Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 48 | December 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.
Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
Righteous Among the Nations Database Now Online
Yad Vashem now has online a Righteous Among the Nations database at http://db.yadvashem.org/righteous/search.html?language=en. It identifies tens of thousands of people who rescued Jews during the Holocaust period. The database can be searched by rescuer or rescued person. The project is a work in progress. Currently it contains information about the Righteous from Albania, Baltic countries, Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Slovakia and Former Soviet Union with some additional rescuers.
In 1963, Yad Vashem embarked upon a worldwide project to pay tribute to the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The institution states that it represents a unique and unprecedented attempt by the victims to honor individuals from within the nations of perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders, who stood by the victims' side and acted in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed in the darkest time of history.
Ancestry.com Launches Newspapers.com
Ancestry.com has launched a new website, Newspapers.com, that contains a collection of more than 800 U.S. newspapers dating from the late 1700s into the early 2000s, a total of 25 million pages. Cost for an annual subscription is $79.95. The cost to Ancestry.com or Fold3 subscribers is only $39.95. There is a seven-day free trial offer.
It is difficult to evaluate this collection for persons with Jewish ancestry who came to the U.S. after 1880. Searching for “Mokotoff” yielded only one result but “Tartasky,” an equally unusual name, had 91 hits. I have gotten many, many more hits for “Mokotoff” at other online newspaper archives. There are a number of newspapers from the major metropolitan areas, locations where immigrant Jews lived. A list of all newspapers and years covered is located at http://www.newspapers.com/papers.
MyHeritage Buys Geni.com
MyHeritage is continuing its growth-by-acquisition strategy by acquiring its major rival Geni.com. It is MyHeritage’s eighth and largest acquisition since its founding in 2005. Last year it acquired WorldVitalRecords.com, which provides online access to historical records. Geni.com is a popular family-tree based site whose goal is to create a single World Family Tree. It extends MyHeritage’s network to 72 million registered users, 1.5 billion profiles and 27 million family trees.
The merger of the two groups should be good for genealogy. Although the two companies were competitors in the sense that both wanted to encourage genealogists to place their family trees on their respective sites, each brings their own strengths to the partnership. Geni.com seems to have more organizational strengths. Two years ago they developed the concept of Curators, who are overseers of a collection of family trees. MyHeritage’s strength is in technology. They have developed a powerful Smart Matching system that alerts subscribers to possible matches on other family trees.
The services of MyHeritage and Geni.com will initially run independently. MyHeritage plans to give respective users the option to collaborate on family history research by enabling a two-way information flow between the two sites. It will give Geni.com access to MyHeritage’s Smart Matching technology which is used to match both user-supplied family tree data and historical records such as those of its subsidiary WorldVitalrecords.com.
So what is the goal of the entrepreneurs at MyHeritage other than to exist for the good of mankind? They may follow the pathway of Ancestry.com: grow large enough to warrant a public stock offering and then cash in their chips by selling to the highest bidder. MyHeritage recently acquired an additional $25 million in financing bringing the total funds raised to date to $49 million.
The complete announcement, as a PDF file, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/MyHeritagePDF.
Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU is at the printer.
Alsace/Lorraine, Canada, Caribbean, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine are covered by some of the articles in the issue. The Moldovan article is one of AVOTAYNU’s many “definitive” works—“Archival Documents That Reflect Jewish Roots in Moldova.” I enjoy reading such articles, even though they have no direct relationship to my personal research, because they teach about the Jewish history of the area, as well as records access and genealogy. The Caribbean and Italy articles are also in the same class.
My contribution is an article, “How to Search Online Databases.” It addresses the problem of searching databases online and getting no hits. How can you determine if the data is really there, just misspelled or misindexed? The article will be a new chapter in Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy – 2013 Edition which will be published in January/February.
Download the Table of Contents for the Fall issue at http://avotaynu.com/2012FallPage01.pdf. You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at http://avotaynu.com/journal.htm.
ICRC Ends Management of International Tracing Service
After 57½ years of operation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has formally ended its management of the International Tracing Service (ITS) located in Bad Arolsen, Germany. ICRC had expressed interest in bowing out about two years ago, noting then that ICRC is a humanitarian organization and ITS is getting fewer and fewer humanitarian requests and there is more and more interest in using the institution as a historical archives.
ICRC’s tenure was filled with controversy, primarily because of their lack of timely response to humanitarian requests. Replies could take 2–3 years, and often the response was that there was insufficient information provided to make a proper search. This all ended in November 2007 when the committee responsible for setting ITS policy agreed to allow public access to their records including making available one copy of the ITS index and digitized records to each of the 11 countries represented on the committee. This change of policy was due primarily to the efforts of Paul Shapiro of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Starting in 2013, the German Federal Archives will become an institutional partner of ITS. American professor Rebecca Boehling will be the new ITS director. She was formerly director of the Dresher Center for the Humanities at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Boehling is considered an expert in Holocaust research and in the history of World War II.
The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen is a center for documentation, information and research on individuals who were persecuted by Nazi Germany. The archive contains about 30 million documents on the incarceration in concentration camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons, on forced labor and displacement. ITS is governed by an eleven-nation International Commission (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom, United States). Their website is at http://www.its-arolsen.org.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/1893. They include records from Brazil, Canada (Ontario), Czech Republic, Estonia, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Spain and United States. Note that newly announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. Also note that counts shown are the number added, not the total number available in the collection. For example, it shows that there are 58,374 Estonia Population Records 1918–1944 added. In fact, the total count online is 429,733 according to the database’s website http://tinyurl.com/LDSEstonia.
Previous recent additions not announced in Nu? What’s New? are at https://familysearch.org/node/1886 and https://familysearch.org/node/1887.
Findmypast.co.uk has just published millions of historical British newspaper articles. Information is available at http://www.findmypast.co.uk/content/news/british-newspapers.
The Archives of Michigan has made available more than 62,000 Michigan state census records from 1884 and 1894 at http://www.seekingmichigan.org. The complete announcement is at http://tinyurl.com/MichiganCensus.
The National Archives of Ireland launched a new genealogy website at http://www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/. From this site, currently there is access Census records for 1901 and 1911, Soldiers’ Wills for 1914 to 1917 and the Tithe Applotment Books for 1823 to 1837.
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