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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 13, Number 19 | May 6, 2012

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.

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There was no issue last Sunday, so this issue is a bit larger.

Quality Control in the 1940 Census
Researchers will eventually have multiple sources to search 1940 census indexes, so the question arises whether it is likely that one will be more accurate than another. A preliminary study indicates that the FamilySearch index will be significantly superior to the one by

Both FamilySearch and have indexed the state of Delaware, which allows for comparison of the quality of their indexes. I searched both sites for all persons named Levy in Delaware. The indexed misspelled Levy for four families (Lary, Long, Lery, Lery) and misspelled one given name (Mak/Max). The only FamilySearch misspelling was the given name Hellen for Helen. In another case, it was not possible to determine which index had the correct given name because of the way the name was written: Alma/Elma.

I also looked at the 157 Levy entries in the FamilySearch Colorado index and could not find any errors in the given names. The indexers faithfully copied what was on the census sheet although the census taker may have misspelled the name. There was a case of a Marlyn Levy whose name probably was Marilyn Levy, but the indexer copied what was in the census.

The pity is that the search engine is substantially superior to the one provided by Family Search. It takes multiple steps to limit the FamilySearch to Delaware only; has a search parameter called “Lived In” for virtually all of its databases, which can be as specific as the town. I easily located the missing Levy families on by searching for a given name and the given name of another member of the household taken from the FamilySearch results. No such capability exists in Family Search.

FamilySearch 1940 Census Update
FamilySearch reports that more than 85,000 volunteers have already completed 20 percent of the project to index the 1940 census. Colorado, Delaware and Kansas indexes are now searchable. States that are more than 95% indexed include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming. The status of each state can be found at

IIJG Ethics Panel Seeks Ethical Dilemmas
The International Institute for Jewish Genealogy has established a panel to examine ethical questions in Jewish genealogy (see Nu? What’s New?, February 4, 2012). The panel is now inviting Jewish family historians to submit ethical dilemmas or problems they have encountered in the course of their genealogical work. Please send a brief description of the issue to Dr. Arnon Hershkovitz at for the panel’s consideration.

Examples of ethical dilemmas include issues concerning halacha (Jewish religious law) on who is a Jew; children born out of wedlock; mamzerim and marriages that were religiously, but not civilly valid; or various forms of disclosure, such as Holocaust-related data that could cause grief and, more generally, information about criminal records, scandals and embarrassments that families have preferred to keep under wraps.

The panel is made up of Baroness Ruth Deech (Oxford UK; Chair); Adv. Rony Golan (Ramat Ha-Sharon, Israel); Dr.Arnon Hershkovitz (Worcester, MA); Judge Katherine Mader (Los Angeles, CA); Queen’s Counsellor Eleanor Platt (London, UK); and Prof. Richard Sobel (Harvard University, MA). Its terms of reference are to examine ethical questions in Jewish genealogy, with a view to recommending “ethical guidelines” for Jewish family historians to consider as they proceed with their research work with eventual plans to publish the results.

Spring Issue of AVOTAYNU
The Spring issue of AVOTAYNU will go to the printer this coming week. It is the typical 68-pages. One major article, 14 pages in length, is a rigorous description of landsmanshaftn societies, the records they hold, and how to access these records. The lead article in the issue describes the latest major technical innovation in Jewish genealogy: LeafSeek, which is a new method of searching databases and presenting results. Last February, LeafSeek won second prize in the 2012 RootsTech Developer Challenge, a contest for innovative software for genealogy research. Its first implementation is the All-Galicia Database at Arthur Kurzweil writes a tribute to Steve Siegel (1947–2012). Other articles: the issue contains a total of 16 articles plus the regular columns. These cover Scottish Jewry, Bukharian Jewry, Sephardic research, cemetery land records, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization correspondence files, FBI files, and other information.

