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

Gary Mokotoff, Editor

Volume 22, Number 38 | September 28, 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.

FamilySearch Completes Digitization of Microfilm Collection
One way I admire the people at FamilySearch, is that when they make a commitment to do a project it gets done, no matter how unreasonable it seems. Many years ago, when FamilySearch made the commitment to index the passenger arrival records for Ellis Island, I met with the project leader. I pointed out to him that he was making a commitment to extract approximately 14M records. With a smile on his face, he disclosed, “We do have 5,000 volunteers.”

Now FamilySearch has announced they have completed the monumental task of digitizing its collection of m-illions of rolls of microfilm containing billions of family history records from around the world. The archive containing information on more than 11.5 billion individuals is “now freely available to the public on” A spokesperson is quoted as saying “…instead of having to come to the Library, people can start accessing these records from home.”

This apparently is still not so. Using the FamilySearch system, I have personally found that most of the records of interest to me have the message the data is only available by visiting a local Family History Center. An example is the collection of Jewish vital records for my ancestral town of Warka, Poland.

FamilySearch began microfilming in 1938 as the Genealogical Society of Utah. It was one of the first major organizations to embrace the use of microfilm imaging. That microfilm collection eventually grew to more than 2.4 m-illion rolls.

For many decades, duplicates of the original rolls could be ordered and viewed at one of FamilySearch’s more than 5,000 Family History Centers worldwide. The process of duplicating and distributing microfilm copies, and the laborious research that followed, seems excruciating by today’s instant online research standards, but at the time, it was innovative and the easiest, most economical way available to help patrons worldwide find family information without having to travel to an archive holding the original records.

Digitization of the rolls of film began more than 20 years ago when FamilySearch purchased its first microfilm scanners in 1998. The project was expected to take over 50 years to complete, but advances in technology helped shorten the timeline by nearly 30 years. The last of the microfilm scanning was completed this year.

FamilySearch stated they will continue to increase the digitization of new records worldwide from its digital camera operations and partnerships. It will also begin digitizing 335,000 microfiches in its collections.

The complete announcement can be found at

Finding People Living in the United States
Hal Bookbinder’s latest essay on “Practicing Safe Computing” is titled “Keeping Email Contacts Up to Date.” It describes various strategies to get the email of a person with whom you have lost contact because their email bounced.

As a last resort, Bookbinder mentions a website, For many years I have used to assist in locating people living in the United States. At one time, the information provided was at no charge, but lately, they have been charging a nominal amount, $1.95, for the data.

I used Bookbinder’s recommendation, and found the information provide is at no charge and what is provided is far more rigorous than that of It includes name, age, current address (as it perceives), previous addresses (for me, it included every address where I lived in the past 25 years), every phone number I have had including cell phone numbers, and a list of relatives. The relatives included my wife, children, some in-laws, my late mother and stepfather and even one of my grandchildren. The list is just names. No relationships to me are shown.

There is also the option to search by street address or telephone number.

If you are trying to locate someone in the United States and live in the country, before searching for another individual, search for yourself. It will give you an understanding of how comprehensive and accurate the information is. For example, in my case, it showed my current residence as the place I lived until I moved five months ago, yet buried among the past addresses was my current address.

Online Access to Presentations of Last IAJGS Conference Ends October 5
If you were registered as a Full Conference Attendee at this past summer’s 41st All Virtual IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy, it is still possible to view most of the presentations online until October 5.

For attendees at all levels, many of the presentations are available for purchase from Fleetwood Onsite Conference Recordings. You can order a USB flash drive for permanent access. Check out the list of sessions and speakers and place your order on their website at

“Who Do You Think You Are?” UK Returns in October
The UK version of “Who Do You Think You Are?” returns in October. Guest persons who will explore their ancestry include Ed Balls, Dame Judi Dench, Pixie Lott, Joe Lycett, Alex Scott and Joe Sugg.

The announcement can be found at

“Roots Less Traveled” Returns to U.S. Television in October
The genealogy-oriented television show, “Roots Less Traveled,” returns to NBC on October 2. Each week, in partnership with Ancestry, the series features relatives as they set out on an adventure to discover stories in their family tree.

From cousins who discover their ties to the Underground Railroad, to siblings who unveil the incredible accomplishments of their Japanese American family during WWII, to a mother and daughter who learn about their ancestor’s emancipation and subsequent service during the Civil War, viewers will witness these family members grow closer as they learn how their past has helped shape their present.

Last season’s shows can be viewed at The announcement is at

FamilySearch Adds 5.5M Records This Week
A list of recent additions to FamilySearch, 5.5 index records, can be found at This site provides direct links to the individual collections. They include records from Australia, Austria, Brazil, El Salvador, England, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Guadalupe, India, Jamacia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela and Zambia.

Significant is the addition of 3,667,758 records to the Find A Grave Index.

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.

FindMyPast Adds 32.6M Names to England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1910–1932
FindMyPast has added 32.6M names and 14 m-illion addresses to its collection “England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1910–1932.” The additions span the years 1910–1919. Included are name and address at time of registration.

The announcement can be found at

Avotaynu Anthology of Jewish Genealogy
 All back issues of our journal AVOTAYNU from 1985–2011

    • 27 years   • 105 issues   2,900 articles  • 7,000 pages 
 Google Custom Search engine
 Download or print articles

 Cost is $35 (one-time charge).

 Additional information at

Number of articles in Anthology by topic:

Algeria 8
Argentina 21
Australia 36
Austria 17
Austro-Hungary 7**
Belarus* 26
Belgium 24
Bermuda 1
Book Reviews 289
Brazil 25
Bulgaria 5
Burma 1
Canada 94
Caribbean 9
Cuba 3

China 10

Computers 21
Conferences 52
Costa Rica 1
Croatia 3
Cyprus 1
Czech Republic 33
Denmark 2
DNA 25
East Europe– Gen’l
Egypt 11
England 125
Estonia* 5
Europe-General 25
Finland 1

France 102
Galicia 20
General 233
Germany 173
Gibraltar 1
Greece 12
Holland 83
Holocaust 177
Hungary 46
India 6
Iraq 3
Iran 5
Ireland 2
Israel 125
Italy 14 
Latvia* 26

LDS 29
Libya 1
Lithuania* 71
Methodology 84
Moldova* 5
Morocco 18
New Zealand 13
North Africa 2
Poland 118
Portugal 21
Rabbinic 57
Romania 33
Russia 46** 
Scotland 27
Sephardic 42
Serbia 2

Slovakia 1
South Africa 22
South America 1
Spain 13
Sudan 1
Sweden 5
Switzerland 27
Syria 3
Tunisia 3
Turkey 22
Ukraine* 57
United States   227
USSR 92**
Venezuela 1
Zimbabwe 1

* Also see Russia and USSR ** Also see individual countries
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