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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 20, Number 44 | November 17, 2019

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.

New York State to Allow Adoptees to Access Original Birth Certificates
New York has had a reputation for having the least-cooperative state laws to assist adoptees in accessing birth information. This will all change on January 15, 2020, when a law just signed will give adoptees and the descendants of deceased adoptees access to original and unredacted birth certificates. The New York Adoptee Rights Coalition (NYARC) has been working for years to have such a law passed.

Additional information can be found at their website:

Reported by Brooke Ganz, president of Reclaim The Records. Her organization is a member of NYARC.

FamilySearch Celebrates 125th Anniversary
125 years ago, on November 13, 1894, the Genealogical Society of Utah was established. The purpose of the society was to help its members (who were predominantly immigrants from Europe) to gather genealogical records from their homelands so they could remember and build their ancestral connections. Today it is called FamilySearch and has blossomed into a global organization that continues to help millions of people. Family Search now has:
   • 7.42B searchable names in historic records
   • 13.4M registered users
   • 4.79B searchable records
   • 1.21B people in FamilySearch Family Tree
   • 5,179 Family History Centers

FamilySearch states that its long and successful dedication to its cause can be attributed—in part—to the fact that it is a nonprofit subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church believes family relations can extend beyond death, and that strong families are key to healthy communities.

The announcement can be found at 125th-anniversary/.

Conference in Poland to Discuss Polish Jewish Cemetery Issues
Jewish Heritage Europe reports that a conference in Poland next week will tackle a range of issues relating to Jewish cemetery preservation, documentation, and legal status. The two-day meeting, organized by the Gliwice Museum, will be held at the Memorial House of Upper Silesian Jews, located in the former Ceremonial Hall at the Jewish cemetery in Gliwice.

Organizers state the meeting is directed mainly to “employees of the state administration and local government, individuals, public institutions and non-governmental organizations involved or interested in the protection of Jewish heritage in Poland” with the aim of “having a real impact on the state and behavior of tangible and intangible traces of Jewish presence in Poland.”

Additional information can be found at conference-to-tackle/.

GRO Adds Death Records Index from 1984–2019
Jeanette Rosenberg of the JGS United Kingdom reports that the UK General Register Office (GRO) has added the index of deaths from 1984 to 2019. These cover England and Wales records only. Birth records are available only through 1918 due to the 100-year privacy requirement.

Accessing the index requires a number of steps. Go to Click on “Order certificates online.” The next window requires you register or log in to proceed. The next window asks, “What you want to do?” Click on “Search the GRO Indexes.” That will open a window which asks whether you want birth or death indexes. After selecting “Death,” fill out the form for the person whom you are looking.

The sole purpose of the index is to order the actual death certificate. A successful search only provides name and information which allows the GRO to locate the record.

FamilySearch Adds Nearly 2M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, nearly 2M index records and images, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from American Samoa, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, England, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, South Africa and 17 states of the United States. Also additions to GenealogyBank Historical Newspaper Obituaries, 1815–2011

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 Collections at
Ancestry has updated the following record groups at their site. The list with links to individual collections can be found at Announced collections may not be complete for the dates specified and will be added at some later date. There is also no indication of how many records were added to the updated collections.

Updated Collections
1901 Census of Canada
Nova Scotia, Canada, Deaths, 1864–1877, 1890–1965
Nova Scotia, Canada, Marriages, 1763–1942
U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935–2014
Washington, Marriage Index, 1969–2017
Washington, Divorce Index, 1969–2017
New York, State Census, 1925
Washington, Marriage Records, 1854–2013
Nova Scotia, Canada, Births, 1840–1917
U.S. Public Records Index, 1950–1993, Volume 2

New Records at FindMyPast
   • British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers’ Medical Records. More than 36,000 new additions from the National Archives in Kew.
   • United States, Official Army Register 1861–1865. Thousands of PDF images of official army registers created by the United States Adjutant General’s Office.
   • United States, Massachusetts: Index Of Casualties, World War II. A collection of more than 9,000 records compiled by the Adjutant General of the Commonwealth and held by the Massachusetts Archives.

Additional details and links to the collections can be found at blog/new/new-uk-and-us-military-records.

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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 35th 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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