Nu? What's New?

Nu? What's New is a bi-weekly Internet magazine published by Avotaynu providing information of interest to persons tracing their Jewish family history.

To be added or removed from the Nu? What's New? mailing list,
go on the Internet to

Vol. 3, No. 15 - August 25, 2002

More Evidence of "No Free Lunch"

Further evidence that non-profits are going to be forced to charge for access to their Internet databases has emerged in the past few weeks.

The Ellis Island database has crippled the ability to save (free of charge) images of ships manifests. Instead, a message appears, "This function has been made not available". The EI people want you to take advantage of their offer to pay $25.00 for a copy. No doubt this feature was installed because of lagging sales--why pay $25.00 if you can get it free. It isn't that they want to profit from the purchase--it is that the purchases make it possible for the overall site to be free to the public.

Non-profit databases on the Internet typically try to get corporate sponsorships to support their operation. It rarely solves the total problem. Either insufficient money is created or corporate sponsors bow out as it become evident there is no profit in the sponsorship or the cost of sponsorship becomes burdensome.

When Will the Ellis Island Database Be Improved?

I recently contacted the EI people to ask when the missing and erroneous manifest problem would be solved. They refused to make a commitment. I am interpreting this as meaning it is many, many months away if it is to be corrected at all. I sense the task is not an easy one, which means it will cost a lot of money to correct. Given that the EIDB Home Page now devotes 15/16th of its page to links to commercial ventures, plus the recent attempt to forestall free capturing of manifests, it means that the EIDB people are having difficulty supporting this vast database and need revenue.

Some months ago I asked the EIDB people to supply me with the 23 million Places of Residence in the database. It was my intent to create a project to clean up the town names, thus allowing users to search by town name. It would require the cooperation of the various ethnic genealogical societies to clean up their portion of the town names. I estimated the total job would take about 1,000 hours and could be completed in about a year. The total effort on the part of EIDB would have been less than one day of effort to extract the information.

They turned me down.

IAJGS and FGS Conferences Are History

A few weeks ago I attended two conferences held the same week in August: the 22nd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Toronto, Ontario, and the annual "Conference for the Nation's Genealogists" of the Federation of Genealogical Societies held in Ontario, Calfiornia. For those who attended either conference, they were immense successes. Both organizations have been running these events for so many years that a successful program is almost a guarantee.

As a sign of our times, there was a conspicuous presence of security people at the Jewish conference in Toronto. Garry Stein of the hosting society told me the conference was the largest Jewish conference to be held in Canada so far this year. The conference area was in a sub-basement of the Sheraton Centre Hotel making it easier to isolate the events. People wanting access to the area had to pass security guards, not of the type you see at exits to department stores, but more like ex-Royal Canadian Mounted Police. There were two security men there that were obviously Israelis. The extra security had no impact on the conference attendees. For example, there were no metal detector screenings or searches of personal belongings--you just knew the security people were there.

Audio tapes are available for either conference. Order forms for the Jewish conference can be gotten by e-mailing Metro Media, Include your mailing address. Cost per tape is CDN$10.00 plus shipping. All U.S. national conferences and some past Jewish conferences are taped by For example, there are 51 tapes of my past lectures--some repeat topics as I tend to give updated versions of the same topic at the various annual conferences. Price is $8.50 plus shipping. The genealogy portion of their Web site is at

Failing to attend conferences can hamper your ability to advance your personal family history research. A conference is the place to get educated (literally more than 100 lectures from which to choose), network with genealogists who have common interests, make a difference in advancing the field of genealogy by giving the leadership in genealogy your thoughts on how to grow the industry, and buy goods and services from the exhibitors. If the conference is held in a location where there are facilities that can help in your research, it is a bonus. The wealth of things to do at the conference is so extensive, it is usually wiser to extend your stay at the conference city if you want to do research, rather than find time while the conference is in operation.

