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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 7 | February 15, 2015
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
Who Do You Think You Are? New Season Announced
Who Do You Think You Are? will start its new season on the TLC channel on March 8 at 10pm ET. Check your local listings for the exact time in your area. Personalities include Julie Chen, Melissa Etheridge, America Ferrara, Josh Groban, Angie Harmon, Sean Hayes and Bill Paxton. The announcement is found at A video about the new season is at

USCIS Webinar On Overview of Their Records
The U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service will hold a webinar that is an overview of historical Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) records available to researchers at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It is on Friday, February 20 at 1pm Eastern Time. These records cover every aspect of immigration and naturalization policy from the turn of the twentieth century until 1975. Participants will learn about the most important finding aids, see sample files, and learn how to request files from the Archives. The webinar will not be recorded for future viewing. Register at There is a presentation handout at that may be of value even to those not attending the webinar, but want a more detailed knowledge of the holdings of USCIS with regard to immigration and naturalization.

AJDC Adds Its Warsaw Office Collection (1945–1949) to Its Website
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, in cooperation with the Jewish Historical Institute (JHI) in Warsaw, has added its Warsaw Office Collection (1945–1949) to its Internet Site. The collection includes index cards and documents from its Emigration and Location Services Departments as well as other material useful for genealogical research. The office was started in 1945 and existed until the Communist government expelled the organization in 1949.

Access the new collection at Use the Text Collections option.

Important note: The names of individuals identified in the Warsaw collection have not been carried forward to the Names Index collection. For example, searching for the surname Mokotow in the Text Collection uncovered a case file for a woman named Bronislawa Mokotow, yet her name does not appear in the Names Index.

Biweekly Drawing of Prizes Await IAJGS Conference Registrants
If you are planning to attend the 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, register now. You will be entered into a biweekly drawing whose prizes include free hotel nights, banquet tickets, Exploration Sunday Registration, subscriptions, subscriptions, and more. The earlier you register, the more chances to win.

The conference is being held in Jerusalem, Israel, from July 6–10 at the Ramada Jerusalem Hotel. The conference website is at

AVOTAYNU Editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus, Discusses Human Interest Stories
There is a video on YouTube where AVOTAYNU Editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack-Pikus discusses human interest stories that have appeared the recently published Winter issue of AVOTAYNU. It is located at The video is part of a Tracing Your Family Roots series that Dr. Sack-Pikus has done with Arlene Sachs for the past eight years. All previous programs are also on YouTube. They can be found by searching for “Sachs Tracing Your Family Roots.” They were all produced by Arlene’s husband, Sidney Sachs. The Table of Contents for the Winter issue is at

Hungarian Jewish Encyclopedia Online
Marilyn Robinson in her Jewish Gems Genealogy blog notes that the Hungarian Jewish encyclopedia, Magyar Zsido Lexicon, is online at It was published in 1929 and features articles about various aspects of Hungarian-Jewish history. Click on the image of the book to the right of the page to browse its pages.

The existence of the online version was mentioned in a 2006 edition of Nu? What’s New?. In revisiting the site, it has a number of useful features that may have not existed in 2006. At the bottom of the home page, the authors have abstracted various elements of the encyclopedia. For example, there is an index of towns showing their Jewish population. Another index is described as “Little known people.” Another is names of local officials. At the very bottom of the home page is a link to a full-word search engine. If you are unfamiliar with the Hungarian language, use the Google translate function.

Ancestry Announces 2015 Product and Content Plans
The RootsTech conference is becoming the place to announce new products and plans. It was the opportunity for’s CEO, Tim Sullivan, to describe some of the plans for his company.

The Ancestry website will be having a new look. The company has had a web presence for many, many years and it has gotten “old” looking. The new site experience is currently in limited Beta and was demonstrated at RootsTech, but the date of public access has not yet been announced.

Ancestry mobile will introduce a new full search feature in the iOS app that will allow users to access the company’s 15 billion historical records.

Ancestry will launch Ancestry Academy in April. The new resource will offer how-to tutorials and historical guidance to help experts and novices alike.

Following the successful launch of AncestryDNA in the UK, the company will soon be bringing the service to its members in Australia and Canada.

There were numerous others plans announced, all of which can be seen

FindMyPast Makes Major Announcements at RootsTech
FindMyPast has announced two additional partnerships at the recently completed RootsTech conference.

Family Tree DNA. Findmypast will now be offering DNA testing services to all its members through Family Tree DNA. Premium subscribers to FindMyPast will be given a special rate on FamilyTreeDNA tests. The partnership was announced at the recently completed RootsTech Conference. I could find no link to the offer at the FindMyPast site.

BillionGraves. FindMyPast will add more than 12 million grave marker indexes to its websites and The source is the database of These records already exist at the BillionGraves site as well as FamilySearch.

JewishGen Course on “Complex Genealogy in the United States” Planned
JewishGen will be offering a course on “Complex Genealogy in the United States” from March 2–30. The course’s purpose is to discuss advanced research necessary to break through brick walls. There will be eight text lessons online. The lessons will cover: Naturalization, Passports, Death Records (Probate, Obituaries, Cemeteries), Newspapers, City Directories, Immigration Ports other than Ellis Island, Major Archives and Libraries, Military records, Internet Research and miscellaneous State and Federal Government Records. The emphasis is on using the Internet efficiently and employing advanced on-site or email techniques in U.S. research.

Requirements and tuition are detailed in the course description located at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Download Pages of Testimony Forms.”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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