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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 21, Number 42 | October 18, 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.

Reclaim The Records Wants B-illions of NARA’s Digitized Records
For a number of years, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has partnered with companies such as Ancestry to digitize NARA’s collections in exchange for exclusive rights to make them available on the internet. After an agreed-upon period of time, known as an embargo period, NARA gained unrestricted rights to the digital copies and the associated metadata transmitted to NARA by the partner, including the right to give or sell digital copies in whole or part to other entities, if NARA so chooses.

Reclaim The Records (RTR) states that the embargo period for many of these collections has passed and NARA has made no effort to make these collections online. RTR claims that NARA has repeatedly denied independent requests for copies of even subsets of this voluminous partnership-created digital data, claiming they would put the records online themselves.

RTR has now made a formal request to NARA under the Freedom of Information Act for copies of these records. RTR has a reputation of not accepting “no” as an answer to their requests to U.S. state/city agencies for their records. In many instances, they have gone to court to get these agencies to release these records—and won—with the court, in many instances, requiring the state agency to pay for RTR’s legal fees.

Additional information can be found at

MyHeritage Halloween Gift to All: Free Access to Death Records
In recognition of Halloween, MyHeritage is allowing free access to its collection of death records from October 29 – November 2. MyHeritage offers 153 collections in this category, containing nearly 550M records. Normally, most of these collections are free to search, but require a paid MyHeritage plan to view fully and save the information to your family tree.

Additional information is at

Australian Jewish Newspapers to Be Digitized
The National Library of Australia, National Library of Israel and the Australian Jewish Historical Society will collaborate to digitize 180 years of Australian Jewish newspapers. The more than 200,000 pages will be openly accessible through Trove, Australia’s free online research portal and the Historical Jewish Press Project.

With permission from the Australian Jewish News and their publisher, Polaris Media, all issues of the Australian Jewish News will be digitized, as will all other Australian Jewish newspapers published up to the copyright date of 1954.

Jews have been in Australia since the first European settlement in 1788. Known as the “First Fleet,” their passengers were criminals from England, and the British decided to establish a penal colony in Australia. Interestingly, the very first article in the first issue of AVOTAYNU, was about the First Fleet Jews.

Additional information about the digitization project can be found at

MyHeritage Adds 21.7M Records in September
MyHeritage reports it added 21.7M records from 12 new collections from Armenia, Australia, British Commonwealth, Canada, France, Germany and the U.S. This brings the total number of historical records on MyHeritage to 12.55B historical records.

The announcement can be found at

JewishGen Webinar: Translating Russian Documents for the Non-Russian Speaker
The latest presentation in JewishGen’s series, JewishGen Talks, will be a webinar on “Translating Russian Documents for the Non-Russian Speaker.” The event will occur on October 21 at 2:30pm ET. The presenter, Dr. Alan Levine, will describe strategies translating documents that require only knowledge of the alphabet and a few basic rules of grammar.

Register for the webinar at After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about how to join the webinar.

Turn Family Photos into Wall Art
MyHeritage has partnered with Mixtiles to allow MyHeritage users to convert their family photos into wall art. The service includes up to 50% in discounts. All prints are 8×8 inch (20×20 cm) and stick/restick to the wall without a hammer or nails.

The cost for a print was not included in the announcement, but going to the Mixtiles website indicates the price is $12 per print. Discounts to MyHeritage users are:
If you are ordering to the U.S., U.K. or Canada, you will benefit from the following discounts:
   • 20% off for orders of 3+ Mixtiles
   • 35% off for orders of 6+ Mixtiles
   • 50% off for orders of 12+ Mixtiles

Complete information is at

Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) Begins Its 17th Series
Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) began its 17th series this past week tracing the family history of actor Jodie Whittaker. Four additional programs will occur in the series.

The announcement can be found at

FamilySearch Adds More Than 4M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 4M index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. Those identified with a dagger (†) are church records. They include records from Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico(†), Germany(†), Great Britain(†), Guatemala, Niue(†), Norway, Nova Scotia, Peru, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Africa, United States and Zambia.

A notable additions are:
   • Austria, Vienna, Jewish Registers of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1784–1911 22,411 records.
   • New York, New York, Index to Passengers Lists of Vessels, 1897–1902, 331,215 records
   • New York, Southern District, U.S District Court Naturalization Records, 1824–1946, 300,335 records
   • Ohio, Voter Records, 1893–1960, 1,582,448 records

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 added/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.

New Collections
WEB: France, Death Records, 1970–2018
New York, New York, Riverside Church Records, 1841–1969
Norway, Church Records, 1812–1938
Pennsylvania, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Card Catalog, 1553–2015

Updated Collections Marriage Index, 1800s–1999
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Jewish Refugees Evacuated from the Soviet Union, 1941–1942
U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925–1970
Finland, World War II Military Casualties, 1939–1945
1890 Veterans Schedules of the U.S. Federal Census
U.S., Southeast Coastwise Inward and Outward Slave Manifests, 1790–1860
Pennsylvania, U.S., Death Certificates, 1906–1968
Wyoming, U.S., Divorce Records, 1941–1969
Wyoming, U.S., Marriage Records, 1941–1969

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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