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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 20 | May 21, 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.

MyHeritage Adds Catalog of Their Collections
MyHeritage has added a catalog of their collections to their site. Called (logically) “Collection Catalog,” it is located at, but is also accessible from their home page. There is a search engine that demonstrates, for example, that they have 116 census collections and 7 collections for Argentina. There are currently 6,503 collections in all. The catalog entry details the number of records each collection contains, which collections are new, and the date in which each collection was added or last updated. MyHeritage notes that they currently have 7.8 billion records in their database.

Additional information can be found at

New at
Ancestry has added the following record groups at their site. Note that they do not indicate how many entries have been added. Announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

South Dakota, Birth Index, 1856–1917

U.S. Cemetery and Funeral Home Collection, 1847–2017
U.S. Obituary Collection, 1930–2017
U.S. Presbyterian Records, 1743–1971
Minnesota Birth Index, 1935–1995
U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942

Ancestry Offers Free Access to UK Records is offering free access to Ancestry’s UK collection through May 22. To search, go to I tried to do a surname-only search but it demanded a given name to perform the search. Providing any given name gave the same results as a surname-only search. Registration is required. It may have been my fault but…when I registered with my valid Ancestry account, I received no results. Only when I provided new account information were results achieved.

Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU to Go to Printer This Week
The Spring issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this week. It contains 16 articles plus the usual columns: From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update, Book Reviews and From Our Mail Box. The first six articles of the issue demonstrate what is “hot” on the Jewish genealogy scene:
   • New Themes, Fascinating Subjects and Hot Topics: IAJGS 2017 Conference in Orlando
   • Useful Websites for Researching Jews of Western and Central Europe
   • Crowd Sourced Indexing
   • Using First Names as an Alternate Way to Find Roots
   • Jewish Records of East Europe on FamilySearch and in the Family History Library
   • Understanding Autosomal DNA

The two book reviews are for Dr. Alexander Beider’s new work, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Mediterranean Region: Volume 1: Maghreb, Gibraltar, and Malta and Blaine Bettinger’s The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy.

The complete Table of Contents is at You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Winners of the AVOTAYNU Renewal Drawing
For those whose subscription to AVOTAYNU had expired this year, Avotaynu offered a drawing that awarded a copy of any book published by our company to persons who renewed their subscription by April 30. The three winners of a copy of any book published by Avotaynu are: Barbara Olinger of Illinois, Ken Bravo of Ohio and Howard Shidlowsky of Illinois. All winners were Americans–about 87% of AVOTAYNU subscribers are from the U.S.–but that was the result of the random drawing. The drawing was accomplished by assigning a three-digit number to each person, with those renewing for three years having three opportunities, those renewing for two years having two opportunities and persons with one-year renewals receiving one opportunity. The last three digits of the serial number on three dollar bills were used for the random numbers. Olinger resubscribed for one year; Bravo and Shidlowsky for three.

You can subscribe or renew at

Two Different New York City Marriage Indexes?
Nu? What’s New? subscriber, Maury Kitces, claims the New York City Marriage Indexes provided by Ancestry and Reclaim the Records are two different indexes. Kitces says the Ancestry one is actually an index to the marriage license applications while the Reclaim the Records are an index to the actual marriage certificates. Kitces found that where the dates disagree, the Ancestry collection has an earlier date.

Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files Continues
As of this week, 438,679 of 640,000 files are available online in the Library and Archives Canada “Personnel Records of the First World War” database. The project is being done alphabetically, and they are now up to the surname “Oliver.” The records include date/place of birth, name/address of next of kin and other data. Information about the project can be found at At the current pace, the project should be completed by the end of 2018.

JewishGen’s JOWBR Now Exceeds 3 Million Records
JewishGen has reported that their JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) now exceeds 3M records from 125 countries. JOWBR is a database of names and other identifying information from Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present. It is a compilation of two linked databases: a database of burial records, and a database of information about each cemetery. JOWBR's aim is to catalog extant data about Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide. Photographs of gravestones often are included with a specific entry. It can be searched at Additional information about the project can be found at Cemetery/Submit.htm.

