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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 17, Number 39 | October 2, 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.

Shana Tovah!
Happy (Jewish) New Year to all!! May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.

New York City Marriage Index 1950–1995 Online
Reclaim the Records has placed online an index to New York City marriage records 1950–1995 which it received from the City Clerk’s office by virtue of the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). It is located at and contains more than 3 million records.

Included is a powerful search engine designed by Reclaim-the-Records creator Brooke Schreier Ganz based on the LeafSeek software she developed. LeafSeek also powers the All Israel Database of the Israel Genealogical Research Association and the All Galicia Database for Gesher Galicia. She adapted the software for the New York database, which means that in addition to all the given name synonyms for common Ashkenazi Jewish names (like "Lazar" for "Eliezer"), new name synonyms were added for common Anglo names such as "Betty" for "Elizabeth,” and common Hispanic names such as "Chuy" for "Jesus."

Since it is a pubic database, Ganz has made it available to anyone. You can download the entire index from the website. It is her hope that major genealogy sites will add the index to their collection.

Ganz has targeted seven other projects to gain access to records available to the public under FOIL, Missouri and New Jersey freedom of information laws.

Jewish Travel Apps Available for Many Locations in Europe
It is late in the tourism season to note that there are a number of Jewish travel apps available for smartphones and tablets. Locations include Bialystok, Crete, Lithuania, Poland (Major cities and sites), Venice, Vienna and Warsaw. Detailed descriptions of each app can be found at Jewish Heritage Europe,

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 7 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 7 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. More than six million of the new items are updates for the FindAGrave index. The balance is United States Revolutionary War Pension Payment Ledgers 1818–1872; Australia Tasmania Civil Registration of Births 1899–1912; and Australia Cemetery Inscriptions 1802–2005.

These formal announcements lag behind the daily update located at Unfortunately, this list shows the total number of records in the group, not the number added in the recent update. For example, the FindAGrave update shown above is listed at 153 million in the collection list.

Note that at the website, announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

“Nine Places to Find Information About Your Ancestors’ Death”
FindMyPast has placed on its blog an article titled “Nine Places to Find Information About Your Ancestors’ Death.” The article is located at There is a detailed narrative for each source, which are:
   • Social Security Death Index
   • Cemetery records
   • Probate records and wills
   • Census records
   • Church records and family bibles
   • Land records
   • Newspapers
   • Military records
   • City directories

Lodz Registration Cards Online
The Polish State Archives has placed online Lodz registration cards created primarily for the years 1916–1920. JRI-Poland has already started to extract the names, birth dates and birth cities of nearly 20,000 Jewish residents which they hope to have online by the end of the year. The information contained on the cards is extensive. Included for the head of household is name, father’s name, occupation, birth date/place, town where born, nationality, religion and town where permanent resident. For other family members, included is given name, birth date/place and religion. Other information incudes date of arrival in Lodz, street address and tax district.

JRI-Poland has created an easy access to the cards at

RootsTech Early Bird Discount Expires in Two Weeks
People planning to go to the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City February 8–11, 2017, have until October 14 to take advantage of the early-bird discount registration of $159 compared to the regular price of $269. The event attracts tens of thousands of people. It includes more than 200 classes, keynote sessions, evening entertainment, a huge expo hall, and the ability to network with other genealogists. Information about the event can be found at

ScotlandsPeople Site Offers Free Access to Vital Records Indexes
In conjunction with a new look for their website, ScotlandsPeople is allowing, for the first time, users to search their collection of indexes to records of births, deaths and marriages, free of charge. There will only be a charge to view or download a record image. The new site features an improved web design which includes an enhanced search function that lets you locate and view records with greater ease. ScotlandsPeople is the official website of the Scottish government for searching government records and archives. The announcement can be found at

October Is Family History Month
November Is International Jewish Genealogy Month
In 2001, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced a bill in Congress making October Family History Month. Senator Hatch wrote, “By searching for our roots, we come closer together as a human family.” Since that year, family history enthusiasts continue to celebrate Family History Month every October. Information about the event can be found at

In 1999, Avotaynu introduced International Jewish Genealogy Month, then celebrated during the Jewish month of Nisan which occurs in early Spring. The International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies (IAJGS) took over the responsibility in 2007 and moved the date to the Hebrew month of Cheshvan which this year corresponds to the civil dates November 1–30. The purpose is for IAJGS member societies to promote Jewish genealogy and publicize their organization and its activities all over the world. A poster has been created every year since 1999. This year’s poster can be found at Previous year’s posters are at

FamilySearch Adds 141 Million Family History Record Hints
If your family tree is on FamilySearch, the organization has just released an additional 141 million new hints to the tree owners. The “hints,” more commonly known in the genealogical community as “matches,” compares FamilySearch’s collection of records made searchable online by volunteer indexers.

Two years ago, FamilySearch’s search engine began creating the hints by comparing data from the five billion names in its historical records online to the 1.2 billion customer-contributed ancestry names in the online Family Tree. “When we put the data together for comparison and find high-scoring matches to people on your family tree, that’s what we call a hint,” according to Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch senior product manager.

To date, Family Search has published 1.5 billion hints. Additional information can be found at

Twile Integrates with FamilySearch
Twile and FamilySearch International have partnered to add a new feature that will let FamilySearch users generate a family history timeline and share their research online with other family members. The announcement states that the timeline is designed to make research and discoveries more engaging for the broader family—especially younger generations—and to encourage collaboration.

Connecting securely to FamilySearch, Twile imports a user’s tree and automatically adds events, such as births and marriages, to a personal, interactive timeline of their family history. Users can then browse the timeline, add photos, and share it privately with other family members.

UK-based Twile won two awards in the Innovator Showdown at RootsTech 2016, including the People’s Choice award. In response to customer requests, Twile immediately started development on its FamilySearch integration. It is a fee-for-service website.

The complete announcement can be found at Twile’s website is at

Only in Genealogy: Meetups in Cemeteries
As they did last year, Ancestry is organizing FindAGrave cemetery meetups this year on October 7–9. The purpose, as Ancestry states, is to “visit a cemetery in need, to take photographs and videos of headstones, explore the grounds, and share stories and discoveries with others who want to make a difference.”

There are already 141 meetups planned in the U.S., Europe, Australia/New Zealand and one in the Philippines. For more information, visit

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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