Future conferences for IAJGS are:
Washington, DC - July 20-25, 2003
Jerusalem - 2004
Las Vegas - 2005

FGS Conferences are:
Orlando, Florida - September 3-6, 2003
Austin, Texas - September 8-11, 2004

Updated Version of Family History Library CD

There is a new version of the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library Catalog on CD that includes all of the Library's holdings through April 2002. It can be ordered for $5.00 at Click the words "Order/Download Products", then the word "Search". Then search using the keyword "catalog." The product will appear on the second page of the list. The direct URL is
. Claims 85% of 1930 Census Now Online

It has been less than five months since the U.S. government released the 1930 census, and claims that 85% of the 2,667 rolls of microfilm, and all but four of the 58 U.S. States, territories, and the consular service are now available on the site. Only eight states are less than 90% complete: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia. New York is 98% complete. Of course, the remaining 2% incudes a portion of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, an area rich in Jews, which includes the Enumeration District where my mother's family lived. But we genealogists know that patience is eventually rewarded. Additional information can be found at

Update on Online England/Wales Census of 1901

Last January, the British Public Records Office (PRO) made available on the Internet the 1901 census of England and Wales. The project was almost immediately taken off line because the demand well exceeded the resources. But the problem with the system, it was discovered, went well beyond the overload problem, and the system has been down ever since.

PRO, in its latest update, states that internal testing of the enhancements to the service have been completed. They are now in the next stage of testing which is to make the online version available to a limited number of users at the Family Records Centre, Islington, and the Public Record Office at Kew. Staff will be monitoring the operation of the service at both. This phase should be completed by late August with the hope that the service will be sufficiently robust for it to go live on the Internet. Enhancements include a substantially larger capability to handle the anticipated load on the system as well as other features to assure the site does not crash from the demand.

A demonstration tour of the 1901 online service that shows how a basic search works plus the Help pages and FAQs can be seen at

The 1901 Census of England and Wales contains searchable records for over 32 million people.

Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People Moving

The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP) is moving from the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University to 46 Zabotinsky Street, Jerusalem. The move will mean the facility will be closed for several weeks. Current plans call for the Archives to be closed from August 25 to October 31. The move was precipitated by the need of Hebrew University to use the archives' facilities to expand their computer operation. Long-term plans may include returning to the Hebrew University campus to a planned new wing of the Jewish National and University Library.

CAHJP is perceived as the "National Archives" of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. It collects and preserves the archival remnants of Jewish communities throughout the world. It is especially rich in material from Central and Eastern Europe. Consequently, it is an important genealogical resource. Information about the archives can be found at

Vol. 3, No. 16 - September 2, 2002

Steve Morse "One-Step" Site Forced to Shut Down

Under the threat of legal action from The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. (SLEIF), Stephen Morse has shut down all of his sites that link to the Ellis Island Database. The Foundation accused Morse of creating a site that performs what has come to be known as "deep linking." Deep linking is the act of linking to a page at a web site other than the Home Page.

Deep linking may, indeed, be illegal. In a court case brought in a country of the European Union, it was deemed illegal and, therefore, cannot be performed in any country of the EU. In the United States, a Georgia state law that banned deep linking was ruled unconstitutional only because it overstepped the boundaries of Georgia law which has to be limited to events which occur within the state. Ticketmaster, a U.S. company that sells tickets to events, sued Microsoft, who was providing deep links to the Ticketmaster site. The case was settled out of court with Microsoft agreeing not to continue the practice.

Morse and SLEIF actually came close to an agreement which would allow portions of his site to remain available until they provided comparable service, but the contract they presented him to sign demanded that he admit that what he did was "in violation of the Foundation's legal rights and in breach of the Foundation's terms and conditions...." The contract then stated SLEIF would forgive him for past sins. Morse refused to agree to such terms and decided instead to close his site.

Deep linking is a common practice. Every search engine performs the function. Every edition of
Nu? What's New? includes such links. Web site owners normally do not object to the practice because it has a positive benefit to the site owner. However, this does not mean they cannot reserve the right to request that such a practice be selectively banned.

Additional information about this controversy can be found at, which, of course, is a deep link into The New York Times web site.

Vol. 3, No. 17 - September 4, 2002

The Latest Status of the Stephen Morse Site

Here is the latest status of the Stephen Morse portal to the Ellis Island data base.

The Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation wants Steve to sign an agreement that defines the relationship between him and SLEIF. Steve's attitude is that he provided the site as a public service for no personal gain and, if it requires a contract to have his site on the Internet, it isn't worth the hassle. So he wants out. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I have excellent rapport with the Ellis Island people and have been discussing with them placing the Morse functionality on the Avotaynu site. Steve has given me permission to use his handiwork.

I am a business man. I don't mind hassles. I don't mind contracts, I don't mind lawyers (in fact one of my best daughters is a lawyer).

As of this moment, the main function page is available for use by the public at my company's site, I am looking into the possibility of including the Missing Manifests function also.

