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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 14 | April 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.

MyHeritage Launches Book Matching
MyHeritage has announced the release of a new technology: Book Matching. Book Matching automatically researches individuals found on family trees on MyHeritage to the company’s vast collection of digitized historical books. The company claims that the innovative new technology uses semantic analysis to understand every sentence on every page in the digitized books, in order to find matches with very high accuracy. Book Matching has already produced over 80 million new matches for its users. Every match is a paragraph from a book specifically about the person in the family tree, providing direct access to that paragraph and the ability to browse through the rest of the book. A total of 450,000 books, with a total of 91 million pages have been scanned and analyzed.

Book Matching technology overcomes the difficulty of merely finding a name in a book by automatically understanding narratives describing people in the historical books, including names, events, dates, places and relationships, and matching it with extremely high accuracy and speed to the 2 billion individuals in the family trees on MyHeritage.

Dick Eastman of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter has been researching his family history for years. He has about 2780 people on his family tree on MyHeritage, and he received about 500 Book Matches. The majority of the information in the Book Matches was new to him.

Book Matching is currently available for English-language books only, but the technology will soon be enhanced to cover other languages. MyHeritage expects the corpus of digitized books on MyHeritage to be doubled soon. We will be adding genealogy books from all over Europe, in all major European languages!

Additional information about the feature an be fond at

Reclaim the Records Places NYC Marriage Index 1908–1929 Online
Reclaim the Records has placed online the 1908–1929 New York City marriage index. It is located at Public access to this information was made possible by the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). A request was made by Brooke Schreier Ganz, founder of Reclaim the Records, to the New York City Archives. The Archives initially refused her request, but Ganz brought them to court and won her case.

The online collection includes
   • Manhattan 1908–1929
   • Brooklyn 1908–1929
   • Bronx 1914–1917 (1918–1929 No Yet Online)
   • Queens 1908–1930
   • Staten Island 1908–1938

Reclaim the Records is currently suing the New York City Clerk's Office, seeking copies of the 1930–2015 New York City marriage index under the New York State Freedom of Information Law.

Ancestry Indexing of USHMM Records Now Reached One Million
Nearly five years ago, Ancestry agreed to index the collection of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at no charge and make it available on their site at no charge. Ancestry has just announced the index had reached the one million mark. It is called the World Memory Project and can be accessed at Volunteer contributors from all over the globe index name-related materials from the Museum’s extensive archival holdings in order to make the names readily and easily searchable. Additional information about the project can be found at

1944 Census of Hungarian Jews Found Hidden In Wall
A collection of Holocaust-era documents, long thought destroyed during World War II, has been found hidden in a wall cavity by a couple renovating their Budapest apartment. It consists of 6,300 documents from a 1944 census that was a precursor to the intended liquidation of the Hungarian capital's 200,000 Jews in Nazi death camps. Since September, restorers at the Budapest City Archives have been literally ironing the papers to study them.

The forms contain names of each building's inhabitants, and whether they are Jewish or not, with total numbers of Christians and Jews marked in the corners. Shortly after the census, around 200,000 Jews were moved into some 2,000 selected buildings, “Yellow Star Houses” with the Star-of-David Jewish symbol painted on the doors.

Additional information can be found at

JDC Partners with Israel Genealogy Research Association
The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Archives has recently initiated a collaboration with the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA) to share two sets of information:
   • Jews in Poland who received parcels as per orders via JDC’s
Jerusalem office from 1946–1947.
   • The Operation Magic Carpet lists. Following Israel’s independence,
JDC organized and financed Operation Magic Carpet, bringing Yemenite
Jews to Israel. The first portion of the lists to be shared covers
the initial phase of the operation, the airlift of orphans,
unaccompanied women and children, and elderly men from December 1948
– February 1949

The JDC Archives is providing IGRA with the primary names from each
index record, which IGRA will translate from English to Hebrew. IGRA
will add these names to its database with a direct link to the complete
record and document in the JDC Names Index.

Additional information can be found at

Bessarabia SIG Partners with Routes to Roots Foundation
Bessarabia SIG has become partners with Miriam Weiner and the Routes to Roots Foundation. They have received a large amount of material Weiner has collected in the last 25 years. The SIG soon will post at their website many articles published by Weiner from her book Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. She also gave the SIG unpublished information collected in Moldova.

Additional information is at the Bessarabia SIG site,

JewishGen Announces Courses for Spring
JewishGen has announced their education courses for the Spring.

“Organize & Research Online” (starting April 21st) is for advanced beginners who have used Ancestry and other online databases and still have questions or want to really organize information. Lessons are read/downloaded at your own pace. This is a one on one personal mentoring program where students post an ancestral branch, set goals for their research, and work with the instructor.

“Let’s Get Organized” will be given in May. This text-based course with daily exercises is part of the Value-Added Services program, and JewishGen waives the tuition for those who have contributed $100 to their general fund within the last 12 months. They are also planning a May value-added class for the new Belarus Website.

Information about all JewishGen education courses can be found at

American Ancestors: Free access to One Billion Records Through April 13
Through April 13, American Ancestors by New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering free access to one billion online records on Free accounts ordinarily allow guest users only a sampling of the vast offerings that NEHGS provides family historians of all levels. My experience is that there are very few “Jewish” records except U.S. censuses and the Social Security Death Index. Access can be found at

FindMyPast Adds Collection of British Royal Navy & Royal Marines Pension Records
GenealogyInTime reports that FindMyPast has put online a collection of British Royal Navy & Royal Marines pension records. This collection of some 911,000 records spans the years from 1704 to 1934. The information contained in each record varies depending on the time period, but in general includes such information as the full name, years of service, year joined the navy, service number, home parish, date of death, name of next of kin and pension details. These records can be searched by first name or last name. Access is by subscription. Further information is at

POLIN Museum Wins Museum of the Year Award
POLIN Museum, the recently created museum of Polish Jewish History in Warsaw, has won the Museum of the Year Award from the European Museum Forum. The award notes that “In its unique new building situated at the site of a once vibrant Jewish neighborhood and later the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews presents 1000 years of history of Polish Jews and their contribution to the region and to Europe, from the first settlement to the present time.”

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.

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