Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 14, Number 42 | October 27, 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
European Union Committee Votes on Proposed Data Protection Regulation
Jan Meisels Allen, IAJGS vice president and chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, has been watching for many months actions of the European Union Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs regarding privacy regulations. She now reports that on October 21 this committee voted overwhelmingly that citizens of member countries have the “right to be forgotten” as well as the “right to erasure.” The implication is that no information can be made public about an individual without his/her permission, and if such information is in the public domain, they have the right to demand it be removed. Furthermore, non-European companies will have to adhere to data protection law if they operate in the European market.
Allen notes, “There are onerous penalties included if a data processor violates the provisions of the regulation. Data processors we are familiar with for genealogical research that are not based in the EU such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and potentially the SIGS that have data or indices on websites may be affected.”
This oversweeping, overregulating rule reminds my of a class action settlement between the Authors Guild and Google that would have given Google the right to place on the Internet any copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner in exchange for giving the owner a royalty as stipulated in the settlement. The settlement was rejected by a U.S. federal court. Prior to the court’s rejection, Australia formally objected to the U.S. courts in writing. The French took a more pragmatic approach: they announced that if Google started posting books that were protected by French copyright, they would ban Google from France. (See Nu? What’s New? Vol. 12, No. 12—March 27, 2011)
A similar reaction might occur from the EU’s right-to-be-forgotten regulation. Google, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and others might conclude they will remove their presence from Europe rather than consent to the rule.
A complete description of the current status can be found at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-923_en.htm?locale=en
Most Meaningful Development in Record Access For Family Historians in Many Years?
The agreement between FamilySearch and MyHeritage may become the most meaningful development in record access for family historians in many years. FamilySearch is making agreements with their competitors to share data, likely in the hope they will become the one-stop shopping site for records. In my opinion, MyHeritage is the most technologically advanced of the major genealogy sites, and they will be giving this expertise to FamilySearch. (I was amazed that MyHeritage matched my name in the 1940 census against my family tree, since my name is misspelled in the census.) Once implemented, family trees on MyHeritage-owned Geni, will now have their data matched against the FamilySearch multi-billion records collection.
My views are echoed by a number of people in the family history industry. Dick Eastman has gathered them in one of his Newsletter articles. They can be read at http://tinyurl.com/egnfsmh.
Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue. For the past 26 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 is the researcher or the people they are researching. Deadline for submission this year is December 1, 2013. It you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, submit it by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Wherever possible, illustrations should accompany the article. Avotaynu writing style rules can be found at http://avotaynu.com/stylewritingrules.pdf. In 2008, Avotaynu published 72 of these human interest stories in a book, Every Family Has a Story. A sample story that appears in the book that originally appeared in the Winter 1998 issue of AVOTAYNU can be read at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/Unterschatz.pdf.
Wanted: New Family Histories in Print. The Winter issue of AVOTAYNU also lists Jewish genealogical family histories that have been published in the preceding 12 months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. The format to follow is: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Deadline for inclusion is December 15, 2013. Send submissions to email@example.com.
Ancestry.com Acquires South African Record Collection
Ancestry.com has acquired over four million South African records from Ancestry24, a South African family history website that closed for business in February 2013. They include records of baptism, births, marriages, immigration, passenger and shipping, voting lists, death notices and military. The data is not available yet at the Ancestry.com site. The announcement can be found http://www.ancestry.com/ancestry24.
Montefiore Census of Eretz Israel Online
The Montefiore Census of Eretz Israel for the years 1839, 1840, 1849, 1855, 1866 and 1875—some 25,528 families—is online at http://www.montefioreendowment.org.uk/census. The most recently completed project was the 1875 census which was done by the Israel Genealogical Society at the request of the Montefiore Endowment, the non-profit organization that owns the site. Census data may include name, age and place of birth of the head of household, financial status and occupation, wife's name, names and ages of his children, and various comments.
Rose Feldman, one of the project’s leaders, states that while there are some surnames for Ashkenazim, most are listed only by given names. It is helpful to know several family given names as results show family groupings. Spelling, too, can present a challenge, as names, which often were transliterated from the original language into Hebrew were then transliterated 150 years later into English. In addition, there is little or no consistency of spelling in the original Hebrew. There is no soundex system (to date) that serves both Sephardic and Ashkenazic names, so it is recommended to use a wild card search, using "%" as the wild card. Feldman added that the key is to be creative in searching.
“German Jews 1933” Database Identifies 32,500 Holocaust Victims/Survivors
The "German Jews 1933" database located at the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site now has 32,500 names of Holocaust victims and survivors. It is a work in progress and has now completed several dozen West German towns from Aachen through Moers. It is located at http://stevemorse.org/germanjews/germanjews.html.
Scottish Property Valuation Rolls for 1920 Go Online
The names and addresses of more than 2.6 million people living in Scotland during the post-WW1 period will be published online at 10am, Monday, October 28, as records of Scottish properties in 1920 are released on http://ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk, the government’s family history website.
Comprising over 76,000 digital images taken from 169 volumes, these new records, known as Valuation Rolls, cover every type of property in Scotland that was assessed as having a ratable value in 1920. As the records contain details for the owners and occupiers of properties, they will offer genealogists and historians fresh insight into Scottish society in 1920.
Each Valuation Roll entry on the website is fully searchable by name and address, with the records listing the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property. In many cases, occupations are also included. The Rolls include all types of property, from castles and mansions to crofts and tenements.
MyHeritage Named “Most Promising Israeli Start-Up For 2013–14”
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that, Globes, an online publication devoted to coverage of Israeli businesses, has named MyHeritage as the most promising Israeli start-up for 2013–14. The company was founded in 2005 by Gilad Japhet. He has raised $49 million to date from venture capitalists. The Globes article can be found at http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000886638&fid=1725.
ObamaCare in One-Step
Steve Morse has done it again. Morse entered the genealogy scene in 2004 when he observed that the search engine for the Ellis Island database was not user friendly. He created a One-Step procedure that permits locating people in the database with one step rather than the complex manner offered by the Ellis Island database creators.
Now Morse has entered the ObamaCare enrollment controversy by creating a One-Step Internet site for people trying to determine the costs and options to sign up for Obamacare. By selecting a specific plan, state, county, level of coverage and what family group is to be covered, Morse produces all the insurance plans available with those parameters and their costs. The site is located at http://stevemorse.org/obamacare/obamacare.html.
AJDC Honors Staff Member Who Perished
When we think of the American Joint Distribution Committee, we think of an organization whose mission is to rescue Jews in trouble. Sometimes we forget that can mean danger to the AJDC staff members who participate in these rescue efforts. The organization has a section of their website devoted to memorializing those people who lost their lives while working for AJDC. It is at http://archives.jdc.org/exhibits/in-memoriam/.
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