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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 40 | October 17, 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.

FamilySearch Adds Ellis Island Index (1925–1957)
This week’s additions to the Family Search record collection include an index to “New York Passenger and Crew Lists (1909, 1925–1957)”. The actual records are online also and can be linked to from index results. Based on searching for persons named Mokotow, it may be an independent creation and not a copy of what already exists on Ancestry. An inquiry to FamilySearch questioning whether it was independently created has not yet been answered. Independently created indexes have the advantage that an error in transcribing information into one database is unlikely to appear in the second database.

This database is a major boon to Jewish genealogists whose ancestors came to the United States through Ellis Island during this time period. The free Ellis Island database at, which is usually searched through the Stephen P. Morse One-Step site, only includes arrivals through 1924. The Ancestry collection includes arrivals to 1957, but is accessible only by paid subscription.

The FamilySearch version has a quirk. Most of the passenger lists are two pages long. After accessing the first page of the passenger manifest, there seems to be no way to browse to the next page. Click “Open in a new window” and the resulting page allows you to browse the manifest to retrieve the second page.

Other Collections Added to FamilySearch
In addition to the 10M indexes of the Ellis Island collection, Family Search added another 4M indexed records and images. The list, including the Ellis Island entry, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Brazil, British Columbia (Canada), Germany, Isle of Man, Nicaragua and the U.S. states of Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Utah. Also there are 562,000 additions to the Billion Graves Index.

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.

NARA’s Digitization Priorities Include Items of Genealogical Interest
The last issue of Nu? What’s New? noted that “the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has published their list of digitization priority items for the next 18-24 months; few have to do with items of genealogical interest.” Claire Kluskens, Senior Reference and Projects Archivist, notes that in fact there are a large number of collections of value to genealogists.

Perhaps most significant is “Microfilm Publications” which may indicate that all NARA microfilms accessible to the public will be digitized. She also notes a number of name-rich collections including Department of State Name Index (1910–1959), Department of State Central Decimal Files (1910-1929) and a host of naval and seaman’s records.

The list includes “German Flown Aerial Photography (1939–1945).” I recall in the 1980s, a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York) discovered this record group. It includes aerial photographs of many Eastern European towns.

The complete list can be found at

U.S. National Archives Once Again Will Hold “Virtual Genealogy Fair”
The U.S. National Archives will once again hold a “Virtual Genealogy Fair” from October 21–22. A comparable fair was held in October 2014. There will be five one-hour sessions on each day focusing on records at the Archives of interest to genealogists. The start time is 10am ET and the last lecture is at 2pm. David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, will make opening remarks on the first day. The very first session will be “Introduction to Genealogy at the National Archives” by Claire Kluskens.

The list of presentations is at It includes a description of how to participate in the online webinars.

Sale: Every Family Has a Story For Only $18.50
Avotaynu is interested in reducing its inventory of books printed some years ago. We are now offering to Nu? What’s New? subscribers the book Every Family Has a Story: Tales from the Pages of AVOTAYNU for only $18.50 plus shipping. The normal retail price is $37.00—that is a 50% discount. This offer is good only until October 26.

Every Family Has a Story consists of 72 AVOTAYNU articles that focus on the human side of genealogy—how genealogists have been personally affected by their research and how the research of genealogists has affected others.

We have chosen the best of these stories and some of them are quite remarkable. Interestingly, the lead article in the book was the very first human interest story we ever published in AVOTAYNU: "Freya Joins the Kahn Klan." It relates how a woman, who was adopted shortly after birth, decided to locate her birth family when, in her mid-40s, she became interested in genealogy. She discovered she was one of eight children
the only one adopted out. None of her birth siblings knew of her existence. How she found the family and the consequences would make a Hollywood movie.

The second story in the book is the one that created the most feedback from AVOTAYNU readers: "Evelyne Regains Her Identity." It relates how I helped a child survivor of the Holocaust find family. Evelyne had spent her entire life without family and with little exposure to her Jewish heritage. How I found her cousins and helped her regain her Jewish identity is described in the article.

"Every Family Has a Story" is divided into eight sections. The first section, titled "Potpourri" contains a mixture of articles chosen as the best of the best human interest articles selected for the book. In addition to the above-mentioned articles, there is one by Batya Unterschatz, "The Diary of Miriam Hanania." It relates how she helped locate a woman who wrote a pre-Holocaust diary as a teenager. The story has a shocking ending. The most unusual name-change story we have ever published is described in "A Priest in the Family." Valery Bazarov formerly of HIAS and Marian Smith of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services relate a very unusual immigrant story in "Children Under 16 Unaccompanied by Parent: The Family Zuser." When a Jewish woman with four children got off the boat at Ellis Island, the authorities got suspicious that two of the children were not hers—they were black. Finally, the Potpourri section ends with the real origin of the legend of Sean Ferguson, the hapless Jewish immigrant whose name was changed at Ellis Island.

