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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 22 | June 8, 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
Ancestry Dropping Marginal Services
One of the faults of successful companies that grow into monopolies is they feel obligated to be all things to their customers. Such was the case with When DNA testing became a part of genealogical research, reacted by stating, “We have to do that too.” When social interaction through websites between members of a family came into vogue, Ancestry again reacted by saying, “We have to do that too.”

Now this giant of the genealogy business has done rethinking and has decided to drop these fringe parts of their total offerings and instead focus on its core elements. Starting September 5, the company will retire some of their services, specifically: MyFamily, MyCanvas,, Mundia and the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. AncestryDNA (autosomal) test is not affected by this change and will continue to be available. In each case, the product will be retired gently, where appropriate, allowing people to retrieve their data to be placed elsewhere. Users of these cancelled services are being notified.

People interested in transferring their DNA results to Family Tree DNA can find instructions at Additional information about the announcement can found at

Plans Announced for Conference Resource Room
There is so much to do at the annual IAJGS International Conference for Jewish Genealogy—lectures, SIG meetings, Birds of a Feather meetings, luncheons, vendor exhibits, computer workshops, networking and, this year, the Family History Library—that there is a tendency to treat as an afterthought another great aspect of the conference: the Resource Room.

In the pre-Internet days, it consisted mostly of reference books and computer listings. Today it provides free Internet access for some of the biggest fee-based genealogy sites, including:
   • Ancestry family of genealogical websites (,, and
   • FindMyPast (includes the British Library newspapers, among others)
   • Forward
   • GenTeam
   • Getty Images-BBS
   • Godfrey Memorial Library (Gold subscription)
   • Library of Canada
   • London Gazette
   • Mocavo
   • MyHeritage family of websites (includes,, World Vital Records, and the Jewish Chronicle)
   • New England Historic and Genealogical Society
   • ProQuest (Wednesday only)

Several IAJGS members will offer access to their members-only databases as well: Cercle de Généalogie Juive, Israel Genealogical Society (IGS), and Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA).

Worth noting is the ProQuest newspaper collection which is normally available at libraries rather than by personal subscription. It contains 20 million pages and three centuries of global, national, regional and specialty newspapers including back issues of many of the largest U.S. newspaper including the New York TimesChicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times. Included are a number of American Jewish newspapers. A complete list can be found at Access to that collection at the conference may be the only time you will be able to use their service unless you live in a major city with a library that subscribes to ProQuest.

In addition, the Resource Room computers will also have links to more than 250 other free genealogical sites that will be accessible by topic. Examples of topics include Canada, Europe, Israel, Holocaust, Immigration and Naturalization, USA, and more.

The Resource Room will contain 30 computers and shared printers. There will be general Internet access so attendees can check email and do other personal business.

Additional information, including hours of operation, can be found at

Special Discounts on Some of Avotaynu’s Major Books
Alas, for the first time in about 20 years, Avotaynu will not be one of the exhibitors at the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The cost to ship books from Connecticut to Utah and ship back unsold copies makes it economically impractical. Instead, we are going to offer—for the next 10 days—deep discounts on some of Avotaynu’s major reference works. Through June 18, you can buy the following books at a 40% discount plus shipping.

Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy $85.00 $51.00
Dictionary of Ashkenazic Jewish Names $85.00 $51.00
Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames $89.00 $53.40
Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (2 volumes) $118.00 $70.80
Dictionary of Jewish Surname from Galicia $85.00 $51.00
Where Once We Walked $85.00 $51.00

Some of these books have won awards by the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Jewish Book Council. Rather than describe here the merits of each of these books, find additional information by clicking on the name of the book above. For example, the Galicia and German book websites include a complete list of surnames in their respective books. At checkout, use the Coupon Code SUMMER to get the 40% discount.

