Nu? What's New?
Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 15, Number 30 | August 10, 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
A report on the IAJGS 34th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy appears at the end of the newsletter.
Genealogyindexer.org Worth a Visit
At the recently concluded IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, I attended the lecture given by Logan Kleinwaks about his site, Genealogyindexer.org. It has grown to something quite remarkable. At the site you can search and view 456,000 pages of historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., primarily from Central and Eastern Europe); 28,000 pages from 64 yizkor books (memorials to Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust); 32,000 pages of Polish and Russian military documents (lists of officers, casualties, etc.); 40,000 pages of community and personal histories; and 22,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources. More genealogical resources are being added regularly.
Kleinwaks permits Exact, Daitch-Mokotoff (D-M) Soundex and OCR-Adjusted searching. An unusual feature of his D-M Soundex searching is that he does not present his results in the sequence that he receives them, but instead ranks them according to how close they are to the exact search requested. This should go far to eliminate a significant disadvantage of the D-M Soundex: false positives. For example, searching for Schneiderman in Polish directories displayed first records of Schneiderman, then Sznajderman, then Sinderdman, Cinderman, Schneiderennen, Sondermann, Zinderman, etc. JewishGen officials indicated to me they were considering adding that function to their D-M searches.
The OCR-Adjusted search feature considers common errors in scanning printed documents. For example, in this search the lower case letters e, c, and o are considered interchangeable because it is a common problem for scanning equipment to misinterpret what is on the document.
The search engine at the site is very powerful. Click “Advanced” next to the “Search” button to view them. Included are “and,” “or” and “not” ability; wildcard searches; exact letters in soundex searches; phrase and proximity searches; other features.
My most unusual use of his site was to discover a name in the 1914/1915 Galicia and Bukovina War Refugees Address Directory, Vol. III (excl. Lwow, Krakow) which included an entry that permitted a child survivor of the Holocaust to find more than 50 relatives living in Canada, United States and Israel.
FamilySearch Additions for the Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 10 million indexed records and images, can be found at https://www.familysearch.org/node/2563. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Canada, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, New Zealand, South Korea, Ukraine (church records) and the U.S. states of Idaho, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Virginia and Utah.
Notable additions for Jewish family history research are 3.4 million added index records to the 1911 Canadian census; 1.3 million added images to Czech Republic censuses (1800–1945); 145,000 New Zealand Probate Records (1848–1991) both indexes and images; and additional images of Queens County, New York, probate records, 1785–1950.
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.
JewishGen Courses in the Near Future
The JewishGen Education team will have three courses offered in the near future:
- Beginning Genealogy in the U.S. (August 25) focuses on immigrant ancestors and their immediate families in the United States. This course is essentially a personal mentoring program through JewishGen’s conversational online FORUM. Students read/download lessons, then post an ancestral branch, set goals for their research, and work one on one with the instructor. Our forum is open 24/7; there are no set times because students are international. Tuition is $100
- Basic 3 - Getting Organized (September 5) JewishGen offers a two week course with easy lessons on files and folders, handling your media files, getting ready to publish and much more. This Value Added Class course is open 24/7 on the JewishGen forum. You download the lessons and work on the exercises at your own speed. This class is available at no charge to Genners who have donated $100 within the last twelve months (under Value Added Services). Otherwise, tuition is $18.
- Basic 4 - Cite Your Sources (September 28) Wondering how to write citations for Internet sources? Confused by Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and JewishGen citations for the same records? Take a class. This course will cover the types of records, the evidence necessary for proof standards and practice writing citations that makes sure your records are preserved. This Value Added Class course is open 24/7 on the JewishGen forum. You download the lessons and work on the exercises at your own speed. This class is available at no charge to Genners who have donated $100 within the last twelve months (under Value Added Services). Otherwise, tuition is $18.
Full course descriptions, requirements, tuition, instructors, as well as enrollment information is at http://www.jewishgen.org/education.