The remaining stories are divided into sections: People, Family, Back to the Old Country, Crypto-Jews, Luck, Genealogy and Holocaust. One of the best stories is last in the book. Written by Olga Zabludoff and titled "When Good Men Do Nothing," it relates how the author, with the help of local citizens, restored the Jewish cemetery and mass graves in Butrimonys, Lithuania, site of the murder of 1,230 Jewish men, women and children. In my correspondence with Olga, I apologized for making her story the last. She responded that it was of no concern to her. With the name Zabludoff, she was used to being placed last.

To summarize: Purchase Every Family Has a Story for only $18.50 plus shipping (regular price $37.00 plus shipping) through October 26. The book is hard cover and has 304 pages. The complete Table of Contents, which is annotated, as well as ordering information can be found at
You must use discount code EVERYFAMILY when you checkout. We have also included a sample story from the book—Batya Unterschatz's story. Genealogists will not only find the book interesting reading, but will undoubtedly want to give it to family and friends to demonstrate that "this is what genealogy really is all about."

There are only 149 copies left in stock. This notice is going to 7,000 people. Order now!

Planning to Attend the 2016 Conference in Seattle?
Consider an Alaskan Cruise
Seattle, the site of the 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, is the starting point of many cruises of the coasts of British Columbia (Canada) and Alaska. Not only is the scenery magnificent, but the ships use the “Inside Passage” which means, for most of the trip, no rolling ocean waves.

The conference planners have arranged both before- and after-conference cruises. A pre-conference cruise departs Seattle, Friday, July 29, 2016, at 5p.m., returning to Seattle on Friday, August 5, 2016, at 8a.m. onboard the Celebrity Solstice.

There are two post-conference cruises, both departing Seattle on Sunday, August 14 at 4p.m. and returning the morning of Sunday, August 21. According to the announcement, the Ruby Princess offers a variety of opportunities for a more family-oriented cruise. The MS Amsterdam offers a more adult-oriented cruise.

The conference is from August 7–12. Full information can be found at

Selected Lectures from 2015 Conference To Be Available Until End of October
The 2015 conference planners have extended the ability to view selected lectures from the 2015 IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy until October 31. Go to and click on the “On Demand” link. There is a fee for access to the lectures.

Ancestry Additions for the Week
Among the records added to Ancestry this week are an index to Oregon Divorce Records (1961–1985) and index/images of Missouri, Jackson County Marriage Records (1840–1985). Jackson County includes Kansas City. When websites name new collections with a range of years, I check if all years are included by searching for the common name Levy. Strangely, the Jackson County marriages includes records as recent as 2009.

FindMyPast Adds England and Wales Electoral Registers (1832–1932)
England and Wales Electoral Registers 1832–1932 are now available online at FindMyPast. Electoral Registers are listings of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The lists were created annually to record the names of eligible voters and their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property. Registration for voters in England has been required since 1832, and typically was published annually. The announcement can be found at It includes a link to the search engine.

MyHeritage Adds 46 Million Swedish Household Records (1880–1920)
MyHeritage has added 46 Million Swedish Household Records (1880–1920)—with images—to its collection. These records include information about births, deaths, marriages, addresses and changes in household composition. They also show relationships between members of the household. Additional information is at Paid subscribers can search the record collection at

JGS of Great Britain Has Books to Assist in Family History Research

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain offers a number of books to assist people in their family history research. For a limited time—until the end of December—the society is offering many of their books for £3.50 plus shipping. An example is A Guide to Jewish Genealogy in the United Kingdom. There are guides for Lithuania, Latvia/Estonia and Poland as well as other books. Complete descriptions and ordering information is at

Facebook Being Scrutinized for Privacy Issues
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that if the Belgium Privacy Commission rules that Facebook’s use of cookies and tracking a person’s use is a violation of Belgian law, Facebook has threatened to make Belgian users endure more identity checks when logging into the website. In other words, if Facebook cannot retain information about a person’s identity, then every time they log in, they will have to resupply the information.

Germany’s privacy regulator ordered Facebook to allow users to use pseudonyms as opposed to real names. Facebook has appealed the order arguing that its policy helps ensure safety and privacy by ensuring the user knows with whom they are sharing data. There are other EU countries that have pending litigation against Facebook: Netherlands, France and Spain.

Court Ruling: Google’s Publishing of Snippets Does Not Violate Copyright Law
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has upheld the ruling that Google’s presentation of snippets of copyrighted works constitutes “fair use” of the work. The unanimous three-judge appeals panel said the case “tests the boundaries of fair use,” but found Google's practices were ultimately allowed under the law.

Avotaynu, as publisher of reference works, has mixed emotions about the ruling. If Google gave access to our Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire, and a user searched for a specific surname, the snippet might produce the full entry from the book of the surname.

Additional information about the ruling can be found at

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 nuwhatsnew"

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