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. 2, No. 14 - July 8, 2001

More Resourceful Ways to Get Around the Ellis Island Database

The motto of genealogical research should be "There is no one more resourceful than a genealogist looking for a record." The resourcefulness of genealogists looking for records in the Ellis Island database (EIDB) goes on and on. What is nice is that many of these get-arounds are gravitating toward one Internet site: Stephen P. Morse's "Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step" at This site has reached such a level of sophistication that my recommendation is that a researcher should always search for records in EIDB from this site rather than the normal gateway at

Here are some of the latest discoveries and features.

Morse recently disclosed another quirk of the EIDB search facility that allowed him to locate the arrival record of his wife's grandfather. It is possible to key in only the first character of BOTH the given name and last name. Technically you must give at least the first two characters of the last name, but Morse determined that if you make the second character a percent sign (%) it works. For example, requesting a search for first name "A" and last name "C%" will retrieve all persons whose given name starts with "A" and last name starts with "C." This feature should be used with great care because it clearly could generate an enormous number of hits. Morse was successful because he qualified his search by approximate age, sex, approximate year of arrival and ethnicity as Hebrew or Roumanian. These further qualifications retrieved only 16 names from EIDB and allowed him to find the record. The name was not only misspelled on the original ship's manifest but was further distorted by the EIDB extractor.

New feature. When there are many hits as the result of a search at the EIDB site, it displays them 25 at a time. A new feature at the Morse Internet site is the ability to display up to as many as 1000 at a time (it would take a while to do this). Furthermore, the results are stored in your computer in HTML (Internet) format which allows you to leisurely review them using your Internet browser.

Finally, and most importantly, another resourceful genealogist, Alec Calzareth, has determined the method EIDB uses to access the scanned images of the original ship's manifests. Many are not available to the public because of a glitch in the EIDB software--the images are there, they are just inaccessible to the EIDB software. Once you have determined the name of the ship, arrival date and page on which the passenger's name appears (all of which you get when you find the entry for a specific immigrant), it is possible to determine the microfilm roll number of the Ellis Island manifest on which the passenger appears. Providing this information at the Morse site retrieves the scanned image. An explanation of the Calzareth method can be found at

That's all the good news. The bad news is that in the past few weeks, I have found it sometimes difficult to access the Morse site. It is on, a major Internet service provider, so the reason for the slow processing is not known.

Although no one is as resourceful as a genealogist, the second most resourceful person is a capitalist trying to make a dollar. It is a common practice among businesses to buy Internet domain names that are slight misspellings of popular Internet sites. Someone recently reported they misspelled the EIDB site and found themselves at the home page!! Don't think Avotaynu is immune from this ploy. People visiting our Home Page at have complained to me that the word "genealogy" is misspelled "geneology" in a few places. This is deliberate. People who use search engines to find information and use the key words "Jewish geneology" will find that the Avotaynu site appears near the top of the list.

Peter Lande - Consummate Volunteer

There are a number of people far outside the limelight of organized Jewish genealogy who do much work to advance the needs of our pastime but rarely get credit (and they seek none). They just do their thing, and every once in a while they surface to announce their latest accomplishment. It is only then that we realize how valuable is their work. Such a person is Peter Lande of Washington, D.C. Peter is a retired foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department who has become a volunteer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). He admits to working at the Museum 20 hours a week, and another 20 hours at home; it undoubtedly exceeds this amount. What does he do? He scours the collections looking for genealogically relevant material. When he finds it, he catalogues the material in greater detail than the Museum professional catalogers can afford to devote time to doing. In some cases, he has devoted time to computerizing the actual data.

His most recent accomplishment is a detailed catalogue of the so-called "Captured German Records Collection." He has made it available on JewishGen at

Lande writes so often for our journal, AVOTAYNU, about acquisitions of the USHMM, that from time to time I have considered suggesting that he should be called our Holocaust columnist. We have published more than 20 Holocaust-related articles written by Lande since 1993. He latest will appear in the Summer issue of AVOTAYNU and is titled "Working Toward a Master List of Holocaust Victims." It describes the millions of records all over the world that identify Holocaust victims and the slowly moving plans to consolidate all the information into one master list.

Genealogical Software Prints Pages of Testimony

Yet another genealogical software system is adding a feature to print Pages of Testimony directly from its database. DoroTree, an Israeli based genealogical software system, has announced this capability at the 21st International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy, being held in London this week. This feature, also available in Ancestral Quest, was previously announced in the June 20 edition of Nu? What's New?

Persons who do not plan to use the DoroTree software, can still fill out the Page of Testimony form at their site, print out the form, and then submit it to Yad Vashem. Pages of Testimony are "death certificates" of Holocaust victims that include the individual's name, year of birth, names of mother and father, name of spouse (often including maiden name of women), circumstances of death, name/address of the submitter, and other information.

DoroTree is a bilingual genealogical software system. It allows data to be entered in Hebrew or a second language. The second language can be English, French, Spanish or Portuguese. One unusual feature is its ability to key in dates using either the Hebrew or Gregorian calendar. Features of the system can be found at A demonstration version is available at the site.

More Images of Jewish Life Available

Pictures of your ancestral towns or countries from the turn of the 20th century can be a wonderful addition to the photographic portion of your family history. Avotaynu sells these JPEGS, which are computer images, at for the low cost of only $2.50 each. We have added more than 100 new JPEGs of towns outside of Eastern Europe to this site bringing the total number of pictures to more than 1,500. We are selling the JPEG images, not the actual postcards, many of which cost hundreds of dollars to purchase. The images are transmitted to you by e-mail and are retrieved directly from your computer.

Previously, more than 1,000 images were provided for towns in Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. Images are now available for:

AUSTRIA: St. Polen, Wien
BELGIUM: Anvers, Brussels, Liege
CZECH REPUBLIC: Hradec Kralove, Hranice, Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Kromeriz, Marianske Lazne (Marienbad), Mikulov, Olomouc, Plzen (Pilsen), Praha (Proague), Slany, Strakonice, Tabor, Teplice, Terezin, Zilina
ENGLAND: Lincoln, London
FRANCE: Dijon, Epernay, Lille, Metz, Roubaix, Strasbourg,GERMANY: Bad Kisingen, Chemnitz, Dachau, Dessau, Dortmund, Essen, Frankfurt, Kaiserslautern, Munchen (Munich), Nurnberg, Rothenburg, Ulm, Wiesbaden, Worms
GREECE: Thessalonika (Salonika)
HUNGARY: Barcs, Békéscsaba, Budapest, Debreczen, Gyongyos, Kecskemet, Szeged, Szombathely
IRAQ: Baghdad
ITALY: Firenze, Monte-cassino, Roma, Torino, Trieste
LIBYA: Tripoli
ROMANIA: Birlad, Cluj, Oradea, Panciu, Radauti, Sighet, Timisoara, Tulcea
RUSSIA: Konigsberg
TSLOVAK REPUBLIC: Bratislava, Hlohovec, Kosice, Presov, Topolcany, Trencin
SPAIN: Toledo
TUNISIA: Djerba, Tunis
ADDITIONAL UKRAINE: Caucuses, Mukacevo, Uzgorod
USA: Buffalo, Chicago, Gloversville, New York, Newport, Rochester
YUGOSLAVIA: Beograd (Belgrade), Novisad, Sarajevo, Subotica, Tuzla, Osijek, Udvozlet, Ujvidek

Summer Issue of AVOTAYNU

AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Amdur Sack, completed the summer issue of AVOTAYNU, just before she left for London to attend the 21st International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy. It will go to the printer this week and be in the mail in about 20 days. The lead article is written by me and is titled "Strategies for Using the Ellis Island Database." More about the issue will appear in the next edition of Nu? What's New? You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Vol. 2, No. 15 - July 22, 2001

U.S. censuses are the highlight of this edition of Nu? What's New? The complete 1900 census is on the Internet--both images and index. Now available on CD-ROM is an index to the 1910 census for Connecticut with plans to make New York City and New York State available shortly.

