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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 4 | January 22, 2017

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.

Column: “Which Genealogy DNA Test Is the Best?”
 Family History Daily has published a lengthy analysis, “Which Genealogy DNA Test is the Best?” Evaluated are AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage DNA and 23and me. The column starts by presenting 17 different considerations in evaluating the four tests. Included are such matters as initial and ongoing costs, sample collection type, presence of chromosome browser and known privacy concerns.

This is followed by a detailed description of each of the 17 considerations. For example, under privacy concerns, the column says, in part, “It is very important that you take the time to read the privacy policy, terms and conditions and consent forms associated with any DNA test you take or any site you choose to upload your data to. While FTDNA has a proven track record of protecting the privacy of its users, there have been serious concerns over how AncestryDNA and 23andMe have used data in the past, as well as how they may use or sell your data in the future.”

The column concludes with a section titled “So Which DNA Test for Ancestry Research Should I Choose?” It begins with the statement “The truth is that any one of these companies will do a good job of providing you with results you can use to understand more about your family’s past. It is up to you to weigh the pros and cons and decide which test fits your needs.”

The column can be read at

Reclaim the Records Adds Online Images of New York City Marriages Index 1930–1945
Using the New York State Freedom of Information Law, Reclaim the Records recently acquired a microfilm copy of New York City’s marriage index for 1930-1972. FamilySearch has digitized the films at no cost to Reclaim the Records, and they have placed online for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Bronx 1930–1945, Queens 1930–1947 and Staten Island 1930–1950. The balance—through 1972–will be uploaded over the next few months.

The complete announcement, including links to the various digitized microfilms can be found at

Brooklyn Genealogy Site Taken Down:
Steve Morse to the Rescue
Nancy Lutz had an excellent site providing information about people who lived in the New York City borough of Brooklyn such as birth, death and census indexes; houses of worship; and much, much more. Then she lost control of her domain name, and the site was taken down. Enter Stephen P. Morse to the rescue.

Morse managed to recapture most of the data and placed it on his own site at If you have Brooklyn heritage, it would be worth a look to see if there is any information of value to your family history. Much of the data is pre-1881, the starting point of the mass migration of Eastern European Jews to the United States, but there are other gems such as an index to the 1910 census for Brooklyn.

There are so many datasets at the site, it might be better to use the Google search engine on the home page which allows searching the entire site for the presence of a surname or other keyword.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 4 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 4 million indexed records and images, can be found at FamilySearch011617. This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Belgium, Canada, El Salvador, England, France, Ghana, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Paraguay, Philippines, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa and the U.S. states of Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Major additions are 1.5 million additions to indexes of The Netherlands Archival Indexes Miscellaneous Records and 3 million images added to Oklahoma School Records 1895–1936.

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.

New Records from Ancestry
Ancestry has updated two databases recently:
   • Pennsylvania, Marriages, 1852–1968
   • U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1825–1960
It is unknown how many new records are involved.

FindMyPast Adds Rutland County and Leicestershire Records
FindMyPast has released several collections for the county of Rutland in the East Midlands of England including 9,000 marriage records (1538 to 1931) and more than 103,000 burial records (1538 to 1991). Also included are Christian religious records (baptisms, banns). For Leicestershire, there are 672,000 marriage records (1537 to 1931) and 790,000 burial records (1538 to 1991). Also included is a small collection of some 22,000 marriage license records (1604 to 1891) and some 173,000 will and probate records (1490 to 1941).

Additional information can be found at

MyHeritage Adds New Features to DNA Matching
MyHeritage has added several new features to its DNA Matching program:
   • Extended Information about Shared Ancestral Surnames. Last November, they introduced a user-requested feature of displaying ancestral surnames to DNA matches. Now they have added extended information describing the relevance of each surname and its connection to you and to the other user who matched your DNA.
   • Search by Ancestral Surnames. In addition to searching by name of DNA Match and country, you can now search by shared ancestral surnames.
   • New Filtering Options. You can filter your DNA Matches to show only those matches that include a family tree on MyHeritage, only DNA Matches with Smart Matches between your trees, or only matches with which you have ancestral surnames in common.
   • Add Notes to DNA Matches. You can now add notes to your DNA Matches.

Additional information can be found at

Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files Continues
As of this week, 387,710 of 640,000 files are available online in the Library and Archives Canada “Personnel Records of the First World War” database. The project is being done alphabetically, and they are now up to the surname “Murray.” The records include date/place of birth, name/address of next of kin and other data.

Information about the project can be found at military-heritage/ Pages/digitization-cef-service-files.aspx.

JewishGen Class on “Brick Walls or Dead End”
JewishGen is again offering its popular education class “Brick Walls or Dead End” from February 3–24. Students must have done enough research to have reached a point where help is needed. They should feel comfortable with computers and Internet searches. Tuition is $125.

Details are on the JewishGen at

USCIS Webinar on 19th- and 20th-Century Immigration and Naturalization Records
Marian Smith of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will present a webinar on “Thinking Across Time: Researching USCIS Records” on January 24 at 1pm ET. She will also discuss how using a timeline can help one predict what immigration and naturalization records may exist for a given immigrant and how to request records from USCIS. The webinar will not be recorded for future viewing. Enter the webinar room just before the session at

Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

* Also see Russia and USSR ** Also see individual countries
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