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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 18 | October 6, 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
This issue of Nu? What’s New? was delayed by one day due to the Yom Kippur holy day.

New Genealogy Site Is a Strange One
It never ceases to amaze me how many genealogical efforts that have started up profess billions of records, a magnificent search engine and a beautiful website. Such is the new site: FamilyTreeNow. It offers—free of charge—all U.S. census records including indexes and actual images; numerous local birth, marriage and death indexes (plus the Social Security Death Index); and military and public records indexes.

It is possible they have gotten these records from government institutions that make them available to the public for a charge. Searching for my family, I pulled up the 1940 census discovered they had misspelled the street name—Ten Wyck Walk rather than Ten Eyck Walk. Could the source be some other major genealogy site? has the street name spelled correctly, and FamilySearch does not include street names in their index. But MyHeritage does include it and with the same misspelling. The misspelling could not be coincidental, because looking at the actual census page, the street name is quite clear—Ten Eyck Walk.

It is strange that the two sites have the same error. (On a QWERTY keyboard the letters W and E are next to each other.) Either FamilyTreeNow is part of My Heritage or both companies got their index from the same source.

The new site is at

Dick Eastman Discusses a Paperless Environment
Dick Eastman, author of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, has written a thought-provoking article about the fact that we all should be moving toward a paperless office; more specifically the Cloud. (For those not familiar with the Cloud, it is a system where you store all your data—genealogical and otherwise—on some other computer rather than your own personal computer. This other computer is on the Internet, that is, in
the Cloud. See Wikipedia for a more detailed description.)

Eastman says, “Today, I am no longer joking about the paperless office. It is a reality right now for those who wish to change their thought processes and adopt new and better methods of storing information. I have converted most of my records, documents, and books to a paperless environment, although I admit to some difficulty in breaking old habits.”

This author is slowly moving all his files to the Cloud using Dropbox. Initially the reason was that there are certain applications I work on both in Avotaynu’s office and at home. For example, articles for Nu? What’s New? may be composed in either location, yet I want a common directory so I can access everything on one “computer.” This one computer is the Dropbox network of computers on the Internet.

A more urgent reason occurred when I was at the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Salt Lake City last August. I do not read my e-mail on the Internet when I am away from home, but instead use LogMeIn to remotely access my home computer. This allowed the computer at the Business Center of the Salt Lake Hilton Hotel to behave as if I was on my home computer. About the third day of the conference, I could no longer access my home computer and became concerned that my home had been burglarized, and the burglars had stolen my computer. Equally serious is that I back up all my files onto an external drive daily at home for protection. But this protection is meaningless if they stole my hard drive too.

As it turned out, the home computer failure was caused due to a planned blackout by the electric company doing some cable work in the area. This created the urgency for me to place my important files in the Cloud, because physical backup drives were not protection against burglary. I have now placed much of these critical files, including all my genealogy data in the Dropbox environment. This includes 5,000 digitized versions of the documents I have accumulated over the past 35 years of research.

You can read Eastman’s article at It is not the complete article because his newsletter service is free of charge, but paid subscribers get selected articles, of which this is one.

Canada Gazette: A Useful Resource
A posting to members of the JGS of Montreal notes that a much-overlooked but fruitful resource that might be missed can be found at the Library and Archives Canada website: the Canada Gazette. Often referred to as “the official newspaper of the Government of Canada,” the gazette published names of people who were naturalized, names of people who divorced, and names of federal government employees, to cite a few. The site is at The keyword “Levy” produced 15,574 hits.

FamilySearch Additions for the Week - Part 1
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 3.7 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, Canada, Ghana, Italy, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain and the U.S. states of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Some notable additions for Jewish family history research are additions to the index of Florida, Key West Passenger Lists (1898–1957), additions to digital images of Georgia World War II Draft Registration Cards (1897–1942), and additions to digital images of Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization (1906–1991).

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.