Indexed 1900 Census Now Available Online from Genealogy.Com

The first online 20th-century U.S. census--images and index--the 1900 census--is now available at Every evidence is that it is a well-thought-out system.

The index does not include all persons, just heads of households and members of the household whose surnames differ from the head of household. These are typically in-laws, boarders or servants. The index is organized by state; you search one state at a time. There are a number of search options--exact name (given and last name), last name only, or browse the index. When specifying a given name, there is a valuable feature that is an attempt to show all persons who have variants of the given name. For example, requesting all persons named Abraham Goldstein displays persons named Abe Goldstein as well. A search for David Goldsteins also displayed persons named Dave Goldstein, yet a search for Jacob Goldstein did not show persons named Jack. There is no wildcard option.

It is possible to browse the index. Keying a surname (or partial surname) brings you to the place in the index where the surname starts, and then it is possible to browse forward or backward in the index. This is a very valuable feature when the exact spelling of a given name is not known (Abram, Abe, Abraham). For example, browsing for the surname Goldstein brings you to the first person in the census named Goldstein. It is then possible to browse forward examining all persons named Goldstein in the index. Browsing backwards uncovered the surnames Goldsteim, Goldstei, Goldsteen, and Goldstean. The browse feature is also a useful tool for valid spelling variants of a surname. For example, Tartasky, Tartatsky, Tartacki and Tartazky are all variants of the same surname. Browsing with a search argument of Tarta displays the index starting at all persons whose name starts with "Tarta".

Clicking on an index item brings up the image of the page on which the name appears. Images are very crisp and large (242K), and can be saved. Important note: Typically U.S. census sheets are two physical pages, the first with numbered lines 1-50, the second number 51-100. A not-so-conspicuous note at the top and bottom of each page view states "Important: If your ancestor is not on the image below, try viewing the Next Image. Some census pages are on multiple images."

Response time was excellent.

No system is perfect. There are some considerations in using the system. There is no soundex search option. This is ameliorated somewhat by the browse feature. Being only a partial index has some disadvantages. If two boarders (perhaps siblings) have the same surname, the index only includes the first person. If a recently arrived immigrant was a boarder with a relative with the same surname (a brother, for example), the immigrant would not be in the index. These two examples can be real cases to researchers who may not have known the circumstance of their ancestor's living arrangements in 1900. The fact is there were 75 million people enumerated in the 1900 census, and a complete index would have at least quadrupled the effort and could not be economically justified.

The method of scanning the records is a subject of controversy. provides images with only two "colors": black and white. Advantage: faint images are enhanced. uses a gray scale technique. Faint images remain faint but readable, and darkened areas retain their underlying images. In comparing two identical census pages at the and sites, the gray-scale technique is preferable. For example, on one page, information was crossed out and overwritten. The image was undecipherable; the image was readable.

The 1900 census is valuable to Jewish genealogists because it includes the year an immigrant ancestor arrived in the U.S. and the person's naturalization status. The 1900 census database is a fee-based service. The cost is $14.99 per month or $79.99 for annual service. The census is located at

Index to the 1910 Census for New York City, New York State, Connecticut

Heritage Quest has indexed the 1910 census for Connecticut and is in the process of completing the indexing of New York City and New York State. The indexes are available on three separate CDs. The U.S. government indexed only selected states of this census; New York and Connecticut were not included. Many ancestors of Jewish Americans came to the U.S. during the period 1900-1910, and researchers typically do not know where these immigrants lived during this time. Even if the street address is known, the census was organized by a unique Enumeration District coding, and there are a limited number of finding aids to convert street addresses into Enumeration Districts.

Data for each person in the index includes surname, given name, age, sex, race and birthplace (usually country or state only). Also included in order to identify where the person lives is county, locality, roll number, part and page number. A valuable feature is that any data field can be used by the search engine. The search engine has many search features--too many to enumerate here--but does have exact match, include and exclude facilities. Multiple search parameters in an "and" relationship are allowed.

The Connecticut CD costs $29.95 and is now available through Avotaynu at The New York State CD has a planned cost of $49.95, and the New York City CD will cost $59.95. They will be available within the next few months. Watch future editions of Nu? What's New? for the availability of the New York CDs.

New Beginners Guide to Jewish Genealogy: Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors

Heritage Quest has published a new beginners guide to Jewish genealogy titled Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors by Barbara Krasner-Khait.

The 300-page book is rich with illustrations and examples taken from the author's personal experience. It starts with an overview of Jewish history and other background factors that are required to understand how to do Jewish genealogical research. This is followed by chapters on how to find records of ones ancestors. Special topics such as rabbinic and Sephardic genealogy, colonial research, and the Holocaust are covered. Getting help through organized Jewish genealogy and the Internet are described in depth. The book has numerous Internet addresses reflecting the trend toward using the Internet for genealogical research. It includes an extensive topical bibliography. The book will be reviewed in a future edition of AVOTAYNU.

Cost for the softcover version is $24.95. Avotaynu offers it at The site also shows the complete Table of Contents. A hardcover version at $49.95 is available at the Heritage Quest site:

Russians to America CD Has Flaw

Avotaynu has discovered a significant flaw in the Russian to America CD. It will not hinder its value if you are aware of the problem. For a large batch of records, if the surname (last name) is at least nine characters in length, only the first eight characters appear in the database. For example, Goldstein appears as Goldstei, Goldschmidt appears as Goldschm. The problem is masked by the fact that there are records in the database where the full name is presented. If you are searching for a person whose surname is nine characters or greater, perform a second search on just the first eight characters. It is a good research technique anyway to browse records above and below the area where you expect to find information to account for random errors. The CD is an index to about 430,000 immigrants to America who came from Russia in the period 1855-1895. Additional information about the contents of the CD can be found at

From Generation to Generation Back in Print

Arthur Kurzweil's landmark beginner's guide to Jewish genealogy. From Generation to Generation is back in print and sporting a new cover. Cost of the hardcover version is $25.00. Sadly, it is a reprint of the 1994 book rather than an update. Consequently, factual information such as the list of Jewish Genealogical Societies is as of 1994 with incorrect mailing addresses. Avotaynu is listed at its address in Teaneck, New Jersey, where we have not been located for the past six years. But the appeal of Kurzweil's writing style remains. You can order the book at

Summer Issue of AVOTAYNU

The Summer issue of AVOTAYNU will be mailed later this week. It is rich with articles by experts in their respective fields. Topics include unexpected genealogical resources at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People by Hadassah Assouline, archivist of CAHJP; an update on Jewish emigration through Hamburg by Juergen Sielemann of the Hamburg City Archives; a report on the trend toward creating a common database of Holocaust victims by Peter Lande; Mexican-U.S. border crossings by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens of the U.S. National Archives; the Central and East European map collection of the U.S. Library of Congress by Stephen Paczolt, of the Geography and Map Division of the LOC; and history of the Jews of Transylvania by Romanian history professor and AVOTAYNU Contributing Editor, Ladislau Gyemant.

Among the other topics are strategies for using the Ellis Island database by Gary Mokotoff; and new resources in Israel found by AVOTAYNU editor, Sallyann Sack, on her annual trek to Israel.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Reminder: Jewish Genealogical Research Trip to Salt Lake City

If you failed to have your genealogical "fix" for the year because you did not attend the very successful International Conference on Jewish Genealogy held recently in London, consider spending a week doing research in Salt Lake City in October. Every year, veteran professional genealogist Eileen Polakoff and myself take a group of Jewish genealogists to Salt Lake City. This year's dates are October 25 - November 1. Experience levels range from absolute beginners to advanced researchers all of whom take advantage of Eileen and my expertise in record searching and the 2.4 million microfilm reels of records at the Family History Library. Additional information can be found at

Avotaynu Book Offerings Has New Look

We all suffer the frustration of trying to use the Internet to order merchandise by going to the seller's Home Page and not finding how to locate the goods you want. Avotaynu now sells more than 60 books of interest to persons researching their Jewish family history, and I have struggled for a long time as to how to present these books. About a year ago, I happened on an Internet site in Romania that presents numerous books in a readable fashion that does not take an enormous amount of download time. I finally have implemented the design, and now you can see all books we sell at a new site:

Peter Lande -- Consummate Volunteer -- The Sequel

No, I did not have advanced information, but by a remarkable coincidence, just four days after the last edition of Nu, What's New? in which I lauded the volunteer efforts of Peter Lande, he was given the "Lifetime Achievement Award" of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies at the annual Conference on Jewish Genealogy held in London from July 8-13.