The Table of Contents for the Spring issue can be found at If you have not yet resubscribed to AVOTAYNU or want to enter a new subscription, do so at

Video on Genetic Genealogy
The Israel Genealogy Research Association has added to its website a 45-minute lecture titled “Matching Genes: How DNA Testing Can Help You Discover Family and Ancestry.” It can be accessed from the society’s site at

News from the SIGs
SIGs are Special Interest Groups primarily focusing on geographic areas of ancestry. You can subscribe to their Discussion Groups at A log in is required. You can link to the SIG home pages from There are also more than 80 Jewish Genealogical Societies throughout the world. A list of societies can be found at

Gesher Galicia. An 1896 business directory for Galicia is now full-text searchable online at There are many directories at this site. To limit searches to this particular directory, append “{d433}” to the search term: Example: “kalter {d433}.” All search results link to images of the original directory pages. To view those images, you must have a DjVu plug-in for your web browser, which you can install from

JRI-Poland. Stanley Diamond and Peter Jassem of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland were interviewed by the Canadian Jewish News about the plan to build a Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. The Museum is being built on the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. JRI-Poland and the Museum’s websites are linked so that Jews with Polish ancestry can find information about their ancestral towns at the museum’s site and look for records of their ancestors at the JRI-Poland site. The interview can be found at JRI-Poland’s home page is at The museum’s site is at

Romania SIG. ROM-SIG is raising funds to photograph the approximately 40,000 tombstones in three Bucharest cemeteries. Inscriptions will be translated and the data entered into JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). The images and inscriptions will be available free of charge on JOWBR or through the Rom-SIG website. Donations are being solicited for the project at

Conference Update
You can now register for the computer classes that will be part of the program of the 32nd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. If you are interested, register now as each class has a limited number of workstations and computer classes tend to be filled well before the conference.

If you plan to be in Paris on the Friday after the conference, there will be a guided tour of the Holocaust Memorial and its unique databases.

The Resource Room will provide free access to Geneanet,, and all day Tuesday there will be access to ProQuest databases.

The keynote speaker for the opening session Sunday evening will be Dr. David Marwell, director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Tuesday evening’s Gala banquet will feature as speaker Father Patrick Desbois and the musical program singer Lenka Lichtenberg.

There is now a PDF file of the program at the conference website, I found it useful to map out the lectures I plan to attend.

The conference is being held July 15–18 at the Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel in Paris. Genealogists from 25 countries have already registered. Registration information is at the conference website.

Book: Genealogical Resources in New York
Any researcher with New York City roots should own a copy of Genealogical Resources in New York. It was published in 2003 by the Jewish Genealogical Society (New York) and is a comprehensive guide to genealogical and biographical resources in New York City and Albany (the capital of New York State). Because it was published by the Jewish Genealogical Society, it includes all Jewish organizations that have genealogical resources. Such institutions as the American Jewish Historical Society, American Joint Distribution Committee, HIAS, Leo Baeck Institute, YIVO Institute and many others are included.

While an institution’s website may describe itself in a way to satisfy all kinds of audiences, the book provides a genealogy slant to the holdings of an institution. Also the book will give you a flavor for what each institution contains.

People will tell you the book is obsolete. So what! Yes, you may find a telephone number has changed, or even an address. Use the book as an overview of the type of material each facility has that is of value for Jewish family history research. Then go to the institution’s website for up-to-date information.

Originally priced at $49.95 the book is now available through the JGS website at for $12.00 in the U.S.

ItalianGen Adds More New York City Indexes
I recently lectured at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island where I met John Martino, president of the Italian Genealogical Group whose website is For a number of years, John has been responsible for recruiting thousands of volunteers to index many of the significant records in the New York City area. These include:
   New York City Death Index 1898 to 1948 (and earlier years for Brooklyn and Manhattan)
   New York City Births, 1880–1909
   New York City Groom Index, 1908–1937 (earlier for some boroughs)
   New York City Bride Index, (same period as groom index)
   Suffolk County Marriage Index, 1908–1935
   Nassau County Marriage Index, 1908–1935
   Various Naturalization Indexes such as:
      Eastern District (Kings, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties), 1865–1957
      Southern District (Manhattan, Bronx, and Westchester Counties), 1824–1959

