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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 43 | November 8, 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.

Ancestry Military Records Available At No Charge Through Veterans Day
Adds Canadian WII Service Files of War Dead (1939–1947)
In honor of Veterans Day, Ancestry is offering at no charge access to their military record collection through November 11. These are the military records for all countries.

Coinciding with Canadian Remembrance weekend, Ancestry is also releasing a new record collection: WWII Service Files of War Dead (1939–1947). It contains more than 29,000 records of Canadian military personnel killed in action during the conflict. There are a total of more than two million images, including a variety of different documents for each soldier. Each service file contains an average of 52 pages of personal information.

The announcement can be found at

MyHeritage Introduces “Search Connect™”
Many online family tree sites will provide assistance by matching members of your tree against those of other participants, but MyHeritage has added another twist in the search for researchers doing your family tree lines. Called “Search Connect,” it allows you to find other users who searched for the people you are looking for. You are able to view the full data of their search (such as dates, places, relatives and more), as well as similar searches they have made. If you find a result that seems relevant or useful, you can contact the person who conducted the search to exchange more information.

The announcement can be found at The “Search Connect” search engine is at

FamilySearch Adds New Features to Search Capability
FamilySearch has added a number of features to improve the viewer’s experience at its website:,

1. When searching the FamilySearch catalog, icons displayed during the results will indicate whether the record group has been indexed (magnifying glass icon), whether there are digitized online images (camera icon), or if the microfilm must be ordered and sent to a local Family History Center (microfilm icon). In the last case, clicking the icon starts the process of ordering the film to a local Center.

2. The Exact Search feature has been improved. The term “Exact” is no longer taken literally. In the following cases, it will ignore:
   • spaces: van der graff = vandergraff
   • punctuation: O’Brien = OBrien
   • diacritics: Pena = Peña
   • the Spanish “y”: Gonzalez y Gomez = Gonzalez Gomez
   • capitalization: MacDonald = Macdonald

3. FamilySearch has added the “breadcrumb” feature to all its pages. A breadcrumb is a bar across the top of the page that provides links back to each previous page the user navigated to get to the current page or—in hierarchical site structures—the parent pages of the current one. This hierarchy is shown by using the symbol “>”. For example, in using the 1940 census, a particular page of the census had New York > Bronx > New York City > Bronx Assembly District 3 > 3-470 New York City, Bronx.... Clicking on the words “Bronx Assembly District 3,” displays links to all Enumeration Districts within the Assembly District.

4. When browsing images of a collection, it is now possible to switch from single image view to thumbnail gallery. This creates an easier way to quickly navigate to specific spots in the image set. It also makes it easier to look at records surrounding the record. Switch to thumbnail on an individual image page by clicking the thumbnail icon in the left side toolbar.

The complete announcement can be found at

Reminder: Send Your Human Interest Stories to AVOTAYNU
We now are working on the Winter issue, which we call our “Human Interest” issue. In addition to publishing articles meant to expand your knowledge of Jewish genealogy and Jewish history, this issue publishes articles about the human side of genealogy.

If you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, write an article about how genealogy changed your life or how it affected the life of others. Deadline for submission this year is December 1, 2015. Submit your story by e-mail to When possible, illustrations should accompany the article.

In 2008, Avotaynu published 72 of these human interest stories in a book, Every Family Has a Story. Read the book’s annotated Table of Contents at EveryFamilyToC.pdf. It may give you an idea about some aspect of your research that is worth sharing with AVOATYNU readers.
Also in the Winter issue, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish genealogical family histories that have been published in the preceding 12 months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. Please present information about the book in a specific format: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Submit the information by e-mail to The deadline date is also December 1.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Library and Archives Canada Update Naturalization Database
Library and Archives Canada has added 68,000 records to its index of Naturalization Records, 1915–1951. The index now covers the years from 1915–1944. Work is ongoing to extend the nominal index to 1951. Jewish Genealogical Society of Montreal volunteers have been the primary contributors to the project. The announcement can be found at The index can be searched at

Canada to Reinstitute Long-Form Census
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the new Liberal Canadian government has officially announced that they are reinstating the long-form census. In 2011, the Conservative government cancelled the mandatory long form and replaced it with a voluntary National Household Survey.

Canada’s next census is due in 2016 (a census is performed every five years) and the long-form census will be distributed to 2.9 million households. One in five Canadian households will receive the long-form (61 questions), and all Canadian households will receive a short form to complete.

Additional information is at data-1.3305271.

170,000 Great Depression Images Are Now Online
Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that Yale University and the Library of Congress have just made the entire collection of 170,000 Great Depression photos available online at The site includes an interactive map that contains 90,000 of the photographs by location. There is also a search engine. Using the search engine identified six pictures of the “Lower East Side,” 53 pictures of “Manhattan,” and 331 photographs of “Brooklyn.”

The project was the creation of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to chronicle the hardships of the Depression to build support for and justify government relief programs. The history of the project can be found at

Caption for the photograph at the left reads, "Mr. Abraham Lapping. He and his wife run a small poultry farm and take in tourists during the summer. They are part of the Jewish community in Colchester, Connecticut."

BCG Gives Miriam Weiner Certified Genealogist Emeritus Status
Miriam Weiner, the first Jewish genealogist to become certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists, has received Certified Genealogist Emeritus status by the organization. Only 21 people have been so honored.

Weiner is one of the pioneers of contemporary Jewish genealogy. Possibly her greatest accomplishment was creation of an inventory of the Jewish record holdings in the archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. This was accomplished by numerous visits to the archives in these countries cajoling the head archivists to create a list of their Jewish records. The results exist today at the Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation website at The search engine is at For each town, there is a description of what record types exist and where they are located. This site has many other features of interest to Jewish genealogists with roots in Eastern Europe. It is worthwhile devoting some time to browsing the site.

Weiner was recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award from International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in 2003. She is the author of Jewish Roots in Poland and Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova.

A Bit of Jewish Genealogy History: Origin of the JewishGen Family Finder
Stanley Batkin, one of the founders of the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York), died October 25. He was 101 years old. I am reminded of the first time I met Stanley, in 1982. I had just created what today is the JewishGen Family Finder. In the pre-Internet days, it was a computer printout (At that time I owned a computer service company. My data entry department keyed in the data, and I printed the results on my high-speed printer.)

I mentioned to the Board of Directors that we ought to make it available to all Jewish genealogical societies, not just the New York group, and encourage members of the other societies to add their research to the database. The Board’s solution was to form a committee.

The committee, which included Stanley, made numerous suggestions. The conclusion was that JGS (New York) should charge non-members a fee for participating and also charge the other societies for copies of the printout. I objected because my interest was to have as many people participate as possible.

The meeting ended. Apparently Stanley could see I was upset. He came to me and said, “Gary, do what ever you think is best.” The consequence was that I made participation in JGFF free of charge, and mailed copies of the printouts regularly to societies. I picked up the cost which was nominal, since my company’s data entry department keyed the data, and I had free computer time.

In 1996, JewishGen took over the project. At that time JGFF had grown to nearly 3,000 participants. Today it was more than 100,000.

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 
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 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
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