Nu? What's New?
Nu? What's New is a bi-weekly Internet magazine published by Avotaynu providing information of interest to persons tracing their Jewish family history.
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Vol. 5, No. 16 - September 12, 2004
Yad Vashem Plans to Launch Its Names Database on November 22
Yaacov Lozowick, archivist of Yad Vashem, has indicated the date for launching the public access to their Central Database of Holocaust Victims' Names will be November 22. Israeli prime minster Ariel Sharon is expected to participate in the event.
The database consists of an index to some four million digitized records that includes:
France (Klarsfeld deportation lists: 70,000 Jews deported from France primarily to Auschwitz)
Germany (Gedenkbuch: 128,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust)
Hungary (Nevek series of name lists)
Lodz Ghetto (Censuses of the ghetto)
Luxembourg (All victims)
Mauthausen (Jewish inmates)
Megilot - Memorial Lists (Small lists)
Pages Of Testimony Collection (3 million victims)
Slovakia (Deportations in 1942)
Theresienstadt Camp - Bohemia/Moravia
Yugoslavia (State register)
See Nu? What's New? Vol. 4, No. 13 - July 27, 2003 at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu11.htm#v04n13 for additional information about how the site will operate.
Ellis Island Site Adds New Search Functionality
It an attempt to improve their lacking search engine, the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation (SLEIF) has added some new features. The site is located at http://ellisisland.org. The site still does not come close to the capability that exists at the Stephen P. Morse site at http://stevemorse.org. You can now search:
first name starts with (used to be initial or entire first name only) or contains
ship name starts with (used to be exact match only) or contains
town name starts with (used to be exact match only) or contains
They also added an ability to search by year of birth and a range of years. However, according to Morse, "they don't have it working properly, and if you use it you get no results."
Further evidence of the weakness of the site is another feature to include Ethnicity as a limiting factor. You choose the initial character of the immigrant's ethnicity, and another pull down window requires you select the exact ethnicity. For example, when you select "J" for "Jewish", the other window gives you a choice between "Jamaican" and "Japanese." What happened to "Jewish"? Apparently SLEIF expects the public to know that Jews on the Ellis Island manifests are listed as "Hebrew." Similarly, try "H" if your ancestry is Hungarian, and you will be asked to select between Haitian, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Herzegovinian, Hindu and Hawaiian. That is because Hungarians are shown in the database as "Magyars."
There is one advantage to their improvements. Morse has already incorporated these new SLEIF features into what he calls his White form; the one that searches the entire database. Morse has had these features for three years on his Blue form; the one that is limited to searching for Jewish, I mean Hebrew, immigrants. The White form, since its inception, has had an Ethnicity search which allows you to choose the exact word as defined on the ship manifests. It is very valuable to eliminate false positives when you know the immigrant was a non-Jewish Hungarian, I mean Magyar. It will exclude all persons that do not have that ethnicity. Furthermore the Morse site allows you to select multiple ethnicities. If your ancestor came from Vilna, was he Hebrew, Polish, Russian or Lithuanian? At the SLEIF site, it will take four searches. At the Morse site, click the check box next to each ethnicity and get it done in one search.
The SLEIF site has also taken a step backwards. Previously you could select two phonetic variants from a list of 30 provided if an initial search was fruitless. Now their phonetic variant searches for only two variants. Enter Dr. Morse (and associates). His site provides both options. If you select the "sounds-like (few)" option, you get the new limited SLEIF option. If you select the "sounds-like (many)" option you get the old, search for 30 option.
The bottom line is stick with the Morse site when searching the Ellis Island database.
More Ellis Island Database Improvements
The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation (SLEIF) has also pre-announced plans to have links at their site to the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) and Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), membership lists. Articles have appeared in both organizations magazines that the functionality is a fait accompli, but the features are not yet present at the SLEIF site.
