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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 4 | January 28, 2018

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 http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

FindAGrave Indexes Gedenkbuch
FindAGrave has added to its site the names of more than 178,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust that appear in the Gedenkbuch. They show as the burial place for these Jews, “Body lost or destroyed.”

This is not the first Holocaust victims’ list extracted by FindAGrave. In 2016, the company added 70,000 Jews deported from France as shown in the book Memoria00l to the Jews Deported from France. The entry for each person declared they were all buried at the Shoah Memorial in Paris. In reality, most died at Auschwitz. Being a deportation list rather than a death list, it includes survivors. I complained to the company about the fact that none died in Paris and the data included living people. The list has since been removed from their collection.

The Gedenkbuch was the genesis of the controversy between the Jewish community and the Mormon Church. In 1991, it was discovered by members of the Jewish genealogical community that five Mormon families took a copy of the Gedenkbuch” located at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and submitted the names for temple ordinances including posthumous baptism. Despite an agreement signed in 1995 between the Church and the Jewish community that Jews, especially Holocaust victims, would not be posthumously baptized unless they were ancestors of Mormons, Helen Radkey has demonstrated the practice goes unabated to this day.

FindAGrave is located at https://www.findagrave.com.

The names in the Gedenkbuch can be search at the German National Archives site: https://www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch/directory.html. The information provided by the archives is substantially more than what is provided by FindAGrave.

The list of Jews deported from France is part of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum “Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database” at https://www.ushmm.org/online/hsv/person_advance_search.php. Here too the information provided is more than what is provided by FindAGrave.


MyHeritage Adds Two Databases Important to Jewish Genealogy and Others
MyHeritage has added two databases important to Jewish genealogy and others to their collection. The two are:
  • German Minority Census, 1939
  • Mandatory Palestine Naturalization Applications (1937-1947)

The 1939, the German government did a census of non-Aryans, primarily Jews. Persons had to register if they were at least one-quarter Jewish, that is, at least one grandparent was Jewish. MyHeritage database is an extraction of information from the census; it does not include the actual images of the census. Provided is the person’s name, birthplace, town/city of residence and the names of other members of the household.

Mandatory Palestine Naturalization Applications are images of records documenting the efforts of individuals, to establish citizenship in Mandatory Palestine, which was under British administration at the time. They contain a wealth of information about the individual as is not uncommon for naturalization applications.
Other databases announced are:
  • U.S. Yearbooks, 1890–1979
  • Indiana Newspapers, 1847–2009
  • Pennsylvania Newspapers, 1795–2009
  • Ohio Newspapers, 1793–2009
  • Sweden Household Examination Books, 1920–1930, 1860–1880

The complete announcement can be found at https://tinyurl.com/MHNew0118.


MyHeritage Disclose Finances and Impact of DNA Testing Venture
MyHeritage recently did something very unusual for a privately-held corporation; it disclosed its finances. This was in association with an interview with the company’s CEO, Gilad Japhet, about the impact DNA sales have had on his company.

Over the course of the last year, MyHeritage sold more than 1 million DNA kits bringing in $58 million in sales. Revenues from subscriptions to their genealogy service was $75 million. Japhet disclosed that the genealogy service now has more than half a million paying subscribers. There was a total revenue of $133 million in 2017 compared to $60 million in 2016.

Other company statistics include:
  • The company’s profit in 2017 was $18.1 million.
  • Subscription business is also growing between 30–40 percent per year, with a retention rate of more than 75 percent.
  • During the holiday season alone, MyHeritage sold 400,000 DNA kits, up from the just 36,000 it sold in November and December 2016.
  • The company now has 420 employees
  • MyHeritage is also looking to acquire more companies

The interview can be found at https://tinyurl.com/MHJaphetInterview. MyHeritage site is at https://tinyurl.com/MHHomePage. Information about their DNA service is at https://tinyurl.com/MHDNA3.