It has been reported by Family Tree Magazine that Senator Orrin Hatch (of Utah, of course) has introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate to make October Family History Month. Information can be found at

For those interested in the impact of DNA testing on genealogy, Dick Eastman's column at has a number of articles. His weekly column appears at

Vol. 2, No. 16 - August 5, 2001

Availability and Prices for Index to New York 1910 Census Set

Heritage Quest has announced prices and availability dates for indexes to the 1910 census for New York City and the balance of New York State. The indexes are available on two separate CDs and are $49.95 each. The New York City CD will not be available until mid-November; the New York State (except NYC) CD will be available the first week of September.

Avotaynu is making a prepublication offer of the purchase of either CD for $39.95--a 20% discount--until September 4. Purchasers will not be charged until the CDs are shipped. Ordering information is at

Data for each person in the index includes surname, given name, age, sex, race and birthplace (usually country or state only). Also included to help identify where the person lives is county, locality, roll number, part and page number. A valuable feature is that any data field can be used by the search engine. The search engine has many search features--too many to enumerate here--but it does have exact match, include and exclude facilities. Multiple search parameters in an "and" relationship are allowed.

Complete Galveston (Texas) Immigration Records Online

Did you have ancestors that came to the U.S. through the port of Galveston, Texas? Billing itself as the first computerized listing of immigrants, the Texas Seaport Museum has made available a complete list of immigrants to the U.S. through Galveston. In all, the names of 132,119 passengers from 1844-1954 are accessible at This is a temporary address. Long-term access to the site is from

The database includes names of passengers and members of their traveling parties, age, gender, occupation, country (or area) of origin, ship name, dates of departure, original port of their departure, date of arrival, and destination in the United States as well as the source of the information listed.

From 1907-1914 more than 10,000 Eastern European Jewish immigrants came to the U.S. through this port in what became known as the Galveston Movement. Its purpose was to divert Jews from Russia and eastern Europe away from congested communities of the Atlantic coast to the interior of the United States. The movement was directed and funded by Jacob Schiff, a wealthy New York Jewish philanthropist.

Additional information about the museum is at Additional information about the Galveston Movement can be found at

New Book on the History of Transylvania Jewry

Ladislau Gyémánt, AVOTAYNU's contributing editor for Romania, has written a book titled The Jews of Transylvania in the Age of Emancipation: 1790 1867. The book discusses the history of the Jews in this area from three major standpoints: (1) the demographic, socio-professional and economic revolution; (2) the institutional structures; and (3) the legal struggle of the Jews and their struggle for emancipation. The book is 496 pages with text both in Romanian and English.

Gyémánt is a professor of European history and vice-dean at the Faculty of European Studies of the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He is also director of the Dr. Moshe Carmilly Institute for Hebrew and Jewish History at the university.

Avotaynu is selling the hard-cover version of the book for $25.00 plus shipping/handling. To purchase the soft-cover version, which costs $20.00, contact Dr. Gyémánt directly at . Ordering information is at

FGS Conference in Iowa

If you live in the midwestern United States, you might want to consider attending the annual "Conference for the Nation's Genealogists" sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. It will be held in Davenport, Iowa, from September 12-15.

Attendees can choose from more than 150 lectures by 60 presenters. Of special value to Jewish genealogists are the methodology lectures given by some of the best professional genealogists in the U.S. More than 50 vendors display genealogical-related goods and services at the Exhibit hall. For those who are contemplating becoming a professional genealogist, there is a concurrent Professional Management Conference sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Additional information can be found at You can register online.

JPEGs of Palestine

Avotaynu has added postcard images of Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century to its collection. They include scenes of Bethlehem, Jaffa, Jericho, Jerusalem (12 images), Nazareth, Tel Aviv and Tiberias. They can be viewed at

More than 1,300 images are available for towns in Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. Also countries outside of Eastern Europe including Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, France, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Libya, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, The Netherlands, Tunisia, United States, and Yugoslavia.

The Litvaks Back in Stock

We were out of stock on The Litvaks for a number of weeks, but recently we received a new shipment from Israel. The Litvaks is written by the eminent, contemporary historian Dov Levin. Levin, a professor at Hebrew University, is the author of a number of books on the Jews of Lithuania including Pinkas HaKehillot - Lita (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) and Fighting Back: Lithuanian Jewry's Armed Resistance to the Nazis. He is considered to be one of the leading authorities on the history of Lithuanian Jewry.

This book provides a history of Lithuanian Jewry since the 13th century and includes a lexicon of Lithuanian towns showing their Yiddish and modern spellings, statistical tables, sample documents and photographs of Jewish life in Lithuania. An extensive bibliography suggests further reading.

Ordering information for the book as well as the complete Table of Contents can be found at

Ship Date for Beider Book

We have received a ship date of August 24 from our printer for Alexander Beider's new book, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation and Migrations. We should start shipping copies to those who purchased the book about August 30. Additional information about the book, including a complete Table of Contents, can be found at

Vol. 2, No. 17 - August 19, 2001
=========== now has online indexes to the 1910 U.S. census for New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The index can be searched free of charge. They hope to add "a state a month" to the index starting with the New England states. There were 28 states (including Puerto Rico and Military Overseas) that were unindexed, New York being the largest with more than 9 million people.

You can purchase the detailed information about a specific household for $4.00 or the entire census page for $10.00. The index can be found at

Heritage Quest Census Project Back On Target

In late 2000, Heritage Quest almost became the first genealogy company to place U.S. census images and indexes online. I was told at that time that they were within 30 days of going live when their parent company, Sierra, suspended the project (see Nu?, What's New? Vol. 2, No. 1). Sierra has just sold Heritage Quest to ProQuest Company of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the news release of this acquisition emphasized plans for the release of the 1790-1920 census images and indexes.

As described in the release, the initial benefactors of this database will be libraries that subscribe to ProQuest's "Genealogy & Local History Online" by late fall 2001. Although not explicitly stated, it appears that only institutions such as libraries can subscribe to this service.

Details can be found at

News Media Recognizing the Interest in Genealogy

There is growing evidence that genealogy is the new darling of the news media now that the craze is a thing of the past. The Sunday New York Times of August 19 had a front page article on the subject, which can be read at That same morning, a U.S. television network show called "Sunday Morning" aired a feature on genealogy. The History Channel will have a two-hour presentation on genealogy that will air on September 17 at 9 p.m./ET.

The Times article notes that genealogy-related sites are the second most frequented destinations of Internet users (sorry, porn sites are number one). It also stated that the most popular genealogy software, Family Tree Maker, sells 2,000 copies a week.

Immigrant Arrivals to Argentina 1882-1927

Carlos Glikson of Buenos Aires recently posted to the JewishGen Discussion Group a reminder that an organization in Buenos Aires, Centro de Estudios Migratorios Latinoamericanos-CEMLA (Latin American Center for Migratory Studies), has created a database of 3 million persons who immigrated to Argentina from 1882-1927. For a fee of $25 (or equivalent in other currencies) they will search their database. Information in the database includes surname, given name, nationality, marital status, age, profession, religion, port of embarkation, name of ship, and date of arrival. Plans call for adding to the database immigrants for the years 1928-1955 when funding becomes available.

