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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 45 | November 13, 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.

MyHeritage Joins DNA Testing Service Business
My Heritage has launched MyHeritage DNA, their DNA testing service for uncovering a person’s ethnic origins and making new family connections. They are using the same laboratory for producing results as Family Tree DNA, but it is an independent venture and the two companies will not share results. They are only offering autosomal DNA tests with a hint from the company that, at present, they are not currently interested in Y-chromosome or mtDNA testing.

The MyHeritage DNA kit is available at an introductory sale price of $79 (in the U.S.) plus shipping, instead of listed price of $99. Order at

Persons who already have used the 23andMe, Ancestry or Family Tree DNA test can upload their DNA data to MyHeritage. Uploading DNA data may not remain free forever, but for the users who upload now, matches will remain free permanently, and contacting matches will also remain free permanently. The contact needs to be initiated from the Contact buttons in the list of matches, because contacting other users in other contexts (e.g. non-DNA context, such as Smart Matches) may require a subscription. For users who purchase the MyHeritage DNA kit, DNA Matches will be computed and listed for free, but contacting a match will likely require a MyHeritage subscription. If you are contacted by a DNA Match, you can communicate with him/her for free.
MyHeritage founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, answers a number of questions about this new service at

“Reclaim the Records” Places Online 1924 New York City Voter Lists
Reclaim the Records (RTR) has placed online books of New York City registered voters for 1924. The books were also OCR scanned to create an index of names. Where previous attempts by RTR to gain access to New York City records required a formal request under the New York State Freedom of Information Law, these books were made available with the cooperation of the City’s Municipal Archives.

The list is not that easy to use. First, the books are by the five boroughs (counties) of New York City. Then each borough is broken down by Assembly Districts. Finally, the Assembly District’s book is alphabetical by street address. To access the registration books, go to Then search for “1924 voter <borough name>.

RTR suggests a strategy to find a person on the list. First, look up a person in the 1925 New York State census at The census was held less than a year after this list was compiled. Note the borough, assembly district, enumeration district and address of the person's census listing. Then look up that same location information on the Voter Registration list. Of course, it assumes the individual did not change his/her address in the brief time between the voter registration in late 1924 and the state census in early 1925. Worst case is to look up in all Assembly District books for a given borough one at a time until a search is successful.

Voter lists were published for a number of years. RTR chose 1924 because
   • It was a presidential election year
   • It was the first time women could vote for a president
   • A significant number of turn-of-the-century immigrants would have completed the naturalization process and would be eligible to vote

A more detailed description of the collection and how to use it can be found at It includes instructions on how to get the original voter registration form of an individual from the Municipal Archives.

Voting Records Can Be Source of Information
An article in Family History Daily, reminded me that voting records are a potential source of information about family history. In the 1980s, I was unable to find the naturalization records of my maternal grandfather. He lived his entire immigrant life in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (New York City). The logical places to look for these records produced no results.

Someone suggested that I get his voting registration record. If you were an immigrant, you had to provide documentation of your citizenship, and—at least in the case of New York City—the court of naturalization is recorded on the voting record. I chose a year of a presidential election—1940—and wrote to the New York City Board of Elections for a copy of this voting register. The record demonstrated he was naturalized in the Bronx, which allowed me to get his naturalization records that showed that he arrived in the United States through Baltimore.

“Finding U.S. Military Ancestors in Online Records”
The FamilySearch blog has an article that may be of interest to readers titled “Finding U.S. Military Ancestors in Online Records.” It is located at ancestors-online-records.

FindMyPast Adds 2 Million British Military Records
More than 2 million records of British soldiers and sailors have been added to the FindMyPast collection. They include 1.6 million gallantry medal records, 171,000 Military Medal records and 551,000 Royal Navy Service records. The records span 140 years of British military history and cover both World Wars, the Napoleonic wars, Indian Mutiny, Crimea, Boer Wars and other conflicts. Also included are 1.5 million new military newspaper articles. The company claims to have more than 70 million military records for Australia, U.S., Canada and the UK. A complete description can be found at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 4 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 4 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Netherlands, Peru, Russia (church records), Philippines, South Africa (church records), and the U.S. states of Alabama, Illinois (church records), Iowa, Oregon, South Dakota and Tennessee and Utah.

The largest addition is nearly 2 million indexes and records of Archdiocese of Chicago Cemetery Records 1864–1989.

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.

BillionGraves’ Adds Veteran Finder Tool
Offers 75% Discount on Annual Subscription
BillionGraves has announced the addition of a Veteran Finder tool. This feature utilizes the power of GPS to locate U.S. veterans in cemeteries all over the world. There are detailed instructions on how to use the feature if you are a paid subscriber at

BillionGraves is offering its yearly subscription for only $29.99 during the Veteran’s Day period. Regular price is $119.99.

Ancestry Adds New Jersey Vital Records
Ancestry has added to its collection a New Jersey Birth Index (1901–1903), Death Index (1901–1903) and Marriage Index (1901–1914). This appears to be identical to the collection Reclaim the Records acquired last May. See

“Who Do You Think You Are? Live” Early-Bird Discount on Tickets
The 2017 “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” conference will be held on April 6–8 in Birmingham, England, at the National Exhibition Centre. Until November 22, there is an early-bird discount of £18 (2 for £22). Numerous workshops are also available for £2. Register at

They refer to themselves as “the world’s largest family history show.” To that extent they are in competition with RootsTech, who claims to be “the largest family history event in the world.” RootsTech is held in Salt Lake City next year from February 8–11. Both events attract tens of thousands of people.

Discounts at Fee-for-Service Sites
In honor of Veteran’s-Remembrance-l’Armistice Day, many fee-for-service genealogy sites are offering discounts for subscriptions to their collections. Others are providing free access to their military collections. For example, Ancestry is offering a 50% discount on a year’s subscription. Go to the home page of these sites to take advantage of these offers.

Perhaps the most amazing is BillionGraves which is offering its yearly subscription for only $29.99. Regular price is $119.99.

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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