Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 49 | December 9, 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
JRI-Poland Now Linking Index to Online Digitized Images
In what hopefully is the trickle preceding a raging flood, Jewish Records Indexing - Poland has linked its index for the town of Gora Kalwaria, Poland, to a website that has images of these records. The period currently covered is 1826–1902, with plans to make available 1903–1910 in the next few weeks. Links to images of Jewish records from other towns in the Grodzisk Mazowiecki archives will follow in the months to come. This is the area just south and west of Warsaw. To date, JRI-Poland has indexed 4.5 million records from more than 500 Polish towns.
Researchers with interest in Gora Kalwaria will notice that on the results page of a JRI-Poland search the rightmost column is now identified as “Image.” Clicking on that link brings you to the genbaza.com site where an image of the record is displayed. Click on the “Pobierz zdjecie” (Download photo) button to save the image to your computer.
Genbaza.com is part of a greater site developed by Genealogia Polska (Polish genealogy) located at http://genpol.com/changelang-eng.html. Only its home page has an English variant. Use Google Chrome to view this site because that browser will automatically translate the Polish pages into your native language.
Gora Kalwaria is one of the towns where members of the Mokotow family settled. Access to the images allowed completion of information about those members of the families already on the tree, including exact marriage dates and names of parents of persons marrying into the family. The JRI-Poland index notes the 1896 birth of a Jankel Josek Mokotow in Gora Kalwaria. This person was unknown to me other than through the index. Viewing the online record of his birth provided the names of parents which permitted me to properly link him to the tree.
Get Copies of Old Books at Google.com
A posting to JewishGen by Gerald I. Simon of California states: “I have a PDF copy of The Jews of Philadelphia. The information contained is from 1492 to 1894. The book's author is Henry Samuel Morais. I will send a copy upon request.” This reminded me that Google has made available thousands (millions?) of out-of-copyright books for downloading at http://books.google.com. The book mentioned by Simon is included and I downloaded it directly from the Google site.
Google has also digitized in-copyright books allegedly providing only snippets of information from the book. Unfortunately for reference works, snippets often provide all the information the searcher is seeking. A magnificent work of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945. Each volume can be purchased for $295 (somewhat cheaper on Amazon). If you are interested only in a history of the fate of Jews in a particular town during the Holocaust, get it from Google books free of charge. To search, use the term “ghetto
Risks of Using Geni and MyHeritage Family Tree Environment
I have always been cool to the idea of placing the Mokotow family tree online at family tree sites such as Geni or MyHeritage, but have never been able to verbalize why; it was more of a gut feel. Many of my genealogy friends extol the virtues of these sites; in fact, AVOTAYNU published an article about the advantages of Geni in “Interactive Website Brings Family to Life” published in the Summer 2009 issue.
When Geni first became available, I placed my entire family tree database on the site, decided I did not like the idea, and found to my amazement that Geni provided no procedure for deleting whole family trees. Subsequently, I permitted a cousin of my wife to join the tree so he could add the portion of his heritage that was not directly related to my wife. Geni finally made purging whole trees possible, but when I tried, I was informed that I could not do so without permission of this cousin by marriage. I had contributed about 4,000 persons to the tree; he had contributed less than 30.
Now the problem has grown exponentially. I recently subscribed to MyHeritage Data Plan which provided me with matches from their entire database, including family trees provided by others. It was obvious from the matches that my entire family tree was now on MyHeritage, submitted by a person unknown to me.
I wrote to him and here, in part, was his response: “I have imported a huge tree (30,000 people) from the Geni website, as that website didn't allow me to import our own (smaller) tree.” Now the Mokotow family tree has been placed on the MyHeritage site without my knowledge. To make matters worse, if I elect to place my family tree on MyHeritage, I will get instant notification that there is good news. They have found 4,000 matches with a family tree submitted by another—they will have matched me against myself.
