Genealogical Symposium Planned for St. Petersburg, September 10–12
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has announced there will be a Joint Symposium with the Russian Institute for Genealogical Research in St. Petersburg, September 10–12, 2012. The topic of the Symposium will be "Genealogy and Family History of Jews in Russia." The geographic area to be covered will be Russia proper (i.e., outside the Pale of Settlement) throughout the 19th century until the inter-war period.

More than 20 participants (most from Russia, others from France, Israel, Latvia, and the U.S.) will deliver papers. Broadly speaking, the presentations, mainly in Russian, will divide between an examination of primary sources and resources for the academic study of Jewish genealogy in Russia and case studies into a number of representative Jewish families, both in the main cities (St. Petersburg and Moscow) and in the provinces.

The intention is to publish the papers soon after the event and then produce an edited volume of proceedings (in English) in due course. Persons interested in the full program and/or further information can contact Institute Director, Neville Lamdan, at

News from
Alliance with FGS. The UK-based is continuing to penetrate the American market by forming a partnership with the Federation of Genealogical Societies. FGS is an umbrella organization of more than 500 genealogical societies primarily in the U.S. The purpose of the partnership is to digitize and provide access to records in the possession of genealogical societies throughout the U.S. Initial projects include records of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and Williamson County (Texas) Genealogical Society. There was no indication in the announcement what specific record collections would be the first available. Additional information is at

Collections added. The site now includes U.S. World War I Draft cards and outgoing passenger lists from the UK to United States. Based on searching for the surname Mokotoff, their WWI collection is not as complete as the one at Ancestry has 5 Mokotoffs; FindMyPast (and FamilySearch) has only 1. The outgoing passenger lists have been available at their sister site,, for some time.

Deep discount offer. The American version of was launched July 2012. Until September 9, new subscribers can access millions of records with their Pioneer Offer for only $4.95 per month (year-long subscription required), a savings of 76 percent.

Irish Jewish Genealogical Society
A posting to the Jewish Community Records – United Kingdom Discussion Group on JewishGen notes there is an Irish Jewish Genealogical Society. Their website is at The site includes a searchable database of more than 48,000 individuals who lived in Ireland between 1700 and the present day.

Free Access to Census Records through September 3 is making 25 census-related databases available at no charge through September 3. They include all publicly available Federal censuses: 1790–1940. The full announcement can be found at

It’s Not Genealogy, But...
There are some remarkable panoramic views of Mars taken recently by the Curiosity Rover at Also there are links at the site to panoramic views of the moon taken during the Apollo missions.

Summer Issue of AVOTAYNU Being Mailed
The Summer issue of AVOTAYNU will be mailed out this week. You can subscribe to the journal at

Problem with Last Issue of Nu? What’s New?
If you are a user of Outlook 2007 or later versions, the final part of the last issue of Nu? What’s New? was omitted, apparently due to a problem with Outlook. It included the pricing and ordering information for Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy and a statement that FamilySearch has completed placing the 1940 census online.

The two items are reproduced below:

Pricing/Ordering Information for Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
We have changed the pricing. Instead of an annual charge, the cost to access the past 27 years of AVOTAYNU articles (about 2,900 articles) is a one-time charge of $35.00. When we update the database, which will be every two or three years, there will be an update charge to access the extra issues which will be something substantially less that $35.00. Gain access to the Anthology now! Additional information, including how to order is at

FamilySearch Completes 1940 Census Project
FamilySearch now has completed their indexing of the 1940 census. All states are searchable.

Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages, 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35.

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

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