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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 19, Number 36 | September 16, 2018

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.

AncestryDNA Claims New Algorithm Delivers
Ethnicity Estimates With Increased Precision

Ancestry is using a new algorithm to compute ethnicity estimates which it claims provides increased precision. They state the new rules provide a better understanding of genetic signatures globally, can break down geographic ethnicity estimates with greater specificity and give a more detailed picture of a client’s origins.

I have used the Ancestry service. Their previous algorithm claimed I was 93% European Jewish, 4% Europe South, 1% Great Britain, 1% Asia South, 1% Middle East and a trace of Caucasus. Now they claim my ancestry is 100% European Jewish.

I also subscribe to Family Tree DNA Family Finder. Their results state that I am 93% Ashkenazic Jewish, 4% Sephardic Jewish and 3% Southeast Europe.

Ancestry also has a feature defined as “View your DNA Story Over Time 1800, 1825, 1850…1925” which shows migration patterns. The map is actually the migration pattern of Ashkenazic Jewry during that time period, not a personal migration pattern.

Read the announcement of the new algorithm at

News from MyHeritage
MyHeritage Adds “DNA Basics Chapter 8: Genotypes and Phenotypes.” MyHeritage has added a “Chapter 8: Genotypes and Phenotypes” to its “DNA Basics” series. The company notes that that have received a lot of questions about the relationship between DNA test results and traits such as blood type and eye color. The answer, they note, lies in the relationship between genotypes and phenotypes. This chapter addresses the subject. The article can be found at

MyHeritage DNA Now Supports 23andMe V5 And Living DNA Uploads. For some time, MyHeritage has supported uploading of DNA results from Ancestry, 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. The company has announced it now also supports uploading results from 23andMe v5 and Living DNA. These results are matched against people who have used the MyHeritage DNA service as well as other DNA test results uploaded from the named competitive services. The announcement can be found at

Tips for Searching Newspapers Online
The Ancestor Hunt has created a 20-page e-book on “Tips for Researching Online Historical Newspapers.” The e-book notes there are obstacles to locating information in online newspapers. For example, the scanning of these documents can be imperfect because the originals have aged and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software may misinterpret the data. Some of the topics covered are:
   • Where to Search
   • Why Search Newspapers in the First Place
   • How to Search
   • How to Outsmart OCR and Other Tricks
   • Things to Remember - Mistakes to Avoid

Access the e-book at

Reclaim The Records Publishes Online New York State Birth Index, 1881–1942
Reclaim The Records has published online images of the New York State birth index for the years 1881–1942. The organization made a Freedom of Information request to the New York State Department of Health a year ago and won their case. The data for 1881–1934 is online at and the remaining data for 1935–1942 will be online by the end of this week. The birth index is sorted by year, and then alphabetically by surname within each year. The town of birth is listed as is the certificate number.

Note that this index does not contain lists of births from New York City. New York City is considered to be an entirely separate vital records jurisdiction from the rest of New York state, and consequently the city has its own birth, marriage, and death indices.

New Interactive Map About Jewish Life in Germany
Jewish Heritage Europe (JHE) notes there is now online an interactive map about Jewish life in Germany. It is located at

JHE notes, “In some ways the site is similar to Poland’s Virtual Shtetl, which provides historical and Jewish heritage information to around 2,500 towns, cities, and villages in pre-war Polish lands, but it also involves Wikipedia-like features. Users will be able to search for information and photos about Jewish heritage sites in hundreds of German towns and cities. These include communal sites such as synagogues, Jewish cemeteries, and mikvaot, but also secular sites such as Jewish sports clubs and cafes.” The site is in German.

The JHE announcement can be found at

About UK National Archives World War I Records
The 100th anniversary of the end of World War I will occur this November. The UK National Archives notes that they hold a vast collection of documents, letters, diaries, maps and photographs from the First World War, many of which have been digitized and can be searched and downloaded online. A few examples are:
   • Soldiers’ service records
   • Soldiers’ pension records
   • Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps service records 1917–1920
   • British Army nurses’ service records 1914–1918
   • British Army war diaries 1914–1922
   • Victoria Cross registers 1856–1944

Access to these collections is at first-world-war/centenary-digitised-records/.

USCIS Webinar: Introduction to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Records at the National Archives
The United States Citizenship and Naturalization Service will hold a webinar on September 27 at 1 pm (Eastern) on “Introduction to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Records at the National Archives.” The webinar will be an overview of the historical Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) records available to researchers at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The records cover nearly every aspect of immigration and naturalization policy from the turn of the twentieth century until 1975. Participants will learn about important research aids, see sample files, and discover how to request files from the Archives.

The webinar will not be recorded. For information on how to attend, see

New Jewish Genealogical Society: JGS of Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina Jewish Genealogical Society is the newest member of the growing family of IAJGS organizations. For more information about the Asheville based group, contact their president, Barbara Weitz ( or vice-president, Barbara Newman (

The group’s next meeting will be held Sunday, September 23 at 4 pm at the Asheville Jewish Community Center (236 Charlotte St, Asheville, NC).

Persons interested in forming a Jewish genealogical society in their area should contact Nolan Altman, Membership Development Committee Chair, at

FamilySearch Adds More than 5 Million Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 5 million indexed records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are Christian-only records. They include records from Argentina(†), Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Liberia, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain, and the U.S. states of Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Texas and Virginia. Also, Canada/US Border Crossings, WWI Americana Expeditionary Forces Deaths and Billion Graves Index.

There are a number of record groups notable for persons with Jewish family history. It is recommended the entire list be individually evaluated.

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.

Updated Collections at
Ancestry has 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.

England and Wales, Death Index, 2007–2017
Netherlands, Newspaper Announcements Index, 1795–1945
Netherlands, Dutch East India Company Crew Index, 1633–1795
Netherlands, Population Registers Index, 1720–1944
Scotland and Northern Ireland, Death Index, 1989–2017

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Each year AVOTAYNU publishes more than 300 pages of useful, interesting information about Jewish family history research that can help you in your research. Now in its 33rd year, an index to the first 24 volumes is available to all the major articles.

Published quarterly, our contributing editors from 15 countries throughout the world regularly gather important information that appears in our issues. Our publishers, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, are on a first name basis with officials at institutions containing genealogical data throughout the world. 
Some institutions are U.S. National Archives, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Leo Baeck Institute,  Yad Vashem and  Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People.

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