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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 9 | March 3, 2013
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
Hi Tech in Grave Identification: Version 4
There have been a number of attempts to integrate today’s technology with grave identification.

1. The simplest was the suggestion that a grave be identified in a genealogical database by its latitude/longitude using GPS (Ground Positioning Satellite) data.

2. Some years ago, a company, Memory Medallion ( offered placing a microchip in a tombstone that contained information about the deceased including text, photos, videos, etc.

 3. Memory Medallion has now upgraded their technology by offering a QR code option to the microchip. (See example of QR code to the right.) Scanning the code with a smartphone links to a website that describes the life of the deceased through text, photos, videos, etc, etc., etc. The company has announced plans to link to family trees on FamilySearch. Can links to Geni, MyHeritage, Ancestry be far behind?

The latest, fourth, innovation is by Otter Creek Holdings, parent company of No chip, no QR code, just use their LegacyTec app on your smartphone, take a picture of the tombstone, and the app will bring up information about that headstone from BillionGraves, Family Search, My Legacy Memorial “and other sites.”

Additional information is to be found at At the same time, announced they now have pictures of 3 million graves. The company started less that a year-and-a-half ago.

American Version of Who Do You Think You Are? To Be On TLC
Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is reporting that the American version of Who Do You Think You Are? is returning to television and will be on cable channel TLC. Despite apparent popularity, the show was cancelled by NBC last year.

As proof of its return, the pop rock star, Kelly Clarkson, was recently spotted in Americus, Georgia, prior to filming her segment of the program at the Andersonville National Historic Site. The location is the home of a notorious Confederate military prison where 45,000 soldiers were held during the Civil War and 13,000 died.

No additional information is provided at the TLC website, The Eastman message is at

Webinar: "Introduction to Genetic Genealogy at Family Tree DNA"
Elise Friedman will hold her webinar “Introduction to Genetic Genealogy at Family Tree DNA” Tuesday, March 5, at 1pm Eastern Time. Register for either the live session or to watch a recording of the webinar at

Attendees will learn about the history of genetic genealogy, be introduced to DNA basics, learn about the different types of DNA tests available for genealogy, and learn about resources that will help them make the most of their genetic genealogy experience. Focus will be on the genetic genealogy tests offered by JewishGen's DNA testing partner, Family Tree DNA.

Attendees will receive an exclusive, limited-time discount on select new test kits and upgrades from Family Tree DNA.

JewishGen Presents Annual Report
Warren Blatt, Managing Director of JewishGen, reports that during 2012 one million records were added to the site for a total of more than 21 million records online. There were an additional 41,000 users and nearly 8,000 donors who contributed to making JewishGen a financial success that permits it to be a freely accessible website. The organization has published a 43-page JewishGen 2012 Review located at

Germans/Irish/Italians/Russians to America Now On, the American version of, has added four new immigration collections that detail Irish, German, Italian, and Russian travelers who arrived in the U.S. from 1834 to 1900. The sources undoubtedly are the four books titled Irish to America, Germans to America, Italians to America and Russians to America, all published a number of years ago. FindMyPast is a fee-for-service site. The German/Italian/Russian databases are at the U.S. National Archives site and can be access through

For those doing Eastern European research, the definition of “Russian” is any person who claimed their country of origin was (czarist) Russia.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
FamilySearch added an additional 6.6 million indexed records and images in the last two weeks. Recent additions can be found at They include records from Brazil, Canada, England, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, and the United States States of Alabama, California, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Also additional images for the New England, Petitions for Naturalization, 1787
1906 collection.
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.

New York State Genealogical Research Death Index: Additional Information
In the last issue of Nu? What’s New? reference was made to a New York State Genealogical Research Death Index that does not include New York City. A reader informed me that indeed the five boroughs of New York City are included with town reference numbers 7093–97. The town index is alphabetical within county. Not being able to find Kings County (Brooklyn) in the alphabetical list led to the conclusion that New York City was not included.

I visited the site a few days ago and apparently the State Department of Health has now blocked downloading the Death Index. Reports Growth has reported that they had 2,016,000 subscribers at the end of 2012, up 18% over the end of 2011. Revenues increased 22 percent from the previous year. The announcement is at

AVOTAYNU Renewal Deadline Looms
Another reminder that when you receive your copy of the Winter issue of AVOTAYNU, if your subscription is about to expire, there is a yellow renewal form included with the issue. Select a one-, two- or three-year renewal by the March 15 deadline and participate in a contest whose prize is a copy of any book published by Avotaynu.

Israeli Marriages
There is an interesting article in the Atlantic magazine about the problem Israelis—primarily descendants of Russian immigrants—have in proving their Jewish maternal heritage in order to obtain a marriage license whose issue is controlled by the state’s religious authorities. A non-profit organization called Shorashim (Hebrew for "roots”) goes to Russia and the countries of the Former Soviet Union to gather documentation that their clients are Jewish according to Jewish law. It is funded in part by the Israeli government. The article can be read at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Pages of Testimony (online).”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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