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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 22, Number 7 | February 14, 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.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Arolsen Archives States Interest in the Fate of Nazi Victims Continues to Grow
One would think as World Award II and the Holocaust fades into history, interest in the fates of the victims of Nazi Germany would fade. Arolsen Archives, which contains the largest collection of documents related to the fate of individuals during this period, reports that to this day, people are still searching for information about relatives who were murdered, persecuted or deported by the Nazi regime.

In 2020, the number of inquiries received by the Arolsen Archives increased by about ten percent. They received inquiries from more than 26,000 persons. Almost three quarters of the inquiries came from relatives. Less than one percent of the inquiries came from survivors themselves. In about 60 percent of cases, the Arolsen Archives were able to provide answers and copies of relevant documents.

Arolsen Archives plans to place their m-illions of documents online. The online archive attracted about 900,000 users from all over the world in 2020. Since 2019, the Archives have published 27M documents online. Their holdings consist of 30M documents in total and belong to UNESCO’s Memory of the World. They provide information about concentration camp prisoners, forced laborers, and people who survived persecution.

Additional information can be found at

Free Access to Through February 15 is offering free access to its collection through February 15. The site is the largest online newspaper archive with more than 636M pages, mostly United States journals. Access the site at

Using the free access a few days ago, I finally solved a problem that has haunted me for nearly 50 years. It had to do with my father’s neer-do-well cousin, Max. As I have stated previously in Nu? What’s New?, Max was married six times, four times consecutively, twice concurrently. His mission was to embezzle money from these women.

Sometime in the 1950s, my mother showed me an article in the New York Daily News about how Max had embezzled money from his sixth wife. She was mortified that the Mokotoff name was shown in such a negative light.

I have been searching for that article ever since, and this past Friday I was able to find it on You can search for “Max Mokotoff” if you wish. The most common word you will find in his newspaper accounts is the word “fraud.” Important note: There was a second Max Mokotoff who was killed in an auto accident in Kentucky.

MyHeritage Offers Free Access to Marriage Records
In recognition of Valentine’s Day, MyHeritage is permitting free access to its marriage records through February 16. The site has 158 marriage and divorce collections with 462,808,849 records in all.

During this limited-time offer, access to these collections will be completely free, but free registration to MyHeritage will be required for non-MyHeritage users.

Search the records at

RootsTech Announces Speakers for Online Conference
RootsTech has announced the speakers for the conference that will take place online from February 25–27. Incredibly, there are nearly 600 lectures; and that is only those given in English. The complete list can be found at

Professional genealogist Ellen Kowitt has provided me with a list of lectures that would be of particular interest to Jewish genealogists. They can be found at

Register at the conference website: To date, more than 263,000 have registered to attend.

FamilySearch Publishes 2020 Year-End Review
FamilySearch has published some of its 2020 accomplishments in a statistical way:
   • FamilySearch is now available in 30 languages.
   • They added more than a b-illion new searchable names from historical records worldwide.
   • Contributors added nearly 100M relatives to the FamilySearch Family Tree in 2020 for a total of 1.3B people in the world’s largest collaborative—and free—family tree.
   • Almost 500,000 historical books are now available online in the FamilySearch Digital Library.
   • Visits to in 2020 increased 17.8% to 207M visits.

There were also numerous improvements to the functionality of the site.

All the above are described at

JewishGen Talks for the Week: Zachor: Yizkor Books as Collective Memory of a Lost World
This week’s lecture in the JewishGen Talks series is “Zachor: Yizkor Books as Collective Memory of a Lost World.” Yizkor (memorial) books document and memorialize hundreds of Jewish communities destroyed during the Holocaust. Compiled from memory by groups of former residents of each town in the immediate decades after the Holocaust, yizkor books are some of the best sources for learning about pre-war Jewish life in Eastern and Central Europe. Of the more than 1,500 Yizkor Books in existence, hundreds have been completely or partially translated into English by JewishGen and more than 100 translated editions are now available in print.

The lecture will be given on February 16 at 2pm (Eastern Time) by three experts: Lance Ackerfeld, Joel Alpert and Joyce Field.

Register at

Old Map Collections That Every Family Historian Should Know About
Old maps are an excellent way to dress up a family history report. It may also be useful in showing migration patterns of your ancestors. Family History Daily has written an essay titled “Old Map Collections That Every Family Historian Should Know About,” which identifies 11 online sites that have map collections.

Number 1 on the list is the David Rumsey Map Collection which the article states contains “almost every map you could imagine.” It exceeds 150,000 maps some of which show the geography of our ancestral lands from as far back as 300 years ago.

Read the article at

JewishGen Adds More Records to Its Holocaust Database
JewishGen added 24,000 new records from three data sets to its Holocaust Database at

Traunstein Displaced Person Camp Records. This 1947 collection consists of 11,659 records of names of adults and children, date and place of birth, prewar nationality and residence and other available comments. Additional information is at

The 1933 German Towns Project. In the 1960s, the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany, wrote letters to mayors and other officials of West German counties and towns, asking them to list the Jewish inhabitants of their communities as of 1933, i.e., pre-Hitler, and, to the extent known, the fate of these Jews. This collection includes the reports created by those local towns received by the ITS. The current update increases the dataset from 35,418 records (from 178 towns) to 47,298 records (from 263 towns). The transcription is an ongoing project. Additional information is at Today, ITS is called “Arolsen Archives.”

Jewish Children Attending Umberto School #1 Between the Wars in Salonika, Thessaloniki), Greece. This small data set includes the names on 157 Jewish Children that attended the Umberto Italian School #1 in Thessaloniki, Greece, between the world wars. Additional information is at,

MyHeritage Adds Three Collections
There are now 13B historical records available on MyHeritage. In January, they added 6.5M records from two new U.S. collections: a birth index from Ohio and an overseas military burial collection. This past week, they released a new collection: United States, Border Crossings from Canada, 1895–1956, which consists of 12.5M historical records.

Fire at Krakow City Archines
Fire struck the Krakow City Archives last week. The fire started on Saturday and as of Monday was not completely extinguished. Officials cannot assess the losses yet, as it is still unknown what burned down. The buildings contain more than twenty thousand meters of city documents from many years.

This is not the Krakow National Archives. The only materials which could have been important for Jewish research were books for resident registration, mostly postwar. Earlier records are at the Krakow National Archives.

Additional information is at

FamilySearch Adds 19M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 19M index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany Liberia, Mexico, Micronesia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, South Africa, Switzerland, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Zambia.

The unusually large number of additions come from:
   • Liberia Census 2008 (646K records)
   • Mexico Catholic Church Records (3M records)
   • New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, 1865-1957 (3.6M records)
   • United States City and Business Directories, ca. 1749 - ca. 1990 (9M records)
   • United States, New York Land Records, 1630-1975 (2M 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
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., Cemetery Index Cards, 1840–1988
Mobile, Alabama, U.S., Magnolia Cemetery Interment Cards, 1836–1995

Updated Collections
Texas, U.S., Select County Marriage Records, 1837–1965

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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 36th 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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