Additional information can be found at the JewishGen Infofile at This infofile gives an overall description of genealogical resources in Argentina. JewishGen has hundreds of Infofiles on a variety of subjects. A list of topics can be found at

The CEMLA Internet site is at

Ellis Island Drops One Step

One step in the Ellis Island Database search system has been dropped. You can no longer get a computer list of passengers who are listed on the same page as the person being searched. Instead the system goes directly to display the image of the page of the ship's manifest that shows all passengers. This would imply that the EI people now have solved the problem of the missing manifest images and this intermediate step is unnecessary. Unfortunately it is not true. There are many missing images. Michael Tobias has compiled a huge list of missing manifests and has given the list to the Ellis Island technical team. [Correction: The View Text Version feature has not been dropped but moved. On the page that shows an image of the actual manifest, if you click the "View Text Version Manifest" button, you are provided with the text version.]

Rabbinic SIG

One of the prettier sites in the JewishGen milieu is the one for the Rabbinic Special Interest Group. You will find it at This SIG is just getting started but they already have a Discussion Group, a glossary and, most important, a steering committee.

A Torah in Search of a Home

Martin Ingall of Maryland has reported to Avotaynu that six months ago an abandoned Jewish cemetery was found in Kamenets Podolskiy in western Ukraine. It included a mass grave of about 200 bodies from the Holocaust era. The bones in the mass grave were exhumed and reburied, as much as possible, in individual graves each with a separate headstone. Since the identity of the victims is unknown, each headstone has a verse from Psalms instead of a name.

Also found in the mass grave were two Torahs, one wrapped in a Gestapo body bag. Ingall bought the Torah, is having it repaired, and his son will read from it at his upcoming bar mitzvah. The other Torah is also in the process of being repaired. Ingall states that "it would be nice for this other Torah to find a home" with a person who has some connection with Kamenets Podolskiy. If someone has interest, they can reach him at

Vol. 2, No. 18 - September 4, 2001

More Ellis Island Database Comments

Michael Tobias and Stephen Morse have collaborated to create yet another search aid for the Ellis Island Database (EIDB). However, this search aid only works for immigrants whose Ethnicity is stated as Hebrew. It includes soundex searching using the Daitch/Mokotoff soundex system as well as searching by town name.

If you use the Stephen Morse portal to access EIDB at (alternate site and check off Ethnicity as "Hebrew", a popup window opens that directs you to another data entry screen. At that site you can specify that the supplied given name and/or last name Starts With, Sounds Like or Contains the characters supplied. You can also limit the search by town name with the identical options as the name search.

Much of the remaining options of the main search page have been carried over to this new page including limiting the search by year(s) of arrival, age(s) at arrival, gender, marital status, arrival month/day and port or boat name.

Here is an example of how this new capability can be of benefit. I have never been able to find the passenger arrival record of a man named Godol Szare using the microfilm index to Ellis Island manifests. I knew nothing about the man, or so I thought, but his name. Using the regular Morse search page produced no results. I then tried the new Jewish page and first tried any person whose first name started with "G" and last name started with "S" and got 4,566 hits. Clearly unacceptable. I then modified the search to a first name starting with "God" (allowing for the name variants Godol, Godl, Godel, etc.) and Last name starting with "S". There were only 39 hits including "Godol Scharer". His residence was Kalisz, Poland, which reminded me that my Szare branch did come from Kalisz. It is clear why I could not find the person using the EIDB site or the microfilm index (which is in soundex order). The inclusion of the letter "r" at the end of the name fooled these systems.

I used this new capability to analyze the quality of the data entry of Jewish names in the index to EIDB. Two years ago, I was able to glean the names of 73 persons named Tartasky and its variants from the ship's manifests using the microfilm index. Using the Tobias/Morse special search page, I was able only to locate 32 of the 73; a full 41 persons are not there. On the positive side, it located 4 new persons. When I go to Salt Lake City in October on my annual trek with a group of Jewish genealogical researchers, I will determine whether they are missing from the microfilm index, or I accidentally missed them. [Information about the Salt Lake City trip can be found at].

Michael Tobias reminded me that not all Jews were listed as Hebrew. I went back to the 41 missing Tartaskys and determined that nearly half of these people were listed as Russian. This means this new "Jewish" search capability may not work for persons you have yet to find in EIDB if their Ethnicity was not listed as Hebrew. It also suggests that the error rate in the EIDB in transcribing Jewish names from the original manifest may be as high as 25 percent since there were still 21 persons that could not be found using the Morse search engine.

Correction to Comment About EIDB Site

In the last issue of "Nu?" I reported the EIDB site had eliminated the text version of the ship's manifests. The feature still exists; it has been moved. On the page that shows an image of the actual manifest, if you click the "View Text Version Manifest" button, you are provided with the text version.

EIDB How-to Site

There is an excellent site on how to use the Ellis Island database at This site is of value to both those who are using the site for the first time and those who cannot find persons in the database. The site is divided into sections that discuss:
(1) How to perform passenger searches
(2) How to view and interpret manifests
(3) Tips on how to use the site
(4) How to report data errors and understand website errors
(5) Links to Internet sites of value in searching EIDB.
(6) How to register on the EIDB website

Australia May Retain Census Data

Australians were asked in the recently completed 2001 census whether they were willing to allow the government to retain census data and release it to the public in 99 years. Currently census data is destroyed when it is no longer of use to the government.

The inclusion of this question on the census form was the result of many years of effort by Nick Vine Hall of Melbourne and other interested genealogists and historians. A $4 million national advertising campaign using press, TV and radio educated Australians about the value of voting "yes" to having their census details sealed for opening in 99 years on 7 August 2100. There was very little opposition from civil libertarians and privacy groups, according to Hall. He expects a 60-80 percent vote in favor of the plan, but the official results will not be available for another 15 months. Australia has a census every five years.

Can You Determine the Town Shown?

Tomasz Wisniewski has now placed more than 1,300 pictures of the shtetls of Eastern Europe at the Avotaynu site His knowledge of Eastern European towns is remarkable--but he is finally stumped on two pictures in his collection. Do you recognize the towns in the pictures we have placed on the Internet at There is a wooden synagogue in the background of the first picture. The roof of the synagogue looks similar to the wooden synagogue of Grodno, Belarus (We have isolated all wooden synagogue pictures in his collection at

FGS Conference In Davenport

Next week I travel to Davenport, Iowa, to attend the annual "Conference for the Nation's Genealogists" sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies. The event takes place from September 12-15. It is attended by all the movers and shakers of American genealogy, so I expect to return with lots of interesting news for the next edition of "Nu?". If you live in the general area, attending the conference, even for a day, will be a worthwhile experience. In addition to the fine lectures being presented (I will be giving two lectures), browsing the scores of vendor exhibits and talking to other genealogists makes the trip worthwhile. Davenport is just over four hours from St. Louis and three hours from Chicago (the way I drive), so a day trip is practical for many. Additional information about the conference can be found at

Avotaynu Site Now Has Search Engine

Avotaynu has added a search engine to its site that makes it easier to locate information within our domain. The search facility is located on our catalog page at For example, if you key in the word "Galicia" it will identify any of our more than 100 web pages that include the word.

Beider Book Being Shipped

A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names will be shipped within the next seven days to the more than 250 people who presubscribed to the book. Information about the book can be found at

1910 Census Reminder

Friday, September 7, is the last day you can purchase from Avotaynu the New York State (excluding New York City) index to the 1910 census for the discounted price of $39.95. Thereafter, the price will be $49.95. Ordering information is at

Vol. 2, No. 19 - September 23, 2001

Please view

News from the FGS Quad Cities Conference

The annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies started in Davenport, Iowa, the day after the terrorist attack on the United States. Remarkably 1,300 of the 1,500 registrants showed up. Those lecturers who could not make it were replaced by the more than 75% who did. Attendance at the lectures was interspersed with eyes glued to the television monitor placed in the convention center. On Thursday, a huge American flag was draped from the second floor landing that overlooked the conference registration area in the convention center.

