Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 43 | October 28, 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.
CAHJP to Place Online Inventory List to Polish Holdings
The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People has a new director, Yochai Ben-Ghedalia. Hadassah Assouline has retired although she still maintains a consultant role with the institution. Ben-Ghedalia has informed me that the Archives plans to place online a list of their inventory of holdings for Poland. It was originally published in book form by Avotaynu Foundation in 2004 as Polish Sources at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People. The book included acquisitions through 2000. The online version will update the list to the present and is expected to be available in the next month.
Poland is defined as its boundaries were between World War I and World War II, therefore, it includes many towns that today are in western Ukraine and Belarus. A list of all towns for which CAHJP has Polish holdings (through 2000) can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/cahjp.htm. Included is a sample entry for the city of Grodno, now in Belarus.
The first stage of the online list will be a digital version of the 2004 book with corrections. The next stages will allow a search according to communities (as is true of their Germany collection) and will include important updates, especially for places like Galicia.
The CAHJP website is at http://cahjp.huji.ac.il.
AJDC Cyprus Collection Now Online
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Cyprus Collection is now available online. Consisting of 16,667 pages of textual files digitized from 19 microfilm reels, the collection contains a wide array of materials that shed light on the lives of deportees to Cyprus, including personal letters, group petitions, and newspapers published by the deportees themselves. There is no index to individuals mentioned in the documents.
From 1946 until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the British confined Holocaust survivors on the island of Cyprus. During this period, 53,000 Jews passed through the camps, 2,200 children were born in the camps, and 150 Jews died there.
Since family history research of collections most often is looking for names, it was not obvious what strategy should be taken to find such groups within the Cyprus collection. One titled “Report on Infants in Cyprus” was just that; a written report on the status of children with no names given. Yet another collection titled “List of Infants in Xylotymbou Camps” identified 66 children by name. Using the Advanced Search option and searching for the keyword “List” and the “Search in Collection”–“Cyprus” produced more than 500 results including lists of medical supplies.
Read the announcement at http://archives.jdc.org/about-us/articles/jdc-cyprus-collection-now.html.
Ancestry.com Acquired by European Equity Firm
Ancestry.com is being acquired by Permira, a European private equity firm, for $1.6 billion. It requires stockholder approval but is virtually a done deal since more than 30% of Ancestry.com is held by previous investors and officers of the company.
In the past, Permira has acquired other technology and digital media companies around the world including Odigeo, an online travel agency; NDS, a technology provider to video content owners and aggregators (which it bought in 2009 and sold to Cisco in 2012 for an estimated 212% profit); Renaissance Learning, an education software and technology company; and Genesys, a customer service software solutions.
The announcement triggered a number of lawsuits against the Ancestry.com Board of Directors claiming breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations for not acting in the company's shareholders' best interests and stockholders were defrauded because the company is worth much more than the buyout price. This is standard operating procedure for acquisition of public companies. The net effect is that stockholders gain little and lawyers make a lot of money.
How will this affect the genealogical community? Ask the successor to Permira. Based on the NDS experience, Permira appears to be a company that buys and sells other companies and is likely totally disinterested in the purpose of Ancestry.com. Thus are the ways of “Wall Street.”
Read the full announcement posted to Ancestry.com at http://ir.ancestry.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=714983.
Matching Programs: Case Study
I have never discussed the latest rage in genealogy—the ability to match people on family trees with other trees or records—because it would take a lot of energy to determine whether such a claim is hype or a sophisticated matching system.
Recently I was surprised and impressed when MyHeritage.com’s Smart Match sent me a notice of a certain match. I only have the names of myself, my wife, parents and children and their spouses on MyHeritage.com. The match they found was between me and my entry in the 1940 census. What was impressive is that the census taker misspelled my given name, yet Smart Match concluded there was sufficient information to assume they had found a match. It demonstrates their system is more than a blind word-for-word matching system.