What's Coming from FamilySearch in 2018
FamilySearch has announced its plans for 2018. In the area of records access, they plan to digitally preserve more than 400 million images and publish most of them online. They will also add hundreds of millions of indexed, searchable names in historical records.

Much of the other announced plans are associated with having your family tree on FamilySearch. Read the full announcement at https://media.familysearch.org/whats-coming-from-familysearch-in-2018.


FamilySearch Adds more than 5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 5 million indexed records and images, can be found at http://tinyurl.com/FamilySearch012218. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. They include records from Argentina(†), Colombia(†), Denmark, El Salvador, England(†), Georgia, Liberia, Peru, Portugal(†), Slovenia(†), South Africa, Spain(†), Sweden(†), Venezuela(†) and the U.S. states of California, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Utah(†) and Virgin Islands.

Of general interest to persons with Jewish family history is the addition of 1.6M indexes to New York 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.


TheGenealogist Adds 5 Million U.S. Passenger Arrival Records (1834–1900)
TheGenealogist has added more than 5 million passenger records to their U.S. records collection. This includes:
  • 3,956,780 German passengers (1850–1897)
  • 836,122 Italians (1855 –1900)
  • 522,638 Russians (1834–1897)

The website also includes U.S. census, death records, trade directories, wills and poll books. It also has a large collection of British records. TheGenealogist is a fee-based website. Information provided at no charge about the passenger lists is minimal; not much more than the person’s name.

Source: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. Additional information is at
https://blog.eogn.com/2018/01/24/thegenealogist-releases-more-than-5-million-u-s-records/.


New at Ancestry.com
Ancestry has added only one record group this week: Macomb County, Michigan, Death Index (1904–2017). Announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, notes that Lodz Ghetto Transportation Lists (1939–1940) were recently added to Ancestry. They can be searched at https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=61598&cj. Also, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Selected Holocaust Records (1939–1945). They can be searched at https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=60551&cj

Both databases are part of the World Memory Project, a joint effort by Ancestry and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum whose purpose is to make Museum documents searchable by name online at no charge. Copies of the images can be ordered at no cost from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Reclaim the Records Acquires New York City Geographic Birth Index
Reclaim the Records has acquired 96 microfilms that constitute a geographic birth index for New York City from the late 19th century through 1944. FamilySearch is in the process of scanning the films and when the scanning is completed it will be available on the Internet at no charge. This is the same information as the alphabetic birth index except this list is organized by street address.

The organization’s website is located at https://www.reclaimtherecords.org/,


The Ancestor Hunt Publishes Essays On How to Acquire Marriage and Death Information
The latest essays on genealogy methodology from The Ancestor Hunt include:
  • 22 ways to find ancestors marriage information at https://tinyurl.com/AHMarriageInfo
  • 21 ways to find ancestors death information at https://tinyurl.com/AHDeathInfo

They provide a useful check-off list of sources you might not have considered for finding marriage and death information.


ITS Wants to Return Personal Belongings of Concentration Camp Inmates to Families
About 3,000 personal belongings from concentration camp inmates are held in the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) waiting to be returned to families. Very few items belonging to Jewish inmates are held by ITS. Those that are effects belonging to Jews are mostly from Budapest Jews who were deported at the end of 1944. The names of the owners can be searched at https://digitalcollections.its-arolsen.org/010209/name. Results include photographs of the objects. A description of the collection can be found at https://www.its-arolsen.org/en/archives/effects/.


Library and Archives Canada Providing New Search Tool
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has just released its newest search tool, Collection SearchBETA, and is inviting the public to try it out and provide feedback. The beta version is under construction. Once fully developed, the new search engine will allow users to search all the collections available to the public at LAC from one starting point. Currently there are more than a hundred stand-alone databases at their website. The announcement can be found at https://thediscoverblog.com/2018/01/24/ a-new-way-to-search-the-library-and-archives-canada-collections/.


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