Many people canceled return-flight plane reservations, not because of a fear of flying as much as a fear of not getting home due to canceled flights. By the Sunday after the disaster, most flights were operational so I elected to return home by plane. Only 6 people were on the flight from the Davenport area to Chicago. Only 21 were on the flight from Chicago to Newark.

Probably the worst-case scenario was that of Debra Braverman, a professional genealogist and member of the New York Jewish Genealogical Society. She left New York City early Tuesday morning and was grounded for a day and a half in Minneapolis, Minnesota, because her connecting flight to Davenport was canceled. She then took a bus from Minneapolis to Des Moines, Iowa, and another bus to Davenport, for a total travel time of 14 hours. She arrived at the conference on Thursday at noon. Debra elected to return to New York late Saturday by bus rather than run the risk of canceled flights. The return trip took 20 hours.

Most impacted were the vendor exhibits of the major genealogy companies. canceled plans to exhibit. Heritage Quest was fully operational but with only a skeleton crew. appeared to be the least affected. Yet there were about 40 vendors exhibiting their wares. Most of the movers and shakers of the commercial aspect of genealogy canceled their plans, so I was unable to get much advanced information about their companies' plans.

1. The 1910 New York State census disk was not available for sale implying that it would take a bit more time before it is mailed to advanced subscribers. We have just received our copies, and they are being mailed to people who purchased them. Additional information about this census CD and the 1910 census CD for New York City can be found at

2. expects all of the U.S. census images--1790 to 1920--to be available at their site within the next 60 days. More than 90% of the images are already online.

3. plans to add shortly a Post-It(R) feature to every record in their multi-billion record database. You will be able to attach a message to any record. Examples of messages are ones that ask the viewer to contact you or ones that clarify or correct to the record.

News from
================= is adding an online index to Florida deaths year by year, a few years per week. To date, they have added 1935, 1945, 1950-55. By the end of October, they hope to have all years online from "the mid-1940s to 1998." Florida is a popular retirement state for people who lived most of their lives in northern states. It has had a large Jewish retirement population for many years. This collection of records was digitized from microfiche provided by the Florida State Office of Vital Statistics which has a death index from 1877-1998.

A Word As Insidious As a Computer Virus

AOL users have not received the last two issues of Nu? What's New? The reason was a statement made in the August 19 edition that "genealogy-related sites are the second most frequented destinations of Internet users (sorry, p* o* r* n* sites are number one)." However the "p" word was spelled properly in the original message, and the AOL spamming analyzer not only rejected the message but banned future editions of Nu? What's New? considering messages from to be obscene material.

The matter is now resolved with AOL. The back issues can be found at

Without thinking, I tried to post a message to the JewishGen Discussion Group about the AOL ban. It not only rejected the message because I used the "p" word, but it removed my name from all the Discussion Groups to which I subscribe. I had to reinstate myself. :)

Terrorism - My Two Cents

A good map of the Word Trade Center area and the buildings affected by the attack can be found at You will have to sign in to view the maps.

American television is so saturated with continuing news associated with the terrorist attacks that it is difficult to weigh what is important and what is just news. Consequently, I have been watching the BBC on cable television for an independent perspective on the happenings.

It is very important that Americans get back to a "business as usual" mode. If we slow down in our work to watch the continual newscasts about world developments, the terrorists will have won. If we now have a fear of flying, the terrorists will have won. If we cut back in our buying habits, the terrorists will have won.

Someone once asked me why I fly El Al airlines to Israel. "Aren't you afraid of a terrorist attack?" he asked. "I refuse to make concessions to terrorists," was my response. "Besides, if they manage to get past the tight security El Al provides, at least I would have led a perfect existence. I will have lived my life as an American, and died a Jew."

Vol. 2, No. 20 - October 7, 2001

The Brick Wall of Eastern European Jewish Genealogy

For many years I have felt that the principal brick wall for Jews whose ancestry is Eastern European is the lack of records prior to the 19th century and the fact that Jews did not have hereditary surnames prior to that time. This brick wall is rapidly crumbling. First, records of the 18th century are being discovered, primarily census records. Second, by analyzing households rather than individuals, it may be possible to identify your ancestors despite the lack of surnames.

This is dramatically demonstrated in an article that will appear in the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU. David and Sonia Hoffman of California discovered in the Lithuanian State Archives the 1784 and 1765 censuses of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Duchy constituted the entire northern half of what became the Pale of Settlement including the guberniyas of Grodno, Kovno, Minks, Mogilev, Vilna and Vitebsk.

Starting with a record in 1816 that had a household with the family name Friedland, the Hoffmans were able to locate the family in the 1784 census, prior to the time when they adopted the Friedland surname. These censuses have given names with patronymics, which can be good substitutes for surnames. Parental households were located in the 1784 and 1765 censuses by using patronymics and Ashkenazic naming patterns. Ultimately, the Hoffmans were able to trace the family back to as early as 1670 (and earlier if the generations were more than 25 years apart).

The complete analysis, as well as a description of the censuses is in the Fall issue, which should be mailed to its subscribers within the next few weeks. Subscription information is at

New Layout for the Family History Library

For those who use the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, all the renovations are nearing completion except for the International floor, according to a Public Affairs Office spokeswoman for the Library. She stated that the Library consistently has been able to keep all of the collection available to patrons during the renovation period. The new look of each floor can be seen at A major improvement will be the nearly doubling of the computer terminals from 87 to 160. From these terminals it will be possible to access the Internet and any of the databases developed by the Family History Department. Previously, access to the Internet and CD-ROM-based databases was limited to the first-floor Automated Resource Center, which now will be abandoned.

The Library has regular updates on the progress of the construction at

National Archives of Canada to Expand Their Genealogy Focus

The National Archives of Canada has received new funding for a Canadian Genealogy Centre Project from Canadian Heritage. The Centre aims to increase Canadian content on the Internet and to improve the quality of services provided. Not only will the Centre provide an ever-increasing amount of services, tools and information from the National Archives, but it will also provide a single point of access for all genealogy resources across Canada to facilitate their access by all Canadians, regardless of where they are located.

Efforts to Release Canadian Census Records Gain Momentum

Canadian historians and genealogists are still pressing their government to make accessible the censuses of the 20th century. Canada has always allowed access to its census records 92 years after collection of the data. The 1901 census was released in 1993. Release of the 1911 census would be due in 2003; but the release has hit a snag. In 1911, and in all subsequent censuses, the Canadian government of the time assured its citizens that the information they provided would be kept confidential. There was no time limit on the confidentiality and some have interpreted this to mean in perpetuity.

Bills have been introduced in the Canadian Parliament that authorize transfer of all census records from Statistics Canada to the National Archives of Canada for permanent safekeeping. It gives access to the records to researchers 92 years after the census, subject to a privacy right that allows individuals to object to the disclosure of personal information in the census records. Information about this effort can be found at

Website About Immigration

The Carpathian Connection, a website that focuses on the historical education and genealogical research related to individuals who were from the former Carpathian territories and were of Carpatho-Rusyn heritage, has developed material about the experience of immigration to North America. It is located at There are a number of essays with titles such as "Assimilation," "Hamburg & Bremen," "Immigration Ports of Departure and Arrival." It also includes links to other sites that focus on immigration. [Reported to Nu? What s New by Nicholas Evans.]

Information About Jewish Orphanages in the United States

Marge-Spears Soloff has developed a website about Jewish orphanages in the United States. It is located at The site includes archival and historical information of over 100 Jewish Orphanages in 49 cities and 23 states in the United States; information about the Jewish Child Care Association of New York; Federal, State and New York City police census lists and other material.

