Volume 7, Number 12 | July 30, 2006
Yad Vashem Adds New Major Database to Internet: "Shoah Related Lists Database"
Yad Vashem has placed its next major online database on the Internet. Known internally as the "List of Lists" its official name is "Shoah Related Lists Database." It can be linked to from the Yad Vashem Home Page at http://www.yadvashem.org.
The database is a collection of 12,000 lists that name people caught up in the Holocaust: 1,041 from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum collection and the rest from Yad Vashem. About two-thirds of the lists can also be viewed as scanned images. Yad Vashem considers the database to be a "work in progress," and in the future they hope to offer lists that can be found outside Yad Vashem.
I had the opportunity to preview the system. As is true of the Shoah Victims' Database (Pages of Testimony), it is very well designed, but the operation is more complex than the Pages of Testimony site.
The primary method of searching is by place. After clicking the Search button, the system displays a description of each list that includes the named place. For example, searching for information about Gabin, Poland, displays as a description "List of Jewish survivors from Gabin and after WWII lived in the Dolny Slask region, Poland, 03/12/1946." An icon appears just before the description which indicates that the actual images are available online. Clicking the word "Details" provides additional information about the list as well as the first page in PDF format. If the list is not available online, a standard message describes why the actual document is not available at this time. It is possible to save lists to your computer.
It will take a little time to learn how to use the site. Here are some pointers that may speed up your learning curve.
1. Do not use the Back button on your browser. It may not work. Use the Back button supplied.
2. When displaying a document, it is shown in a very small window. Click the Maximize button above the document for a better view of the document.
3. The images are in Adobe PDF format. If you have Adobe Reader or Acrobat, the Yad Vashem site displays all Adobe functions even those that do not apply to this application. For example, clicking the binoculars icon invokes a Search function, but there is nothing to search since the names on the image are not indexed.
4. It is not possible to download a large list of many pages. It has to be done one page at a time. This is because downloading large PDF files would be a great burden on the server that hosts the images, especially since thousands of people will be using the system at any given time.
5. The "General Search" field has some peculiar aspects. It can be used to search for any word that exists in the Detail description of the list, but it will also find collections based on a description that is used internally by Yad Vashem and not displayed at the site. For example, when I searched for "Klarsfeld" it retrieved some lists of Prague whose detail descriptions did not mention it was part of a Klarsfeld Foundation collection.
Common synonyms for towns are accepted. For example Warsaw and Warszawa yield the same results.
Yad Vashem archives has been digitizing their entire collection for a number of years. It is not unreasonable that other portions of their collection may be placed online in the near future. They may be of less genealogical value than they are of historical value. The Shoah Related Lists Database focuses on making available from the Yad Vashem collection those records that identify people by name rather than events.
Eventually the lists will be indexed and entered into the Shoah Names Database whose principal content now is the Pages of Testimony.
Brunhilde Katz: Symbol of the Shoah Related Lists Database
The picture of the little girl at the Shoah Related Lists Database site is of Brunhilde Katz, a German Jew who was deported from Magdeburg to Warsaw and then shortly thereafter gassed to death at Treblinka. Her story is used as an illustration of how it is possible to determine the fate of many Holocaust victims using the documentation at Yad Vashem, the International Tracing Service and other institutions. Her chilling story is described in text and in a film at the site by clicking the "Connecting the Dots Exhibition" at the Shoah Related Lists Database site or going directly to http://www1.yadvashem.org/exhibitions/Katz/katz_first.htm. Personally, I have never felt the Holocaust experience from reading first-person accounts by survivors or watching the films that document the atrocities. The events always seem distant in my mind. The film associated with "Connecting the Dots" is different. It is closeup and personal. I felt as if I was the cameraman filming the event. [Note: The window that shows the film may not open using the Firefox browser. You may have to use Internet Explorer to see the film.]
Eight of 11 Nations Sign Off on Public Access to ITS Records
Eight nations--Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg and the United States--have signed off on the recommendation of the International Tracing Service Committee that the ITS records be accessible to the public. Only Belgium, The Netherlands and Poland remain to make the decision unanimous. These countries require further parliamentary approval and are expected to sign before November 1.
Further information can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072600513.html
Mormon/Jewish Controversy: The Problem That Won't Go Away:
Genealogical Society of Utah
Have you ever wondered why a Jewish institution, such as the London Beit Din (Rabbinic Court), would allow The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to microfilm the birth records of the Hambro Synagogue? These records were subsequently used by the Church to posthumously baptize Jews. Wouldn't the Beit Din at least have asked why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was interested in their records?
The reason the Beit Din did not ask such a question is that it was not approached by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Beit Din was visited by the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), a wholly-owned corporation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Genealogical Society of Utah told the Beit Din that it was on a record preservation project. GSU offered to preserve the Beit Din's records free of charge. They, GSU, would place the records on microfilm and give the Beit Din a copy. A master copy of the microfilm would be placed the Genealogical Society of Utah's nuclear-bomb proof vault in Granite Mountain, Utah.
