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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 14, Number 38 | September 29, 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
FamilySearch Adds U.S. Public Records Index
FamilySearch has added a U.S Public Records Index of 189,395,454 entries. This collection is an index of names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, and possible relatives of people who resided in the United States between 1970 and 2010. As a consequence it is a great resource to find information about living or recently deceased Americans. These records were generated from telephone directories, driver licenses, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists and other records available to the public. Birth information may be included for those residents born primarily between 1900 and 1990. Not everyone who lived in the United States during this time appears in the index although the list is quite comprehensive. The rare name “Mokotoff” has 63 results. As is true of all FamilySearch databases, wild card searches are permitted. For common names, the search can be qualified by range of birth year and/or place of residence.

Located at, the site claims the database is only 28 percent complete, but all five members of my family have individual records. According to a spokesperson, the database was acquired by FamilySearch in an agreement with, a fee-for-service company.

Other Additions This Week to FamilySearch
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Switzerland and Wales. For the United States, in addition to the Public Records Index described above, there is a new browsable image collection—Alabama, County Marriages, 1809–1950; and indexed records were added to Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, 1907–1933 and World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918.

Note that 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.

Collaborating in Genealogy
A hot item in today’s family history is called “Collaborative Genealogy” typified by the site. Geni allows a number of different people to work together on the same tree. Historically family trees are the property of individuals. The two lead articles in the Summer issue of AVOTAYNU discussed the pros, and to some extent the cons, of collaborative genealogy. Plans call for the Fall issue, which is being worked on at this moment, to include an article on a negative view of this phenomenon.

Collaboration is an essential part of family history research. In an effort to create even greater collaboration, recently stated that “with more than 50 million family trees on, connecting with other members can yield family history gold. We know it’s hard to make a personal connection with “TheRealCookieMonster53.” In an effort to promote collaboration and sharing, members’ profiles will use real names instead of usernames. Users can still change their setting at any time from their Member Profile page to show their preferred name. Although this change is only for new users, we encourage everyone to update their Member Profile to a more personal and transparent name (sorry Cookie Monster).”

Other organizations that proved valuable services to genealogy should consider whether current policies discourage collaboration in favor of privacy. Some examples:

Family Tree DNA. I was shocked to discover some months ago that Family Tree DNA allows clients in their database to remain anonymous, that is, there is no way of communicating with them. What could be more frustrating to a researcher than to find an exact or near-exact DNA match with another person and have no way to contact him/her. The company should change its rule to say that if a user is unwilling to reveal his/her e-mail address, that person cannot participate in the matching function. There could be legitimate reasons to take this option: for example, you are not interested in finding close kin but are using the DNA test for another purpose.

JewishGen Family Finder. JGFF is a database of surnames and towns currently being researched by 100,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide. When I created in 1982 what today is JGFF, the names and addresses of all participants were available to users. This was the pre-Internet days, and postal mail was the principal method of collaborating with other users. When the database was taken over by JewishGen, the question of privacy became an issue, so today, name/address information exists only for the original participants. New members can opt out of showing their address and even their name. JewishGen should consider making at a minimum the person’s name mandatory. JGFF is a collaborative effort.

Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
For the past 28 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to genealogy human interest stories. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it be the researcher or the people they are researching. Deadline for submission this year is December 2, 2013. If you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, submit it by e-mail to Wherever possible, illustrations should accompany the article. Please conform to Avotaynu writing style rules. They can be found at

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

National Archives (UK) Offering Genealogy Books at Discount
To celebrate the launch of their new online bookshop, National Archives (UK) is offering a 33% discount on a range of family history books. Titles include Tracing Your World War I AncestorsTracing Your Ancestors Using the Census and Tracing Your Family History on the Internet. There are many others. Information can be found at

Rhode Island State Archives Catalog Online
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter notes that Rhode Island State Archives catalog can now be searched online at How to search the site is a bit confusing. Do not use the “Search This Site” feature in the upper right corner, but instead use the “Search” option in the middle right of the screen. For additional Information about the archives select the “State Archives” tab on the left. More information about the announcement is at

Jewish Businesses in Berlin 1930–1945
A posting to the German-SIG Discussion Group of JewishGen notes there is a site,, that identifies more than 8,000 companies considered Jewish in 1933. Information usually includes company name, nature of business, address, year established (gegr.) and year liquidated (liq.). There is a search engine. The database is a project of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Organized Jewish Genealogy Is Now 36 Years Old
On October 23, 1977, 11 people gathered in the home of Neil Rosenstein to form a new organization they chose to call the “Jewish Genealogical Society.” This was the start of organized Jewish genealogy as we know it today. Today there are more than 70 societies worldwide, most under the umbrella group the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.

On Sunday, October 27, 2013, JGS (New York) will celebrate its 36th (Double Chai) anniversary at the Sutton Place Synagogue in New York. There will be a kosher luncheon and a talk “Beyond the Tree: Tools and Tips for Sharing Your Family History” by Tammy Hepps, founder of, a family story-sharing website. Additional information about the event can be found at the society’s site,

Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2013, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To change an e-mail address, send a request to

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 794 Edgewood Ave.; New Haven, CT 06515

Telephone  (U.S.) : 475-202-6575