Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 14, Number 44 | November 10, 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
FindAGrave Now Has Holocaust Victims
In what I consider a strange decision, FindAGrave.com now includes Jews murdered in the Holocaust who have no gravesite. According to Barbara Algaze, FindAGrave now includes lists of Jews from the Shoah Memorial in Ile-de-France; Jews of Germany murdered in the Holocaust (source “Berlin Center”); Dachau, Theresienstadt and some Auschwitz internments. Algaze cites the source as the International Wargraves Photograpic Project, but a check of Mokotow Holocaust victims in the FindAGrave database includes persons not in the Wargraves Project database.
FindMyPast Has Free Access to 1940 Census and Vital Records Until January 31
FindMyPast.com is providing free access to the 1940 U.S. census and their new U.S. vital records collection until January 31, 2014. The vital records collection includes:
• Births and christenings in California, Indiana and Utah
• Marriages in Alabama, California, Indiana, Iowa and Virginia
• Deaths in Alabama and North Carolina
Ancestry.ca Offering Free Access to Canadian Military Records Until November 12
To honor Remembrance Day in Canada (November 11), Ancestry.ca is offering free access to all its Canadian military records through November 12. Details include rank, home address, salary and more. Records date back to as early as 1710. To access the records go to: http://tinyurl.com/CanadianMilitaryRecords. Registration is required but credit card information is not.
MyHeritage To Hold Webinar
MyHeritage will hold a webinar on Monday, November 18 at 2pm ET. It will be a Question & Answer panel by the company’s top genealogy experts. If you have questions, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be answered at the webinar. Registration is at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/738557199.
Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. It includes articles about major contemporary topics including records access, using DNA for genealogical research and cooperative genealogy. The lead article is a synopsis of the state of records access written by Jan Meisels Allen, chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee. Another article shows how DNA results confirmed the common ancestry for a number of rabbinic lines. The last issue of AVOTAYNU described the positive aspects of collaborative genealogy. This Fall issue includes an article that identifies potential negative aspects of this phenomenon. Possibly the most unusual article is by a Christian women who converted to Judaism and subsequently found she was descended from crypto-Jews from Spain. Her family research back to the 15th century was accepted by a rabbinic court that, according to Jewish law, showed she was born Jewish. These are just four of the 14 articles that appear in the issue. In addition there are the usual columns From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Ask the Experts, Book Reviews and From Our Mailbox.
View the Table of Contents for the issue at http://avotaynu.com/2013FallPage01.pdf. Subscribe to AVOTAYNU at http://www.avotaynu.com/journal.htm.
Reminder: Discount on Avotaynu Books Until Chanukah
A Chanukah Present to Nu? What’s New? Readers. Until Erev Chanukah (November 27), the items we offer—BOOKS ONLY—are available at a discount according to the following schedule:
• Purchases more than $50 – 10% discount
• Purchases more than $200 – 15% discount
• Purchases more than $300 – 20% discount
When you check out, just use the Discount Code SPECIAL and enjoy the benefits. Order now! The offer will be discontinued at end of day November 27, 2013. View our more than 50 books at http://www.avotaynu.com/allbooks.htm.
Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2014 To Be Held
February 20–22, 2014 at Olympia in London
Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2014 will be held February 20–22, 2014, at Olympia in London. There is an early bird price offering until November 19 of two tickets for £22 plus a £2.25 transaction fee, half the at-the-door cost. When purchasing tickets use the discount code EARLY2422. Buy tickets at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com/ticket-prices. The conference home page is at http://www.whodoyouthinkyouarelive.com.
More than 80 workshops are run by the Society of Genealogists over the three days of the show offering a program of talks for all levels of family historian. As part of the WWI commemoration, there will be a new studio featuring talks about the military and social history of the First World War and ways to research your ancestors involved in conflict.
British Newspaper Archive Passes the 7 Million Page Mark
The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) located at http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk has now digitized more than 7 million pages. Launched in November 2011, it hopes to transcribe 40 million pages by 2021. Newspapers date back the early 18th century.
Access to the index is at no charge. Purchasing a subscription is needed to retrieve the actual pages. British Newspaper Archive is a partnership project between the British Library and the parent company of FindMyPast.com.
Contribute to the JewishGen Memorial Plaque Project
The next update to JewishGen's Memorial Plaque Project (http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Memorial/) will be at year-end and will
include all submissions made through November 30.
This is a database primarily of plaques placed on a memorial board on synagogue walls. Also known as “yahrzeit plaques,” they exist to memorialize relatives, usually parents or siblings. On the anniversary of the person’s death (yahrzeit), the plaque is illuminated by a small light on each side. The name is read to the congregation at the Sabbath service before the yahrzeit (reckoned by the Hebrew calendar). These plaques are of genealogical value because they usually include the name of the deceased, date of death reckoned by both the secular and Jewish calendars and the person’s religious name, which includes the name of the person’s father (example: Chaim ben [son of] Meir.)
The Memorial Plaque Project database currently contains nearly 30,000 records from 46 synagogues/organizations in 3 countries. If you are interested in volunteering to transcribe the memorial plaques of your local synagogue, see "Submitting Data to the JewishGen Memorial Plaque Database" at
JCC Opens in Warsaw
Warsaw, once home to 400,000 Jews, now has a modest Jewish Community Center. Today’s estimated Jewish population is 2,000. The announcement can be found at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/cms/news/3750,jcc-warsaw-is-now-open-/.
Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies
The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies is a group of 4,500 survivor testimonies that got its start before the better-known Stephen Spielberg Shoah Foundation project. The interviews are located at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
To find testimonies, search the Orbis Yale University Library database by including the words “Holocaust Survivors Film Project” in quotes as part of the search argument. This will limit results to this project. It is not possible to search by a person’s name. Unfortunately the surnames of the survivors giving testimony have been replaced by the first letter of the surname. An example is the testimony of “Dori K.” On rare occasions the surname is revealed, for example, the survivor wrote a book. “Dori K” is revealed as Dori Katz because her name is part of the citation for a book she wrote about her experiences during the Holocaust. Instead of searching by name, search by town name. The results will list all persons identified as being from that town. Perhaps it then will be possible to identify a person by given name and first letter of last name.
Search the Orbis database at http://orbis.library.yale.edu. Information about the project is located at https://www.library.yale.edu/testimonies/.
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