Vsia Rossiia Directories for 1895, 1899, 1900 Now Indexed
Logan Kleinwaks has added to his site http://genealogyindexer.org the 1895, 1899, and 1900 editions of Vsia Rossiia (All of Russia), a business directory covering all of the Russian Empire. They are full-text searchable and must be searched using the Cyrillic alphabet. The full announcement is at http://tinyurl.com/KleinwaksVsiaRossiia. It provides suggestions on how to search the database using Cyrillic characters, pre/post-reform Russian orthography and surnames of non-Russian origin.
The website provides a common index to 225,000 pages from nearly 400 different historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc.), yizkor books (Holocaust memorial), lists of Polish military officers, and community and personal histories. Most of the directories are from Poland, Galicia, or Romania, but also included are Bulgaria, Czech+Slovak, France, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Russia, Bukowina, South America and United Kingdom.
Austria to Place Online a "Findbuch for Victims of National Socialism"
Through the years, applications received by the Austrian General Settlement Fund from persons seeking compensation and restitution for property seized caused the Austrian government to create finding aids—a so called Findbücher—of their file holdings. In January 2013, in association with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this database will be placed online “to assist the victims of National Socialism and their descendants, as well as historians, members of local remembrance initiatives and the public interested, in accessing and searching the holdings of Austrian archives.”
To date 10 archives and libraries are participating in the project including the Austrian State Archives and Austrian National Library. When available, it will be possible to carry out a comprehensive search for people, companies or addresses in several archives and various file holdings. Initially, the Findbücher will contain about 120,000 records, with new records being added on a regular basis.
The full announcement can be found at https://www.findbuch.at/index_en.html.
British Colombia Publishes 700,000 Vital Records Online
Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogical Newsletter reports that the Canadian province of British Columbia has posted online indexed digital images of the original records of births, deaths and marriages in British Columbia. They are available at the British Columbia Archives site: http://www.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca/textual/governmt/vstats/v_events.htm. About 700,000 images have been scanned, including births from 1854 to 1903, deaths from 1872 to 1991, and marriages from 1872 to 1936. Phase 2, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, will add more images and information, including pre-1872 records and deaths overseas during the Second World War.
In examining the site, the range of years differs from the announcement. The earliest birth year when searching for “Smith” is 1861. When visiting the site, select any one of the vital record databases and on the next page, before performing a search, it is possible to check off a box that allows searching all databases at one time.
FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Mormon Church, participated in the project and already has portions of the database at its site.
A news account of the announcement can be found at http://tinyurl.com/BCVital.
JDC Accepting Grant Proposals
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is accepted grant proposals, through February 15, 2013, from scholars engaged in graduate-level, post-doctoral, or independent study to conduct research in the JDC Archives, either in New York or Jerusalem. Research topics in the fields of twentieth-century Jewish history, general history, and humanitarian assistance will be considered, as well as other areas of research covered in the JDC archival collections. The amount granted will range from $2000 to $5000 per fellow. Information is available at
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/1900. They include records from
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, and the 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.
New records include an index to 81,706 Ontario births 1869–1912; an additional 1,984,100 index records for the U.S. World War I draft registration cards from 1917–1918; and an additional 2,056,187 images added to California probate estate files from 1833–1991.
There is a rather customer unfriendly commercial genealogy site in the UK called TheGenealogist.co.uk. When you go to the site, there is no Search button. All commercial genealogy sites I have viewed allow you to search and then provide only a teaser amount of information unless you subscribe to their service.
If you register at TheGenealogist.co.uk, the Search button appears. But when you click it, the only thing you can search, without paying a fee, is the names of passengers on the Titanic. It is even a struggle to determine what databases they offer. If you begin the process of subscribing, they are displayed.
I do not recommend subscribing to a site where you first pay for your subscription and then find out if it is of value to you.
is published weekly
by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2012, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved
To change an e-mail address, send a request to email@example.com
To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to http://www.avotaynu.com/journal.htm
To order books from our catalog, go to http://www.avotaynu.com/catalog.htm
To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 155 N. Washington Ave.; Bergenfield, NJ 07621
Telephone (U.S.) : 201-387-7200