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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 5 | January 29, 2017

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.

Transport Lists and Photographs of People Deported from Belgium Now Online
From August 4, 1942, to July 31, 1944, more than 25,000 men, women and children—almost all Jews—were deported to Auschwitz from Belgium's detention camp “Caserne Dossin” in Malines (Mecheln). Only 1,194 survived.

The Memorial Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights located in Malines (Mecheln), Belgium, has placed online carbon doubles of the original lists of all transports (Jews, Roma and Sinti) from the SS-Sammellager Mecheln (Dossin barracks) to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Ravensbrück, Vittel and Bergen-Belsen. Each sheet contains the names of 10 to 20 deportees on a specific transport, their place and date of birth, profession and nationality. In the case of married women, the name of the husband was written. In some cases observed, written for each family was their last address in Belgium.

Also included at the site are more than 9,650 portraits of people deported. Incredibly, the name of the person in the photograph is not included in the documentation, so you must know what the person looked like. Most of the photographs are taken from the individual’s identification card, but also included are those contributed by friends or relatives when the identity card photo did not exist. These were mostly of the children who were deported.

Searching is a bit unusual. Do not use the full name of the person. You will get no results. Instead search for the surname only, and then using these results, search again, this time for the given name. This will narrow the results to a specific individual. Married women are listed by their maiden name.

The site is located at

Some years ago, Avotaynu posted to its site a photographic essay of Convoy XX from Malines to Auschwitz. It can be found at

Photographs of Persons from Belgium Living in France. Also included at the site are more than 4,200 portraits of Jewish men, women and children from Belgium, who have been deported from the French camps Drancy, Angers, Beaune-la-Rolande, Compiègne, Pithiviers and Lyon to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Maidanek and Kaunas between March 1942 and August 1944. Among the deportees, four groups can be distinguished: persons that had lived in Belgium and had emigrated to France legally before the beginning of the war, persons that fled from Belgium to France in May 1940 or afterwards, children born of these refugees in France, and persons arrested by the Belgian state as “suspects” in May 1940 and deported to the camps in the south of France.

Website Article on Iconography of Jewish Tombstones
“Jewish Heritage Europe” notes that there is a new online resource on the iconography of Jewish tombstones. Titled “Written in Stone,” it is part of the Rohatyn (Ukraine) Jewish Heritage website. The article summarizes material from several online and print sources about the meaning and history of Jewish gravestones, in particular an article on “Tombstones” by Marcin Wodzinski on the online YIVO Encyclopedia, which is quoted throughout the page. Additional information can be found at

First Sign That Trump’s View of America Will Negatively Affect Genealogists
The Family Tree Magazine blog includes an article titled “A New U.S. Budget Blueprint May Affect Genealogists,” which states that the new administration’s federal budget blueprint would eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The blog notes that NEH was created in 1965 as an independent federal agency funding humanities programs in the United States. It grants help to fund many genealogy staples, such as museums, archives and libraries, as well as public television and universities. The NEH’s grants also support historical records digitization and access projects including the free Chronicling America newspaper search website. The blog article can be found at

“How to Find and Use Image-Only Collections on FamilySearch”
Not all records available at FamilySearch are indexed. The FamilySearch blog recently added an article, “How to Find and Use Image-Only Collections on FamilySearch.” It provides a step-by-step procedure for locating these collections. The article notes that looking at records this way is just like looking at the microfilm at the Family History Library.

The blog notes, “Going through these image-only collections can admittedly be quite time-consuming, since it requires going page-by-page through large books. It can also often require already having a general idea of when an event occurred or where a person was living. Some records have an alphabetical or chronological index within the first few pages of the collection which was created by the clerk who put the book together. Though not yet searchable by computer, you can quickly scan the index yourself for the name of the ancestor in question.”

The article is located at

FamilySearch Adds More than 1 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than one million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Argentina, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Russia, Spain, Ukraine (church records) and the U.S. states of California, Kentucky, Idaho, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, Utah.

Almost all new items are church collections. A notable exception is Manifests of Aliens Granted Temporary Admission at El Paso, Texas, ca. July 1924–1954.

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.

FindMyPast Adds Victoria (Australia) Petty Court Records
FindMyPast has added a collection of some 3 million petty court records from the state of Victoria for the years 1854–1985. Victoria includes the city of Melbourne. The Court of Petty Sessions was created to hear minor criminal cases such as those involving drunkenness and theft. These cases, brought before a magistrate, would usually not involve a jury. Each result provides a transcript and an image of the original court register. The original records are kept at Public Records Office Victoria in North Melbourne, Australia.

Additional information can be found at The collection is located at

Number of ITS Inquiries Shows Slight Increase in 2016
In a year-end report the International Tracing Service (ITS) notes that in 2016 it received 15,635 inquiries compared to 15,418 in the previous year. This slight increase, they state, shows that interest in the fates of Nazi persecution victims is as strong as ever, even though more than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II. More than 15 percent of last year’s inquiries (2,189) came from researchers, scholars and teachers.

Of the persons who contacted the ITS in 2016, more than 2,000 were themselves survivors of Nazi persecution. One reason for this is a change in the regulations for victim groups previously not eligible for pensions. Because of new legislation in Poland, Jewish victims of Nazi persecution who were in Poland during the period of their persecution, but have lived outside the country since then, can now receive pensions.

The International Tracing Service (ITS), located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, is an archive and a center for documenting National Socialist persecution and the liberated survivors. Former victims of Nazism and their families receive information regarding their incarceration, forced labor and post-war Allied assistance. The more than 30 million documents in the ITS archives also provide the basis for research and education.

The complete article can be read at

Have You Registered to Receive Notices from Avotaynu Online?

Have you subscribed to Avotaynu’s latest venture: Avotaynu Online? We have created a special sign-on site at By registering, you will receive a weekly notice of items added to the site.

By virtue of its focus on the in-depth reporting of specific subjects, Avotaynu Online will be entirely distinct from the existing print journal, AVOTAYNU, which for over three decades has covered the broad spectrum of Jewish family history research, and from the weekly Nu? What’s New?, which reports breaking stories in the world of genealogy.

 Avotaynu Online is free of charge. 

Nu? What's New? is published weekly by Avotaynu, Inc.
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