The Importance of Volunteering
The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry was able to reach 3 million records for only one reason: people volunteered to make it happen. They volunteered not only their time, but also their money to sustain and grow JewishGen.

An excellent description of the importance of volunteering was recently posted to the JewishGen Ukrainian SIG Discussion group by the SIG’s coordinator, Janette Silverman. It is reproduced in its entirety below.

Dear Friends:

Many of you received an announcement recently from JewishGen Director Avrami Groll with the great news that recently, over 58,000 lines of data was added to the JewishGen Ukraine databases. The data added included revision lists, births, marriages, deaths, and divorces. I am very grateful to all of you who took the time to acquire data, translate, transcribe and proofread it, and to those of you who made donations to a specific project or to the Ukraine SIG general fund or to the data acquisition and digitization project.

Those of you who know me, are probably aware that most of my ancestry does not come from the area covered by Ukraine SIG. So, why am I doing this? Why did I spend most of today proofreading about 4,000 lines of data from revision lists from Berdichev and Zolotonosha? When I was a child, one of the most impactful stories I read in Hebrew school was about a man planting a carob tree which would take 70 years to bear fruit. The man would probably not live long enough to harvest the fruit. When he was asked why then he planted, he said something like "When I came into this world, I found carob trees that others had planted. In the same way my ancestors planted for me, I plant this tree for those who come after me.

JewishGen is made up primarily of volunteers. There are lots of people working on data acquisition, translation and indexing records from all over the Jewish world. About 4 years ago, I was asked if I would take on this work for Ukraine SIG and I agreed because we all need to pull together. If I don't benefit from some record acquisition and indexing projects, I am sure that I will benefit from others.

Many of you answered my call to make donations for the acquisition of
41,000 pages of documents. Some people said to me, well if you were getting documents from my ancestral towns, I would donate, but because this batch does not include records from there, I won't. If we all felt that we would never get any place. Although many donations were made, we are still short about $6,000.

As of two days ago, there were 3,930 subscribers to the Ukraine SIG Discussion Group. If each of you gave a donation of $5.00 towards the Digital Documents Acquisition and Translation Project, and another $5.00 towards either your town project (if your town has one) or to the Ukraine SIG General Fund, we would have sufficient funds to be able to pay the $8,200 for this year's acquisition of 41,000 pages of documents as well as have funds to make better progress into translating close to 300,000 pages of documents still not translated.

I am only asking for a $10 donation from each of you. You can make a donation by credit card or PayPal by following this link:

If you prefer to pay by check, fill in your donation amount, click
"donate" and then choose the option to print your donation form.

I think $10 should be a small enough amount for most people to feel
comfortable donating, or saving up over a month to be able to donate. It
will however, cumulatively, make a very big difference in what we can
accomplish. Please join me in this effort to help other people. If we
can think about this as a contribution to the community, then when data
is available for your town, funds will be available to acquire that data.

Thank you.

Comment on the statement “The project does not include my ancestral town”: Some people use as an excuse not to contribute their time or money because the project does not include their ancestral town. Do you really know your ancestral town, or is it the last town in which you family lived before they emigrated? Some records of your family may be in a neighboring town that is being indexed. Many families migrated from little shtetls to the Big City and subsequently immigrated to other countries.

The Mokotow family history is rooted in the town of Warka, Poland. If it were not for JRI-Poland, I would never had discovered that my great-grandfather was born in Kielce, Poland, or my great-great-great-grandfather died in Warsaw.

Volunteer now! Volunteer both your time and money to grow the Jewish genealogy databases. Donate now through JewishGen to their General Fund or a specific project at Volunteer your time to projects such as JOWBR or a Special Interest Group project.

Attend the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
23–28 July 2017  • Walt Disney World Swan Resort  • Orlando, Florida

   • More than 250 lectures and workshops
   • SIG meetings and luncheons
    Birds of a Feather meetings
   • Gala banquet
    Access to subscription-only online databases
   • Film Festival
    Network with other genealogists
   • Consult with the experts

Registration and additional information at

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