As to the so-called Jewish site, it is more likely that SLEIF, rather than Avotaynu, will implement its functionality. Personally, I do not want to get involved with this component; from its very beginning I questioned its propriety. In order for it to work, someone had to download from the EI database the Hebrew portion of the file of 23 million immigrants--clearly done without the permission of SLEIF--and place it on a computer where the data could be massaged. I do not know whether that is legal or not, but as a person in the publishing business who takes very seriously the question of copyright and other matters of ownership, it is not something in which I want to get involved.

The Jewish site has served a very valuable purpose. It has awakened the Ellis Island people to the fact that there is a lot more functionality that can be put into their system. The fact that they are willing to make the so-called Jewish site available as part of their system means that any immigrant--not just Jewish--will be capable of being searched by town and other enhancements of the Morse Jewish site.

Ellis Island Foundation Explains Its Position

In response to inquiries they have received, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation has responded with the following statement:

"Thank you for sharing your comments and concerns. Let us take this opportunity to clarify the situation for you.

"Stephen Morse improperly obtained information from The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation's Website at and used it to create a subset of that data for others to use. This was done in violation of the Foundation's legal and proprietary rights, and in violation of the conditions of the Foundation Website's Terms of Service. This is much more serious than a deep linking issue.

"When the Foundation became aware that its data had been downloaded from the Foundation's site and offered on Mr. Morse's site, but in recognition of the usefulness of the information and tools his site provides, it chose to work with Mr. Morse to make his information and search capabilities available on the Foundation's Website. Operating in good faith, the Foundation has been in close conversation and negotiation with Mr. Morse over the last month, and the negotiations are ongoing.

"The Foundation neither asked nor demanded that Mr. Morse close down his site. Rather it agreed that Mr. Morse could keep those portions of the site relating to the Ellis Island database up until which time as they can be hosted on the Foundation site, where they rightly and legally belong.

"The Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation is a non profit organization which went to the public to ask them for money to build its site. Thousands of volunteers worked to create the database. The site offers free viewing to all. It charges a fee to obtain copies of the records and ship pictures. The money raised by these charges goes to pay for staffing the site and its maintenance. If the Foundation were to allow people to improperly take data from its site it would not be able to afford to keep the site up.

"It is the Foundation's hope that a fair and reasonable agreement can be reached with Mr. Morse so that this valuable information can continue to be made available to the public. The Foundation cannot, however, let anyone lift data wholesale from its site for their own purposes, even if they are motivated to do so to assist others in genealogical research.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc."

Vol. 3, No. 18 - September 9, 2002

Latest News About the Morse Ellis Island Site

The latest news is that there is no new news. There are, however, a good deal of behind the scenes discussions by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and various interest groups that suggest the matter will be resolved shortly and to the great benefit of the public. In the interim, the main Stephen Morse portal to the Ellis Island database is still available at the Avotaynu site: If there is any question as to the importance of the Morse portal to the Ellis Island database, we are getting the equivalent of 20,000 visits a week to the site.

Deportations from France during the Holocaust

Many of us occasionally key our surname into a major search engine like Google in the hope of getting interesting hits. Last week, using Google, I stumbled onto a site that lists more than 19,400 persons, mostly Jews, who were deported to their deaths from France during World War II.

The list was compiled by Daniel Carouge from official French government lists that have been published on the Internet at At that site, click "Le Journal officiel" Then use the search engine (Recherche par des mots). Enter the key words "mort en deportation" and click "Valider". It will identify 91 documents; each contain names of deported people including their date and place of birth as well as probable date and place of death.

Carouge has combined these lists into a single database and organized the list in two sequences: according to place of birth and alphabetically. The links to the two lists are at The list by place of birth (Liste des morts en deportation dans le J.O. de 1991 a 2001 par pays ou departement) is incomplete. The alphabetical list (Liste des morts en deportation dans le J.O. de 1991 a 2001 par ordre alphabetique) is complete.

The usual source of the names of Jews deported from France is the book "Memorial to the Jews Deported from France (1942-1944)," by Serge Klarsfeld. It identifies more than 80,000 Jews transported on 70 train convoys, mostly to their deaths at Auschwitz. The book is organized by date of deportation; therefore, to find an individual, it is necessary to go through the 70 lists. Avotaynu publishes on microfiche an alphabetical index to the surnames in the book identifying which convoys have which surnames. Information about the microfiche can be found at under the Holocaust category. A more detailed description of the Klarsfeld book can be found at

According to Michelline Gutmann, president of the French Jewish genealogical society, Gen Ami, there are names on the Carouge list that are not in the Klarsfeld book.

