Gary Mokotoff, EditorVolume 15, Number 6 | February 9, 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.
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FamilySearch Works To Put the World’s Historical Records Online in One Generation
It’s official. In his keynote speech at the recently completed RootsTech 2014 conference, Dennis Brimhall, Chief Executive Officer of Family Search, announced that his organization is leading the way in digitizing and providing access to billions of historical genealogical records by collaborating with commercial family history companies and the online community. Brimhall claims that this collaboration will carve centuries off the time needed to increase access to the world’s historical records, enabling millions more people to quickly discover, share, and preserve family memories for generations.
Working with individual industry leaders, such as Ancestry.com, Archives.com, findmypast, Fold3, and MyHeritage, will also increase and broaden access to the records FamilySearch already has published online. FamilySearch plans to involve many other interested organizations that will provide records, tools, and other resources to allow more people to build, preserve, and share their family trees online.
More of Brimhall’s comments can be found at https://familysearch.org/node/2523.
LDS Church Members Will Receive Free Access to Subscription Genealogy Sites
Many Mormons would be happy to tell you the advantages of being a Mormon including religious, social and economic matters, but now there is a genealogical advantage. Members of the LDS Church will be granted free subscriptions to Ancestry.com (the World Edition subscription), MyHeritage.com (Plus subscription) and FindMyPast.com (Plus subscription), accessible from any location, including in-home access. This is part of the recently signed agreement between these commercial organizations and FamilySearch, the genealogy arm of the Church.
For those of us not Mormonistically inclined, these services will be available free of charge at any of the 4,600 Family History Centers throughout the world. Find your local FHC at http://tinyurl.com/LocalFHC.
2014: The Year of the Obituary
The Chinese have their “Year of the Horse.” FamilySearch has declared 2014 the “Year of the Obituaries.” They are working with partners and the larger genealogical community to collect, digitize, and index millions of obituaries from the United States (with other nations to follow). This huge undertaking will ultimately make hundreds of millions of names of deceased individuals and information about their family relationships freely available for online research.
Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, announced this new initiative in his keynote speech yesterday as he welcomed record-breaking crowds to the 2014 RootsTech family history conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. His comments can be found at https://familysearch.org/blog/en/familysearch-indexing-media-brief.
RootsTech is starting to release videos of selected lectures that were given at their recently completed conference. To date there are only two: The keynote address by Ree Drummond, who has a website “The Pioneer Woman,” and Tammy Hepps, creators of Treelines. Hepps is also a member of the JewishGen Board of Directors. Check the RootsTech site at https://rootstech.org/about/videos/ from time to time to see what additional lectures have been added.
Commercial Genealogy Field Attracts Startups
As is true of most industries, there constantly are startup operations that claim they are bigger, better, rounder and tastier than existing operations. In reality, they do offer new material, but much of what they have overlaps that which exists at other commercial genealogy sites. We couldn’t be satisfied with FindAGrave.com, now we have BillionGraves.com. Geni is at the forefront of collaborative genealogy, now there is a startup effort called Ancestor Cloud. There are many more.
Existing companies brag that their new database is bigger than your old database. MyHeritage recently announced that they have just added 815 million U.S. Public Records at http://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10220/us-public-records-index. It includes information about people who resided in the United States between 1970 and 2010. FamilySearch also has a Public Records Index, suspiciously for the same time period, 1970–2010: it claims to be only 323 million records. It is at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2199956. Ancestry.com has Public Records identified as Volume 1 and Volume 2 that comprise the years 1955–1993. The misspelled name “Jeffery Mokotoff,” does not appear in the Family Search version but does appear in MyHeritage and Ancestry versions where the entries are identical.
GenealogyInTime claims to now have 7 billion records online. Searching their records for “Mokotoff,” I came across this intriguing entry: “Nazis Believed Using Mokotoff.” The detailed description demonstrated it was a newspaper article in the August 20, 1940, edition of the Montreal Gazette whose headline read “Nazis Believed Using Molotoff Baskets.” The original term for Molotov Cocktails was Molotov Baskets, a term coined by the Finns (read about it on Wikipedia).
Webinar on Planning Roots Trip to Eastern Europe
The Utah Jewish Genealogical Society will present a free webinar, "Plan Your Roots Trip to Eastern Europe Effectively," on Tuesday, February 11, from 7–9:00pm MST (9–10pm EST). Register for the lecture at https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/495085766.
Daniel Horowitz and Banai Lynn Feldstein will discuss their heritage and research trips to Eastern Europe, how they prepared, what they did, and what they learned for the next trip. Learn the tips and tricks on how to plan a heritage trip to Eastern Europe. The lecture will cover the smallest details about hotels and transportation to information about archives and cemeteries.
Daniel Horowitz, Chief Genealogist of MyHeritage, was the teacher and study guide editor for more than 15 years for the family history project "Searching for My Roots." He is a Board member of the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS).
Banai Lynn Feldstein is a professional genealogist based in Salt Lake City, Utah, specializing in Jewish and Eastern European research. She is the president of the Utah Jewish Genealogical Society (UJGS) and a co-chair for the 34th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in 2014 in Salt Lake City.
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now. If you are in Salt Lake City, you are more than welcome to join this webinar at the Family History Library, main floor classroom.
Only Four Places Available for Lithuania Trip
For the 21st year, Howard Margol and Peggy Mosinger Freedman are organizing a group trip to Lithuania from June 17 to June 27, 2014. The group is limited to 25 people and 21 have already V14N50.htmsigned up leaving only four places available.
Included are visits to the various archives, synagogues, ghettos, Holocaust sites, meetings with Jewish leaders, sightseeing, guide/interpreters, and two days to visit and spend time in your shtetl, or shtetlach of interest. All meals are included (except for one dinner and two lunches), the finest hotels (new and modern), modern buses, and much more.
Details and a full itinerary of the trip can be found at http://www.litvaktrip.peggyspage.org or contact the tour leaders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gravestone Photographic Resource Project
A posting to JewishGen notes there is a Gravestone Photographic Resource Project at http://www.gravestonephotos.com. Volunteers worldwide are photographing and indexing grave monuments. Users can view the data included on the headstone and obtain copies of the gravestone photographs for free. There are currently over 776,000 names indexed. The project covers all denominations, and there is information about Jewish burials in many places around the world. It includes 109 persons named Cohen and 462 named Levy. There is a surname list at the site.
Polish “Memory In Stone” Project Documents Jewish Tombstones
Since 2011, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews has run a “Memory in Stone” project, which aims to take stock of headstones in Jewish cemeteries. Names of the dead are deciphered from the photographs of matzevos (tombstones), to be later translated from Hebrew into Polish or English. The photographs and translations are published on the Virtual Shtetl portal at http://www.sztetl.org.pl/en/pwk/. Recent additions are for the towns of Ostrowiec Swietokrzyski and Rohatyn. Frankly, I found the website confusing and difficult to navigate. Information can be found at http://tinyurl.com/MemoryInStone.
Findmypast Now Offering New Subscription Rates
Findmypast has announced new subscription rates for access to U.S. records at their site. For the first time, one can purchase a monthly subscription (U.S. records only) for $9.95. An annual subscription to this collection is $99.48. There is a 14-day free trial for either their U.S. or worldwide collections.
United Polish Genealogical Societies Conference May 2–5
Speaking of Salt Lake City, the Polish Genealogical Society of America will sponsor the annual United Polish Genealogical Societies Conference (UPGS) to be held in Salt Lake City from May 2–5 at the Plaza Hotel. Information is at http://www.pgsa.org/#UPGS.
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