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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 4 | January 25, 2014

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 Expands Collaboration with FamilySearch
FamilySearch will provide more than one billion digitized records from 67 countries to These additional records are expected to be available on starting in January and fully published over the next few months. The collections include digitized and indexed records and more than 200 million images containing birth, marriage, death, census and church records from Europe, Latin America, South Africa, South America, Asia and more.

The records are an addition to the agreement that the two largest providers of family history resources announced a few months ago to help digitize, index and publish an expected one billion global historical records never before published online from the FamilySearch vault over the next five years. stated it has committed to investing $100 million to digitize and index new content over the next five years. The company claims to have 2.7 million paying subscribers and more than 12 billion records.

The complete announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week Include 4 Million Canadian Border Crossings
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 Belgium, England, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Peru and the U.S. states of Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Notable additions are a new set of 4 million images of Canadian Border Crossings, 1895–1924; and 700,000 United States Passport Applications, 1795–1925, added to existing images for a total of 3 million images. The Canadian Border Crossings are in (Russell) soundex order and therefore are searchable.

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, which can be greater. Offers Free Access to Canadian Vital Records Through January 27 is offering free access to their collection of more than 30 million Canadian birth, marriage and death records through Monday, January 27. Thereafter it becomes part of their fee-for-service collection. To view these records you will need to register with giving your name and email address. Once you have registered, will send you a user name and password to access the records. The search facility is located at

Site Identifies Greek Holocaust Survivor Testimonies
Arthur Kurzweil notes there is a database of Greek Holocaust survivor testimonies culled from various resources. It is located The site identifies data from 1552 visual and oral testimonies of 1091 Greek Jews. Sources are:
   • USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education
   • Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies
   • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
   • Yad Vashem Archives
   • Archive of Oral Testimonies of the Jewish Museum of Greece
   • Archive of Oral Testimonies of the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly
   • Centropa Jewish Witness to a European Century

ROM-SIG Indexing Vital Records
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted that Leo Baeck Institute has placed online records in Romanian archives that relate to German-speaking Jewish communities in Southern Bukovina and Southern Transylvania. The database, which includes digital images of records, is located at Bob Wascou of the Romanian Special Interest Group of JewishGen notes that his organization is working on indexing vital records for more than a year and a full listing of what is available online is at He states that at present there are 6,445 births in the database.

Write Your Family History and Send It to the Library of Congress
If you have already published your family history, it is important that copies be sent to major repositories throughout the world. The U.S. Library of Congress encourages family historians to send a copy to its facilities. Compiled genealogies and U.S. local histories are very important to the international research clientele who frequent the institution. The Library seeks to collect all published and self-published works available on these important histories.

The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogy and local history publications. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 when Thomas Jefferson's library was purchased. Through generations of international giving, the Library's collections contain more than 50,000 compiled family histories and in excess of 100,000 U.S. local histories.

Send you family history to:

Library of Congress Local History and Genealogy Collection Development 101 Independence Ave., SE Washington, DC 20540-4660

Additional information can be found at

UK National Archives Places Online WWI Military Draft Exemption Applications
The UK National Archives has added to its online collection case files of men who applied for exemption from compulsory military service during WWI. The collection name is “First World War Military Service Tribunals” and includes 11,000 case files from Middlesex only, where people applied to the local tribunal for exemption. These files can be downloaded free of charge. The Archives uses its shopping cart system to request the case files (at a price of £0).

Case papers for each individual generally include:
   • Personal details
   • Grounds for the application
   • Decision of the local tribunal
   • Reason for the appeal and sometimes, supporting correspondence and evidence

The collection is at

Beit Hatfutsot Changes Its Translated Name
Something I did not notice until now is that Beit Hatfutsot has changed its English-language name from “Museum of the Diaspora” to “Museum of the Jewish People.” This change likely occurred when the museum changed the transliteration of its name from Hebrew to Latin characters from Beth Hatefutsoth to a more modern Beit Hatfutsot. The Hebrew literally means “Museum of the Diaspora.” Their website is at

FindMyPast Announces Improvements to Site has announced a number of improvements to its website. It will allow users to search across selected categories of records (for example census records and military records at the same time) and filter based on keywords, records sets and country. Searching all censuses at once will be available for the first time.

Improvements have been made to the site that will allow the company to release new records far more frequently. They anticipate there will be new records on the site every month.

Finally, they have launched a new family tree builder. This tree will allow users to record all of the details found about each of their ancestors, storing source material, adding facts and events to each relation and seeing a clear timeline of their life.

The announcement is at

Editorial comment: Don’t all the major genealogy sites such as and allow searching across categories, release new records more than once a month and provide family tree ability as described above?

“Jewish Surnames Explained”
An article titled “Jewish Surnames Explained” is causing a furor in the Jewish genealogical community because of its large number of inaccuracies. It is located at Included is the Ellis Island myth that names were changed at this port of immigration. An example of an erroneous interpretation is the name Kagan. The article claims the etymology is “descended from the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking people from Central Asia.” In reality, Kagan is a Russian variant of Cohen (the letter “h” does not appear in the Russian alphabet and is changed to “g”). A response to the article can be found at

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 
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 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

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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

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