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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 16, Number 38 | October 4, 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.

Lots of little things this week.

Genealogists 1, Bureaucrats 0:
Brooke Schreier Ganz Forces Release of New York County Records
The September 4 issue of Nu? What’s New? reported that a genealogist, Brooke Schreier Ganz, filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, to gain access to the New York City 1908–1929 index to marriage licenses and affidavits under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Access was denied her by the New York City Department of Records and Information Services.

In a rather quick decision, the Supreme Court agreed with her. Ganz also plans to do further FOIL requests for data access in other city and state archives throughout the country. Her next request will likely be with the New York City Clerk’s Office for the post-1937-to-present New York City marriage index, which has never been available to the public before in any form.

She has founded the not-for-profit advocacy group At the site, she is requesting genealogists and other interested parties to identify other government agencies where access to records is being withheld unreasonably. Fill out the form at She has already created a to-do list at

You can read more about her success story on Avotaynu Online at breaking-news-ny-municipal-archives-throws-in-the-towel-in-public-access-fight.

Plaudits for Pamela Weisberger
The untimely dead of Pamela Weisberger drew numerous tributes to her accomplishments. Two of them can be found at 2015/09/ the-living-legacy-of-pamela-weisberger-zl/ and

Call for Proposals: IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
Work is progressing on the planned 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. The conference planners have now issued a Call for Proposals for lectures, workshops, and panels. The conference will be held at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel in Seattle, Washington, from August 7 to 12, 2016.

The major focus of the conference will be on Jewish migration, with a general theme of “Westward Ho.” General topics for presentations will include European Jewry, migrations to the United States, migration of American Jewry across America, and Jews in the Western United States. A special geographic focus will be programming based on our branches in Australia, South America, and South Africa. Other focus areas are technology in support of genealogical research and ethical considerations in genealogy. A special focus at this conference will be the Sephardic experience in America, in all of its varied aspects.

Presentations and panel discussions will be 75 minutes, which includes 15 minutes reserved for questions and answers. There is also an option, this year, for shorter presentations of 45 or 60 minutes, including 15 minutes for questions and answers.

All proposals must be submitted using the conference website,, under the Program tab. The deadline for submission of proposals is December 15, 2015. Submitters will be notified by email no later than February 15, 2016, as to whether or not their proposal has been accepted. You may contact the Program Committee at with any questions or comments.

Yahad-In Unum To Be Featured on TV Program 60 Minutes
The CBS news program 60 Minutes today, Sunday, October 4, will include a segment featuring Father Patrick Desbois and the work of his organization, Yahad-In Unum. The program is supposed to air at 7pmET but is often delayed by the previous program: a football game.

Yahad-In Unum’s mission is to seek out eyewitnesses to the executions of Jews and Roma and to identify execution sites and mass graves in the Former Soviet Union. Additional information about the organization can be found at

Stephen P. Morse Improves NYC Marriage Index Results
The results displayed when searching the New York City Marriage Index at the “One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse” site has been improved. Now, when searching for a bride or groom, the name of the other party to the marriage is displayed (if found in the spouse’s index). Previously, you had to click on a link to display the other party.

The index is located at

Call for Papers: Journal of Multidisciplinary Research
A special issue of the Journal of Multidisciplinary Research (JMR) will consist of scholarly papers on genealogy and family history. Arnon Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University will be its editor. Hershkovitz notes that JMR is an academic, peer-reviewed journal. Submissions are expected to be at the highest academic level. Papers should not report on genealogy research outcomes, but rather present empirical or theoretical research discussing various aspects of genealogy/family history and/or genealogists/family historians. Fields of interest include, but are not limited to: technology use in genealogy, visual representation of genealogical data, sociological aspects of researching one's roots, heritage tourism, genealogy as a unique learning experience, information seeking during genealogy research.

Persons should submit a Statement of Interest outlining the intended submission by October 31. If approved, an invitation will be sent by November 10 along with deadlines for completing various aspects of the process.

Submissions should adhere to JMR guidelines which can be found at their website, Send inquiries to Arnon Hershkovitz at The issue is scheduled to be published in late April 2016 with 5–6 articles.

Wanted: Human Interest Stories for Winter Issue of AVOTAYNU
We now are working on the final stages of getting the Fall issue of AVOTAYNU into print, but we are also looking ahead to the Winter issue which is special in two ways.