A Very Unusual Feature of a Genealogical Software System

Most genealogical researchers have a specific software system they use to store all their research data. From time to time, a competitive product comes out with special output reports that are so attractive that the urge is to switch to the new product. Despite the conversion capability of GEDCOM, this can be a hassle. There is an alternate solution. Buy the second product and use it solely for its special reports.

Dorotree, the Israeli-developed genealogical software system, has developed a unique way to display family trees on the Internet. It is so attractive that you might want to consider buying the product solely to use this one feature. Dorotree can display your family tree on the Internet in box chart form. I know of no other genealogical software system that has this functionality.

A valuable attribute of this feature is that it stores the family tree data in a database, not HTML code. This is useful for security purposes, because it means that no search engine can index your family tree. You can place information about living individuals on the Internet with no fear that some day it will appear on Google or some other Internet search engine.

There are some considerations for its use:
* It only works with Internet Explorer
* Before you access the site, set your security level to "Low." This is done by bringing up Internet Explorer, clicking the Tools tab, then the Internet Options tab, then the Security tab. Move the Internet Slide to Low and click OK. If you fail to do this, the family tree will not be displayed.

I have placed on the Internet the first four generations of the Mokotow family as a demo of the feature. It is located at (You will be asked if you want to allow ActiveX interaction. Click "Yes".) Before you click on the link you might want to read further to gain an understanding of how to use the site.

There are "+" and "-" buttons to the left of the screen. They are zoom buttons. "+" zooms in and "-" zooms out. The box chart shows multiple marriages by placing a dashed line between the boxes. Note that Tuvia David Mokotow was married twice. First to Tauba Moskowicz and second to Sarah Israelowny.

An important feature is the Search ability. This sample tree contains only 147 people, yet it might be difficult to locate a specific individual. Try the Search facility by keying in the name "Morris". There is only one Morris on the tree, Morris Mokotow, and the system immediately locates the box and highlights it in red. Now try to search for persons named Berek. The system identifies the first person on the tree whose name include Berek, but to the right of the statement "Select from list" is a dropdown menu. Click the down arrow, and it displays six persons whose names include "Berek". Select any one and the system takes you to that particular box.

This Search feature is very valuable because once you place the tree on the Internet and inform the family of its existence, what is going to be the first thing each family member will do once they are at the site: search for their own name. From that point they will browse up and down the tree, using the zoom feature, to understand their relationship to other family members and to determine their ancestry.

Disadvantages of the feature? The data file that must be retrieved that contains the family information can be large. The 147-person family tree used in the demo is 450K in size. Larger family trees may be impractical unless the user has a high-speed connection such as DSL or cable modem. I have a cable modem and it took 23 seconds to download the file.

You can find out more information about DoroTree at They have a demo version of their system, but it does not include this function.

More on Next Year's Washington Conference

The 23rd Annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, D.C. from July 20-25, 2003, already has a web site. It is at

While recent history has proven that all annual Jewish conferences have been excellent, this conference should prove to be exceptional, especially to American genealogists. It brings together all the components needed to make an exceptional conference.
   * The host society, the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW), is one of the oldest, largest and most proactive Jewish genealogical societies. Of the five Lifetime Achievement Awards given by IAJGS to date, two have been given to members of JGSGW. This will be the fifth conference they have hosted in the past 21 years.
   * It is being held in the capital of the United States, home of all the incredible collections of American history that are so important to American genealogy. To name a few, it is the home of the National Archives, Library of Congress, Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
   * The hotel site, the JW Marriott Hotel, is in the heart of Washington, just three blocks from the White House. Washington's public transportation system makes access to all the major research facilities easy. The conference room rate is unusually low for a major U.S. city--$149 for occupancy of up to four individuals.
   * From Breakfast with the Experts to highlighted evening lectures, the conference planners will be providing an exhausting 15-hour program during the Monday-Thursday portion of the conference. If the conference follows the pattern of previous ones, the opening day, Sunday, will offer a mere 12-hour program. The program of the closing day, Friday, usually ends at noon. Because of the scope of the program, if you are planning to do research at the many facilities in Washington, it might be wise to plan to stay extra days either before or after the conference.
   * Washington is a great tourist town, so consider bringing the family.

