Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 15, Number 19 | May 18, 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
At Last! A Declaration of Genealogists’ Rights
With all the talk about privacy rights by other interest and political groups, the genealogical community has finally come up with a declaration of its own rights. The Records Preservation and Access Committee (RPAC) announced the “Genealogists’ Declaration of Rights” before a crowd of more than 2,500 genealogists attending the opening session of the National Genealogy Society’s 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia, on May 7.
The Declaration of Rights is a statement advocating open access to federal, state, and local public records. The Declaration affirms America’s long history of open public records, which has been threatened the last few years over concerns about identity theft and privacy. The Records Preservation and Access Committee has worked with state and federal legislators as well as local public officials for more than 20 years in support of legislation and regulations that achieve a balance between access and privacy. The Declaration of Rights has been approved by the board of directors of the three sponsoring organizations: National Genealogical Society (NGS), Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS).
During the NGS Conference, genealogists from almost all 50 states signed the Declaration. Over the next few months, the Declaration will travel to the 34th IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 27–August 1, and the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonio, Texas, August 27–30. Nu? What’s New? readers can read and sign the Declaration at http://tinyurl.com/GenealgyDoR.
Genealogists advocate the right of access to records held by government agencies including but not limited to vital records (births, marriages, deaths, divorces); land conveyances and mortgages; tax assessments; guardianships; probate of estates; criminal proceedings; suits of law and equity; immigration; military service and pensions; and acts of governmental entities. Genealogists further advocate that they need to be allowed access to original records when photocopies, microfilm, digital images, or other formats are insufficient to establish clear text, context, or completeness of the record. The rights of genealogists specified in the Declaration object to numerous barriers created to deny them access to records.
Thousands of professional genealogists do research everyday on behalf of clients, government agencies, and attorneys. Of particular note are the many forensic genealogists who assist the Department of Defense in locating heirs for the repatriation of remains from previous wars; assist county coroners in the identification of unclaimed persons; work with attorneys in locating missing and unknown heirs involving estates, trusts, real estate quiet title actions, oil and gas and mineral rights, and other similar legal transactions; trace and track heritable medical conditions where finding distant cousins can facilitate early treatment and possibly prevent a premature death; research stolen art and artifacts for repatriation; and identify American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians to determine eligibility for tribal benefits.
In addition to FGS, IAJGS and NGS, the Association of Professional Genealogists, Board for Certification of Genealogists, International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists and the American Society of Genealogists also serve as participating members. RPAC meets monthly to inform and advise the genealogical community on ensuring proper access to vital records and on supporting strong records preservation policies and practices at the federal, state, and occasionally the local level.
EU Court Says Google Must Abide By “Right To Be Forgotten”
The European Union Court has declared that Google must follow the Right To Be Forgotten in specific cases including deletion of links to embarrassing legal records—even if what is reported is true. This decision stems from a case brought by a lawyer from Spain who objected that entering his name in Google’s search engine led to legal notices that he said were no longer relevant.
The decision does not require Google to unconditionally remove requested material from its search engine. Google must make a judgment and can refuse if there is good cause. The ruling ends with an admonishment. The “right to be forgotten” does not apply if it appears to be for “particular reasons”: if there is good cause to interfere with the citizen's right to privacy, including “the role played by the data subject in public life,” and if a majority of the evidence shows that the general public has a right to that information.
Two good articles about the news event are at the New York Times at http://tinyurl.com/NYTForgotten and an opinion column on CNN at http://tinyurl.com/CNNForgotten.
IAJGS Announces Appointments
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has appointed Quinton Atkinson of Orem, Utah, as IAJGS Director-at-Large. Atkinson is North American Director of Content Acquisition and Partner Development at Ancestry.com. He has worked for Ancestry for 16 years and has participated in ten IAJGS annual conferences. He has been successful in developing alliances with many non-profit and government organizations, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, JewishGen, American Jewish Historical Society.
He replaces Kahlile Mehr who served on the IAJGS board for six years. Before his recent retirement, Mehr was Manager of the Slavic Collection Management and Cataloging at FamilySearch. He fostered IAJGS’s relationship with FamilySearch who has been an ongoing sponsor of the IAJGS annual conference and the sponsor of IAJGS LIVE! (conference video streamed and on-demand).
IAJGS also announced it has appointed Shipley Munson of Sandy, Utah, as IAJGS Advisor. Besides being creator of the hugely successful RootsTech conference, Munson is the Chief Marketing Officer and Director of the Outreach Division of FamilySearch. He will assist the IAJGS board of directors in refining and implementing its strategic plan. His vision for IAJGS includes continued state-of-the-art technological support for conferences with Internet streaming provided by FamilySearch and strong Jewish Genealogical Societies worldwide. He will lead development of an IAJGS “society-in-a-box” as well as a “conference-in-a-box” for member societies to use to grow their membership base. He has prior experience implementing the “conference-in-a-box” capability through the many remote RootsTech conferences he supported and helped organize.
JewishGen Plans Education Programs for June
In June, JewishGen will have repeats of two of their successful education programs:
• Advanced JewishGen
• New York Research
Advanced JewishGen. An advanced class in using JewishGen for genealogy will occur June 1-28. This class is a web-based private forum made collaborative through posts and replies. It is open 24/7 for students to read, download lessons, ask questions and interact with an instructor. It requires about 8-10 hours per week. Tuition is $150, payable after the application process, which can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/education/.
