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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 40 | October 14, 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
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

Weizmann Institute in Israel to Host Conference on Genealogy and the Sciences
Weizmann Institute in Israel will host a conference on “Genealogy and the Sciences” on December 17–18. The announcement states that during the last few years, the discipline of genealogy has undergone a mutation, and currently appears to be turning into a rich academic field. The main driving force behind this recent transformation is the vast amount of developments in the ”hard sciences”: molecular biology, information technology, statistical physics, mathematics, and more.

The program will include invited lectures as well as poster contributions. Session topics include:
Genealogy and…
   • Computer science
   • Mathematics, Statistics
   • Physics
   • Onomastics
   • Geography, History, Demography
   • Biology, Genetics
   • Population genetics
   • Epidemiology
   • Archeology
   • Education, Psychology
   • Cultural Anthropology

Sponsors are:
   • Chorafas Institute for Scientific Exchange
   • International Institute of Jewish Genealogy
   • Braginsky Center for the Interface between the Sciences and the Humanities

The announcement can be found at

DNA Websites Allowing Much of U.S. Population to Be Identified
So many people have submitted their DNA for testing that an Associated Press report claims 60 percent of the U.S. population with European heritage may be identifiable from their DNA—even if they have never made their own genetic information available. That percentage is expected to grow as more and more people upload their DNA profiles to websites.

With DNA databases, “you need just a minute fraction of the population to really identify many more people,” according to Yaniv Erlich of Columbia University, an author of the study. Each person in a DNA database acts “as a beacon that illuminates hundreds of distant relatives,” said Erlich, who is also chief scientific officer of MyHeritage.

The complete article can be found at

USCIS Presents a Documentary “USCIS and the Legacy of Ellis Island”
The USCIS History Office and Library has created a 30-minute documentary, “USCIS and the Legacy of Ellis Island,” which is available on YouTube. From 1892 to 1954, the federal immigration service and its employees processed more than 12 million immigrants at the Ellis Island Immigration Station in New York Harbor. This film tells the immigration story from the perspective of those who worked there and highlights the historical connections between USCIS and this iconic historic site.

The documentary presents oral histories of former employees, historical artifacts, photos, and documents to introduce viewers to America’s busiest historic immigration station and the federal employees who worked there. Interviews with USCIS historians and National Park Service Rangers provide context for understanding Ellis Island’s role in American immigration history. The film’s focus on Immigration Service employees allows their contributions to the American immigration experience to be better understood.

View the documentary at

USCIS Presenting Webinar on Its Name Index
More than 60 years ago, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) transferred its Name Index to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Recently, dedicated NARA staff worked to digitize the index and make it possible to search records by name.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), which is the successor organization to the INS, will be hosting a USCIS History and Genealogy Webinar on Oct. 18, at 1 pm Eastern Time to provide an introduction to the Name Index which contains data ca. 1893 – ca. 1932. The webinar will not be recorded, so you must listen to it live.

The webinar will be given by USCIS historian Marian Smith who will present an overview of the index and how it can be used to access exclusion (Board of Special Inquiry), investigation, and deportation files dating from the earliest years of the 20th century.

To attend:
   • Visit the USCIS History and Genealogy webpage at
   • Click “Guide to I&N History: Thursday, October 18th.”
   • Click “Attend Session” just before the webinar start time at 1 pm (Eastern).

FamilySearch Adds More Than 9 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 9 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. New indexed records are available from Belgium, France, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine(†), and the United States (Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New York, and the Mexican War Pension Index). Also records for the BillionGraves Index and the Find a Grave Index.

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 Providing Course on Galician Research
JewishGen is providing a two-part course for persons with roots in Galicia. It starts November 30. (A November 2 edition of the course is fully booked.)

Galicia I will cover researching town information and vital records on four major websites; JewishGen, Jewish Records Indexing-Poland, Gesher Galicia and RTR Foundation. Course material will include an online, downloadable textbook. Galicia II will cover the historical background, the Polish Archives, more than 50 different source websites (census, military, directories and others), Holocaust, languages, hiring a researcher and more.

As is common in many of JewishGen’s education programs, this course is a personal mentoring program which features an online Forum where students will be encouraged to post one ancestral branch (one surname), set goals for the research, and work one-on-one with the instructor. Classes have no scheduled times as students are international, enabling everyone to read/view/post at their leisure.

A full description of the course is at /description.asp?course=40113. Tuition cost is $125. Registration is limited to 15 students.

Make sure the members of your family who were murdered in the Holocaust are not  forgotten. Submit a Page of Testimony in thier memory to The Shoah Victims' Name Recovefr Project. Go to Click the words "Submit Pages of Testimony Online" or “Download Page of Testimony Forms.”

Pages of Testimony are special forms created by Yad Vashem to restore the personal identities and to record the brief life stories of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. These one-page forms, containing the names, biographical details and, when available, photographs, of each individual victim are essentially symbolic "tombstones". Since its inception Yad Vashem has worked tirelessly to fulfill our moral imperative to remember every single victim as a human being, and not merely a number.  To date there are some two million seven hundred thousand names recorded on Pages of Testimony, written in more than twenty languages, stored for perpetuity in the circular repository around the outer edge of the Hall of Names. Many shelves remain empty bearing witness to the millions of individuals who have yet to be memorialized.

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