For the past 30 years, AVOTAYNU has devoted a portion of each Winter issue to genealogy human interest stories. Stories are typically about how genealogy affected people’s lives, whether it be the researcher or the people they are researching. Deadline for submission this year is December 1, 2015. If you would like to share such a story with AVOTAYNU subscribers, submit it by e-mail to When possible, illustrations should accompany the article. In 2008, Avotaynu published 72 of these human interest stories in a book, Every Family Has a Story. A sample story in the book that originally appeared in the Winter 1998 issue of AVOTAYNU can be read at

New Family Histories In Print. Also in the Winter issue, AVOTAYNU lists Jewish genealogical family histories that have been published in the preceding 12 months. Books published earlier are also eligible for inclusion if they have not been previously reported. Please present information about the book in a specific format: author; title of book; years covered; brief description, including family names researched; libraries in which book has been deposited; price and ordering information. Submit the information by e-mail to The deadline date is also December 1.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

FamilySearch Adds More than 11 Million Records
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 11 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Honduras, Italy, Peru, Spain, and the U.S. states of Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Missouri.

Notable additions are more than 7.1 million additions to the index records of Mississippi Enumeration of Educable Children (1850–1892); (1908–1957) and more than 1M additions to the United States Passport Applications (1795–1925). It is worthwhile browsing the entire list.

Note that at the website, announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. Also note that counts shown in the announcement are the number added, not the total number available in the collection, which can be greater.

Ancestry Adds Records for Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada and Utah has recently added a number of new collections to their site. Click on a specific collection to link to its website. Note that at Ancestry, as is true of FamilySearch, announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and additional records will be added at some later date. For example the Illinois marriage index shown below appears to have records only through 1905 (based on searching for the name Cohen).
   • Arizona, Birth Records, 1835–1915
   • Illinois, Marriage Index, 1860–1920
   • Iowa, Divorce Index, 1992–2008
   • Missouri, Death Certificates, 1910–1962
   • Carson City, Nevada, Marriage Index, 1855–1985
   • Utah, Select Marriage Index, 1887–1985 (Germany) Allowing Free Access During All of October, the German site for, is allowing free access to their site for the entire month of October. The justification is the celebration of 25 years since the unification of East and West Germany. The site is in German only.

The contents of and appear to be the same except I discovered a strange case where Holocaust victim, Berek Mokotow, is shown on merely as a victim, but the German version states he died in Dachau. Interestingly, both sites claim the same source: Find-A-Grave.

NEHGS Has Index to Western Massachusetts Jewish Cemetery Burials
New England Historic Genealogical Society has added to its site a new database, “Western Massachusetts: Jewish Cemeteries of Western Massachusetts.” This database contains records of more than 19,000 burials in 21 Jewish cemeteries in the western Massachusetts counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire. This collection is available to guest users until October 22. The site can be found at

Scotlands People  1855 Valuation Rolls Available At No Charge Through October 13
Scotlands People is making the 1855 Valuation Rolls available to search for free through October 13. Valuation Rolls are essentially property tax lists. The index entries include status (examples: tenant or owner), name of person, exact street address, parish and county/burgh. There is a fee to retrieve the actual image.

More information about valuation rolls can be found at The 1855 search engine is located at Registration is required. Once the registration form is completed, an e-mail will be sent showing an initial password to complete the logging in process.

Crafted Knowledge Has Indexes to Many Immigration/Military Collections Online
An organization called Crafted Knowledge states they “develop web-oriented database archives related to history, art, science, industry and commerce.” This includes indexes to numerous immigrant arrival records to the U.S. including Finnish, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, UK and Famine Ships (Irish). All are 19th-century records.

The source seems to be the popular databases Germans to AmericaRussians to AmericaIrish to America and Italians to America. All or some already exist on Family Search and Ancestry. The Crafted Knowledge database appears to have been independently created, therefore, errors in the FamilySearch and Ancestry versions may not appear in the Crafted Knowledge database.

Similarly, they have indexes to numerous U.S. military records, mostly from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. One unusual collection is of Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. All these databases appear to exist also on Family Search and Ancestry.

The site is located at

About National Library of Australia Digitized Historical Newspaper Collection
Digitizing the historical newspapers of Australia is an ongoing project of the National Library of Australia. A list of newspapers planned in the next year-and-a-half can be found at Those already online can be found at The contents of the newspapers are not indexed.

Knesset Caucus Planned on Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities
On October 13, there will be an inaugural session in Jerusalem of the Israeli Knesset Caucus for “Reconnection with Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities.” Information about the event 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.

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