FGS is the umbrella group of more than 550 genealogical societies throughout the U.S. and Canada. APG is an organization of more than 1,500 professional genealogists. SLEIF users will be encouraged to use the services of either of these organizations to further their research into their immigrant ancestry. For those "Nu? What's New?" readers who cannot wait for SLEIF to add the links to their site, a list of FGS members societies can be found at http://www.fgs.org. A list of APG members can be searched at http://www.apgen.org.
The Generic Dr. Morse
Visitors to the Stephen P. Morse site at http://stevemorse.org should be aware that sometimes the efforts are done by a team of associates of Morse, not necessarily by Morse himself. When that occurs, he gives credit on the appropriate page. In the last issue of Nu? What's New? we noted a new feature that identifies street name changes in major U.S. cities. That work was actually done by a Morse associate, Joel Weintraub.
News from the FGS Conference
Last week I attended the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies which was held in Austin, Texas. Here are some items of interest.
The genealogy portion of Betterway Books is now called Family Tree Books. They have published 35 books to date that cover a wide variety of topics of general interest to American genealogists. They are softcover and none have a list price of more than $30.00. A complete list can be found at http://www.familytreemagazine.com/store/booksearch.asp?category=all. I have examined only a few of the books on the list, but in every case they were of high quality. The list of authors includes many of the best professional genealogists in the U.S. The executive editor for the book series is Sharon DiBartolo Carmack, one of the best authors of genealogy books in the U.S. Do not order them from the publisher's site. Avotaynu discontinued selling these books because you can buy them at Amazon.com for at least a 30% discount.
A group called Archive CD Books located at http://www.archivecdbooks.org is selling digital images of rare books that may be of value to genealogists. Located in the UK, their initial offerings focus on books from the UK, Canada and England. Typical are Western Australia Post Office Directory 1914, Canadian Gazetteer and Business Directory 1930 and London Post Office Directory 1934.
Very inexpensive genealogical family tree charts can be gotten from Generation Maps at http://www.generationmaps.com. They can be presented in a variety of ways and would make an excellent display at a family reunion. For those with huge family trees with members in the thousands, you can get up to 18 generations (names only) on their New Generation Map for only $24.95.
These conferences do not attract many Jewish genealogists which is unfortunate, because many of the lectures are about general methodology and are presented by top genealogical lecturers. The most common question asked at the Avotaynu exhibit booth was "Is the following surname Jewish"? Readers should be aware that Avotaynu has developed a Consolidated Jewish Surname Index that lists more than 500,000 surnames that were found in 34 different databases that contain mostly Jewish surnames. CJSI identifies for each surname in which databases the name was found. As noted at the site, the inclusion of a surname does not mean it is a Jewish surname for a number of reasons including intermarriage and the fact that Christians and Jews shared many surnames. The CJSI can be linked to from the Avotaynu home page at http://www.avotaynu.com/.
1901 Canadian Census Being Indexed
A group of volunteers is currently indexing the 1901 Canadian census. They currently have more than 4 million entries completed. The site is located at http://automatedgenealogy.com/census/NationalSummary.jsp. Once you locate a person by using the surname index on that page, it is possible to display all the transcribed entries from the census page.
Australian Jewish Genealogical Society to Celebrate Its Bar Mitzvah
The Australian Jewish Genealogical Society (AJGS) will celebrate its bar mitzvah on Saturday, November 13 at the North Shore Synagogue in Lindfield. It was founded 13 years ago in Sydney. Appropriately the Torah portion for the day is "Toledot" (Generations). The "parsha" is taken from the first sentence in the Torah reading: "And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son."
AJGS is selling a CD that includes all back issues of its newsletter "The Kosher Koala," 40 issues from 1993-2003. Information about the CD, including prices, can be found at the society's site http://www.ajgs.org.au.
Clearance Sale Continues
We are still offering the book Russian-Jewish Given Names: Their Origins and Variants for only $12. More than 150 people took advantage of this closeout sale which was published in the last issue of Nu? What's New? Effective October 1, the price will be raised to $19.95. Previously the book sold for $35.00.
