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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 14 | March 29, 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
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

No New? What’s New? Issue Next Week
 Because of the holiday of Passover, there will be no edition of Nu? What’s New? next Sunday. Next Friday night, Jews all over the world will be gathering with family and/or friends for a Seder (literally “order” in Hebrew) which recounts the liberation of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt as told in the Book of Exodus. The Seder itself is based on the biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8)

Have You Registered for Avotaynu Online?
Have You Friended Avotaynu Online on Facebook?
Thousands of people have visited the Avotaynu Online site since it was first announced last Wednesday, but only a portion have registered to receive future announcements from this new venture. Have you registered yet? If not, register now at Your e-mail address will not be shared with any other organization (as is true of the Nu? What’s New? mailing list).

Only by registering will you receive notices of forthcoming articles, projects, videos, podcasts, etc.

We deliberately seeded Avotaynu Online with five years of AVOTAYNU articles to give you an idea of what Avotaynu Online will look like five years from now when the site has accumulated its own original articles. Use the search engine on the home page to do full-word searches of the names of your ancestral town and/or surnames. To the left of the home page, we have indexed articles on the site by category. Choose from the nearly 50 categories those topics of interest to you.

Avotaynu Inc now offers your three methods of keeping abreast of what is new in Jewish genealogy. Our flagship AVOTAYNU, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy at What’s New?, the e-zine of Jewish Genealogy at; and now, Avotaynu Online at

FamilySearch Has NYC Vital Records Online
Alex Friedlander notes that FamilySearch has developed its own index to New York City births, marriage and deaths. The year ranges and links are:
     • New York, New York City Births, 1846–1909
     • New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1866–1938
     • New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795–1949

The content of the extraction is significantly greater than the indexes which have existed for years on the Italian Genealogy Group site and can be linked to through A 1906 birth record includes name of child and birth date and names, ages and birthplaces of parents. A 1937 marriage record includes marriage date, names and ages of bride and groom, and names of parents including maiden name of mother. A 1921 death record includes name, age and marital status of decedent, date of death, address and occupation at time of death, date and place of burial, parents’ names and place of birth, spouse’s name. That is what was present on the documents viewed. Earlier years may have different information.

The extraction of surnames is horrible for the few records I found. Surnames are misspelled, because they are written in script and the extractors were unfamiliar with Jewish surnames. In my parents’ marriage record their mothers are listed as Wladasser and Claennich. The correct names are Wlodawer and Chemnick. In examining the actual document it is entirely reasonable that the extractors could misinterpret the script writing and come up with the results shown.

FamilySearch Announces Recent Additions to Its Online Site
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 5.8 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Canada, Hungary, Russia, South Africa, and the U.S. states of California, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina. For some unknown reason it does not include the New York City vital records indexes noted above.

There are many notable additions of index records and images. Look at the complete list to determine if it applies to your research.

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 Has GenealogyBank Obituaries
In researching the New York City vital records indexes, it was discovered that FamilySearch now has an index to more than 10 million obituaries from They are located at Information provided includes name, obituary notice date, location, age and gender of deceased, death date and source (usually a newspaper). is a fee-for-service website. It was not possible to determine if they provide additional information because they require registering to use their database.

Steve Morse Site Now Links to Passenger List Indexes on FamilySearch
The Stephen P. Morse One-Step Web Pages site has a new function that allows searching the U.S. passenger arrival indexes at The search is located at They include Baltimore (1820–1948), Boston (1820–1891), Boston (1891–1943), Key West (1898–1957), Los Angeles (1907–1948), New Orleans (1820–1945), New York (1820–1891), New York (1925–1957), Philadelphia (1800–1882), Philadelphia (1883–1945), San Francisco (1893–1953) Seattle (1890–1957), Tampa (1898–194) and Wilmington NC (1898–1958). Use the Ellis Island Gold Form to search the New York (1892–1924) lists.

The link is permanently located on the One-Step Home page under “Other Ports of Immigration: Various Ports (free): Searching for Passengers from Various Ports for free in One Step.”

Yad Vashem Announces Plans to Participate In Annual Conference
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, plans special programs for those attending the 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, scheduled for July 6–10 at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem.

On July 5, the conference’s Exploration Sunday, Yad Vashem will provide a customized day where participants will be afforded personalized access to its resources to suit their specific needs. There will be a special guided tour of the Holocaust History Museum and/or additional exhibitions and commemorative sites on the Mount of Remembrance. People will meet Yad Vashem experts presenting a behind-the-scenes look at collections and stories not as yet released to the public. A box lunch is included.

During the conference Yad Vashem will have expanded hours—from 8am–6pm. In addition, people will be able to buy books in their bookstore for a 30 percent discount, shipping included.

Additional information is at names/genealogy_conference.asp.

Register for the conference before April 15 to receive a discount plus other benefits. The conference website is at

Knowles Collection Reaches One Million Records
The Knowles Collection of generations of Jewish families has reached its one-millionth record. The collection was started by Todd Knowles, a Mormon with Jewish ancestry, about seven years ago with historical records gathered from FamilySearch’s collections. Now the vast majority of new contributions are coming from families and private archives worldwide. It is part of the FamilySearch collection of family trees and cannot be searched independent of other trees, all of which are accessed at

The Knowles Collection subcollections include Jews of the British Isles (208,349 records), Jews of North America (489,400), Jews of Europe (380,637), Jews of South America and the Caribbean (21,351), Jews of Africa, the Orient, and the Middle East (37,618), and the newest one, Jews of the Southern Pacific (21,518). The collection is growing by about 10,000 names per month from more than 80 countries.

Knowles has a blog about the collection at The complete announcement can be found at

FTDNA to Present 20 Workshops at Who Do You Think You Are LIVE!
Family Tree DNA will present 20 workshops on the use of DNA testing in family history research at the Who Do You Think You Are LIVE! conference in Birmingham, England, from April 16–18. Topics include a basic lecture on “DNA for Beginners” to “Autosomal DNA - How To Use It In Practice.” One topic of interest to all who are using DNA testing is “How To Convince Relatives and Strangers To Test and Why.”

A DNA track of lectures at future IAJGS conferences would be a useful addition. Information about the FTDNA lectures is at

Hungarian Government Pledges Money to Restore Jewish Cemeteries
The Hungarian government slammed as a “barbaric deed” the recent desecration of the Jewish cemetery in the town of Gyongyos and pledged 1 billion forints ($3.5 million) to care for abandoned Jewish cemeteries around the country. There are more than 1,200 Jewish cemeteries in Hungary, most of them abandoned and in neglected condition. A spreadsheet that is a list of Hungarian Jewish cemeteries by town can be found at Unfortunately, the spreadsheet does not have a heading line, so it is difficult to determine what the various columns mean.

Austro-Hungary Military Blogspot
There is a lengthy “Guide for Locating Austro-Hungarian Military Records” written by Carl Kotlarchik 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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