Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 13, Number 52 | December 30, 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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Happy New Year
International Institute of Jewish Genealogy Has New Leadership
Neville Lamdan, founding director of the International Institute of Jewish Genealogy, has stepped down from his position effective the beginning of 2013. The new director, with the title of Executive Director, is Emanuel (Ami) Elyasaf who comes to IIJG from the world of hi-tech (physics). Elyasaf has a deep commitment to academic Jewish genealogy. He is a researcher of family histories and rabbinic lineages in Galicia and Hungary and is active in Gesher Galicia, where he has done work on the town of Brody.
Lamdan’s accomplishments during his seven year reign as director (and work even before IIJG was founded) are almost too numerous to list. He was in charge of a startup effort and had to form managing committees, raise funds, request projects and make IIJG accepted in the genealogy and academic community.
Organizationally, Lamdan created a distinguished list of Founding Members from the genealogical community worldwide. Alphabetically, the first four are Dr. Alexandre Beider (Paris), Claire Bruell (Auckland), Sophie Caplan OAM (Sydney) and Stanley M. Diamond MBA (Montreal). He also formed an equally distinguished Advisory Board of well-known Jews who were willing to lend their name to IIJG. Alphabetically, the first four are Prof. Aaron Ciechanover (Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry; Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa), Prof. Irwin Cotler (MP and former Canadian Minister of Justice), Baroness Ruth Deech (House of Lords; former Principal, St. Anne’s College, Oxford) and Prof. Alan Dershowitz (Professor of Law, Harvard). The organization is run by an Executive Committee consisting mostly of Israelis who constitute a Who’s Who in Israeli genealogy. A complete list of members of all these groups can be found at http://www.iijg.org/AboutUs/Officers.aspx.
Lamdan helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund IIJG, from small contributions by numerous genealogists to major funds from philanthropists who were interested in promoting genealogy. It made possible the awarding of a number of grants for genealogy-related research.
He instituted programs—still in the works—to establish standards for Jewish genealogy; develop an academic program for Jewish genealogy at universities; develop a set of ethics; create a proposed standard for recording names, dates and places in genealogical databases; and develop a glossary of genealogical terms in Hebrew.
In September 2012, the Institute held a Joint Symposium with the Russian Institute for Genealogical Research at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg on the topic “Genealogy and Family History of Jews in Russia.”
Born in Scotland, Lamdan was in the Israeli Foreign Ministry until he retired in 2003. His last position was Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican.
Another agenda item at the IIJG Executive Committee meeting was to appoint Prof. Michael Silber to the newly created position of Academic Director. Silber is a professor of East European Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with a specialty in the Jews of Austro-Hungary and a strong belief in Jewish genealogy as a prism through which to examine Jewish history.
A list of the accomplishments under Lamdan’s reign can be found at http://www.iijg.org/Progress/Milestones.aspx.
JRI-Poland and Polish State Archives Plan New Agreement
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (JRI-P) and the Polish State Archives (PSA) plan to sign an agreement that will define future cooperation between the two groups. It includes:
• Access to data that will allow JRI-P to index all vital records that are more than 100-years old which have been transferred to PSA branches in the last six years
• During the next four to five years, PSA will digitize all vital records (Jewish and non-Jewish) and make them available on the PSA National Digital Archives (NDA) or Regional Archives website. There will be no charge for directly accessing the records
• As these records are added to the PSA site, JRI-P will be provided with the information necessary to enable it to link its search results to digital images of Jewish records. JRI-P currently has 4.5 million records indexed. This will be done by volunteers or paid professionals. Currently the one town that is complete is Gora Kalwaria.
• JRI-Poland will re-launch its Order Processing System that operated from 2003 to 2006, which simplified the process of getting copies of records from PSA. During that period, JRI-P had a shopping cart system where clicking on a button next to one of their index entries would create an order to the PSA to provide a copy of the record. This system will phase out as digitized records become available online but the total project will take a good number of years.
The indexing/linking of the records is a massive project that will include towns in Poland and the former Galician towns that were part of Poland between the wars. Donations are being accepted at http://www.jri-poland.org. Click on "support/donations" toward the top of the page.
Latest FamilySearch Additions
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/1933. They include records from Brazil, China, England, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Spain, and the United States. Note that at the website 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.
Notable additions include the 6 million indexed records in the new United States World War II Army Enlistment Records collection, 2.9 million added to the England and Wales Census of 1871, and the complete 4 million indexed records for the new United States Germans to America Index from 1850–1897. In addition, there have been additions to their Russians to America and Italians to America collections.
These three “...to America” collections are available in their totality at the Stephen P. Morse site at http://stevemorse.org/. The advantage of the Morse site is that it permits searches by any data field in the record. A significant disadvantage is that a second step—clicking “Get Ship”—is required to determine date of arrival. The advantage of the FamilySearch database is that it is integrated with the other 3.5 billion records in their collection so a single search will produce all results for the name searched.
Database Being Built of German Jews in 1933
In the 1960s, the International Tracing Service attempted to create an unofficial census of Jews who were living in Germany in 1933. ITS wrote to all West German communities asking them to list all Jews (as defined by the Nuernberg Laws) resident in the community in 1933, and to the extent known, what happened to them, i.e. deported, emigrated, moved, etc. Several hundred replies were received, alphabetically ranging from Aachen to Zweibruecken (Berlin was not included), but these have never been made public.
Now a team of volunteers, headed by Peter Lande, is extracting these replies and the first 5,000 entries are available at http://stevemorse.org/germanjews/germanjews.html as the “German Jews 1933" project. As additional towns are completed, more names will be added. JewishGen will also carry the database.
To date they have completed most communities with names beginning with the letters A-C and are now working on the letter D.
More Data Added to Genealogy Indexer Site
Twenty-one additional years of the Warsaw “Calendars” from the series Jozefa Ungra Kalendarz Warszawski Popularno-Naukowy, which contain residential and business listings, are now searchable at http://genealogyindexer.org. The total coverage of these calendars is now every year 1854–1888 except 1865 and 1868, plus 1891 and 1913–1915.
The site now contains 253,000 pages of historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., primarily from Central and Eastern Europe), 28,000 pages from 64 yizkor books (memorials to Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust), 19,000 pages of Polish and Russian military documents (lists of officers, casualties, etc.), 35,000 pages of community and personal histories, and 13,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources.
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