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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 2 | January 10, 2016
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.

New Season of Finding Your Roots In Progress
There should have been a reminder in the last issue of Nu? What’s New? that the new season of Finding Your Roots with Professor Henry L. Gates began on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) on Tuesday, January 5. There will be 28 guests for this season including Richard Branson, Mia Farrow, Bill Hader, Dustin Hoffman, LL Cool J, Jimmy Kimmel, Norman Lear, Senator John McCain, Julianne Moore, Soledad O’Brien, Bill O’Reilly, Shonda Rhimes, Puffy Combs, Maya Rudolph, Gloria Steinem and Keenen Ivory Wayans. One of recent discoveries of this program is that Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher are distantly related. The two are political commentators at totally opposite ends of the political spectrum. An article about the discovery can be found at

Check local listing for time of airing the episodes. Information about the season is at

New Book Has Photographs of Ukrainian Synagogues
A new book with the strange title, Ukraine Series, but an accurate subtitle, Former Synagogues in the Ukraine: Snapshots of a World Gone By, consists of photographs of former synagogues in 47 Ukrainian towns. There are 74 color and 72 black/white pictures. Today the buildings are auto repair shops, vinegar factories, clinics, cinemas, sewing workshops, gymnasiums, or KGB prisons.

The towns included are Berdychiv, Berestecko, Bila Cerkva, Bolekhiv, Braclav, Chernivtsi, Chortkiv, Dolyna, Drohobych, Dubno, Halych, Husjatyn, Horodenka, Hrymailiv, Kovel, Kremenets, Kyiv, Lviv, Mohyliv Podilskyy, Monastyryska, Nemyriv, Novi Strilyshcha, Novoselitsia, Olhopil, Ostroh, Pavoloch, Pishchanka, Radyvyliv, Rivne, Sadhora, Sambir, Sataniv, Sharhorod, Shepetivka, Sniatyn, Sokal, Stanyslavcyk, Storozynec, Terebovlia, Tulcyn, Verbovets, Vinnytsia, Vyshnevets, Vyznycja, Zalishchyky, Zhovkva, Zhytomyr and Zmerynka.

Additional information, including ordering, is at

New York Public Library Adds 180,000 Digitized Images Online
The New York Public Library Digital Collections added 180,000 digitized images bringing the total to more than 672,000 items. Searching with such key words as Jew, Jewish, Yiddish, Warsaw brought a variety of images including photographs (“Picturesque Palestine, Sinai and Egypt”), books (1935 Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife), oral histories (American Jewish Committee Oral History Collection), Yiddish Theatre Playbills (“Dos Idishe Harts”) and photographs of the Warsaw ghetto. Some of these images might be useful as illustrations for a family history book. They are all for public use. A description of the collection is at Search the collection at

Registration Now Open for Seattle Conference
Early registration for the 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy is now open. The conference is being held at the Seattle (Sheraton) Washington hotel from August 7–12. Register online before May 1 and save $30 over the regular registration and $55 over on-site (during-conference) registration.

If you absolutely cannot make the conference, participate in a portion of it online from your home computer by registering for LIVE!. Information on LIVE! Is at

Full conference registration (including student registrants) includes the conference tote bag, Daily Planner and a memory stick (USB flash
drive) with the conference syllabus and all speaker handouts submitted.
Registrants may attend lectures, use the Resource Center, the Film Festival, the Exhibit Hall and evening programs (except the banquet, which will require a separately purchased ticket).

The Programming Committee is currently reviewing more than 400 proposals for lectures.

Scheduling conference extras, such as breakfasts and SIG luncheons are not yet complete. One may register early and then return to "Registration" under the “Attendee Service Center" to select and pay for those events when they have been scheduled.

An overview of available options is at Register online at

A link for registering at the conference hotel, the Sheraton Seattle, is available when registering for the conference.

For some time, there has been a Conference Discussion Group and Blog. Join the Group to receive periodic announcements and ask questions to conference planners or to others attending (such as looking for roommate). This can be done at the conference website at

FamilySearch Adds 2.5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.5 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Austria, Colombia, Germany, Italy, South Africa and the U.S. states of Alaska and New Hampshire.

All non-U.S. additions are church records except for Italian civil registrations. Of possible interest are Alaska Vital Records (1816–1959). There are also 283K indexes and records added to the BillionGraves database. Registration is required at to access the indexes and images free. You will receive promotional mail from the company, which you can unsubscribe.

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.

Reclaim the Records Files Request for Copy of New York State Death Index
True to her word that she would act quickly on acquiring a number of record collections currently in government hands, Reclaim the Records, the organization created by Brooke Schreier Ganz, has filed a request under the New York State Freedom of Information Law seeking a copy of the New York State death index, from June 1880 through December 31, 1957.

This statewide death index is available for public viewing on microfiche at various New York State libraries and a few other locations, but it can only be viewed if you are at the location. Ganz notes that it is not available through inter-library loan, and it has never been available through public microfilms, including FamilySearch.

If Reclaim the Records wins this records request, the films would be scanned and placed online. This death index is for people who died in New York State outside of New York City. The city and the state are two separate vital records jurisdictions, but both are covered by the same New York State Freedom of Information Law.

Ganz request to the New York State Department of Health can be found at She hinted new projects might include access to the New York State birth index and marriage indexes. She notes, “after all, they're available on microfiche at those libraries too, and they've never been online either.”
Video on 1939 UK National Registration Now Available
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, there was a National Registration of all persons living in England and Wales. Findmypast, in partnership with the UK National Archives, is publishing the 1939 Register online. Now the National Archives has produced a 60-minute video on navigating the 1939 register. It can be found at

As Britain faced the certainty of war that year, householders were given a card to fill out answering questions that would give the government a breakdown of the population and assess their needs. This information would then help in such matters as identity cards, rationing, conscription and more.

Not Every Company Is Making a Profit from Genealogy
DC Thomson, the parent company of Find My Past, Genes Reunited, Scotland’s People, The British Newspaper Archive and Mocavo reported that its genealogy and archiving division had a pre-tax loss of £14.08 million (roughly $20.5 million US) for the 2015 year to March 31 against a pre-tax loss of £6.71 million (roughly $10 million US) for the 2014 year.
Despite these losses, DC Thomson, a large corporation with many divisions and with many different business interests around the globe, had its profits rise to just over £30 million (roughly $44 million US) in the 2015 year to March as the group cut operating costs by £6.6m (roughly $10 million US) on the prior year.

DC Thomson has a long history of purchasing unprofitable companies, investing money in them, and then nurturing them over a period of years until they become profitable.

You can read the report on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter at

To submit a Page of Testimony, go to Click the words “Download Pages of Testimony Forms.”

Join the ranks of Yad Vashem’s worldwide network of volunteers working in one-on-one outreach efforts with Holocaust survivors and members of their generation to recover the names of Shoah victims before they are lost forever. For ideas and resources on how to launch a names recovery campaign in your area, visit Yad Vashem’s Community Outreach Guide for updated program information on the project in Israel and in Russian speaking Jewish communities around the world.

Yad Vashem has provided a 10-minute Pages of Testimony tutorial video at the site to learn how to help survivors and others from their generation to fill out Pages of Testimony. To volunteer for the project or for more information contact
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