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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 22, Number 5 | January 31, 2021

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.

Boston Globe Implementing “Right to be Forgotten” Principle
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the Boston Globe newspaper has launched a new program, called “Fresh Start” where people can apply to have past coverage about them removed from the online version of the newspaper. This is part of the newspaper’s criminal justice coverage rethinking and how it affects communities of color and racial inequality.

The initiative is an experiment and a committee will examine each case individually. Possible outcomes include removing certain stories from Google search results or anonymizing names in stories. There are also concerns about depublishing as it erases history.

Read the article at

FamilySearch Adds Web Page for Family History Library
FamilySearch International has announced the launch of a new webpage for its brick-and-mortar flagship, the Family History Library, located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The new Family History Library webpage is a part of and will provide new online patron experiences and up-to-date information on the library’s services and activities.

The new webpage enables guests to better access existing site services, such as visitor information, collections and hours of operation, and introduces many new and expanded services. For example, patrons worldwide can now schedule 20-minute appointments for free personal research consultations with a specialist. A book look-up services will be coming soon.

The web page is located at The announcement can be found at The announcement includes information about:
   • Free Online Consultations
   • Learning Center
   • Overview of their collections
   • Services of the Library
   • Family History Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Alexander Beider to Lecture on “Roots of Jews in North Africa: Names and History”
JewishGen Talks will present a lecture by Alexander Beider on “Roots of Jews in North Africa: Names and History” on February 2 at 2pm Eastern Time. Dr. Beider is the author of Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Maghreb, Gibraltar and Malta published by Avotaynu.

Today, the Jews whose ancestors lived before mid-20th century in the four countries of Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) represent the largest Jewish group after the Ashkenazim. Often, they are considered Sephardi. Another popular theory considers these Jews to be descendants of Berbers who converted to Judaism. This theory will be addressed during the lecture, along with the roots of one of the most mysterious Jewish communities, that of Ghardaïa, located deeply inside the Sahara desert.

Additional information and how to register for the lecture can be found at Information about the bok can be found at

MyHeritage Adds Color Restoration Feature for Fading Photographs
Color photographs fade or are the victim of color changes as years go by as they are subject to the elements. MyHeritage has introduced a color restoration and enhancement feature to its collection of photograph utilities. The company states that the process can revive original colors in seconds, and no colors are guessed in the process. As a bonus, the utility also sharpens photos and improves their level of detail. When color restoration is applied, the original photo is left intact and a separate copy is created with the restored colors.

Read the full announcement at

MyHeritage Introduces Photo Storyteller
MyHeritage has introduced Photo StorytellerTM, a method to record the stories behind family photos and attach an audio narrative to the photos. The application is available on the free MyHeritage mobile app and enables you to record yourself or interview your family members, describing the story behind family photos.

My personal experience is that one of the great tragedies of family memorabilia are photos of unknown persons and/or photos of known persons at an unknown place or time. Photo Storyteller appears to be a convenient way to copy and document your family photos.

Additional information can be found at

JRI-Poland Introduces a Newsletter
Jewish Records Indexing-Poland now has a monthly online newsletter called For the Record. Its purpose is to bring readers the latest news about JRI-Poland and informing them about the Jewish biographical records of the current and former territories of Poland. The newsletter will also present success stories and some more unusual research opportunities to illustrate the depth of their data and the knowledge of their many volunteers.

JRI-Poland plans to eventually transition the newsletter into one of the benefits of becoming a JRI-Poland member. They expect to implement membership dues in the Spring 2021. Similar to their sister organizations, membership will help cover the administrative costs of the growing JRI-Poland organization.

The first newsletter can be found at anuary-2021-edition.

Personal Cards of 160,000 Dutch Jews Transferred to Jewish Institution
Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, reports that the Netherlands branch of the Red Cross has transferred to the Jewish Cultural Quarter of Amsterdam ownership of nearly 160,000 personal cards of Dutch Jews that are slated to be displayed to the public for the first time. The Museum in currently being rebuilt and will reopen in the autumn of 2022.

The entire index of the Jewish Council of Amsterdam—a body that the Nazis set up to have Jews oversee preparations for the extermination of their own minority throughout the Netherlands—is among the most comprehensive and best-kept registries of its kind anywhere in Europe. It is unusual in that it includes references to status and personal traits, reflecting how this registry, unlike most other Nazi lists, was made for Jews by Jews.

The complete announcement can be found at Another version of the announcement is at

ArkivDigital Adds 19M Entries to Population of Sweden Database
ArkivDigital has made a major update to their Population of Sweden index. They claim it is the largest name index for Sweden. This update includes the years 1820–1947. There are now about 152.5M searchable names in the database.

ArkivDigital is a fee-for-service company. The index was created in partnership with MyHeritage.

The announcement can be found at It includes information on how to access a portion of the database on a trial basis.

FamilySearch Adds More Than 5M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, more than 5M index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Argentina Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Kiribati, Micronesia, New Zealand, Peru, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zambia.

Notable additions include:
New Zealand, Obituaries, 1844–1963, 1,648,592 records
Pennsylvania, Births and Baptisms, 1520–1999, 1,290,401 records
Pennsylvania, Congregational Records, 1620–1991, 698,36 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 Collection
Mississippi, U.S., Provincial Archives, 1820–1951

Updated Collections
Find a Grave Index
Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1518–1921
Alabama, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1753–1999
California, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1850–1953
Florida, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1827–1950
Mississippi, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1780–1982

FindMyPast Adds More Criminal Records and Derbyshire Vital Records to Its Collection
FindMyPast has added 92,000 court and prison indexes to its collection: England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment (1770–1935). It has also added more than 75,500 vital records for Derbyshire.

The announcement can be found at derbyshire-records.

A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Italy, France and “Portuguese” Communities
Avotaynu has published Dr. Alexander Beider’s second book on surnames of the Mediterranean region: A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Italy, France and “Portuguese” Communities. His first book of the Mediterranean region is A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Maghreb, Malta and Gibraltar, published by Avotaynu in 2017.

Why “Mediterranean region” rather than “Sephardic.” Because Dr. Beider has the preciseness of a person who got his first doctorate in Applied Mathematics. He notes that the surnames of the region include names based on Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, Berber, Hebrew, Aramaic, Spanish, Judeo-Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French. There are also Ashkenazic surnames in the region.

The book is 882 pages, hardcover. Cost is $89.00 plus shipping. Addtional informaton, including the Table of Contents and sample entry, can be found at
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