Czech Familianten Records Now Online
The Czech Archives has put online at http://www.badatelna.eu/fond/2098 the first batch of records of Familianten Bucher—Jewish families primarily in Prague from 1811 to 1848. The books are organized by region and then content. From 1726 to 1848, the Familianten (family law) of Bohemia and Moravia restricted the number of Jewish families that could reside there and stipulated that only the eldest son in a family could marry. Books were kept to record these families. A good description of the law and the records they produced can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/austriaczech/czechguide.html.
New Zealand WWI Service Files Now Online
More than 141,000 World War I service files have been placed online by Archives New Zealand and the National Library. Search for individuals at http://archives.govt.nz/world-war-one. To view the actual records, click on the image to the right of his name, then click again on the image on the following page. Briefly glancing at the site, the records of a given person can be quite lengthy, exceeding 10 pages. The announcement is at http://tinyurl.com/NZWWIRecords.
Who Do You Think You Are? UK Begins Season
Now in its 11th year, the BBC One popular genealogy series, Who Do You Think You Are? started last Thursday featuring award-winning actress Julie Walters. Future celebrities, in the next nine consecutive Thursday night programs, are (in sequence of appearance) Brian Blessed, Tamzin Outhwaite, Brendan O’Carroll, Sheridan Smith, Mary Berry, Martin Shaw, Reggie Yates, Twiggy and Billy Connolly. Information can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2014/31/who-do-you-think-you-are-ep-one.
ICRC Has WWI Prisoners of War Online
The International Committee of the Red Cross has placed online index cards for prisoners of war during World War I. It is currently limited to soldiers of the British Army and Commonwealth; and French, Belgian and British servicemen and civilians interned in Switzerland. There is a search engine. The database is located at http://grandeguerre.icrc.org.
2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference
If genetic genealogy is your thing, the Institute for Genetic Genealogy (I4GG) will hold its 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference from August 15–17 at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Washington, D.C. I4GG is a new organization, founded this year. None of the speakers are known to me, but I am not that familiar with the players in this industry. Additional information is at http://i4gg.org.
Meanwhile, Family Tree DNA will hold its 10th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy from October 10–12, at the Hyatt North Houston Hotel in Houston, Texas. The program has not yet been posted. Their website is at https://www.familytreedna.com/conference.
Antique Telephones at SteveMorse.org Site
Not everything Stephen P. Morse does involves genealogy, the Internet and databases. He has a yen for antique telephones. Morse has placed a page at http://stevemorse.org/telephones where inquirers can see which phone was used by which of his/her ancestors. My only complaint is that some are not antiques, but phones from my youth 70 years ago! (I tell people you know you are getting old when you walk into an antique store and everything looks contemporary.)
Report on the 34th annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
For the first time in 20 years, I was able to act as an attendee at the annual IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. Previously, I devoted time to being an exhibitor of Avotaynu books and our journal. Despite the fact that people consider me an expert on Jewish family history research, I learned a lot from the lectures I attended, because there are always new things on the Jewish genealogical scene. The conference is truly the premier event of the year and each year it gets better. The ability to network with people of common interests—eye ball to eye ball—learn from the experts in the more than 100 lectures, meet with Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) members and a host of other activities significantly advance your knowledge on how to do Jewish family history research. My wife, who is totally disinterested in genealogy, spent her time attending lectures on Jewish history and viewing films which were presented every day concurrently with the lectures.
It is amazing how many innovations have been brought to the annual conference. The most remarkable for the attendee was the conference app. It allowed you to view on your smartphone or tablet the entire program and select which sessions you wished to attend. This was transferred to a calendar that showed your schedule for the day. Maps displayed the location of lecture rooms as well as the exhibitor hall and Share Fair layout. There were many other functions available on the app. For the electronically challenged, there still was a printed version of the full program.