Published in 1998, Russian-Jewish Given Names: Their Origins and Variants is based primarily on a book published in Russia in 1911 by Iser Kulisher. In czarist Russia, government officials had difficulty keeping track of Jews because they were unfamiliar with the variants of Jewish given names. They did not necessarily know that Mordka was a variant of Mordechai. This sometimes had disastrous consequences to the Jews themselves. Tracking down draft evaders, a Russian official would be looking for a Mordechai Schechter who was listed on a birth register as being born 18 years previously. When the family claimed the child died at age seven and produced a death certificate for a Mordka Schechter, the official was more inclined to believe the family was hiding the son and would institute criminal penalties against them.
Consequently, Kulisher, himself a government official, published a list of Jewish given names and their variants. Boris Feldblyum of Maryland translated Kulisher's book, added additional material, and Avotaynu published the result under the name Russian-Jewish Given Names. The book contains 6,000 given names.
The $19.95 price will remain until the final 250 copies are sold out. Take advantage of the $12.00 price now! You can order the book online at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/rjgn.htm. Or call our offices from the U.S. or Canada at 1-800-AVOTAYNU (286-8296). There is a Table of Contents at the site. Order now!!
Vol. 5, No. 17 - September 26, 2004
Nu? What's New? Has a New Look
With this edition of Nu? What's New we have switched from Plain Text format to HTML format. It provides a more modern look and will allow us to occasionally add illustrations to the e-zine.
Another new feature addresses the problem of subscribers not getting a specific issue due to spam filters. If an issue is sent to a subscriber and it is rejected, a separate e-mail notification will be sent to the subscriber.
Software for Placing Your Family History on the Internet
There is a creative software system to place your family history on the Internet developed by Darrin Lythgoe of Sandy, Utah. It is called The Next Generation. Information can be found at http://lythgoes.net/genealogy/software.php. It produces very attractive web pages of your family history information in a variety of ways.
Lythgoe's own family history can be used as an illustration. Go to http://lythgoes.net/genealogy/. This is the Home Page of the family history site for Lythgoe and his wife. Search for any person with the given name "Darrin." This produces only one person, the author himself. Click on his name. This produces a Family Group Sheet for his family showing his wife and three children. It is not obvious, but no personal information, such as birth dates, is provided for living persons unless you Login, which you cannot do without a password.
Click the word "Pedigree" at the top of the Family Group Sheet and a four generation pedigree of Darrin Lythgoe is displayed. Photographs of living persons are not displayed. Touch the blue arrow below his grandfather, Leo Thomas Lythgoe, and vital information is provided about the person.
Click on the name of his grandfather, Leo Thomas Lythgoe. This brings you to the Family Group Sheet of the man. Click on the word "descendancy" at the top of that page and displayed is a chart of the man's descendants.
Click the back button on your browser to return to the Family Group Sheet. Now browse down the page to view many of the other features of the system. Note the ability to attach numerous photographs to an individual. If the photograph is of many persons, each person can be linked to the item. Note the ability to have histories and documents attached to an individual. Finally a Notes section can include biographical material.
The system provides for adding additional custom "Events." I plan to use it for e-mail addresses and possibly identify Holocaust victims and survivors.
Data fields that are not used do not appear on any display. Lythgoe is Mormon so his site shows many Mormon ordinances. Christian displays include Christening date. You can see what a Jewish genealogist has done with this system at http://cherezli.com/TNG/index.php. Many other users' sites are featured at http://lythgoes.net/genealogy/usersites.php. Browse them. Many have very attractive uses of the TNG system.
A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia to the Printer Shortly
The next major work of Alexander Beider, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia will go to the printer shortly. The manuscript has been formatted for publication, and all that remains is incorporating the photographs of 30 prominent Galitzianers into the dictionary portion of the book. The book will be 624 pages, hard cover with dust jacket. The cost is $85.00 plus shipping and handling.
