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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 44 | November 11, 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.

Other Family Trees Are Not a Valid Source
One of the major sources of information about your families’ heritage is other people’s family trees. Each week I am presented with the results of MyHeritage’s Smart Matching, which matches people on my family tree against other family trees on MyHeritage and Geni (Geni is now owned by MyHeritage). I have used these matches to fill in missing data such as birth, marriage and death information and for validating the information already on my tree.

Family History Daily has published an essay on the validity of other family trees as a source of information. One of their major concerns is that people, in copying the information, do not question the sources of the other family tree. Furthermore, the essay argues that the true source of your information is not the other tree, but the sources cited on the other family tree.

It can be dangerous to assume that a match provided by MyHeritage validates your own information without checking the source of the other tree’s data. One reason is that the other tree’s source may be your very own tree. If your information is inaccurate, it has the effect of perpetuating the error. When a third party receives a Smart Match showing that your tree and that of the second party contain identical information, there is a tendency to assume the information is accurate because it seems to come from two sources when it actually comes from a single source.

The Family History Daily article can be found at

International Tracing Service Places Online Another 900,000 Records
The International Tracing Service (ITS) has placed online 900,000 post-war records from its archival collection. Consequently, there are now more than two million documents online. The portal is equipped with a name search function located at

The newly added documents contain approximately 405,000 names of Holocaust survivors, former concentration camp inmates and forced laborers who were in the care of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in Austria, Italy, Switzerland and England after World War II. The ITS already published the files from the German DP camps in June. As a result, it is now possible to search online for nearly one million names of Displaced Persons registered and surveyed in DP camps within the framework of the Care and Maintenance Program.

The International Tracing Service, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, possesses the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims of Nazi persecution. Its holdings of some thirty million original documents have been included in the UNESCO “Memory of the World” registry since 2013. As a key information center, the ITS answers some 16,000 inquiries per year and provides information on the fates of victims of Nazi persecution. To this day, the tracing service has continued to bring together families torn apart by the Nazis.

U.S. Version of Who Do You Think You Are? Returns for a New Season
The U.S. version of Who Do You Think You Are? returns on Monday, December 3 at 10pm ET, with four new episodes featuring celebrities tracing their family history.
   • December 3 – Mandy Moore
   • December 10 – Josh Duhamel
   • December 17 – Matthew Morrison
   • December 17 (sic) – Regina King

The announcement can be found at

MyHeritage Announces New Features at Its Oslo Conference
MyHeritage Founder and CEO, Gilad Japhet, made a number of announcements at the company’s conference held in Oslo, Norway, this past week.
   • A new feature, Shared Ancestral Places, is now live. This is an interactive map of the location of significant life events (birth, death, etc.) of you and your DNA Matches.
   • MyHeritage will soon be able to process the DNA from stamps and old envelopes and then link the DNA to the ancestor
   • Plans to recreate our ancestors’ DNA through segment painting and segment escalation. This means that if multiple descendants of a particular ancestor test their DNA, MyHeritage will create a “kit” for the ancestor and combine the segments from the multiple descendants identified as originating with that ancestor.

Japhet’s hour-long keynote address can be found at

Maya Lerner, Vice President of Product, spoke about MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity, which will help people discover how their DNA matches are related to them. Lerner stated that MyHeritage is developing technology that, with a 95% accuracy rate, will determine exactly how two matches are related to each other.

Additional information about the conference can be found at

Latest Prices for DNA Tests
23andMe $49 when you buy 2 or more
Ancestry. $59. Offer ends November 21
Family Tree DNA. $79 (Check their site for offers announced after the publication of this ezine.)
MyHeritage. $49. Offer ends November 12

Genealogy Sites Recognize 100th Anniversary of End of World War I
Today, November 11, is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I—the war to end all wars. A number of genealogy sites are recognizing this anniversary.
   • Ancestry is providing free access to its world military records through November 12 at
   • FamilySearch has a special home page for its WWI records at
   • FindMyPast is providing free access to its world military records through November 12 at
   • MyHeritage is providing free access to its world military records through November 12 at

Historical Photographs of New York City Buildings Online
The New York City Department of Records & Information Services (DORIS) has completed a project to digitize more than 720,000 historical photographs of New York City buildings in the 1940s. They previously posted photographs of buildings from the 1980s.

It is best to search by street address. A very specific syntax is required to locate an image:
   • No abbreviations: Words should be spelled completely; e.g. North, saint, street
   • No apostrophes; e.g. Saint Anns Street
   • No dashes; e.g. 3446 91 Street
   • No ordinal indicators: examples of ordinal indicators are “th” and “rd”; e.g. 1 Street
   • Street numbers should be written numerically; e.g. 14 Street

Search for images at When reaching the site, select a collection from the list located on the left. An announcement of the project can be found at

UK National Archives Has Digitized/Index World War I Records
The UK National Archives has a website that identifies its digitized collections of World War I records, most of them indexed. Examples are:
   • British Army medal index cards 1914–1920
   • Royal Air Force officers’ service records 1918–1919
   • Royal Navy ratings’ service records 1853–1923
   • Royal Marines’ service records 1842–1925

The complete list of 21 collections can be found at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 3.5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 3.5 million indexed records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. They include records from England(†), Dominican Republic, Lesotho(†), Liberia, Peru(†), and the United States (California, Georgia, Iowa, Montana, Native American records, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and Billion Graves.

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.

FindMyPast Additions for Week
Billion Graves Cemetery Indexes (no direct link)
British & Irish Newspaper Update
Queensland, Windsor Town Council Honour Roll 1914–1925
Royal Air Force Lists 1919-1945

Free Access to American Ancestors Collection Through November 13
New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering free access to its American Ancestors site through November 13. It contains more than 1.4 billion names. My personal experience in using the site is it only produced results for U.S. censuses and the Social Security Death Index, both available at no charge on FamilySearch.

Access to American Ancestors is at A list of its databases is at

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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