All the Genealogical Society of Utah asked (in its contract) was that "the Society be allowed to produce and circulate copies of this microfilm within its genealogical research system and to its members. The Society may also use the microfilm to produce indices and other research aids. The Society may loan copies of the microfilm to third parties for research and indexing projects. The Society may not sell or exchange copies of the microfilm to any other institution or person without the organization's written permission." [Text taken from a contemporary Memorandum of Understanding of the Genealogical Society of Utah.] The contract mentioned nothing about the records being used for religious rites.
If you were the London Beth Din, wouldn't you have accepted this generous offer from the Genealogical Society of Utah to preserve its records? Would the London Beth Din have reacted differently if they were approached by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Don't Miss the Event of the Decade: 26th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
It is not too late to make the commitment to come to the 26th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, especially if you live within 100 miles of New York City. It will be the Jewish genealogy event of the decade with somewhere between 1000-2000 people attending. If you live a greater distance, consider driving to the New York area and staying at a hotel outside New York City where rates are lower. One choice is the Best Western hotel in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Rates are as low as $117.00 per night, and you can be at the conference hotel in about a half hour. Parking at the conference hotel is about $30 per day. Shop the hotels in the areas of New Jersey that are next to New York City. They will likely have the lowest rates.
This is what you will be missing if you do not attend:
More than 150 lectures will be given on various aspects of genealogical research. Lectures start at 8 a.m. and continue until 11 p.m. Most time slots during the day have seven concurrent sessions from which to choose. The evening talks are reserved for the important topics of general interest and are given without competition. The complete conference program can be found at http://www.jgsny2006.org/conference_program.cfm
There will be 25 different computer workshops providing hands-on training in the use of many of the Internet sites valuable to Jewish genealogical research.
Free online access will be available to many fee-for-service Internet sites such as Ancestry.com. The company is also giving computer workshops on how to best use their databases. Of value also is the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum database--three million records normally only available at the museum.
More than 20 SIG (Special Interest Group) and six Birds-of-a-Feather meetings will be held.
A Resource Room will contain more than 100 books; maps; and electronic, microfilm and human resources.
There are planned visits to cemeteries in the Greater New York area and tours of Ellis Island on three different days. There also will be tours of the Lower East Side, one of the neighborhoods where Jewish immigrants settled immediately after arriving in the U.S.
A mini-Jewish Film Festival will present 24 films, two of which won Academy Awards.
An "Ancestors Road Show," sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists, will provide free advice on your specific genealogy needs given by professional researchers.
Archivist of the United States, Alan Weinstein, is giving the keynote address at the opening session on Sunday evening.
Many major repositories in New York City have agreed to extend their hours for the conference. A complete list can be found at http://www.jgsny2006.org/extended_hours.cfm
The conference is being held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York from Sunday, August 13 to Friday, August 18. You can view the planned lectures at http://www.jgsny2006.org.
Avotaynu Presence at Annual Conference
If you plan to purchase books from Avotaynu at the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy and do not live in the U.S., please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can reserve copies of the books for you. We sometimes run out of stock at the conference because of the large number of people purchasing books there. We would then have to charge you shipping costs, and there would be a delay in receiving the books.
We will be selling more than 50 books, numerous map collections and some CDs and videos in the vendor area. There is free shipping within the United States on orders of $50 or more. A summary of what Avotaynu has available can be found at http://www.avotaynu.com/catalog.htm.
Six authors will have book signings. The list and times when they will be available was published in the last edition of Nu? What's New? It is located at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/v07n11.htm
NARA Plans to Reduce Opening Hours
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) plans to eliminate evening and Saturday hours at their main facility in Washington, DC. A ripple effect is expected at the regional branches. It is already reported that the New York regional archives will eliminate its Tuesday night hours.
The Federal Register, where announcements are made, states that low attendance at these hours do not cost justify remaining open, but it is generally agreed that budget cuts are the villain.
To read the contents of the proposed regulations, go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main then insert the keyword "NARA-06-0007-0001" and click the Submit button. On the resulting page, click the PDF icon to the right to download the proposed rule.
Last Chance: Avotaynu to Discontinue Offering JPEG Images of Ancestral Towns
Tomorrow evening, at 12:01 a.m. (New York time), August 1, Avotaynu will take down its site where it offers scanned images (JPEGs) of towns in Eastern Europe created from postcards, some more than 100 years old. The images can be viewed at http://www.avotaynu.com/postcards/.
There are some 330 towns represented in the Avotaynu collection of more than 1,300 pictures. Many of the pictures are of synagogues since destroyed in the Holocaust, street scenes and panoramic views. Most are from Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, but also include images from Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Israel (Palestine), Italy, Libya, The Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Trieste, Tunisia, United States and Yugoslavia
The cost of each JPEG is only $2.50 (minimum purchase $10.00). These images are a perfect way to dress up your family website. [Note: We are offering computer images of the postcards which will be sent by e-mail, not the postcards themselves.]
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