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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 8 | FebruRY 19, 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.

Lists Exist of Genealogy Facebook Pages Worldwide
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports through her contacts that more than 800 Facebook pages of use to genealogists researching Canada have been compiled in a list located at The lists are by Canadian provinces and territories and include—in English and French—genealogical and historical societies, national and provincial archives, museums, military, photos and more.

List of Facebook Genealogy Pages Worldwide. Allen also notes another website, “Genealogical & Historical Groups/Pages on Facebook,” that seemingly covers every country in the world. It lists more than 10,600 Facebook pages. It is located at

Online Course: “Learn to Use Like an Expert in 21 Days”
Family History Daily will present a course, “Learn to Use Like an Expert in 21 Days,” starting March 31. A sample of the subjects covered in the 21-lesson plan includes:
   • Expert search tricks that will allow you to dig into and find more records
   • Why the general search box is not the best way to find your ancestors and what to do instead
   • How to discover “hidden” information that is not currently available via search at all
   • How to reveal more “hints” in your family tree and put them to use
   • How to make the most of Ancestry’s advanced family tree and tools
   • What to do when you can’t find the records you’re looking for
   • How to back up your tree and records so that you have access to them forever

Cost is $55 for early registrants; $69 for others. Additional information is at

New Collections from Ancestry
New and updated collections from Ancestry include:
   • Updated: Texas, Naturalization Records, 1865–1991
   • Updated: 1860 United States Federal Census
   • New: Minnesota, Naturalization Index, 1849–1985 • New: Cass County, North Dakota, Civil                 Cases Index, 1870–1942
   • New: North Dakota, Naturalization Index, 1874–1963
   • New: New Jersey, Naturalization Records, 1878–1945

Note that announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

Ancestry Offering Free Access to Canadian, UK and Irish Records Through February 20
Canada. In recognition of Family Day, Ancestry is offering free access to Canadian immigration records through February 20. The collection is located at canada_immigration.

UK/Ireland. Ancestry is offering free access to their more than one billion UK and Irish records through February 20. Comingled with the list are some global databases such as JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry and Find-a-Grave, so results may include persons outside of the geographic area. The records are located at uk_irish_records.

FamilySearch Adds 15 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 15 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Honduras, Hungary, The Netherlands, Philippines, Sweden, UK and the U.S. states of California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Most notable are:
   • 1,598,094 new collection of indexes to Australia, Victoria, Outward Passenger Lists, 1852–1924
   • 2,011,878 added images to Czech Republic, School Registers, 1799–1953
   • 728,435 added indexes Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records
   • 1,795,894 new collection of indexes British Newspaper Archives, Obituaries
   • 7,397,703 added indexes Oklahoma, School Records, 1895–1936
   • 449,089 added indexes Michigan Obituaries, 1820–2006
   • 770,164 added indexes North Carolina, County Marriages, 1762–1979
   • 557,105 added indexes New Book Indexes to Passenger Lists, 1906–1942

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.

FamilySearch Outlines Genealogy Industry Trends and Outlook
 Ancestry Insider online newsletter has abstracted comments made by Robert Kehrer, product manager of FamilySearch, at the recently completed RootsTech conference. They were made as part of a panel discussion titled “Industry Trends and Outlook” at the Innovators Summit portion of the conference.

The first technology innovation Kehrer sees coming is automated transcription—the ability of a computer to transcribe a hand-written document.

Another area where technology innovation is happening is entity recognition. A computer takes transcripted text and, using a process called natural language processing, picks out the names, dates, locations, relationships, and so forth.

Innovation is happening in fuzzy search advancements. Fuzzy searches concern locating meaningful records where the data is not exact (misspellings, transposed letters, etc.).

DNA will have and is having a massive impact on genealogy.

Data innovation. There are a lot of highly valuable data available, but there is a risk that it will be lost. Records can be at-risk because of poor archival conditions, political instability, natural disaster, or scheduled destruction.

Kehrer identified other innovations. A more detailed description can be found at the Ancestry Insider site at

 Who Do You Think You Are (U.S.) Returns March 5
The U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are returns to The Learning Channel (TLC) for its seventh season on the evening of Sunday, March 5. Check local listings for starting time. Eight celebrities will be featured: Jessica Biel, Julie Bowen, Courteney Cox, Jennifer Grey, Smokey Robinson, John Stamos, Liv Tyler and Noah Wyle.

Further information can be found at

Documenting 1945 Massacres in Budapest
The European Holocaust Research Infrastructure project (EHRI) has posted to its blog documentation that depicts the last and bloodiest crimes committed by Hungarian extremist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest at the very end of the war via early survivor accounts and trial records. It includes first-person accounts as well as a list of victims. The information can be found 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. 

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