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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 25 | June 21, 2015

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.

Past issues of Nu? What's New? are archived at
Underlined words are links to sites with additional information.

European Countries Now Have Their Sights on Facebook
Belgium is the latest country to take aim at what it considers invasion of privacy. This time the “villain” is Facebook. They are taking the company to court because privacy is not the default setting at Facebook; you must opt-out to keep your information private. They state that Belgium law requires informed consent to reveal information to the public. It also claims that Facebook tracks people who are not members of Facebook through cookies.

Additional information is at

Google Fights Back in Spain
At least one legislative body that feels they have a right to tell Google how to run its business is feeling the wrath of the company. Spain recently passed an intellectual property law that would require Google to pay a fee to Spanish newspapers for the privilege of indexing the online version of their publications. Google argued that its news site drives readers to Spanish websites and thus helps them generate advertising revenue. Their argument fell on deaf ears, so Google chose Plan B: they will no longer provide their news service for Spanish newspapers.

Now the Spanish Newspapers Publishers' Association—who originally encouraged the legislation—has called on the Spanish government and European competition authorities to stop Google from shutting its operation.

Additional information can be found at

A Record Access Success Story: Virginia Vital Records
All too rarely, record access stories have happy endings. One such success story is that information about Virginia vital records is now online at (described in a previous issue of Nu? What’s New?). This includes birth and death records 1912–2014, divorce records 1918–2014 and marriage records 1936–2014. It was made possible through efforts of the Virginia Genealogical Society.

In 2011, VGS became aware that a legislative study was underway that proposed to substantially lengthen the closed period for Virginia records. VGS members started to work on preventing this from passing in the 2012 General Assembly, arguing instead for shortening the closed period and improving access. VGS members wrote key legislators, and former VGS President Peter Broadbent lead the effort in meetings with legislators.

It worked. now has an index only for more recent (“closed”) records and provides the actual document for “open” records. In Virginia, death, marriage and divorce records now are closed for 25 years; births are closed for 100 years. According to a report by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, this has created the largest and most comprehensive online availability of vital records by any state in the United States. Both the Virginia Department of Health and Ancestry report that other state vital records offices are now contacting them seeking more information about Virginia’s model of improved vital records access. Hopefully this will mean that other states will follow this example of public-private cooperation and improved access to these public records.

Read the complete FGS report at

Can’t Attend Conference? Try “IAJGS On Demand 2015”
Can’t attend the annual conference? Fifty of the best programs from the 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Jerusalem, July 6–10, will be streamed on-demand for viewing over the Internet on your computer, tablet, or smartphone within a few hours after the actual presentation. This service is being presented in cooperation with FamilySearch who has provided funding and will also help with on-site expertise to enable it to be done through the Israeli supplier.

Subscribers to the service will have access to the lectures online through October 10, 2015. Resource handouts are available for download. For additional information, including how to register, go to the conference website at and follow the “On Demand” tab.

Workshops. There will be 10 computer workshops at the conference. Information can be found under the “Program” tab, section “Workshops.”

“Taste of Jerusalem”. Tuesday evening during the conference there are a number of “Taste of Jerusalem” tours. They can be found under the “Program” tab, section “Taste of Jerusalem.”

Complete Program. For those readers not planning to attend the conference, it would be worthwhile to view the complete program under the “Program” tab, section “Detailed Program” to get an appreciation of the depth of the annual IAJGS conference. (There are a total of 274 entries.) The 2016 conference will be held in Seattle, Washington, from August 7–12. The 2017 conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, from July 23–28.

10 Free Canadian Genealogy Websites
Do you have roots in Canada? Family History Data has added to their blog an annotated list of “10 Free Canadian Genealogy Web Sites.” First listed is the free database of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Last listed is the well-known Library and Archives Canada. You will find all ten references at canadian-genealogy-websites/. Now Has 30 Million Pages Online now has 30 million pages online, 21 million of which were added in 2014. This achievement builds on the Heritage Project, an effort to make accessible 40 million pages of archival material held at Library and Archives Canada. The remaining content is expected to appear online by the end of this year. The collection chronicles the institutions and people that shaped Canadian history from the 1600s to the mid-1900s.

The non-profit organization behind the website is It was originally founded in 1978 to preserve Canada’s print heritage. There are 11 major collections on the website, including one specifically devoted to genealogy and local history and one devoted to the War of 1812. The website can be searched by keyword, collection and date range. Access is free.

The announcement can be found at

Have You Registered to Receive Notices from Avotaynu Online?

Have you subscribed to Avotaynu’s latest venture: Avotaynu Online? We have created a special sign-on site at By registering, you will receive a weekly notice of items added to the site.

By virtue of its focus on the in-depth reporting of specific subjects, Avotaynu Online will be entirely distinct from the existing print journal, AVOTAYNU, which for over three decades has covered the broad spectrum of Jewish family history research, and from the weekly Nu? What’s New?, which reports breaking stories in the world of genealogy.

 Avotaynu Online is free of charge. 

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