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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 39 | Octoberf 12, 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.

This edition of Nu? What’s New? was delayed one day due to an extended vacation with the 16 members of my immediate family, including 8 grandchildren.

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Consider “Right To Be Forgotten” Case
You Can’t Undo Historical Facts
The difference between the European Union’s view of “right to be forgotten” and the United States view of “right to know” was obvious in decisions handed down this week in the two entities.

Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee reports that the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a case leaving in place the Second Circuit opinion that denied the “right to be forgotten.” The case involved a woman who was arrested in Connecticut on drug charges in 2010. The Hearst newspapers in southern Connecticut ran short accounts of the arrest and published them both in print and online. The charges against the woman were dropped in January 2012. As a consequence of Connecticut law, her arrest record was removed from Connecticut records. The Hearst newspapers refused to remove the original newspaper article of the arrest, and the woman claimed she was defamed as a consequence. Despite this Connecticut policy, the Second Circuit found the state’s “erasure statute” wipes out an arrest history in certain circumstances but does not undo historical facts “or convert once true facts into falsehoods”. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. A description of the case can be found at

European Court of Justice Reaffirms Privacy Rights
Jan Meisels Allen reports that the European Court of Justice (EUCJ) has ruled that the international agreement permitting digital data transfer between the United States and the European Union 28-member countries is invalid. The decision found the data transfer agreement violates the privacy rights of Europeans by exposing them to allegedly indiscriminate surveillance by the U.S. government.

This is a major problem for companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple who collect and mine data from European users but send it to their home bases in the United States. It also affects any organization with international operations that needs to transfer employee information such as benefits or payroll online, and American companies that provide cloud storage services for EU based companies. More than 4,500 European and American companies will be required to treat their information moved outside the EU with the same privacy protections the data has within the EU. The EUCJ ruling declared the data-transfer agreement, known as “safe harbor” is immediately invalid. The ruling permits data-privacy regulators in each of the 28 member countries to evaluate how they move data from each of their countries to the United States. As genealogists researching Europe rely on data found on search engines, this decision affects genealogists in their research opportunities. The decision may be read at:

New York Times report on the issue can be found at

Announcing NARA’s Digitization Priorities
A few weeks ago, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asked the public for suggestions and feedback about their digitization priorities. NARA reports that, overwhelmingly, people asked them to digitize records of genealogical interest, including immigration and ethnic heritage records and military and veterans records, especially those from World War I and II, and, of course, records that had preservation concerns.

NARA has published their list of priority items for the next 18-24 months; few
have to do with items of genealogical interest. Their priorities include such items as Nixon White House Tapes, John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection and German Flown Aerial Photography (1939–1945). Those of genealogical interest include All Naturalization Records(!?) and a few specific groups such as “Case Files of Disapproved Pension Applications of Veterans of the Army and the Navy Who Served Mainly in the Civil War and the War with Spain (1861–1934).”

An article that includes the complete list can be found at 10/02/announcing-naras-digitization-priorities.

What Was Life Like in a Typical Village in Eastern Poland?
What was life like in a typical village in eastern Poland? How were the holidays celebrated? What did people eat? How did they spend their spare time?

Virtual Shtetl has placed online the memoir of Henry Gitelman who was born “on the sixth day of Succot” in “the year that telegraph poles were first installed.” He describes his life in Slawatycze, Poland. It can be read at The memoir is presented in 73 pages and, unfortunately, there is no Table of Contents. Glancing through the pages, you will see a description of his personal experience before, during and after the Holocaust.

For the First Time, ITS Places Documents of Nazi Persecution Online
The International Tracing Service has placed online a trickle of the 55 million documents in its possession about German persecution of individuals during the Nazi era. They are those artifacts inscribed onto the UNESCO “Memory of the World” register.

ITS has uploaded three collections in an initial step including photos of personal objects that were taken from the prisoners in the concentration camps, a collection on the death marches and files from the Child Search Branch from the time immediately following the liberation of Nazi victims.

Representatives from the eleven member states in the International Commission, the governing body of the ITS, decided in 2014 that starting in 2015, ITS would gradually begin placing its documents online. For the pilot project, the three collections were chosen that, based on the subject matter, the amount of data, and data protection considerations, are appropriate for presenting on this online portal. In addition, a scholarly reappraisal and the archival description of the collections played roles in making this selection.

ITS Disclaimer. It is worth noting that this European-based institution, run primarily by European countries is leaning toward the “right to know” rather that the “right to privacy.” To use the site, the user must agree to a series of statements which include:
     “This portal contains sensitive, personal data in connection with identified or identifiable persons and their purported religious affiliation, race, political views or affiliations, state of health, sexual orientation, union membership and criminal record.
     “The same terms of usage apply to the portal that apply to a visit to the ITS archives in Bad Arolsen. These were established for the ITS by the International Commission, its governing body, and do not correspond to German or other national archival rules.
     “As user of this portal you are hereby held personally accountable for respecting rights to privacy and other laws and legitimate third party interests as well as generally recognized practices relating to personal data. The ITS cannot be held responsible for the publications of third parties that appear by means of the use of the ITS collections. Here national law where the publication occurs applies. (Emphasis added).
The news release is at index.html?expand=9233.

A description of the online inventory is at

FamilySearch Adds 8 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.5 million index records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Italy, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Peru and the U.S. states of California, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri Montana and Utah. Also included is an additional 1M World War II Draft Registrations records, both index and images.

Notable additions are to the indexes of São Paulo, Brazil, Immigration Cards (1902–1980); additional index entries for Baltimore Passenger Lists (1820–1948); and New Zealand Probate Records 1843–1997

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.

TheGenealogist Places British Emgiration Lists Online
TheGenealogist has just released 5M UK emigration records for the period 1896–1909. The search engine allows searching by name, port of embarkation, port of destination, country of departure, country arrival and nationality. These records also exist on Additional information about the announcement can be found at

National Library of Australia Newspaper Collection Can Be Searched
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? stated that National Library of Australia Newspaper Collection is not indexed. This is not true. Robyn Dryen of New South Wales, Australia, notes that the contents have been optically scanned and there is a full-word search engine at

Ancestry Adds German Phone Directories (1915
A posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group notes that Ancestry has added phone directories for Berlin (1915–1981), Frankfurt-am-Main (1926–1980), Hamburg (1927–1980), Leipzig (1941–1980) and Munich (1929–1980). The collection is at

Digitization of Posen Resident Registrations Is Nearly Complete
The digitizing of Posen residence registrations by the Polish State Archives is nearly complete. Available online are the surnames Abakanowicz through Wyrkus. The database can be found at After clicking a range of names from the list, click “Digital Copies” to view the images.

The Library Card Catalog Is Officially Dead
The card catalog, a fixture in libraries for more than 100 years is officially dead. The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) the cooperative that created the world’s first shared online catalog system back in 1971, allowed libraries to order custom-printed cards that could then be put in their own card cataloging systems. Now, says OCLC, it’s time to lay a largely symbolic system that’s well past its prime to rest.

Read more at 180956823/?no-ist.

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 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

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

* Also see Russia and USSR ** Also see individual countries
Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
Copyright 2015, Avotaynu, Inc. All rights reserved

To change an e-mail address, send a request to

To subscribe to AVOTAYNU, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, go to

To order books from our catalog, go to

To contact us by postal mail, write: Avotaynu, Inc.; 794 Edgewood Ave.; New Haven, CT 06515

Telephone  (U.S.) : 475-202-6575