Who Do You Think You Are? Returns to U.S. Television in July
TLC (The Learning Channel) has announced the new season of Who Do You Think You Are? will begin on July 23. The six new episodes will feature Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Fraiser), Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Cynthia Nixon (Sex in The City). TLC has acquired 10 episodes from the show's previous seasons on NBC. The episodes feature Matthew Broderick, Lisa Kudrow, Rob Lowe, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Vanessa Williams and Rita Wilson. will once again serve as a sponsor and partner of the show. Adds More Than 1.6 Million Entries in May set as a goal to add in May more than one million entries to their ever-growing database of grave sites and tombstones. They well exceeded their goal by adding 1,657,164.

There are still no Mokotoffs in their database, but there are now 1,281 Levys. One of them, identified only as “A. Levy” is buried in the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand. He was an aircraftman in the British Royal Airforce and died there in 1943. His grave marker is shown.

Galveston Immigrant Database
The Texas Seaport Museum has placed online at its site a list of immigrants to Galveston, Texas. The database includes names of passengers and members of their traveling parties, age, gender, occupation, country of origin, ship name, dates of departure and arrival, and destination in the United States. The ship database includes ship name, type of ship, master, home port of ship, arrival date at Galveston, port of departure, destination port, tonnage, number of immigrants, ship owner, and citation source.

The search engine has the unusual feature that the results will produce any surname that includes the consecutive letters being searched. For example, searching for “Tarta” produced results for the surnames Gotartas and Tartakowski.

From 1907–1914 more than 10,000 Eastern European Jewish immigrants came to the U.S. through this port in what became known as the Galveston Movement. Its purpose was to divert Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe away from congested communities of the Atlantic coast to the interior of the United States. The movement was directed and funded by Jacob Schiff, a wealthy New York Jewish philanthropist.

This appears to be a reannouncement. The August 5, 2001, edition of Nu? What’s New? announced its accessibility. The difference now appears to be the database has been moved to the Texas Seaport Museum site.

Additional information as well as access to the data can be found at

Do you ever have the desire to get beyond the initial Google search results to view the more obscure results which might include links of interest? A website called states it allows the user to remove the top 1 million, 100k, 10k, 1000, or even just the top 100 results from a Google search.

I tried it using the surname “Mokotoff” which has 92,000 Google results. The MillionShort outcome for omitting the top 100 sites included a number of entries Google showed in the top 10 sites. Omitting 1,000 sites on MillionShort produced the same results as omitting the top 100 sites. This website was down for a number of days earlier this week. Perhaps they do not have their act together yet. The concept is a refreshing one, but it has not been properly implemented at this time.

FamilySearch To Add Hinting Technology
Last October 20 edition of Nu? What’s New? reported an agreement between and FamilySearch where the former would trade its technological expertise in exchange for the latter’s records. The benefits of this shidduch (matchmaking) will soon appear on FamilySearch when they announce a new feature at their site called “hinting.” After placing a family tree on FamilySearch, when you go to an ancestor’s page, FamilySearch will show what it has found for that person within its vast collection of records. This is what MyHeritage calls Record Matching. A detailed description of the “hinting” feature can be found at

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 4.3 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Included are records from Chile, China, Denmark, Poland (Catholic Church records), Portugal, Sweden and the U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana and Texas.

Notable additions for Jewish family history research are 580,00 records from and 444,000 Minnesota index to marriage records (1849–1950).

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.

Jewish Conference in Gorodok, Belarus
An unusual conference will be held in the town of Haradok (Gorodok), Belarus, in a few weeks. "Gorodok, Belarus and Its Jewish History" is the name of an international open forum to be held in the town June 21–22. According to Where Once We Walked, more than 2,600 Jews lived there before the Holocaust. Experts on the history of the Jews of Gorodok will attend as well as some of its survivors. (Reported by Howard Margol)

Link to Paris Vital Records
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? stated I was having difficulty accessing the Paris vital records site. Robert Friedman has provided an alternate link which worked for me. It is at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Submit Pages of Testimony (online).”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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