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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 29 | August 3, 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
34th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy Is History
The 34th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is history. I arrived home less than 36 hours ago. There are so many good things to say about the conference and its components that my comments will be deferred to the next edition of Nu? What’s New?

AncestryDNA Matching Update Impacts Jewish Ancestry has written an excellent article on its blog about the problem of excessive cousin matches among Jews (and some Hispanics) due to the inbreeding of our population. It describes the concept of Identical By Descent (IBD), the true cousin matches, and Identical By State (IBS) which is the piece of DNA that is identical for a reason other than a recent common ancestor—for example, being “Jewish.” The article states that the company’s DNA arm is working to find ways to minimize the matches of IBS which are the false cousin matches.

The article can be read at

At Long Last! Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy: 2014 Edition
The 2014 version of Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy is now in print. The book is updated annually because of the dynamic growth of Jewish genealogy research and is usually published in January of each year, but projects of higher priority delayed its publication.

Significant additions to the book are sections on, Geni and American Joint Distribution Committee. All other chapters were reevaluated to confirm that the information is still current. Statistics about database sizes and websites are now more current. The book has grown by two pages—now 104 pages because of new content added. More than 3,000 copies of Getting Started have been sold since it was first published in 1999. Additional information, including a Table of Contents, is available at The price remains at $14.50.

As the Introduction to the book states, “This book is not a beginner’s guide. A beginner’s guide to Jewish genealogy would undoubtedly require many more pages. It is a getting started guide; a guide meant to convince the reader that tracing one’s Jewish ancestry can be done. There is a wealth of resources available for family history research. It is virtually impossible for a person to have lived on this Earth without leaving some documents of his/her existence. Our ancestors were born, married, died, were buried, emigrated, immigrated, were counted in censuses, did military service, attended school, bought property and/or did something newsworthy. Each of these events created documents. The purpose of this book is to make the reader aware of how to locate these documents and what they might contain.”

FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 1.7 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Included are records from Canada, Croatia, Peru, Poland and the U.S. states of Hawaii, Illinois and Canal Zone.

It includes an index of 1.16 million people on passenger lists for Honolulu, Hawaii, 1900–1953. Analyzing the name “Levy” indicates most of the passengers were American tourists visiting the Hawaiian Islands. Also included is an additional 77,000 entries to the Illinois, Cook County (Chicago) Birth Certificates, 1878–1938 collection.

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.

All-Galicia Database Now Has More Than 300,000 Records
The Gesher Galicia Special Interest Group has announced that the All Galicia Database now has 306,046 records from 125 different data sources, covering everything from birth, death, marriage and divorce records to phonebooks, school and landowner records, all from the former Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, which today is part of eastern Poland and western Ukraine.

Recent additions include Drohobycz Jewish Birth Index (1921–1938), Kosow Jewish Marriage Records (1852–1876), Mielnica Jewish Death Records (1820–1851) and Sanok Jewish Marriage Index (grooms only) (1916–1939). Updates have been made to L’viv birth records (1805–1871), death records (1805–1880), and marriage records (1801–1866). The database can be found at

Many of the 24 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have developed databases of extracted records for their region. A list of these groups can be found on JewishGen at

BillionGraves Launches the Forum has launched “BillionGraves Community,” a forum where users can “ask questions, leave feedback, connect with other users, help each other with questions and support, create groups in your state/country, start projects at nearby cemeteries, and engage in a deeper and more meaningful way.”

The Community is set up in a Question/Answer format, where questions are posted about a topic you want to discuss in anticipation that other users will have the answer. Examples of recent posts are: “What is the best way to remove lichen from a tombstone?”, “Is there a wild card character that should be used when something is unreadable?” and “What do you all do when there is a name abbreviation on the stone, such as ‘Wm.’ for William?”

The forum can be accessed at

Every British Empire Person Who Fell in World War I To Be Commemorated
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter notes that the Royal British Legion is working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to keep alive the memory of those who fell in the First World War. The goal is to commemorate every man and woman from across the Commonwealth who fell during World War I—a total of 1,117,077 service personnel.

This “Every Man Remembered” database allows anyone to commemorate a relative or someone they knew, or find a person for whom no-one has left a tribute. People remembered are from the UK and numerous parts of the British Empire including Africa, Australia, India and the West Indies. Additional information is at

Support of The Master Genealogist (TMG) Software To Be Discontinued
Bob Velke, creator of The Master Genealogist (TMG) genealogical software system has announced support of the system will be discontinued at the end of this year. Many consider it to be the best genealogical software system for the committed genealogist. Velke’s company, Wholly Genes, will continue to sell the full product and updates through September. Velke announced that
“...the program's many powerful features are unmatched in other software, the market for those advanced features has proved to be insufficient to support the infrastructure that is necessary and to continue development. A variety of my own health issues have also contributed to this decision.”

The complete announcement is at

Avotaynu Website Named One of 101 Top Family History Sites
Family Tree Magazine has named the Avotaynu website at one of the 101 best family history websites. Also included are the JewishGen and the Stephen P. Morse One-Step sites. This recognition is done annually by the magazine.

The full list of 101 Best Websites for family history can also be found at Tree Magazine states it is America's largest-circulation genealogy magazine. Information about the publication and the variety of services it offers is at

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 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

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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