Discount Offers by Commercial Genealogy Companies
Genesreunited.co.uk and Findmypast.co.uk are both offering to their members only free access to all 1911 UK census transcriptions until November 18. Non-members can view actual images for 5 credits (previously 30 credits required) and 5 credits to view a 1911 census transcripts, previously costing 10 credits. Both companies offer pay-as-you-go pricing as well as membership. One Genesreunited option is to purchase 50 credits which are valid for 30 days. The Findmypast equivalent is 60 credits good for 90 days for £6.95. Both companies are owned by a parent company named Brightsolid.
The genealogy software, Family Tree Maker 2012, can be purchased at http://www.familytreemaker.com for only $27.99 for the Windows version and $48.99 for the Mac version. The offer ends October 30.
Yad Vashem and Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw Sign Agreement
Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw have concluded a cooperation agreement. The details do not appear on the Internet but do include Yad Vashem gaining access to Warsaw ghetto records. The Institute has a brief announcement at http://www.jewishinstitute.org.pl/en/info/info/95.html. Thanks to Jean-Pierre Stroweis for the lead.
YIVO Institute and Museum of the History of Polish Jews Sign Partnership Agreement
In an equally vague announcement, YIVO Institute in New York and the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw have signed a partnership agreement. In the news release, YIVO stated it hopes to strengthen its “historic ties to Poland and Polish Jewry through the exhibitions, scholarly research and cultural exchanges which this agreement will facilitate.” The Warsaw museum is scheduled to open in 2013 and anticipates receiving 500,000 visitors each year. A version of the news release can be found at http://tinyurl.com/YIVOPartner. The Museum’s website is at http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl. YIVO’s website is at http://www.yivoinstitute.org.
Additions to the FamilySearch Database
In the past, I have provided a selected list of the latest additions to FamilySearch—only those that would be of interest to persons researching their Jewish family history—with a link to the complete list. Recent events have demonstrated that most record groups are potentially of interest. People are finding Jewish records in record groups for Moldova and the Czech Republic that FamilySearch defines as church lists.
There was an incident recently which demonstrates you can find information anywhere. I have no personal interest in Brazilian records. No Mokotoffs ever immigrated there. Recently I was looking at the Brazilian Immigration Cards (1900–1965) collection on FamilySearch for another person and mechanically searched for “Mokotow.” Amazingly, there were two results. One was for a man that I know absolutely had no intention of immigrating to Brazil. Perhaps he planned to stay there for a period of time and, therefore, was required to fill out immigration papers. What was valuable is that it included an identity photo. He was a member of the Haredi ultra-orthodox sect, therefore, pictures of him are rare.
Below are recent announcements by FamilySearch including a link to the actual list of indexes and images described. They claim to now have more than 3 billion records online.
September 14. View at https://familysearch.org/node/1875. FamilySearch added over 37 million Indexed Records and Digital Images. New searchable collections online were added to this week for Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.
September 27. https://familysearch.org/node/1873. FamilySearch added over 19 million indexed records and digital images. The new searchable collections online this week are for Austria, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Ivory Coast, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, United States, United Kingdom, and Venezuela. A fascinating new database added from the AMA is of deceased physicians who passed away from 1864 to 1968.
October 12. View at https://familysearch.org/node/1877. FamilySearch recently added over 70 million indexed records and digital images to its growing collection. The new searchable collections online this week are from Brazil, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, England, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, United States, Ukraine, and Wales. In various new collections, more than 8.3 million new browseable images from all across Italy were added.
October 22, 2012. View at https://familysearch.org/node/1878. FamilySearch added 2.7 million indexed records and digital images to its growing collection, with a large portion being added to the Iowa County Marriages collection. The latest update to the Iowa County collection makes it 86 percent complete. The update includes 637,695 new images of marriage licenses and 1,623,576 new indexed records. Also of interest are the 198,938 new images and records added to the Dorset, England, Parish Registers collection and 428,000 Boston passenger lists for 1820 to 1891.
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