An Analysis of Errors in the Ellis Island Database

The problem of locating people in the Ellis Island database (EIDB) was made evident in an analysis I did of all persons from Bialystok who should have had the surname Tartacki. Admittedly, Tartacki is a difficult name because there are many common spelling variants. The "c" is also spelled "tz", "ts" or "s"; the ending "i" has the feminine ending "a" in Polish and "y" in other languages; and the family had two pronunciations: Taratacki and Taratacki.

EIDB had 11 valid spelling variants: Tarataski; Taratatzki; Taratazki; Taratazky; Tartacka; Tartacki; Tartatzka; Tartatzki; Tartatzky; Tartazki; Tartazky. All of these names soundex using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System to 393450. There are two possibilities in the Russell Soundex System: T632 and T633. The EIDB has an optional check for spelling variants using the Name & Gender Edit facility. Only two of the above variants showed in EIDB as alternatives for Tartacki: Tartazki and Tartazky.

There were six persons with misspellings or difficult-to-read spellings on the ship's manifest: Tararwzky; Taratwzky; Taratwzky; Taratzki; Taritatzki; Tarotatski.

There were seven misspellings due to errors caused by transcribing the names from the manifests into EIDB: Fartatgky; Paratatzku; Partatzki; Taratozhi; Taratzkd; Tartazhi; TarTtatzki.

By total count of persons, 22 had correct spellings, 7 with erroneous spellings on the manifest and 7 with additional errors in transcription. This means that nearly 40 percent of the listings were misspelled either on the manifest or in the transcription.

Almost all persons were found in the microfilm index demonstrating the transcription of the names in the microfilm version was more accurate than EIDB. Further evidence of extraction errors among family members travelling together is that Male Tararwzky and Lale and Leise Taratwzky appear on consecutive lines of the ship's manifest yet their names are spelled differently in EIDB.

Two New Databases on JewishGen

ZichronNote, the newsletter of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, notes that there are two new databases on JewishGen. A database of 33,000 Holocaust survivors as listed in Aufbau is at Aufbau, a New York-based German-language newspaper, published these lists from 1944-1946. The database

Also 9,000 names in Warsaw city directories of 1852, 1869 and 1870 located at Sometimes the absence of information can be part of family history. The Mokotow family had a very strong presence in Warsaw in 1939, although its origins are in the town of Warka, about 30 miles south of Warsaw. There are no Mokotows in this Warsaw database demonstrating the migration of the Mokotow family to Warsaw likely started after 1870.

JewishGen databases are listed at Markers indicate whether an item is new or has been updated.

Search Engine at Avotaynu Site

To make it easier to locate information or products at the Avotaynu site, we have added a search engine courtesy of Google. It is located at For example, entering the keyword "Galicia," located the book Finding Your Jewish Roots in Galicia: A Resource Guide, by Suzan Wynne; a 1799 map of Poland; an 1875 map of Austro-Hungary that included good detail about Galicia; an index to the first fourteen volumes of AVOTAYNU (1985-1998) that notes 15 articles about Galicia that appeared in AVOTAYNU during that time period.

Vol. 2, No. 21 - October 21, 2001

Ancestry Adds User Comments to All Its Databases
=================================== has added User Comments to their text databases. User Comments are notes that can be added to any record of the database. The notes could contain additional detail, contradictory information, a question or just a note to be contacted for additional information. For example, researchers sometimes uncover conflicting information in original records or source documentation created by errors from long ago. These errors and omissions may send family researchers in the wrong direction. User Comments allow those who have run into errors or obstacles to post this information, saving time and frustration for those who encounter these records later.

When you access the database, each record found has an icon to its right that says Add Comment. If someone has already posted a message, the icon reads View Comment. There are more than one billion records in the database, some available free fo charge, others for a fee. The database can be searched at

October Is Family History Month

In the future October will be "Family History Month" in the United States. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senators Orrin G. Hatch and Robert Bennett, both of Utah. The president is expected to sign the bill.

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU

The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU will be in the mail to its subscribers within the next 10 days. The lead story, by Miriam Weiner, discusses her plans to make available on the Internet the most comprehensive inventory of Jewish records in the archives of Belarus, Moldova, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. It will be an outgrowth of the material originally published in her books Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages and Archival Inventories and Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages and Archival Inventories. Since publishing these books, additional material has been discovered and it was decided to update the inventories for these countries using the Internet and expand the database to include Belarus and Lithuania.

The second article is equally exciting--using 18th century census and tax lists from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania located at the State Archives in Vilnius. The Duchy constituted the entire northern half of what became the Pale of Settlement including the guberniyas of Grodno, Kovno, Minsk, Mogilev, Vilna and Vitebsk. The authors were able to trace families back to the 17th century, despite the lack of surnames, by analyzing households.

Other articles include information about the 1869 Austro-Hungarian census, Jewish burial societies in the New York metropolitan area, box taxes in 19th century-Lithuania, and efforts to identify all the pre-Holocaust Jews who lived in specific towns.

Subscription information for AVOTAYNU can be found at

Last Chance to Purchase 1910 NYC Census CD at Discount

The index to the 1910 census for New York City is expected to be released within the next few weeks. Avotaynu is offering it at a discount price of $44.95 until its release date. Thereafter, it will be the regular price of $49.95. It is an index of heads of households, boarders and any other persons in the household that does not have the same surname as the head of household. Data for each person in the index includes surname, given name, age, sex, race and birthplace (usually country or state only). Also included to help identify where the person lives is county, locality, roll number, part and page number. Ordering information can be found at

Jewish Genealogical Trip to Salt Lake City

This week I will fly to Salt Lake City for my annual Jewish Genealogical Trip to Salt Lake City. Eileen Polakoff and I will be joined by 41 Jewish genealogists for a week of research at the "candy store"--the Family History Library. In the next issue I will report on the consequence of the recent renovation of the Library and any new acquisitions of interest to readers of this e-zine.

Vol. 2, No. 22 - November 4, 2001
News from Salt Lake City

Acquisition of Jewish vital records from Lithuania, filming in Chernivtsi, the new look of the Family History Library, using MapQuest in conjunction with the World War I draft records, a security incident and some personal breakthroughs highlighted my annual trip to Salt Lake City.

The Family History Library has almost completed its filming of Jewish vital records in the State Archives of Lithuania. According to Kahlile Mehr of the FHL, the collection parallels, with scattered differences, the inventory printed in
Jewish Vital Records Revision Lists and Other Jewish Holdings in the Lithuanian Archives published by Avotaynu. Films are arriving at the Library regularly and the best way to determine if records of interest are now available is to check the online catalog at You can purchase the Jewish Vital Records book at

The Family History Library is filming Jewish records in Chernivtsi (Chernowitz), Ukraine. It is not known when they will be available.

During the week we were at the Library, the renovation that was started in July was not completed yet. The computer terminals on the International floor were not installed. The inconvenience was minor. The replacement of local terminals with computers that have online access to the Internet is a tremendous boon. It made it easy to access such sites as the Ellis Island Data Base, JewishGen, Avotaynu and the online Library catalog.

The only finding aid to the World War I draft records for New York City is a map that was published in a newspaper at the time of the registration showing the boundaries of each draft board. The problem is that many streets in New York City cross the boundaries of many draft boards. While helping one of the people who came on the trip this year, I realized that using MapQuest can help to solve the problem. Using a computer terminal, we accessed MapQuest at, keyed in the 1916 address, and MapQuest displayed a map of the area noting the major streets. Comparing the map against the WWI draft board map made it possible to identify the exact draft board that contained the record.

An example of the heightened security in the United States was evident during my stay in Salt Lake City. While in the Library there was an announcement over the public address system that "the person who parked a Penske (rental) truck in front of the Library should return immediately to the vehicle." (It was rented trucks containing bombs that caused the first incident at the World Trade Center some years ago and also blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.) Apparently the regular security people at the Library decided to take no chances and called Salt Lake City police when then saw the rental truck parked legally in front of the Library. Shortly after the announcement, the driver of the truck appeared and showed the police identification. The police had him open the rear of the truck to inspect its contents.