FamilySearch Additions Part 2 – 183 Million Indexed Records and Images
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 183 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Belgium, China, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Korea, Ukraine and the U.S. states of Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Texas and Washington. The largest addition is 174 million indexed records for England and Wales birth, marriage and death records (1837–200x). I have seen these indexes or partial indexes before on either or FindMyPast. They were extracted from a book index that only shows name, record type, year, quarter (not month or exact date), district, county, volume, and page number. The marriage index includes maiden named of spouse after 1911. Because they do not show exact date of the event, they are of lesser value.

Check the complete list. There are numerous additions apropos to Jewish family history research including more than 6 million images of Missouri probate records and 1 million Washington State county records.

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.

Project To Make Billion Records from Obituaries Searchable Online
In celebration of Family History Month, FamilySearch and GenealogyBank today announced an agreement to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. It will take tens of thousands of online volunteers to accomplish the project.

The source will be obituaries in newspapers from all 50 states and will cover the period from 1730 to the present. The announcement states that the completed online index will be fairly comprehensive, including 85% of U.S. deaths from the last decade alone. The death collection will detail names, dates, relationships, locations of the deceased, and multi-generational family members.

It is unclear whether this data will be offered at no charge. FamilySearch records are at no charge, but GenealogyBank is a fee-for-service company. They provide information from more than 6,500 historical U.S. newspapers spanning over 280 years.

The announcement can be found at

FamilySearch and Historical Society of Pennsylvania To Publish Historical Documents Online
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) and FamilySearch announced a joint initiative to digitally preserve select collections of the historical society’s vast holdings, starting with compiled family histories. The project is now underway, and the digitized documents will be accessible free at

The initiative will digitally preserve and publish online the society’s many genealogies and local histories, family trees, and related family documents and manuscripts that contribute to the understanding of many family histories. The announcement notes that HSP holdings include “Jewish resources,” but there is no explanation of these resources. The Balch Institute, located in Philadelphia, documented the histories and experiences of over sixty ethnic groups in the United States, including Jews. In 2002, the Institute merged with HSP who acquired its holdings, including manuscripts, images, and other records.

The announcement is at publish-historical-documents-online.

FindMyPast Offers World Subscription for only $5.00
October is Genealogy Month in the U.S. and to celebrate the occasion, Findmypast is offering during the entire month of October a 30-day membership to their World subscription for just $5.00. Go to their home pages at, click the link “Activate your voucher here,” and use the code USFHM14. I did not go through the entire process. You have to register, but it does not appear they will ask for credit card information that would imply automatic renewal. Findmypast claims to have 1.8 billion records in their collection.

JGSGB One-day Conference on October 26
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain is holding its 21st Annual London Conference on Sunday, October 26 at the London Jewish Museum in Camden. Topics include:
   • For Eternity? The Care and Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries and How
Family Historians Can Help
   • The March of the Judeans in 1918: When the Spirit of
Judah Maccabee Hung Over Whitechapel
   • The Singer - John Braham - Enigma, Anecdote and Reality
   • Using Findmypast to Trace Those Hard To Find Ancestors
   • Jewish Sources for Family History at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives
   • Unique and Unusual Resources in Galician and Polish Research.

Full details and application form are available at

Relatives of Adopted Adults in UK Can Now Access Information
Relatives of adopted adults in the UK are now able to access information about their birth families. New regulations announced by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson have extended rights to family members. Timpson has two adopted brothers. Previously only the person adopted and their birth relatives were able to use specialized adoption agencies to help shed light on their family history and make contact with their biological family members. The announcement is at adopted-adults-now-able-to-trace-family-tree.

Video on Genetic Research and the Origins of the Jewish People
Readers who are still confused about how DNA works for genealogical purposes might find the video at worthwhile watching. The lecturer talks about the basics of DNA testing and how it can be used to determine the origin of the branches of the human race with focus on the Jewish people. The talk is designed for people with a minimal understanding of the subject.

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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