Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 14, Number 35 | September 8, 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 http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch Make a Shidduch (Match)
Ancestry.com and FamilySearch announced an agreement that is expected to make approximately one billion global historical records available online. The source of the records will be the microfilm vault of FamilySearch. The two services will work together with the archive community over the next five years to digitize, index and publish these records. The specific record collections to be included have not been defined yet but will not include records already online at FamilySearch.
The two organizations aren’t strangers to working with each other. Hundreds of millions of records have already been shared and are available on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. The companies also announced in early 2013 an additional project where they plan to publish online 140 million U.S. wills and probate images and indexes over the next three years.
The Ancestry.com version of the announcement can be found at http://tinyurl.com/ACFSAgreement.
FamilySearch Additions This Week
Additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at https://www.familysearch.org/node/2345. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand, and the U.S. states of Indiana, Maine, Maryland and New York.
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 in the announcement are the number added, not the total number available in the collection.
Blog: Jewish Gem's Genealogy: Mining for Your Elusive Ancestors
For more than a year, Marilyn Robinson of Florida has been posting to JewishGen Discussion Groups the URLs of obscure websites that have names of people, primarily Jews in Eastern Europe. An example is “1918–1922: Jews in the Red Army & the Civil War.” Many of the lists are in Russian and Robinson translated the names on the lists in her postings.
Since May, she has had a blog at http://yourjewishgem.blogspot.com (Jewish Gem's Genealogy: Mining For Your Elusive Ancestors), where new lists continue to be posted. She estimates the blog now contains the names of more than 7,000 people. There is a search engine that permits locating previous postings to the blog. Be sure to search for town names as well as surnames because some of the postings merely point to websites rather than provide the list of names. Example: “2001-Warsaw: A List of Names from the Jewish Community.”
U.S. Supreme Court Rules Genes Cannot be Patented
Many readers are likely aware that the presence of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in a women demonstrates she has a strong propensity (60 percent chance) for breast cancer. Ashkenazic Jews have a greater likelihood of carrying the gene compared to the general population. Remarkably, there is a patent on the BRCA gene held by a company called Myriad Genetics of Salt Lake City. This means that no other organization can test for the BRCA gene except Myriad Genetics. The test is costly.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that isolated human genes cannot be patented “because nothing was invented.” They did say that artificially created genes are patentable.
A subsidiary of Family Tree DNA, FreeMyGenes, began offering BRCA tests for substantially less than the $3,340 price of Myriad Genetics. FTDNA president, Bennett Greenspan notes that “Our precedent-setting reduction in price meant that millions of Americans who previously could not get the test—because their insurance company wouldn't pay, or because they lacked insurance—now had access to a high quality test for breast cancer risk.” Family Tree DNA and FreeMyGenes are now being sued likely because of other patents Myriad Genetics holds for artificially created genes.
The Supreme Court decision is reported at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/supreme-court-strikes-brca-gene-patent/story?id=19392299. Greenspan’s full comment can be found at http://dna-explained.com/2013/09/07/message-from-bennett-greenspan-free-my-genes. The FreeMyGenes site is at http://www.freemygenes.org.
IAJGS Responds to European Union’s Proposed Data Protection Regulation
The European Union is proposing a regulation that would serious effect records access in the name of privacy. The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has written a letter to the 28 EU Ministers of Justice expressing concern about this regulation.
The two issues in the IAJGS letter focus on:
• The importance to trace family medical history back both direct line and collaterally, and we used the BRACA I and BRACA 2 breast and ovarian cancer as examples.
• The importance of Holocaust victims not to be forgotten and for family reunification. We countered with the proposed regulation’s advocating the individual‘s right to be forgotten with the “right to be remembered”
A copy of the letter can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/IAJGSEU.
JGS of Maryland Revived
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies has a new member, the Jewish Genealogical Society of Maryland, which existed a number of years ago but went dormant until now. The initial meeting of the society had 30 people attend. The society has a website at http://www.jewishgen.org/JGS-Maryland and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JGSMaryland. The society meets at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore.
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