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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 27 | July 13, 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
Poland Instituting New Legislation Covering Vital Records
For the first time in its history, the Polish government is drafting a law to regulate all aspects of Poland’s vital records. The bill, when passed by parliament, would take effect on January 1, 2015. The major items of interest for genealogists are clauses that would still require that birth records be 100 years old before they could be released, while marriage and death records could be made available after 80 years rather than the 100 years currently in force.

Another significant change being discussed is a clause that would enable local Civil Registration Offices (USCs) to take up to 10 years between the date that records become 100years old and the time they are transferred to the Polish State Archives. There is another clause under discussion covering death records that would require transfer to the Archives within two years of when the latest records in the books become 80 years old.

Jewish Records Indexing-Poland has not taken a position on this pending legislation. However, Gesher Galicia, the Galician Special Interest Group, has written to the Minister responsible for the bill, welcoming the intention to introduce a law governing vital records, but suggesting changes. Gesher Galicia president, Pamela Weisberger, wrote that Clause 28, one of the four relevant clauses of the bill, states that birth records should be withheld from public access for 100 years, and both marriage and death records for 80 years. Gesher Galicia considers that the proposed 80-year limit on marriage records should be lowered to 70 or 75 years, and imposing a limit of 80 years on death records is excessive. Weisberger notes that there are no privacy issues here and the proposed limit goes strongly against the principles of openness and public interest.

Clause 127 deals with the time periods allowed for civil registration offices to make vital records publicly available, once those records are of a certain age. Civil registration offices should be allowed up to 10 years to prepare all birth and marriage records that are between 80 and 100 years old before transferring them to state archives. Only two years would be allowed for death records. Gesher Galicia stated they considered 10 years to be too long a period for records to be further withheld beyond the time they have legally become due for transfer.

Weisberger’s comments can be viewed at

News From
BillionGraves Database Dropped. has removed the BillionGraves database from its collection. It is likely due to the fact that BillionGrave’s competitor, FindAGrave, is now owned by Ancestry.

Puerto Rico Vital Records. has added nearly 5 million Puerto Rican birth, marriage and death records for the years 1836–2001 to its collection. It can be directly accessed at

New York State Prison Records. Selected New York State prison records, including Clinton (1851–1866, 1926–1939) and Sing Sing (1865–1939), are being added to the database. These records previously were available only at the New York State Archives. Some years ago, Ron Arons, author of The Jews of Sing Sing helped me get the records from the State Archives of the black sheep of the Mokotoff family, my father’s first cousin: Max Mokotoff. Among Max’s accomplishments was that he was married six times, four times consecutively, twice concurrently. He would embezzle money from the women he married and he spent time in Sing Sing for one of these acts. (An earlier embezzlement got him dishonorably discharged from the Army during World War II.) Arons is the author of a more useful book, WANTED! U.S. Criminal Records, which is a guide to locating records of criminals in the U.S. Information about the two books can be found at his website

British War Graves Online
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has completed a five-year project to digitize more than 300,000 documents relating to those who died in the two world wars. It also includes information about 67,000 civilians who died “as a result of enemy action” during World War II. Information included is name, rank, service number, date of death, age, regiment/service, service country, grave/memorial reference and cemetery/memorial name. The database can be searched at

MyHeritage WWI Military Records Available at No Charge during July
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, MyHeritage is permitting free access to a number of military records—more than one million in total—from now through the end of July. Most are British records. Details may be found in the MyHeritageBlog at

JewishGen Education Program for the Summer
JewishGen is offering two online courses during the summer: "Search Strategies for Internet Genealogy" and “Exploring JewishGen.” “Search Strategies for Genealogy” will be held July 18–August 1. The class is a series of 10 lessons. Included are search basics, search tips and tricks and advanced search parameters. “Exploring JewishGen” will be held August 8–22. The course is a series of exercises that will take the student on a guided tour of the paths and byways that make up JewishGen's massive website.

Tuition cost for either course is $18. The classes are free to Value Added members of JewishGen who have donated $100 to the General Fund during the last
12 months. Additional information and registration for the two courses can be found at To donate to the JewishGen General Fund, go to

FindMyPast Adds New England Naturalizations Records 1791–1906
FindMyPast has added more than 635,000 indexes images of applications for naturalization filed at various courts throughout the six states of New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Every record includes both a transcript as well as the original naturalization card of an individual who applied for naturalization. While the information for each person may vary, it usually includes name, address, certificate number, title and location of court, country of birth, birth date, date and place of arrival in U.S., date of naturalization and names/addresses of witnesses. Additional information as well as the ability to search the records, is at

Database of German Jews in 1933 Almost Complete
Peter Landé reports that the project to extract information about 50,000 German Jews that appear in the German Town collection of the International Tracing Service (ITS) is nearly completed. In the 1960s, the ITS created an unofficial census of Jews who were living in Germany in 1933 by writing to all West German communities asking them to list all Jews (as defined by the Nuernberg Laws) resident in the community in 1933 and, to the extent known, what happened to them, e.g. deported, emigrated, moved, etc. Several hundred replies were received, alphabetically ranging from Aachen to Zweibruecken (Berlin was not included). Lande lead a volunteer effort to extract the information and it is now available at

Museum of the History of Polish Jews Creates “Museum on Wheels”
The Museum of the History of Polish Jews n Warsaw has created a travelling exhibit called “Museum on Wheels” that is visiting 21 Polish towns this year. The exhibit depicts the history, culture and legacy of Polish Jews. In each of the towns visited, the exhibition will be accompanied by numerous activities—workshops, discussions and film screenings. Admission to the exhibition, as well as participation in workshops will be free of charge. A list of towns that will be visited and additional information can be found at

Who Do You Think You Are? Receives Primetime Emmy Nomination
The U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are has received its second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Structured Reality Program for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. The series takes some of the persons with the most well-known names in America on a journey into their personal family histories, mining their pasts to reveal unknown details about themselves and their families. A new season of the series premieres July 23 at 9pm Eastern Time on the TLC channel. The Emmys award ceremony takes place on Monday, August 25 at 8pm ET. A list of all Emmy nominations can be found at

Egg on My Face: U.S. Census Records Access
In the last edition of Nu? What’s New?, I stated that the records of U.S. censuses are available at no charge at FamilySearch. Susan Urban notified me this is not true. Only the 1940 census records exists at the FamilySearch site. Searching for earlier census records produces the message:
“This image is viewable:
   • At By clicking here you will be leaving (fees and other terms may apply)
   • When using the site at a family history center.
   • To signed-in members of supporting organizations”

Best guess is that the absence of these records was part of the agreement between and FamilySearch to share databases.

Researchers have the following choices for accessing pre-1940 census records from their home:
   • Fee-for-service site, indexes as well as images. Index not as accurate as FamilySearch.
   • FamilySearch. Free access, very accurate index, extract only of record. Extract includes information about all members of household showing name, role, gender, age, and birthplace added for individuals is marital status, race, relationship to head of household, parent’s birthplace. There is a link to the extraction of the records of other household members.
   • FindMyPast. Fee for service. Both the extract and the actual record requires a paid subscription.
   • Mocavo. Free access to extract of record showing name, age, birthplace, head of household’s name, relationship to head of household, parent’s birthplace, and names of parents/spouse (deduced from household records). There is a link to the extraction of the records of other household members.
   • MyHeritage. Fee-for-service site. Inaccessible without a 7-day free trial. Index as well as images.

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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