On the personal satisfaction front, I solved a 15-year-old problem in my personal research: proving the Mokotowskis of Otwock, Poland, were related to the Mokotows. As I suspected, they are descended from Isaac Mokotow, a son of my great-great-great-grandfather, Tuvia (Tobiasz) David Mokotow. The solution required threading through vital records of four towns. Fifteen years ago I had traced the Mokotowskis from Otwock to neighboring Karczew. In the vital records of the Jews of Karczew, I located the marriage record of a man who was the progenitor of the Otwock Mokotowskis. It stated that the groom's father was Isaac Mokotow. The problem was to demonstrate it was the Isaac Mokotow who was the son of my ggggrandfather. Prior to this latest trip to the Family History Library, the only record I had of Isaac was his birth record in 1808 in the Mokotows ancestral town of Warka, Poland. This indicated Isaac either died at a young age and the death was not recorded, or he moved out of town, perhaps at the time of his marriage. In my genealogy youth, I abandoned the project as unsolvable. Since then, I have come to realize that Polish vital records show the town where a person comes from, especially if the person is not from the town where the event is being recorded. Re-examining the marriage record from Karczew, it stated the groom was from Ryczywol, a town some distance from Karczew but still relatively close. Examining the Ryczywol Jewish vital records, I found many records where the father was Isaac Mokotow, all of which had patronymics. Some listed him as Icek Tobiaszowicz Mokotow, others as Icek Tevelowicz Mokotow demonstrating he was the son of Tuvia Mokotow.

Next year's trip will be from October 31 to November 7.

Improvements Made to the "Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step" Site

Stephen P. Morse has added two additional features to his site that allows searching the Ellis Island Database in one step. It applies only to the "Jewish Passengers" version of his search facility located at

The first new feature allows the user to specify a range of years of birth for the person sought. This reduces the number of false positives. Previously it was only possible to specify an age range. For example, if a person was known to be born about 1880 (1879-1881) and arrived about 1905, to search for the arrival in 1904-1906, it was necessary to specify an age range of 23-27. (Age 23 meant he was born in the last year, 1881, and arrived in the first year, 1904. Age 27 meant he was born in the first year, 1879, and arrived in the last year, 1906. This creates 15 valid combinations of age/arrival-year. With the year-of-birth feature, there are only 9 valid combinations of birth-year/arrival-year.

The second new feature is the ability to specify how many hits can appear on each page. Previously the system would display no more than 25 hits at a time. A maximum of 1,000 is now allowed. One of the most powerful features of the Morse One-Step page is that it is practical to search using only the initial character of both given name and surname if you can provide additional information such as gender, approximate age, and approximate year of arrival--information that is usually known to the searcher. Because of the tremendous number of misspellings of people's names on the manifests or in transcribing the names from the manifest to create the database, I have stopped searching by name but instead use the features at the Morse site. For example, requesting all persons whose given name starts with "G" and whose surname starts with "M" who is a single, male, between 15-20 years old and came between 1900-1905 generated only 25 hits at the Jewish site. It is estimated that about one-third of all Jewish immigrants were not classified as Hebrew but were identified with their country's ethnicity (Russian, Polish, German, etc.) Using the same parameters on the Non-Jewish search page at but adding the qualification that the person's ethnicity must be Hebrew, Polish or Russian (my definition of an Eastern European Jew) generated only 95 hits.

Morton Allan Back in Print

Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals is back in print and available through Avotaynu. The book lists steamship arrivals for the years 1890 to 1930 for the Port of New York and 1904 to 1926 for New York and Philadelphia, Boston and Baltimore. It is a valuable reference tool to confirm an arrival date given by the immigrant ancestor on naturalization papers. It is also useful if only the name of the ship and the year of arrival are known by proving all arrival dates of a ship in a given year. Ordering information can be found at

An Opportunity to Contribute to the Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU

In the final issue of each year, AVOTAYNU publishes a list of newly published family history books. If you have produced a book this year and would like to have it listed, please send us the following information no later than December 1:
1. Title of the book
2. Major family names included
3. Years covered
4. Locations where they lived
5. Brief description of the contents
6. Libraries where the book has been deposited
7. Ordering information, including cost

Don't forget to include your name! Books written earlier than this past year but not listed yet with us also are eligible for inclusion. Send the information to

In the final issue of every year, AVOTAYNU publishes a list of ongoing Jewish genealogical projects. If you are engaged in such an undertaking and would like to have it registered with us, please send the following information no later than December 1.
1. A statement of the purpose and scope of the project
2. Estimate of its state of completion (e.g., just starting, well underway, almost finished)
3. Where and how the results may be accessed.

Send the information to

As many of you know, AVOTAYNU publishes human interest stories in the last issue of each year. These may be examples of unusual research techniques, an inspirational experience, or just a good story. If you have a tale that you want to share with other Jewish genealogists, we want to hear from you. The deadline this year is November 20. Send the article to Alternately, mail it to Sallyann Sack; 7604 Edenwood Court; Bethesda, MD 20817.

Vol. 2, No. 23 - November 18, 2001

1910 New York City Index CD

When Jews immigrated to the United States at the 20th century, many settled in New York City. Consequently, the 1910 census is a valuable genealogical resource. Some of the information provided in the census is age; relationship to head of household; number of years married; year of immigration; naturalization status; and, for women, number of children born and number now living,.

This census was indexed by the government for selected states and New York State was not one of them. Heritage Quest (HQ) has just released its index to the 1910 New York City census. It is quite good. Included are 1.78 million entries comprising all heads of household and persons living in the household with a surname different from the head. Included in the index is the person's name, age, sex, race and birthplace.

HQ identifies each item in the index by the National Archives microfilm number, part number (there can be two parts to the microfilm) and "page number" within the part. Page number does not refer to the consecutive page number within the part but a consecutive number stamped in the upper right-hand corner of the lead page of each census sheet. Each census "page" consists of two actual pages, an "A" page and a "B" page. Heritage Quest is expected to make available the actual census images on the Internet. When that occurs, there almost certainly will be direct links to the census pages.

Using the HQ index in conjunction with the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library microfilms is very easy. I was in Salt Lake City briefly this past week and used some of my spare time to search the 1910 census for New York City at the Family History Library. I was able to print nine census documents (plus locate five false positives) in less than an hour. Finding a record was nothing more than retrieving the appropriate film and advancing it to the page number shown in the index.

For those who subscribe to's online collection of census images, the HQ index can be a struggle. The images are organized by Enumeration District, not by microfilm roll. Avotaynu has created a finding aid to assist in locating the actual documents either at the Ancestry site or the Family History Library microfilm collection. It lists, for the entire state of New York, which Enumeration Districts are present on which NARA microfilm roll and also provides the microfilm number within the FHL collection. It is located at

You can order the 1910 census CD from Avotaynu at Avotaynu also sells indexes previously developed by HQ for the rest of New York State and Connecticut.

All Census Images Now at
============================ has completed placing on the Internet all images of U.S. censuses from 1790-1920. They have also completed indexing the 1790-1840 censuses with a link from the index to the appropriate census page. They hope to add the 1850-1880 indexes by the end of the year with elements of the 1900-1920 to follow thereafter. The data is available as a fee-based service. Additional information can be found at

Jewish Genealogy Month

For the fourth consecutive year, Avotaynu is sponsoring Jewish Genealogy Month which this year is March 14-April 12, 2002. It corresponds to the Hebrew month of Nisan 5762--the Passover season. In association with this event, Avotaynu will create a poster, copies of which will be distributed free of charge to each of the approximately 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. Societies are encouraged to post them in synagogues and other Jewish institutions in their area and to include the address and phone number of the local society so that residents can contact them for information. Some societies have indicated they are planning events is conjunction with Jewish Genealogy Month. This year's theme is "From Generation to Generation." Particulars about the design of the poster will be made available at a later date.