More than 300 people who could not attend the conference took advantage of the LIVE!! broadcast of lectures and events. This allowed them to participate in selected lectures and continue viewing them for up to 90 days after the conference.
Even registration was simple. In the past it was not uncommon to have long lines at registration where volunteers would look up your name and print out name tags and other material. Registration at this conference took less than a minute. Just scan the bar code previous distributed to you and a laser printer printed out your name tag and all other applicable material.
The IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award 2014 was given to Dr. Alexander Beider “in recognition of his many significant contributions to the specialized science of the origins and forms of proper names and surnames of persons as applied to the field of Jewish genealogy, as well as, for the scholarly works that he has authored that have become over time, indispensable reference resources for genealogists and families who are researching their ancestors.” As publisher of his works on names, I have had the honor of knowing him for more than 20 years He is a remarkable person whose initial doctorate in a natural science, applied mathematics, makes him unique in the social science fields of onomastics and linguistics. His new love is the origins of Yiddish. He has published numerous scholarly papers on the subject, and they are now being consolidated into a single book that will be published by Oxford University Press. Since this is a subject of interest to many Jews—certainly genealogists of Ashkenazic ancestry—I have asked him to write an intelligible companion book for us mere mortals. If there was a Nobel Prize for Jewish Studies, he would be a candidate.
The IAJGS Program Award went to the Montefiore Census Digitization project which created a database of all five 19th century censuses that document the Jewish population of Eretz Yisrael between 1839 and 1875. Outstanding Publication Award went to the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island New York for its newsletter Lineage. The award for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy via the Internet was given to Jewish Records Indexing – Poland which now has placed on the Internet an index to more than five million records from current and former territories of Poland
Next year’s conference will be in Jerusalem. It is worth noting that the original plan was to hold the annual conference in Jerusalem this year, because there was a tradition that the conference was held there every ten years in the year that ended in “4.” The Israel Genealogical Society needed an additional year to prepare, so the Jerusalem conference slipped to next year. It was encouraging that nearly all the attendees of the Salt Lake City conference said they would have gone to Jerusalem despite the Israel-Gaza conflict. There was a round of applause at the banquet when the Jerusalem conference was announced and many, many people stood up when asked to rise to show if they planned to be at next year’s conference.
The 2016 conference will be held in Seattle, Washington, August 7–12, and the 2017 conference in Orlando, Florida, July 23–28. There is talk of having the 2018 one in Eastern Europe.
There were the usual exhibitors such as Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Family Tree DNA, etc. Two first timers are worth mentioning. I know nothing about these companies, but they offer services of value to readers.
Stories to Tell is a momma/poppa operation that will help you publish your family history. Their prices seem reasonable and are divided into several categories: consulting, getting started, editing, book design, printing and publishing. You can choose any of the components of their services. For example, if you have a completed manuscript that friends have critiqued and edited, they will design the book and cover and take care of the printing/publishing process. Visit their site at http://www.storiestotellbooks.com for additional information.
Genealogists.com is a genealogy service that claims they have more than 600 professional genealogists associated with the organization. Their associates are located in every state/province of the U.S and Canada, many countries of Europe and even Israel. They quote rates at their site that seem reasonable and the initial consultation is free.
Genealogist’s Declaration of Rights
Attendees were asked to sign the Genealogist’s Declaration of Rights which 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. If you have not added you name to the Declaration, please do so at http://tinyurl.com/GenealgyDoR. We must get tens of thousands of names to demonstrate that we are a force entitled to a voice in American legislatures. The signatures will be sent to state and Congressional elected officials when legislation affecting access to records is pending to show that their constituents are in favor of having open access to records.
Yeshiva University Family Discover Club
There has been talk for some time about getting the “younger generation” interested in their Jewish family roots. A group of students at Yeshiva University is doing something about it. The have formed a Yeshiva University Family Discover Club and joined IAJGS. Information about them is available at http://www.yufamilydiscovery.com.
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