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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 21, Number 18 | May 3, 2020

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.

IAJGS Conference in San Diego Cancelled; Plan to Have an Online Version
The IAJGS conference committee has announced that “based on current events relating to COVID-19, the IAJGS has notified the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina that our conference scheduled for August 9–14, 2020 at that hotel cannot proceed. Full refunds will be made within the next two weeks to anyone who has already registered for the conference. Hotel cancellations should be handled directly with the hotel.

We are currently exploring options for a virtual conference and details concerning that virtual conference will be released as they become available.”

IAJGS has selected a location that is not San Diego for an in-person conference for Summer 2021 but has not announced the location.

The conference website is at

Arolsen Archives Creates “Every Name Counts” Project
Arolsen Archives plans to build the world’s largest online archive with information on the victims of Nazism. They have created a crowdsourcing project, “Every Name Counts,” that calls for volunteers to enter names found on documents into the online archive to ensure the victims will never be forgotten.

The first projects involve indexing records from Buchenwald, Dachau and Sachsenhausen. Start indexing at Information about the crowdsourcing platform is at Search the current database of 26M documents at

Zvi Bernhardt z"l
Zvi Bernhardt of the Yad Vashem staff has died. Bernhardt was a close friend of Jewish genealogy in his roles as Deputy Manager of the Hall of Names and the Deputy Manager of the consulting department at Yad Vashem archives.

Avraham Groll, Executive Director of JewishGen noted that Bernhardt “worked with JewishGen and many other organizations to ensure information and records would be accessible as widely as possible, and he constantly made himself available to anyone who sought his assistance. His dedication and commitment to Jewish genealogy has no doubt enabled thousands of people to both identify relatives and learn about the Holocaust.”

Bernhardt wrote a number of articles for AVOTAYNU about Yad Vashem resources. He also wrote the JewishGen InfoFile for Yad Vashem at

May his memory be a blessing.

FamilySearch Adds New Features to Search Capability
FamilySearch has added four new features to its search facility.
   • It is now possible to search identifying more than one relation. You now can search with multiple names of children, spouses, parents, or other relationships.
   • If you want to update and refine your search, you now can do it from the results page instead of returning to the original Search Records page.
   • The Find-a-Collection feature makes it easier to search specific collections without knowing the exact collection name.
   • If your family tree is on FamilySearch, when you attach a record to a person, the attached record’s event dates and locations standardize automatically.

More complete descriptions with illustrations can be found at en/4-record-search-updates/.

British Museum Makes More Than 1.9M Photos Available at No Cost
The British Museum has revamped its online collections database, making more than 1.9M photos from its collection available for free online. Under the terms of the Creative Commons license, persons are free to share and adapt the images for non-commercial use, but must include a credit to the British Museum.

The announcement can be found at

Mother’s Day Pricing for DNA Testing
With Mother’s Day nearly upon us, some DNA testing services are offering discounts. Here are the latest prices.

23andMe. Ancestry + Traits Services $99. No discount. However discounts for other services.
Ancestry. $59. Offer ends May 10. Also Ancestry Health $99.
Family Tree DNA. $59. Discount end May 10. Discounts for other services.
MyHeritage. $79.

Pre-World War II Maps of Eastern European Cities/Towns
Jewish Heritage Europe reports there is an online exhibit that allows you to “visit” 88 pre-war cities, towns and shtetls in half a dozen countries through maps of them drawn from memory after the Shoah. Called “Atlas of Memory Maps,” the exhibit is mounted by the Grodzka Gate NN Theatre Center in Lublin and is drawn from maps and other materials in its collection that were displayed in an on-site exhibition last year.

The site is in Polish. Either use a translator, or at the website, click on the maps shown and the site will display thumbnails of all the city/town maps.

The announcement can be found at The maps are at

Legacy Family Tree Offering Free Webinars in May
Legacy Family Tree Webinars wants to do its part to help genealogists across the world who are self-isolating at home. Providing free webinars in April was a great start but many are still at home and looking for things to do, so they have extended their daily free webinars through the month of May.

Each day will unlock one Legacy Family Tree webinar from its membership library to be available to watch ay no charge. Each day has a different theme.
   • Sundays - Methodology
   • Mondays - DNA
   • Tuesdays - Ethnic Genealogy
   • Wednesdays - TechZone
   • Thursdays - Around the Globe
   • Fridays - Beginners
   • Saturdays – Technology

The entire list of webinars for May can be found at

MyHeritage Has Live Sessions on Facebook and Online Webinars
MyHeritage is making available Facebook Live sessions and online webinars with experts in the field of genealogy that can help you make progress in your research while at home.

Facebook Live Sessions. A complete list of lectures can be found at When you find a lecture of interest, at the time it is given, go to the MyHeritage Facebook page at You will spot the live video at the top of the feed. During the session, you can ask questions in the comments and the speaker can respond to them live.

If you miss a session, they are available after the presentation. For example, the first session was given last Thursday titled “MyHeritage Yearbook Collections and the New Colorization Tool.” By going to and searching for “MyHeritage Yearbook,” I found the lecture.

Ask the Expert Webinar Series. MyHeritage Genealogy Expert, Daniel Horowitz has been hosting a series of free webinars on a variety of topics every Tuesday and Thursday. A list of future webinars can be found at the same address:

More Than Half of American Households Have Responded to 2020 Census Questionnaire
The U.S. Census Bureau is attempting to take the 2020 census by mail and online. Invitations to respond to the 2020 Census were delivered last month. About 64M million households across the nation were sent a paper questionnaire and 52.4 percent have responded to date. The Bureau is sending reminder postcards shortly to those who have not responded.

Among the many uses of this decennial census is that it determines how many seats a state is allocated in the House of Representatives. It also is used to allocate funds from the federal government.

Information about the census can be found at

FamilySearch Adds 2.5M Index Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 2.5M index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from American Samoa, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, Guatemala, Ireland, Peru, Puerto Rico, South Africa and United States.

More than 1.8M records are for Guatemala.

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
Find A Grave Index for Australia, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United States
St. Louis County, Minnesota Birth Index, 1870–1900
Minnesota, Marriages from the Minnesota Official Marriage System, 1850–2019
St. Louis County, Minnesota, Death Index, 1870–1899
Minnesota, St. Louis County Marriage Index, 1871–1894

Every Family Has a Story
72 articles that have appeared in our journal, AVOTAYNU, each story focusing on the human side of genealogy—how genealogists have been personally affected by their research and how the research of genealogists has affected others.

Some stories will make you laugh, others will make you cry. Some will shock you, others will make you feel warm inside.

Addtional informaton, including an annottated Table of Contents plus a sample story, can be found at  


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