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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 49 | December 27, 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.

U.S. 2020 Census Will Use Internet
Attention U.S. citizens: Keep your smartphones handy in 2020. You may be asked by the U.S. Census Bureau to provide data for is decennial census electronically. The Bureau has announced plans to permit citizens to supply census data via the Internet and telephone rather that the previous methods of mailing census forms and having census takers visit households.

The principal motivation is money. The Bureau expects such methods will save the government $5.2 billion. You can read the report to Congress by John H. Thompson, director of the Census Bureau at

Replacing Family Tree Maker Not Necessarily That Easy
Many years ago, the genealogical community, at the urging of the Mormon Church, developed GEDCOM (Genealogical Data Communication) which allowed researchers to pass information from one genealogical software package to another. Due to the vagaries of how GEDCOM is implemented by the various software systems, the transfer of information can be imperfect.

Now that Ancestry plans to abandon its Family Tree Maker software system, it is expected that thousands of users will switch to other systems. Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that Keith Riggle has written a series of articles that address the problem and offer suggestions as to how to do the switch right. The first of his articles, “How to Scrub Your Data,” can be found at Links to other articles can be found at the bottom of the initial article. These include a second piece, “How to Get Your Tree Out of FTM,” and other articles that address the problem of importing data into specific software systems such as Family Tree Builder, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, Reunion and others.

New York Times Cautions on European Union “Right to Be Forgotten” Rule
In an editorial, the New York Times has cautioned European Union that the EU is “clearly motivated by a desire to protect the privacy of their citizens. But they should be careful that in trying to achieve that admirable goal they do not harm other rights, like free speech.” It expressed concern that the planned EU law “would come at a cost to free expression and leave a redacted history for Internet users.”

The editorial can be found at It includes a good summary of the entire controversy.

EU Privacy Regulation Specifically Excludes Holocaust-related Documents
The problem of researchers gaining access to Holocaust-related documents about specific individuals was put to rest by a regulation drafted by the European Union. In past years, it was not uncommon for archivists to refuse access to information about Holocaust victims without proof of death. Archivists would state without proof, they would not release data until 100 years after the birth of a person.

The European Union privacy regulation currently being formulated specifically excludes Holocaust-related data from privacy rules. EU member states are authorized to provide personal data to researchers when there is a general public interest value “for example with a view to providing specific information related to the political behavior under former totalitarian state regimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, in particular the Holocaust, or war crimes.”

An article about the ruling can be found at

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 20 Million Records to Its Collection
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 20M indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, England, Italy, Netherlands, Philippines, Spain, Wales and the U.S. states of Delaware, Missouri, Tennessee and Utah.

The largest collection added is an additional 12M index records from Find-A-Grave index. Also the BillionGraves Index has added 500K records and GenealogyBank Index added 223K items. In this last case, the FamilySearch report shows 223K records added, but use of this database demonstrates that a subscription to GenealogyBank is required to view the records. More appropriately it should have been described as an 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.

Library and Archives Canada Has Web Pages for
Genealogical Research by Ethnic Group

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has sections of its website devoted to researching various ethnic and cultural groups in Canada. Each page describes the Canadian history of the group, genealogical resources available at LAC, links to other sites and published material about the group. The Jewish section is located at history-ethnic-cultural/Pages/jewish.aspx.

There are a total of 26 groups presented including Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. Links to these sites are shown on the Jewish site.

Swiss Banks Release Names of Dormant Bank Accounts Holders
Swiss banks have published the names of more than 2,600 people whose bank accounts in Switzerland have lain dormant for more than 60 years, giving them or their heirs one last chance to claim their wealth before it reverts to the state. It is believed that a number of these accounts are for Holocaust victims.

The names can be searched at Click on the “Publications” button at the bottom of the screen to access the search engine. The complete news item can be found at

JewishGen Courses for January
JewishGen is offering two of its standard courses in January:
   • Basic 1 - Exploring JewishGen
   • Research Your Roots on JewishGen

Full course descriptions, instructors, tuition, and requirements can be found at

Last Chance to Make a Tax-Deductible Contribution to
Your Favorite Genealogical Non-Profit Organizations

For U.S. readers, the year is coming to a close, and it is the last chance to make a tax-deductible contribution for 2015 to your favorite genealogical non-profit organizations. Contribute to JewishGen and/or any of its Special Interest Groups at Contribute to the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy at Donate to JRI-Poland at Join/contribute to Litvak SIG at contributions/join-and-contribute.

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail a check to Avotaynu Foundation,  794 Edgewood Ave., New Haven, CT 06515, USA. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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