New York Research. Did your family live in New York City? JewishGen's Intermediate Course, “Breaking Brick Walls in the United States,” will focus on New York City resources. This course will be especially useful to those who plan to visit the City. There will be suggestions on where to research, where to wander and how to get there. Included is a mentoring program. Students use the course’s online forum to post an ancestral branch, set goals for research, and work one on one with the instructor. Eight text lessons can be downloaded to read at your own pace. An optional field trip to a New York archive will be scheduled. The course runs from June 1–27. Additional information is at http://www.jewishgen.org/education.
Deadline Looms for Early-Bird Conference Registration Discount
There are only three weeks left to sign up for the IAJGS Conference this summer before the early bird discounts expire on May 31. Virtually all of the approximately 250 programs are now listed on the conference website. There are many new sessions for all levels and interests. There is also a link to make hotel reservations.
Special events include a bus trip to Ancestry.com's main campus in Provo (about 40 miles south of the conference hotel in Salt Lake City). A one-man play, Time Capsule in a Milk Can explores Emmanuel Ringelblum and the Warsaw Ghetto archives. It was developed by the Smithsonian Associates for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
When registering, you will be able to reserve a seat for various additional fee items, such as Breakfasts with the Experts, computer labs, SIG luncheons, the Gala Awards Banquet and the bus tour to Ancestry's headquarters. If you have already registered, you can now update your registration to include these items.
Consider signing up for the Conference blog and digest for ongoing information. The program, the nearby Family History Library, the many free databases which will be available, networking with other genealogists, films and more, will make this a valuable and memorable genealogical experience. The conference website is at http://www.iajgs2014.org.
Fold3 Permitting Free Access to Its WWII Collection Through End of May
Fold3 is offering free access to their World War II collection through May 31. Their collection of records and images includes draft registration cards, Army enlistment records, Navy muster rolls, “Old Man's Draft” registration cards, missing air crew reports, casualty lists, and more. You can also explore records that provide historical context, such as Navy war diaries, submarine patrol reports, naval press clippings, JAG case files, European Theater Army records, US Air Force photos, and beyond. Also included are the extensive Holocaust Collection and the interactive USS Arizona Memorial. The announcement can be found at http://blog.fold3.com/access-the-world-war-ii-collection/. The WWII collection can be accessed at http://tinyurl.com/Fold3WWIIFree.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 5.1 million indexed records and images, can be found at https://www.familysearch.org/node/2539. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Belgium, England, India, Italy, Sweden, Ukraine and the U.S. states of Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina and Wisconsin. Also the BillionGraves index and images have been updated.
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.
British Pathé Historical Films Now On YouTube
The newsreel firm, British Pathé, has put their entire collection of 85,000 historical videos on YouTube. Pathé invented the newsreel format in 1908. They were short documentaries shown prior to feature films in movie theaters. Find an introduction to the collection at https://www.youtube.com/user/britishPathe.
Searching YouTube for “British Pathe Jewish” revealed a large collection of film clips about Eretz Yisrael pre-and post-founding of the state of Israel and other Jewish matters
Just a small sample includes:
• [British] Jewish Battalion (1918)
• Jewish Agency Leaders Released (1946)
• [London] Jews New Year (1922)
• Jewish Child Refugees [Kindertransport] (1938)
• Illegal Jewish Immigrant Ship (1940–1949)
• Jewish Demonstration Against Hitler - New York (1935)
Many film clips do not have sound.
Museum of Family History Has Al Jolson Online Exhibit
The Museum of Family History has added what it states is the largest online exhibit on the life of entertainer Al Jolson, both personal and professional. It can be seen at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ajolson.htm. The exhibition includes 23 pages containing 156 pictures, 17 film clips and nearly four dozen audio clips. On the “Jewish Side of Jolson” page at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ajolson-jsj.htm, Jolson sings Cantor on Sabbath (Yiddish), Kol Nidre (Hebrew) and Hatikvah (Hebrew).
The site itself is worth browsing. The Museum of Family History is a virtual (Internet only), multimedia, and interactive creation that was designed for those of us who are interested in learning more about modern Jewish history, as well as those who were a part of this history, who now grace the many branches of our family tree. According to its creator, Steven Lasky, it now contains more than 6,000 pages, 20,000 photos, and hundreds of video and audio clips. Visit the home page at http://www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ and then go to the Site Map to gain an understanding of the vast scope of the website.
NGS Gives Award of Merit to New York-based Genealogy Groups
The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has given its Award of Merit to Don Eckerle of the German Genealogy Group, John Martino of the Italian Genealogy Group, and Bob Boeckle of the German Genealogy Group. Together, the three men organized and led more than 1,000 volunteers from the Long Island Genealogy Federation and beyond to create indexes to more than 16 million records. These include the earliest vital records for the five boroughs of New York City plus Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, naturalization indexes for all of these counties, as well as naturalization collection from six district courts in New York and three in New Jersey.
Additional information, including other awards given by NGS, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/NGSNYAwards. The indexes can be accessed at a number of sites including http://italiangen.org/.
Iraqi-Jewish Archive To Remain in U.S.
An agreement has been reached between the U.S. and Iraqi governments under which the Iraqi Jewish Archive will remain in the United States for an unspecified period. The archive contains approximately 2,700 restored Jewish books and thousands of documents. The U.S. spent more than 3 million dollars to restore the texts.
In 2003, shortly after U.S. forces secured Iraq, Harold Rhode, a past president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington and then a U.S. government official, discovered Jewish artifacts, including a Torah, in the flooded basement of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in Baghdad. Rhode wrote about the find in the Summer 2003 issue of AVOTAYNU. These Jewish books, records and Torahs managed to make their way to the United States, and the Iraqi government recently declared they want them returned.
The complete story can be found at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/stolen-treasures-iraqi-jewish-community/
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