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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 41 | October 31, 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.

Kazerne Dossin Publishes 23,850 Portraits of Belgian Deportees
Kazerne Dossin, located in the World War II deportation center of Mechlen (Malines), Belgium, has placed online 19,650 portraits of Roma, Sinti and Jewish men, women and children from Belgium and the north of France, who were deported from the SS-Sammellager Mecheln (Dossin barracks) to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Ravensbruck, Bergen-Belsen and Vittel between August 1942 and July 1944. In addition, there are more than 4,200 portraits of Jewish men, women and children from Belgium, who were deported from the French camps Drancy, Angers, Beaune-la-Rolande, Compiegne, Pithiviers and Lyon, to Auschwitz-Birkenau, Sobibor, Maidanek and Kaunas between March 1942 and August 1944. The collection is called “Give Them A Face.”

Kazerne Dossin digitizes, on a daily basis, original documents about the Holocaust in Belgium and collects them in an image bank. The image bank currently contains more than 1.5 million documents. In addition to portraits there are transport lists which include information about deportees including name, date/place of birth and occupation. Those lists digitized and indexed are also reported by the search engine.

Kazerne Dossin’s website is at The site is in English or Dutch.

Reclaim The Records Suing for Brooklyn “Old Town” Records
Reclaim the Records (RTR) has announced they are suing the New York City Department of Records for a copy of the approximately 143 microfilm rolls of Brooklyn “Old Town” records (1670–1898). These are documents from the period of time before Brooklyn became a borough of New York City. During that period, it consisted of independent small towns. The records include such items as vital records indexes, tax assessment lists, deeds, mortgages, military draft lists, lists of troops and lists of school children.

This is the second time Reclaim The Records was forced to sue New York City for refusal to provide record collections under the New York State Freedom of Information Law. Their first lawsuit in 2015 for copies of marriage license indexes sparked the formation of the organization.
A list of projects, past and future can be found at their website: Additional information about this particular action can be found at Persons who wish to donate to RTR can do so at They are an IRS registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Current Prices for Autosomal DNA Tests from the Major Companies
Some of the less-expesive offers are limited time offers, so act now.
23andme. $99
Ancestry. $69
Family Tree DNA. $79
MyHeritage. $59

MyHeritage Adds More Than 20 million Records to its SuperSearch
MyHeritage has added more than 20 million records to its SuperSearch bringing the total amount to more than 9 billion records. The collections include the England and Wales Index to Wills and Probates 1853–1943, Canadian Census 1921, Denmark Census 1787, and Denmark Census 1801.

Detailed descriptions of each collection can be found at

FindMyPast Adds 54 Million Records to England Electoral Register Collection
FindMyPast has added an additional 54 million records to their England electoral register collection. These records span the years 1921 to 1925. FindMyPast now has more than 107 million English electoral records online. This includes a complete collection of all known electoral records from English boroughs starting with the letters A to L inclusive for the period from 1920 to 1932.

The records can be searched at

Why Aren’t FamilySearch Digitized Records Available Online to the Public?
When FamilySearch announced a few years ago they were going to digitize their microfilm collection and place it on the internet, there was great excitement. No longer would a researcher have to order microfilms to a local Family History Center and wait weeks for the microfilm to arrive. No longer would a researcher have to travel to a local Family History Center to look at the records. From the comfort of one’s computer, the records would be accessible.

Sadly, the second advantage has not been realized for the most part. My personal experience is that too often there is a message “Access the site at a Family History Center.” The message used to read something to the affect that “These images are available only to Mormons or at a Family History Center.”

This is a great disappointment to non-Mormons—or to use politically correct language, persons not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had heard reports that the reason was that the contract between FamilySearch and owners of the documents precluded placing the images on the internet. This might be plausible with records from Eastern Europe. Lately I have found it applies to certain American records too. As an example: New York, County Naturalization Records, 1791–1980.

Perhaps the motivation is that if all the FamilySearch records were on the internet, there would be no need for Family History Centers.

Do You Subcribe to AVOTAYNU?
Each year AVOTAYNU publishes more than 300 pages of useful, interesting information about Jewish family history research that can help you in your research. Now in its 33rd year, an index to the first 24 volumes is available to all the major articles.

Published quarterly, our contributing editors from 15 countries throughout the world regularly gather important information that appears in our issues. Our publishers, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, are on a first name basis with officials at institutions containing genealogical data throughout the world. 
Some institutions are U.S. National Archives, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Leo Baeck Institute,  Yad Vashem and  Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People.

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