Gary Mokotoff, Editor
Volume 12, Number 9 | March 6, 2011
Every government puts value on preserving its history. That is why we have national archives. Genealogy preserves history; the history of a family. It cannot be done without access to records, just as historians cannot preserve a nation's history without access to records. It is a greater good than the right to privacy. It is a greater good than the risk of identity theft.
Canadian Government Continues to Dismantle Planned Censuses
One of the most valuable resources for genealogists and historians is the periodic (usually decennial) census taken by a government. I also have found them invaluable for locating living relatives usually in the circumstance where families have grown apart over the years.
For the past seven years or more, the Canadian government has been going through a process of weakening the value of censuses for the purposes described above. First they divided the census into two parts, a so-called short form and a National Household Survey. Only the short form will be available after 92 years have passed from the taking of a census. Furthermore, the short form data would be available only if the submitter checked off a release on the information.
Now the Canadian government is considering abandoning the taking of a census altogether and replacing it with what is being called a register-based system, according to Gordon Watts, who publishes a popular genealogy newsletter. The reason appears to be economic—it costs money to take a census. The alternative would be to use the collective data of government agencies to build a database of census information. After all, doesn’t the collective knowledge of government revenue collecting, retirement, citizenship and other agencies know the entire population of a country?
Watts states that changing to a register-based census would require major changes to Canada’s existing Access to Information and Privacy Laws. These laws have prevented the sharing of information between government departments.
You can read a complete description of the issue at Gordon Watt’s newsletter “The Global Gazette” at
New Zealand Cancels 2011 Census
The disastrous earthquake in New Zealand that killed at least 65 people has caused its government to cancel the 2011 census scheduled to be taken on March 8. A spokesperson for the government states “This is not the time to go door to door asking New Zealanders for information when they’re dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.” There have been no announced plans to take the census at some future date. Additional information can be found at http://www.crf.org.nz/census%20cancelled.
Yad Vashem Expands Shoah Victims’ Names Database
When the Shoah Victims’ Names Database went online in 2007 it consisted entirely of the nearly three million Pages of Testimony contributed since 1955. The question arose on how to document the millions of other Jews murdered in the Holocaust. One solution Yad Vashem has taken is to add to the database other victims’ lists such as the “Gedenkbuch” which identifies more than 170,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust. They are also using victims’ lists from yizkor books.
Other new sources being used are those where it is known that the vast majority of the people (generally more than 90%) were victims. Examples are deportation lists, ghetto lists and concentration camp inmates. These groups have created the problem that the database now has a small number of survivors. Yad Vashem is aware of this matter and has created a Survivor Form located at http://tinyurl.com/4skjewv. If you discover a survivor in the database, submit the Survivor Form, and, to expedite the process, include documentation that the person survived such as a picture passport, obituary, or Social Security Death Index entry. When received, Yad Vashem goes through a process of validating that the person survived and then marks the individual in the database as a survivor and removes the record from public view in the Shoah Victims’ Names database. The record remains in the database.
IIJG Issues Call for Research Proposals
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy (IIJG) has issued its annual “Call for Research Proposals” for original research in the field of Jewish Genealogy to be carried out in the academic year of 2011–12. Successful applicants will be awarded grants of up to $10,000.
Deadline for proposals is May 31, 2011. Those meeting strict standards of academic excellence will be judged by the extent to which they broaden the horizons of Jewish genealogical research and/or create innovative tools or technologies to assist Jewish genealogists and family historians in their work.
Additional information including instructions for submitting applications can be found on the Institute’s website: http://www.iijg.org under “RESEARCH”/“Research Grants”. The instructions should be followed carefully, as only applications in correct form will be considered. Successful applicants will be announced on September 1, 2011.
The Chronicles of the Vilna Ghetto at http://www.vilnaghetto.com has a large collection of photos from throughout Europe. Categories shown on their home page, in addition to Vilna (Vilnius), are Lithuania, Latvia, Holocaust, Poland, and Europe. In the Poland collection they have a considerable number of photos of the Lodz ghetto. Most pictures are Holocaust related.
Latvia SIG Newsletters Online
The JewishGen Latvian Special Interest Group has placed all back issues of its newsletter—through February 2010—online at http://www.jewishgen.org/Latvia/SIG_Newsletter.html. The newsletter has been published since 1996. There is a full-word search engine at the site. More recent issues are available to dues-paying members only.
Christine Usdin of France continues day-by-day to index the Jewish vital records of Latvia. She believes the index now exceeds 100,000 entries. A description of the project can be found in the April 18, 2010, issue of Nu? What’s New at http://www.avotaynu.com/nu/V11N07.htm.
Online Danish Jewish Cemetery Database
Elsebeth Paikin, coordinator for the JewishGen Scandinavia Special Interest Group, reports there now is a Danish-Jewish cemetery database at http://tom.brondsted.dk/mosaiskebegravelser. An alphabetical list of surnames—and the number of graves with the surname—is at http://tom.brondsted.dk/mosaiskebegravelser/?showfamnames&kgrd=0. Clicking on a surname reveals detailed information including the name, date of death, cemetery and location within the cemetery. It may also include information such as occupation, father’s name and date/place of birth.
Archives of Ireland Now Online
Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter reports that a number of Ireland’s archive catalogs now have a central home at http://www.iar.ie. A list of contributing archives can be found at http://www.iar.ie/Links.html. The home page has a specific link for “Family History/Genealogy.” Searching for “Jews” or “Jewish” produced only one result: the papers of a woman named Sophie O’Brien.
FamilySearch Initiates Its First Hungarian Project
FamilySearch has begun it first indexing project of Hungarian records: Civil registrations for Szabolcs 1895–1978. Other new projects added include:
Belgium—Civil Registrations, 1851–1900 [Part C]
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro—Immigration Cards, 1900–1965
El Salvador—Civil Registration, 1836–1910 [Part B]
Some recently completed records include:
Canada, New Brunswick—Deaths, 1815–1938 [Part B]
Jamaica—Civil Births, 1900–1930 [Part C]
U.S., Alabama—County Marriages, 1809–1950 [Part A]
U.S., Illinois—County Marriages, 1810–1934 [Part A]
U.S., Minnesota—County Marriages, 1860–1949 [Part A]
U.S., New York—1892 State Census
U.S., New York—WWII Draft Registration Cards, 1942
U.S., Texas—Birth Records, 1903–1934 [Part D]
U.S., Texas—County Marriages, 1837–1977 [Part B]
Recently completed projects may not be online immediately, as they go through a final completion check process.
A complete list of new projects, completed projects and works in progress can be seen at https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/FamilySearch_Indexing_Updates
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The Spring issue is in the works. You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at http://www.avotaynu.com/journal.htm.
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