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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 18, Number 36 | September 24, 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.

“Contacting DNA Matches: Get More Responses with These Pro Tips”
One of the frustrations of family history research is getting no response from a person who contributed to a genealogical database with contact information. This includes such online databases as the JewishGen Family Finder, Family Tree of the Jewish People and the family trees posted to such sites as Ancestry, FamilySearch, Geni and MyHeritage.

An article posted to the Ancestry blog discusses another group of nonresponders; those who have contributed their DNA to a database and fail to respond to inquiries to determine if there is a familial relationship with that person. Titled “Contacting DNA Matches: Get More Responses with These Pro Tips,” it discusses more than 10 pointers to consider before contacting people who are DNA matches. Many of these pointers apply to any person receiving a genealogical inquiry who may not have the enthusiasm you have for family history research. The article includes such a consideration as “Don’t write a novel in your first message. This can overwhelm your recipient and discourage a response. Be concise, and only give pertinent information.”

The full essay can be found at

RootsTech 2018 Grows to 4 Days
RootsTech, the world’s largest family history and technology conference, hosted by FamilySearch, announced it is expanding to four full days starting Wednesday, February 28, to March 3, 2018. This will allow for more in-demand class offerings for all attendees while still offering content useful for innovators. First day highlights will now include the opening General Keynote Session and the new Innovation Showcase on stage. The Innovation Showcase will feature the best new technology in the industry from around the globe. It is expected many companies, from small startups to large organizations, will take advantage of the opportunity to present their newest product or service on stage before a large online and in-person audience.

The news announcement can be found at The events website is at Registration is now open.

“How Do You Fight the Empire State and Win?”
One of the new shining lights on the genealogy scene is Brooke Shrier Gans of California, who is taking advantage of Freedom of Information laws in various states to get copies of vital record indexes that are available to the pubic based on the states Freedom of Information laws. Gans formed an organization called Reclaim the Records to carry out the process. Frequently it is not an easy task. The response from these institutions is often the equivalent of “No, go sue me.” So, Reclaim the Records sues...and wins.

The arduous task of getting copies of these records is described in an article at

To date, Reclaim the Records has managed to acquire copies of the following collections and has placed them on the Internet:
   • New York State Death Index, 1880–1956
   • New York City Marriage License Index, 1930–1995
   • New York City Marriage License Index, 1908–1929
   • New Jersey Birth, Marriage, and Death Indices, 1901–1903/14
   • List of Registered Voters in New York City for 1924

In litigation:
   • Missouri Birth Index and Death Index, 1910/1965–2015

   • New York City Birth Certificates, 1910–1917
   • Index to New York State Births (Outside of New York City), 1880–1937
   • Index (Simplified Database Extract) to all New York City domestic partnership records, 1993–2016

FamilySearch Has More Than 55 Million Dutch Records
Those readers who have followed the growing collection of FamilySearch have observed that at least once a month the organization adds millions of records to their “Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Miscellaneous Records” collection. A new blog post describes these records and provides a strategy for searching them. It can be found at en/51-million-dutch-records/.

New at
Ancestry has added/updated the following record groups at their site. Note that they do not indicate how many entries have been added. Announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date.

Updated Collections
Texas, Select County Marriage Records, 1837–2015
Cedar County, Missouri, Cemetery Index, 1839–1970
Web: Minnesota, Alien Registration Index, 1918

FindMyPast Adds Dublin Electoral Rolls
FindMyPast has added more than 427,000 records that represent transcripts of original electoral registers held by the Dublin City Library and Archives for the period 1908 and 1915. Electoral rolls comprise the names of those eligible to vote at a given time and place. During this period, voting eligibility for local elections was restricted to men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30 who either resided in the city or owned property there.

The collection can be searched at dublin-electoral-rolls.

New York City May Change Rules as to Public Access to Vital Records
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is proposing a schedule of when the Board of Health can make birth and death records available to any member of the public and transfer them to the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS). The proposal is to place embargo periods for birth records for 125 years from date of birth and 75 years from date of death. This is similar to the 2011 Model Vital Records Act which imposes a 125-year embargo on birth records, 75 years for death, and 100 years for marriage records. In May 2011, a national working group consisting of state and local vital statistics executives issued the Act.

The proposal is also asking for input for a 50-year vs. 75-year embargo for death for those involved with family history research. In New York City, marriage records are under the City Clerk's Office, not the Department of Health; therefore, marriage records are not included in this New York City Department of Health proposal.

Records currently at DORIS (birth records up to 1909 and death records to 1949) are not affected by the proposed rule. Additional information can be found at

European Countries Want to Tax Internet Firms
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the European Union finance ministers met recently to discuss their desire to increase taxes for Internet firms. Some countries are wary on increased taxes while others want to change the mechanism to increase revenues. One proposal is to tax profits on Internet companies where the revenues are made rather than where they are registered. Many multinational corporations, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others have their European headquarters in Ireland due to lower tax rates. A French Court recently said that Google was not required to pay over €1.1 billion in taxes made on AdWords as the company had “no permanent establishment in France.”

For additional information, see To access the previous postings about the EU's GDPR and taxation litigation, see the IAJGS Records Access Alert archives at:

Field Guides to Jewish Lodz and Warsaw/Krakow Published
Jewish Heritage Europe reports that the Taube Center for the Renewal of Jewish Life in Poland, in partnership with the Taube Foundation, has published two field guides, one of Jewish Lodz and the other of Jewish Warsaw/Krakow. They are available on the Internet in PDF form.

The Field Guide to Jewish Lodz is newly published. It is 86 pages in length and includes:
   • Four walking tours, each identified by its own color, and with its own map
   • Color maps: individual route maps note major sites as well as other places of interest.
Photographs and other images illustrate themes and places
   • Discussion questions
   • Personal stories
   • Links to and lists of resources, and more

Highlights include the vast Jewish cemetery; Holocaust memorial sites; the wartime Ghetto; traces of pre-Holocaust Jewish history including Piotrkowska Street, the Poznanski palace mansion of industrialist Izrael Poznanski (now the city museum) and his factory next door, now the Manufaktura shopping mall.

The Lodz book can be downloaded at pdf/2017/FieldGuide-Lodz-FINAL.pdf.

The Warsaw/Krakow book, which is similar in content, is 140 pages and can be downloaded at

Preserving Jewish Heritage in Poland
Jewish Heritage Europe also notes that the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODŻ) has published a second volume of Preserving Jewish Heritage in Poland, highlighting its work in preserving and protecting Jewish heritage in Poland. Both can be downloaded in PDF form.

Volume 1 can be downloaded at Volume 2 can be downloaded at The Jewish Heritage Europe article is at

Make sure the members of your family who were murdered in the Holocaust are not  forgotten. Submit a Page of Testimony in thier memory to The Shoah Victims' Name Recovefr Project. Go to Click the words "Submit Pages of Testimony Online" or “Download Page of Testimony Forms.”

Pages of Testimony are special forms created by Yad Vashem to restore the personal identities and to record the brief life stories of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their accomplices. These one-page forms, containing the names, biographical details and, when available, photographs, of each individual victim are essentially symbolic "tombstones". Since its inception Yad Vashem has worked tirelessly to fulfill our moral imperative to remember every single victim as a human being, and not merely a number.  To date there are some two million seven hundred thousand names recorded on Pages of Testimony, written in more than twenty languages, stored for perpetuity in the circular repository around the outer edge of the Hall of Names. Many shelves remain empty bearing witness to the millions of individuals who have yet to be memorialized.

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