The work identifies more than 35,000 surnames used by Jews in Galicia. It provides the etymology (the origin of the surname), the districts in Galicia in which the name appeared, and variants of the name. The 100-page introductory portion of the book follows Dr. Beider's scholarly style in analyzing the origin and evolution of Jewish surnames from that region. This includes a history of Jewish names in Galicia, basic etymological analysis, spelling and variation of surnames and analysis of surnames in various provinces of eastern Europe. An extensive bibliography is provided.
For subscribers to our journal AVOTAYNU only, there is a pre-publication price of only $75.00. This offer will last until October 15, 2004. Thereafter, AVOTAYNU subscribers will pay $85.00.
Additional information about the book including a Table of Contents and a complete list of the 35,000 surnames can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/books/djsg.htm.
Previous works of Dr. Beider, all published by Avotaynu include:
A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire
A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland
A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names
Ancient Ashkenazic Surnames: Jewish Surnames from Prague Information about these books can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/catalog.htm.
National Archives of Canada Adds Online Collections
The National Archives of Canada has added to the Internet digitized images and indexes to some of its collections. Called ArchiviaNet, the site is located at http://www.collectionscanada.ca/archivianet/0201_e.html.
There is a large list of the contents of the site. I browsed just a few of genealogical value including:
1901 Census of Canada. All images are online but you cannot search by surname, only geographic location. From the 1871 census (Ontario only) you can search a head-of-household index by name.
Index to Immigration records 1925-1935. The National Archives of Canada holds immigration records from 1865 to 1935. The names of immigrants arriving from overseas are recorded in passenger lists. Those arriving from or via the United States are recorded in border entry lists. A series of old nominal indexes exists for the 1925 to 1935 records and can be searched at the site.
Soldiers of the First World War (1914-1918). Over 600,000 Canadians enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918). The CEF database is an index to those personnel files, which are held by the National Archives. To date, over 800,000 images of Attestation papers have been scanned and are available online.
Photographs. The National Archives of Canada has more than 22 million photographs in its collection. Using keywords, you can search their photographic archives of 400,000 items. Numerous hits were found with keywords "Jewish" and "Jews." Only 10,000 pictures are online. Others can be ordered from the Archives.
Other items include index to military court martials during World War I; Home Children–more than 100,000 children sent from England to Canada during a child emigration movement (1869-1930); index to soldiers of the South African War (1899-1902); index to persons receiving western land grants (1870-1930).
Another Stephen P. Morse Function
Steve Morse has reminded me of another function at his Internet site that was not mentioned in previous editions of Nu? What's New? He has a link to the list of "Israel's Fallen"; those men and women who have died in the defense of Israel. The Morse sight allows you to key in the name in Roman characters and converts them to Hebrew characters. You then paste the Hebrew equivalent into a search engine that links to the Israeli site. The system works similar to Morse's link to the online Israeli telephone book.
The "List of the Fallen" may include biographical information about the person added by family members or friends. For example, Michael Mokotow, a professor at Hebrew University, who was a tank commander in the Yom Kippur War and killed in action, has an extensive biography.
The Morse site is at http://stevemorse.org.
Postcard Images of Interwar Poland on Internet
Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok has placed more than 1,000 images of postcards in his vast collection on the Internet. Most date from the early part of the 20th century. The images can be seen at http://www.szukamypolski.com. At the site click on one of the flags at the top of the page to get a version in your native language, which can be Belarussian, English, Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. After selecting a particular language, links at the right of the screen divide the collection into western provinces, eastern provinces and national minorities. In the province sections, the list is further subdivided alphabetically by town name.
Wisniewski is a journalist/photographer who provides tours and genealogical services in the Bialystok region. Information about his services can be found at http://www.kolodno-holiday.com.
A portion of the postcard images, many of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, can be purchased as JPEGs through Avotaynu at http://www.avotaynu.com/postcards/.
Search Engine for "Nu? What's New?" Archives
We have produced more than 100 issues of "Nu? What's New? since its debut in February 2000. Since its inception, all back issues have been placed in an archives at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu.htm. We have just added a Goggle search engine to the archives to permit readers to locate possible back editions that contain information of value.
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