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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 8 | February 28, 2016

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.

Conference Will Again Offer Live Streaming of Events
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies will once again offer the LIVE! real-time video streaming service at its upcoming 36th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The conference will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Seattle August 7–12. Through LIVE!, 60 of the best presentations will be available for on-demand viewing not only during the conference but for 90 days after the conference ends.

In addition to LIVE!, the conference will offer a package that includes audio recordings of most sessions with accompanying slides for the majority of recordings. The conference website,, has complete details on how to register for all levels of the conference, including LIVE!

This summer’s conference will feature a Jewish Film Festival put together by leading Jewish film scholar and teacher of cinema Eric Goldman. Other highlights of the conference include the opening night keynote address by Dr. Devin Naar, chair of the University of Washington Sephardic Studies Program and the banquet address by “legal genealogist” Judy Russell, a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer.

The conference’s Early Registration period, which runs until April 30, offers the lowest fees, with savings of $55 for the full conference. Have questions? Contact the co-chairs at

Reclaim the Records Posts Latest Successes/Failures In Acquiring Public Records
Brooke Schreier Ganz of the organization Reclaim the Records, reports her latest successes and failures in obtaining records using Freedom of Information Laws of various states:
   • The organization’s request to New York State's Department of Health, asking for their entire statewide death index, 1880–1956, is making progress. The government agency has acknowledged the request and is acting on it. The agency will make a final determination in the next month. An index to 1957–1965 is already online at the Department of Health website at and is updated quarterly.
   • On the downside, requests—both written and by phone—to the New York City Clerk's Office, asking for the 1930–2015 New York City marriage index have gone unanswered. According to Ganz, this is a violation of law. She plans legal action if there is no response.
   • Reclaim the Records now has in its possession the microfilmed index to New York City Marriage Applications, Affidavits, and Licenses, 1908–1929. FamilySearch has agreed to digitize the films which, when completed, will be placed on the Internet by Reclaim the Records at FamilySearch may elect to place the images on their site at some future time.
   • The next state in their sights is Missouri where the very basic indices to their 20th century births and deaths are supposed to open to the public, but are not.
   • Reclaim the Records is also looking into whether school records are in the public domain.
   • Ganz is planning lectures to genealogy groups to encourage them to take advantage of their own state’s Freedom of Information Laws. She also plans to speak at the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Seattle this summer.

More detailed information about the organization’s current activities can be found at

FamilySearch Adds 1.8 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.5 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from England and the U.S. states of California, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland and Massachusetts. Also included is a new index to United States World War II Prisoners of War (1941–1945).

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.

IGRA Announces New Webinars
The Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) has announced a series of webinars that are open to everyone free of charge. There are a limited number of “seats” available so register early at There is a separate registration for each webinar. Reminders are sent out to those registered a day in advance of the webinar.

Planned webinars are:
   • March 6 - 19:00 IST (Israel): Sleepless in Seattle? Not This August! A preview of the upcoming IAJGS Conference to be held this year in Seattle.
   • March 13 - 19:00 IST (Israel): Sources for Jewish Genealogy in Ukraine
   • April 10 - 23:00 IDT (Israel): The Ins and Outs of IGRA's Database Collection
   • May 1 - 19:00 IDT (Israel): United States Holocaust Museum's Electronic Resources
   • May 22 - 19:00 IDT (Israel): Getting the Most from Genetic Testing for Ashkenazic Jews
   • June 26 - 19:00 IDT (Israel): Using Directories and Maps for Genealogy

Additional information about each webinar, including how to register, can be found at

JewishGen Courses for March
JewishGen is offering two online courses in March. Full descriptions, including requirements, and how to enroll can be found at
   • Search Strategies Using Google
   • Complex Genealogical Research in the U.S.

Family History Library Announces Webinars for March 2016
The Family History Library has announced its Webinars for March 2016. Some are of value to Jewish genealogists. The complete list can be found at A sample of the planned webinars include:
   • March 9. Learning to Read German Handwriting
   • March 10. Cousin Research

Websites With Historic Newspaper Collections
An article describes 10 sources of historic newspaper collections from around the world. It is located at Included are descriptions of Chronicling America,, GenealogyBank, Newspaper Archive, British Newspaper Archive, Google Historical Newspaper Search, Australian Newspapers Online—Trove, ProQuest Historical Newspapers, Historical Newspaper Collection and The Scotsman Archive.

Reminder to AVOTAYNU Subscribers
If you are a subscriber to AVOTAYNU and received a yellow slip with the Winter issue, it means your subscription expired with that issue. Be sure to resubscribe by March 15 to get the discounted resubscription offer and be entered in a drawing that will award to the winner a copy of any book published by Avotaynu. There will be three winners of the drawing to be held on April 15. Consider owning a copy of Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy or Alexander Beider's landmark A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire: Revised Edition.

Renew for two years and you will receive two opportunities to win; renew for three years and receive three opportunities to win. Winners will be announced in the issue of Nu? What's New? that appears after the drawing and also will be notified by postal mail. Remember, you must resubscribe by March 15 to be part of the drawing. Resubscribe at

Adam Brown Off to Antarctica
If the postings to Avotaynu Online during the months of March and April seem a bit lean, it may be because its Managing Editor, Adam Brown, is off to one of the most remote places on earth, volcanic Heard Island in the stormy southern Indian Ocean off Antarctica. Brown is a participant in an expedition to discover and document previously unidentified species in the island's extremely isolated, extremely severe ecosystem.

In addition to managing radio and satellite communications during the expedition including the 5,000 mile sea journey to and from Heard Island, and working with scientists to collect biological and geological specimens, he is managing the deployment of two dozen oceanographic buoys in the remote and rarely traversed southern reaches of the Indian Ocean in behalf of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, the Scripps Oceanographic Institute and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Brown is also managing a radio propagation study utilizing the Weak Signal Propagation Reporter, a cutting edge digital technology developed by Nobel Prize Winner Joe Taylor of Princeton. So it promises to be a busy and interesting journey. Adam Brown will post updates on his expedition Facebook page 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 
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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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