John informed me that the Bride’s Index described above is now completed. Previously it did not include all years shown. The ItalianGen site now has more than 15 million index records. They are currently working on indexing the New York City death records for 1949–1963 and plan to index additional New Jersey naturalizations.
Logan Kleinwak’s now has 190,000 pages of historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., primarily from Central and Eastern Europe), 28,000 pages of 64 yizkor books, 11,000 pages of lists of Polish military officers, 23,000 pages of community and personal histories, and 12,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources. All are searchable at the site.

Recent additions include:
   • 1841-1846 Bohemia, Moravia, Galicia, Krakow Business Directory
(Leuchs vol. 12) {d410}
   • 1862 Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Dalmatia
Business Directory (Leuchs vol. 18) {d397}
   • 1865 Bohemia, Moravia, Austrian Silesia, Krakow Business Directory
(Leuchs vol. 19) {d398}
   • 1833 Europe Business Directory (Leuchs) {d423} Announces Autosomal DNA Testing Service has added autosomal DNA testing to its current Y-chromosome and mtDNA testing services. Called AncestryDNA, the new service is comparable to Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder test. Of course, the company is claiming their test is bigger, better, cheaper, etc.

Their announcement is actually a pre-announcement because initially the test is available by invitation-only to subscribers for $99. It will be made available to the general public later this year. To learn more about the new product, or to sign up to be notified once it is available, visit The news release can be found at’s DNA testing effort is performed by a separate company, DNA, LLC. The company announced it acquired access to the collection of DNA assets from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. The foundation has tens of thousands of DNA samples which document family histories in more than 100 countries on six continents.

Photographs of New York City Then and Now
The New York City Department of Records has placed online 870,000 photographs of the City—its streets, buildings and sometimes people. There are also a limited number of audio recordings. The announcement received worldwide attention; enough to overload their website’s capacity so that for nearly a week it was impossible to access the site, which is located at

An excellent article about the exhibit is at the London Daily Mail site:

International Tracing Service Conserving Dachau and Buchenwald Documents
The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has announced they will conserve about 300,000 original documents from the Dachau concentration camp this year using the process of mass deacidification. The records in question were created between 1934 and 1945 and relate to the registration of prisoners. The conservation of individual documents of prisoners from the Buchenwald concentration camp has now been completed. Since 2000, about 2.7 million out of a total of 30 million documents have been conserved.

The International Tracing Service serves victims of Nazi persecution and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. As a consequence, it is a major archives of the Holocaust. ITS preserves these historical records and makes them available for research. The archive contains about 30 million documents relating to the persecution, forced labor and emigration that took place in the wake of the Second World War.

Mormon Church Changes 95-year Rule to 110-Year Rule
The Mormon Church has had a policy for many years that a Church member cannot perform religious ordinances, such as posthumous baptism, on deceased people without permission of the immediate family if the deceased was born within the past 95 years. Undoubtedly recognizing that people live longer these days, the Church has amended the rule to 110 years rather than 95. The announcement can be found at
This rule was the subject of discussion between Mormon officials and representatives of Jewish organizations when it was noted that persons such as Anne Frank and Mordechai Anielewicz were posthumously baptized in violation of the rule.

Contribute to the Success of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy
Help support a dynamic institution that in its brief existence already has been the catalyst for such benefits to Jewish genealogy as the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching System,  Sephardic DNA and Migration project, inventorying the Paul Jacobi Collection of 400 prominent Ashkenazic lineages, the Proposed Standard for Names, Dates and Places in a Genealogical Database, and a system for Integrating Genealogical Datasets.

Visit the IIJG website at and read about these developments, as well as  ongoing and proposed projects.

Make your tax-deductible contribution by credit card or PayPal at Click the Donate link. If you prefer, mail it to the Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy, 155 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621. Make the check payable to “Friends of the International Institute for Jewish Genealogy.” Donations are tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
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