Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 15, Number 7 | February 16, 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 http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
Yiddish Book Center Plans Full-Word Search System
Writing in the Canadian Jews News, Bill Gladstone, journalist and AVOTAYNU Book Review Editor, states that the Yiddish Book Center is reportedly in the final stages of perfecting an optical character recognition (OCR) software system for Yiddish literature that will make all of its 40,000 Yiddish titles, and perhaps some 3,000 Yiddish periodicals, fully searchable by keyword. The Center has one of the largest collections of yizkor books in the world. It is assumed it would mean that all these books would be searchable by name or surname. Other books might provide useful information about towns of ancestry. Gladstone’s report can be found at http://tinyurl.com/YBC-OCR-Project. It is a PDF file and the story is on page 23.
Two New Jewish Heritage Roots Tours Are Now Available.
Eli Rabinowitz of Perth, Australia, is leading two Jewish Roots tours, one of Poland and one of Lithuania, this August. The trips are patterned after those given by Peggy Mosinger Freedman and Howard Margol for many years. There will be visits to major archives such as the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius, Kaunas Regional Archives and Latvian State Historical Archives in Riga where attendees will meet with officials of these archives and will be able to do research. Rabinowitz notes that attendees also will “meet leaders and educators who will add a new dimension to their own history. Local experts will talk on subjects such as the archives, cemetery renewal, the Holocaust and Jewish life. There will be opportunities to interact with young Jewish leaders and experience the contemporary Jewish community.” He notes he is a veteran genealogist who has made these trips many times.
The Polish tour starts in Warsaw on August 12 and ends in Vilnius on August 20. The Lithuania/Latvia tour starts in Vilnius on August 20 and ends in Riga on August 31. Full details of the itineraries and the tours are at http://tinyurl.com/Polish-Litvak-Tours. Contact Rabinowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JewishGen Education Courses in March
JewishGen Education is offering two courses in March. They are:
• Independent Study, February 28 to March 28
• Beginning Jewish Genealogy in the U.S., March 16 to April 13
The Independent Study course provides mentoring on a private project which the student chooses. This session will follow the format of other JewishGen Education classes using one-on-one consultations via their private Internet Forum. The Forum is open 24/7 to accommodate students in various time zones. For more information go to http://www.jewishgen.org/education.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
Recent additions to FamilySearch, both indexes and browseable images, can be found at http://www.genealogyblog.com/?p=30648. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, China, Colombia, Ghana, Italy, Netherlands, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, and the U.S. states of California, District of Columbia, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virgnia.
Notable collection updates include more than a million records for West Virginia Marriages, 1780–1970, and an additional 416,000 indexed records from the United States 1860 Census.
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.
Archives.com Launches 5 Million U.S. Vital Records
Archives.com has made available more than 5 million birth, marriage, and death records from Alabama, Arizona, California and the District of Columbia. In 2012, Ancestry.com acquired the company and the source of these new records appears to be from the parent company. Membership is free for seven days and then $7.95 per month if you choose to remain a member. They claim to have 2.6 billion records. You can search their records from the home page, http://archives.com and view their collections at http://www.archives.com/collections.
Winners of Obermayer German Jewish History Awards Honored
The Obermayer German Jewish History Awards were presented to this year’s recipients in a ceremony at the Berlin Parliament building on January 27. They honor non-Jewish Germans whose volunteer efforts ensure that the lives, culture and contributions of Jews in German communities will never be forgotten. The awards were established by Arthur S. Obermayer of West Newton, Massachusetts, in 2000. Obermayer, an avid genealogist, also established some years ago a Jewish museum in his ancestral town of Creglingen, Germany. In 2007, the Federal Republic of Germany gave its Order of Merit to him in recognition of his merits in fostering German-Jewish-American relations. The award is the highest tribute the country can pay to individuals, whether German or foreign.
Lars Menk, author of A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames, published by Avotaynu received the Obermayer German Jewish History Award in 2007. Information about the awards, including recipients past and present, can be found at http://www.obermayer.us/award/.
Scotland 1885 Valuation Rolls Now Online
Scottish Valuation Rolls for 1885 have been added to the ScotlandsPeople website. The new records comprise nearly 1.5 million indexed names/addresses and 77,000 digital images (taken from 144 volumes), and cover every kind of property that was assessed in 1885 as having a ratable value. With the addition of these latest records, ScotlandsPeople now has Valuation Rolls for 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920.
Published yearly on Whitsunday from 1855 to 1955, the Valuation Roles include the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property. The named person is usually the head of the household and, in many cases, occupations are also listed.
Additional information is at http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/content/help/index.aspx?r=554&2080.
Online Norwegian Censuses
An index to the 1910 Norwegian census can be found at http://digitalarkivet.arkivverket.no/en-gb/ft/sok/1910. Also added are scanned images of the 1865 and 1891 censuses whose links can be reached from the archives home page at http://www.arkivverket.no/eng/Digitalarkivet. An index to the 1865 census already exists. Information for the 1910 census may include name, age/birth date, place of birth, family position, marital status, occupation, habitual residence and assumed residence. There were only 10 persons named Levy/Levi in the census as compared to 23,857 persons named Jensen.
Editorial Comment: Mormons Get Free Ride
It is unfortunate that the big commercial genealogy houses Ancestry.com, MyHeritage and FindMyPast succumbed to database greed by making free access to their sites based on a person’s religion–being Mormon—in exchange for acquiring FamilySearch databases. Had Israel-based MyHeritage offered discounts to Jews only, one can image the anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist backlash.
Noting the Mormon practice of posthumously baptizing Jews—including Holocaust victims—into the Mormon faith, one Jewish genealogist commented, “Do I need to wait until I am dead?”
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