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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 15, Number 47 | December 14, 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
MyHeritage “Instant Discoveries”
Want to convince your friends that researching their family history is possible? MyHeritage has come up with an approach that just might work called “Instant Discoveries
.” People who know little about their family history can now go to the MyHeritage site and provide very basic information about seven family members: themselves, their parents and grandparents, as they sign up for the service. MyHeritage will then search for information about the family in their databases containing billions of records. Users are then presented with an Instant Discovery, showing a person likely to be their ancestor, together with related information including the entire family branch, names, facts, photos and documents. Users can then apply it all to their family tree in a click.

Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage stated, “Indulging first-time users with immediate information about their family fulfills our vision to make family history accessible and enjoyable to the mass market.” To demonstrate its mainstream appeal, the Instant Discoveries experience was tested by passers-by at various locations in New York City, such as Times Square and Grand Central Terminal.

Additional information can be found at the news announcement is at

Legacy Family Tree Announces 2015 Webinars
Registration is now open for the 2015 Legacy Family Tree Webinar series. Choose from 58 classes ranging from genealogy technology to in-depth research methodologies and evidence analysis. The initial webinars, starting on December 17, are:
   • Bagging a Live One - Connecting with Cousins You Never Knew You Had
   • Genealogy on the Go with iPads and Tablets
   • Tracking Migration Using the Big 4 U.S. Record Sources
   • Expanding Your Research from a Single Fact

New features to their 2015 webinar series:
   • Evening webinars. For those who work during the day to support their genealogy habits, we have scheduled at least one evening webinar per month.
   • Beginners series. Three-class sessions designed especially for beginners.
   • “Researching with Karen!” series. Submit your research problem for a chance to have personalized recommendations explained during the live webinar.
   • Subscribers-only bonus webinars. Another new membership benefit for annual and monthly webinar subscribers - private bonus webinars.

A complete schedule can be found at their website Print a brochure of the complete schedule at

JewishGen Offering Four Education Courses in First Quarter of 2015
JewishGen will be offering four education courses in the first quarter of 2015:
   • Basic 1: Search Strategies for Genealogy (Jan 2–16)
   • Research Your Roots on JewishGen (Jan 1–29)
   • Beginning Jewish Genealogy in the U.S. (Jan 16–Feb 10)
   • Complex Genealogical Research in the U.S. (March 2¬–30)

Course details, instructor’s credentials and student requirements (time, fees, and prerequisites) are at Course Registration opens two or three weeks before the course start date.

AVOTAYNU Offer: 6 issues for Price of 4
Subscriptions to our quarterly journal AVOTAYNU are on a calendar basis; therefore, if you subscribed to our journal today for one year, the first issue would not be available until next April. Consequently, we offer the public a six-issue subscription consisting of the Fall and Winter 2014 issues plus all issues of 2015 for $53.

For just one week, we are offering to Nu? What’s New? readers a six-issue subscription for only $38.00—the cost of a four-issue subscription—a $15 saving. The offer expires next Sunday, December 21. Persons outside U.S. and Canada can subscribe for only $46 instead of $65, a $19 saving.

Go to, place you order, and when checking out, use Coupon Code 6FOR4D for U.S./Canada and 6FOR4F for other countries.

Become a subscriber to our quarterly journal which, for 30 years, has provided readers each year with more than 300 pages of useful, interesting information that can help you in your research. Arthur Kurzweil once stated, “The single most significant development in the field of Jewish genealogy over the past decade has been the appearance of Avotaynu...(It) is essential for all Jewish genealogists. You must subscribe to it.”

Contribute to Genealogy Non-Profits
It is getting near the end of the year which is the time for Americans to evaluate whether they have made tax-deductible contributions for 2014 to worthy causes—including genealogy causes. My two favorite are JewishGen and the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.

JewishGen. We all use JewishGen throughout the year. We subscribe to its Discussion Groups, are members of its Special Interest Groups, check the JewishGen Family Finder from time to time to see if any new listings involve our research areas. On occasion, we use the Jewish Community Finder when we come across a new town whose location is unknown to us. When there is a document in a language we do not understand, we post it to Viewmate so a volunteer can translate it. We take advantage of the more than 20 million records JewishGen currently hosts and view many of its 70,000 web pages. Do we contribute monetarily to its sustainment and growth? If you have not made your annual contribution to JewishGen, do it now on its JewisGen-erosity page at Consider contributing $100 for the year. If you do, you are entitled to Value Added Services described at valueadded.asp.

International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG). Not every worthwhile genealogy organization produces instant gratification in the area of your personal family history research. The primary goals of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy are two-fold:
  • To advance the academic status of Jewish Genealogy within the field of Jewish Studies through research and teaching at the university level;
  • To contribute to Jewish continuity on the premise that knowledge of one’s roots helps assure a Jewish future.

In a very short period of time, the Institute has made tangible progress in pursuing its goals at both the scholarly and broader Jewish levels. It has:
  • participated in international Jewish Studies conferences to promote family history as an academic discipline.
  • developed innovative tools and technologies, specifically designed for the Jewish family historian
  • elaborated Academic Guidelines for BA and MA courses in Jewish genealogy
  • carried out many ground-breaking research projects.  

Actually, there has already been tangible value of general use from IIJG projects. The Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System was a direct result of an ongoing IIJG project. Contribute to IIJG at

Family Tree Magazine Announces 2014 List of 75 Best Genealogy Sites
 Family Tree Magazine has published their 2014 list of 75 best genealogy websites for the United States. The websites—at least one per state—boast millions of historical records including newspaper pages, wills, military service and pension papers and other documents. This is an excellent opportunity to browse down to the states of interest and see if there are any new sites that contain potentially valuable information regarding your family history research. The list appears at state-genealogy-websites.

U.S. Genealogy Roadshow Starts Second Season Next Month
The Genealogy Roadshow starts its second season on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at 8pm ET on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) for six consecutive Tuesdays.

The show features genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry (immediate past president of the Association of Professional Genealogists), Joshua Taylor (president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies) and Mary Tedesco (founder of ORIGINS ITALY) solving family mysteries or finding ancestral records of participants in the roadshow. This year, the show will come twice each from New Orleans, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

Additional information is at aspx. Season 1 episodes can be viewed at

Order Wills and Probate Records for England and Wales Online
IAJGS Secretary, Mark Nicholls, notes that is now possible to order wills and probate records for England and Wales online. The period covered is 1858–1996 and 1996–present (two separate searches available). You need to know the year of death to find a specific will/probate. Nichols states that the year of death can be obtained from researching deaths on commercial sites such as,, The Genealogist, (, or the free website FreeBMD at The indexes of wills for England and Wales 1858–1966 are available on and can help with finding individuals.
Search for wills at There are separate tabs for the two collections. Cost for access to the actual documents is £10 per will/probate.

1925 Valuation Rolls for Scotland Online
The Valuation Rolls for 1925 have just been added to the ScotlandsPeople website. The new records comprise 2,103,648 indexed names and 76,512 digital images. The Rolls cover every kind of property in Scotland that was assessed in 1925 as having a rateable value. Access is at no charge. Additional information is at index.aspx?r=554&2080.

FindMyPast New Acquisitions
FindMyPast has added the following to its collection:
   • Surviving fragments from the 1890 US Census
   • 31 million English Marriages, 1538–1973
   • 130,000 Welsh Marriages, 1541–1900
   • 700,000 new Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers, completing this popular collection

The 1890 Federal Census was destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC, in 1921. The surviving fragments record only 6,160 of the 63 million people enumerated. These records are also available on and FamilySearch.

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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