Jewish Heraldry?

Jewish coats of arms usually bring a smirk to my face but apparently they have some measure of legitimacy. I have known that such families as the Rothschilds have a coat of arms and that Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa, Ontario, was granted a coat of arms by the Canadian heraldic authority in 1994. I did not realize it is more extensive than I had imagined. An article about Jewish heraldry can be found at

In Remembrance

The back cover of the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU received many praises from readers. It was also used as the front cover of our Fall/Winter catalog. It can be seen at

Vol. 2, No. 24 - December 2, 2001

Palestine Post (1932-1950) now Online

Articles from the
Palestine Post, predecessor to the world-famous Jerusalem Post, are now available on the Internet at A full-word search engine is included, but it currently only works with Internet Explorer 5 or greater. The years, 1932-1950, were a significant period covering the last 16 years of the British Mandate in Palestine and the first three years of Israel's history.

The search word "Mokotov" revealed an article in the January 7, 1949, edition of the
Post about 20 parties in the race for the Knesset (Parliament) noting that "Two orthodox dissident groups headed by Dr. M. Buxbaum and Mr. A. Mokotovsky...were also entered." A. Mokotovsky was Abraham Eliyahu Mokotovsky, who changed his name to Eliyahu Kitov and authored a number of books about Jewish customs. The system displays an image of the actual article that appeared in the Palestine Post.

The July 30, 1937, edition noted that Paul Jacobi was admitted to the bar. Jacobi, who died in 1997, compiled the genealogies of more than 400 Ashkenazic Jewish families. His documents are located at Beth Hatefutsoth in Tel Aviv.

The project was developed by the Laura Schwarz-Kipp Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities of Tel Aviv University. The Institute was created in 1998 to advance the use of information technology in the study and research of the Humanities. A second project, a Bibliography of Zionism, is also accessible from the site.

Inventory of Polish State Archives Now Online

The State Archives of the Republic of Poland now has an Internet site located at It includes a full-word search engine. The database identifies holdings at the fond level. It covers all holdings of the archival system, not just metrical (vital) records. For example, searching for one of my ancestral towns, Otwock,--where Jewish vital records apparently have been destroyed--uncovered a fond of a Jewish tradesmen organization in Otwock (1919-1932).

Using the keyword "Zydow", the Polish word for "Jewish," identified 303 fonds. Using the partial word "Mojzesz", another term for "Jew", uncovered 155 more fonds. I discovered there is yet another term that might identify Jewish records--niechrzescijanskiego-which means "non-Christians." This keyword revealed an additional 5 fonds. It is wise to have a Polish dictionary handy to translate the descriptions.

A search engine can be found at In the field identified as "Fond Name" place any keyword, for example, a town name. A description of the search engine can be found at Plans call for updating the database on an annual basis.

Finding Aid for 1910 Census

Alex Calzareth, the high school student who developed a finding aid for the Ellis Island Database that permits locating many of the missing ship's manifest images, has now developed a finding aid for the 1910 Census for New York City. This new aid addresses the problem that the only available index to the 1910 census for New York City--developed by Heritage Quest--is incompatible with the only images of the census available online--developed by

The Heritage Quest index identifies the location of people in the census by page number within the National Archives microfilm roll. The images are accessible only by census enumeration district. The Calzareth finding aid is located at It is a somewhat involved set of rules that leads you from the Heritage Quest page number to the Ancestry image.

At the same time, Ernest Fine of Maryland is compiling a list that exactly identifies the relationship between the page number and the start of each of the more than 3,000 enumeration districts for New York City. It is located at At present, it identifies 303 of the districts. Readers are invited to inspect the list and make additions by contacting Fine at A complete list of enumeration districts for New York State for the 1910 census can be found at

New Book on Rabbinic Genealogical Research

Chaim Freedman, author of
Eliyahu's Branches, Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family, has published a book on rabbinic genealogical research titled Beit Rabbanan. The book is a review of 130 books that are the major sources for rabbinical genealogy, covering their structure, contents and reliability. It also explores the historical and sociological background of rabbinical genealogy, describing the types of sources available and methodology required to research the subject. The book includes photographs and documents from the sources.

The cost is $20.00 which includes postage and handling and can be purchased directly from the author: Chaim Freedman; Hayasmin 7/2; Petah Tikvah 49650 Israel. He can be contacted at

Eliyahu's Branches, Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family, was published by Avotaynu in 1997. It documents more than 20,000 descendants of the great Jewish scholar known as the Vilna Gaon. The narrative portion includes the results of Freedman's research into the family and solves many of the mysteries as to how various families are descended from the Gaon and his siblings. The author does not merely identify individuals but provides documentation and analyses to the links between them. Additional information, including a Table of Contents, can be found at

Index to Immigrants in the 1870 U.S. Census Now on CD

Heritage Quest has announced completion of a "World Immigration Series" CD collection based on the 1870 census. It is now possible to locate all immigrant households located anywhere in the U.S. in 1870 by name or by country of origin. Every immigrant household can be searched by country of birth; city, county or state of residence; by name; age etc. Researchers search and sort on all data fields; use age ranges; perform wildcard searches etc. and can copy, save, or print search results. The European CD shows the following statistics: Alsace (418), Alsace Lorraine (355), Austria (12,916), Azores (982), Belgium (5,793), Bohemia (17,384), Bosnia (7), Bulgaria (2), Canary Islands (40), Croatia (1), Czechoslovakia (33), Dalmatia (117), France (70,109), Galicia (4), Gibraltar (102), Greece (299), Holland (18,223), Hungary (2,067), Isle of Corsica (48), Italy (11,256), Liechtenstein (57), Lithuania (3), Luxembourg (5,830), Malta (88), Montenegro (9), Moravia (52), Netherlands (3,352), Poland (7,941), Portugal (3,136), Romania (18), Russia (2,783), Serbia (9), Spain (2,813), Switzerland (41,873), Ukraine (3), Yugoslavia (33). Ordering information for the European CD can be found at Information about other CDs in the series can be found at

Virus Alert

The importance of having a virus checker on your computer cannot be overemphasized. Viruses are becoming commonplace these days. I receive a new one at least every other week. Most are relatively benign, but others can destroy the content of your computer.

Viruses are annoying for another reason. Since they transmit themselves to other sites, they affect other people. Once they invade your computer, they go after your address book or even e-mail and then use the e-mail addresses to proliferate to other sites. At present, I am receiving between 10-20 virus-infected e-mails per day.

How do you combat viruses? By having anti-virus software that you update regularly. If you have a high speed line that is always connected to the Internet (cable modem or DSL) update your virus definitions daily. I leave my computer on at all times (it has rarely been turned off in 2-3 years). In the middle of the night, the computer contacts my anti-virus software provider (in my case, Symantec) and downloads the profile of any new viruses that were discovered. This means my computer is always within 24 hours of having the latest protection.

Postcard Images

Reminder: Postcards of your ancestral town from the beginning of the 20th century can be a wonderful addition to the photographic portion of your family history, but they are rare items and consequently very expensive. Typical prices are $20-50 each, with some costing hundreds of dollars.

Avotaynu has placed more than 1,300 pictures of the shtetls of Eastern Europe at its Internet site. They are part of the collection of Tomasz Wisniewski of Bialystok, Poland. They are primarily pictures of Jewish life in what was interwar Poland. Today this encompasses eastern Poland, western Belarus and Ukraine and portions of Lithuania. Other countries represented in the collection include: Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Israel (Palestine), Italy, Latvia, Libya, The Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Tunisia, Many of the pictures are of synagogues since destroyed in the Holocaust, street scenes, and panoramic views.

The cost of each JPG is only $2.50 (minimum purchase $10.00). These pictures are a perfect way to dress up your family web site. They can also be printed in color for inclusion in a published family history or to have in your files as pictures of a time that once was.

The images are located at

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