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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 11 | March 12, 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.

Chicago-area Jewish Cemetery Burial Information Online
The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois has expanded its existing database of Chicago-area Jewish cemetery burial information to include several other useful collections with the total number of records now more than 80,000.

Among the additions to the newly expanded database are:
   • Memorial plaque transcriptions and photos from two Chicago
synagogues: B'nai Zion-Shaare Tikvah and Lawn Manor Beth Jacob Congregation. These entries often include date of death and transcription of the deceased person's Hebrew name.
   • Intake reports from the Drexel Home for the Jewish Aged, which was founded in 1891. The data includes dates of birth and death, cemetery of burial and photos of the handwritten reports, which often include other useful information such as place of birth, year of immigration and names of relatives.
   • Death notices published in the JUF News from 1994 to 2005. These full-text listings include  
   • An index with date of birth and date of death information extracted from the Chicago Tribune death notices published in the latter half of the 1990s.

The database is located at

ITS Places Online German-Jewish Registration Cards
In 1939, Hermann Göring ordered the founding of the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland). All persons classified as Jews according to the Nuremberg Laws were obligated to register. 32,264 registration cards, primarily those of Jewish school pupils, emigrants and deceased persons have survived and are in the possession of the International Tracing Service. The institution has now placed these cards on line with an index. ITS has moreover placed an additional 15,000 documents pertaining to the death marches online, thus supplementing the first group of documents on that subject published on its internet portal last year.

Additional information, as well as access to the index and documents, is at

FindMyPast Adds Victoria (Australia) Wills, Probate and Divorce Records
With recent additions, the FindMyPast wills and probates collection for the State of Victoria (Australia) now contains some 1.3 million records. This collection is an index that lists the names of deceased people whose estate passed probate through the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne from 1841–1989. The collection is located at search-world-Records/victoria-wills-and-probate. The Public Records Office Victoria has the database available online at no charge at

Victoria Divorce Cause Books 1861–1938. FindMyPast has added 39,000 divorce records at

BillionGraves Plans to Match Family Trees is in the process of adding a feature that will match their database against family trees present at the FamilySearch website. The system is in beta test with plans to include trees located at MyHeritage and FindMyPast. Access to their database is at no charge. There is an optional BillionGravesPlus which provides enhanced features for a fee. An example of an enhanced feature is “Nearby Graves” which will identify graves near one about which you inquired.

If you have a family tree on FamilySearch, you can try the feature at

FindMyPast Has Free Access to Irish Records in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, so we can anticipate the big genealogy sites will allow free access to their Irish records. The first “out of the gate” is FindMyPast, who is offering free access to its Irish collection—some 116 million records—from Monday, March 13 to Friday, March 17. Their Irish Newspapers Collection is exempt from the free access. Sign up, during the time period only, at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 1 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 1 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Included are records from England, France, Ghana, The Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the U.S. states of Maine and Texas. Also there are additions to their BillionGraves and YMCA World War I Service Cards indexes.

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.

JewishGen Course: Complex Jewish Genealogy in the United States
Starting April 3, JewishGen will be offering its Intermediate Course, Complex Genealogical Research in the United States. It covers more complex U.S. topics such as naturalization, manifests, death records, military and governmental records (passports, visas, bankruptcy) and local archival research.

The course lasts four weeks and features a personal, one-on-one, mentoring program and online forum. Students are encouraged to post an ancestral branch, set goals for their research, and work one on one with the instructor. JewishGen notes that it is a unique, individualized format with downloadable lessons.

Additional information can be found at Tuition is $150.

Danish West Indies (U.S. Virgin Islands) Records Online
 Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that the Danish National Archives has created a new website in conjunction with the centennial observance of Transfer Day, the day on which the Danish West Indies were transferred to the United States as the Territory of the Virgin Islands. The site includes more than 5 million scanned images (8.5 million pages) of original documents, maps and drawings from the records of the Danish West Indies.

The database can be searched at Eastman’s announcement is at

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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