JGSGW plans to make the conference syllabus available on CD-ROM. The CD will also include the society's "Capital Collections", a resource manual that describes where all Jewish-genealogically relevant records and repositories are found in the Washington, D.C. area, their hours, and what collections and databases these sites hold.

John W. Carlin, Archivist of the United States, will deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony.

It is estimated that 1200-1500 people will attend the conference.

WOWW-Revised Edition Nearing Completion

Work on
Where Once We Walked - Revised Edition (WOWW2) is nearing completion. It is my goal to have it to the printer by the end of this month. That would make it available by mid-November.

One important feature of
WOWW2 is that it includes 4,500 additional alternate names for towns than the original WOWW (for a total of 17,589). This was partly due to two incredible name-change gazetteers I acquired in the 11 years since WOWW was published. Both address the enormous number of town name changes that occurred after World War I when the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires ceded great amounts of territory. Pre-World War I town names are an important aspect of Jewish genealogical research because many researchers only know the names of the towns of their ancestry as they existed when their ancestors left Europe.

The first name-change gazetteer is
Deutsch-fremdsprachiges Ortsnamenverzeichnis, by Otto Kredel and Franz Thierfelder (Berlin: Deutche Verlagsgesellschaft, 1931). It is a 1,172-page gazetteer that lists the German names for towns mostly in today's Czech/Slovak Republics and Poland, but also Alsace-Lorraine, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Yugoslavia, and other countries. This book is so rare that the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library had only a poor photocopy of it. Kahlile Mehr of the Library asked to borrow my copy so they could make copies for their own use.

The second remarkable work is
Hatarokom Tuli Magyar Helysegnev-Szotar, by Laszlo Sebok (Budapest, Tekeki Laszlo Alapitvany, 1997). It lists the Hungarian names for towns that were once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now are primarily in Romania and Slovak Republic (but also includes towns now in Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine). There are more than 10,000 entries. There is also a small number (680) of German names for towns covered in the book.

For those not familiar with
Where Once We Walked--affectionately known as "wow"--it is a gazetteer of more than 22,000 towns in the Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust that was published by Avotaynu in 1991. The authors are the co-owners of Avotaynu: Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack. It was the first major use of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System. One of its great strengths is this phonetic index in the back of the book. Many genealogists whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe in the great migration that occurred from 1881-1924 only knew the name of their ancestral town phonetically. Shortly after WOWW was published, I received a phone call from a woman who tearfully thanked me for the book. She has spent more than ten years trying to locate the ancestral town of here grandmother and found it within five minutes using the phonetic Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex index in the book.

WOWW went out of print in January 2001 after selling 3,000 copies. It sold for $69.50. In February 2001, a used copy of the book was sold on E-bay for $227.00.

Vol. 3, No. 19 - September 22, 2002

No New Public News About Ellis Island Database

There is nothing new to report about the resolution of the Stephen P. Morse One-Step portal to the Ellis Island database. The Home Page is now fully functional at the Avotaynu site

If there is important news before the next biweekly edition of "Nu? What's New?", a special edition will be published. Every indication is that the matter will be resolved shortly to the benefit of the public.

Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition
Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition will go the printer at the end of this month (September). List price will be $85.00. Avotaynu is making a pre-publication offer of $75.00 plus shipping. Subscribers to our journal, AVOTAYNU, can purchase the book at a pre-publication price of only $69.50 plus shipping--the price of the original book which was published in 1991. The offer is good only until October 15. Ordering information can be found at

Where Once We Walked (WOWW) was the most popular book ever published by Avotaynu (we have published 23 books since 1991). The revised edition is a gazetteer of more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. For almost all entries, shown are latitude/longitude of the town, Jewish population between the World Wars, and up to 50 sources of information about the Jews of the town. Equally important is the inclusion of more than 17,500 alternate names for towns including pre-World War I names, Yiddish names and other names while under the control of other political systems. The book has become a standard reference work in many libraries and archives throughout the world.

WOWW was the first major application of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System, which is now the standard phonetic indexing system for Jewish genealogical databases. Genealogists who were not able to locate their towns of ancestry because they did not know the correct spelling were able to determine the town by using the D-M index.

In 1995, Avotaynu published a second book called
WOWW Companion. Its index permitted researchers to determine which towns in WOWW were adjacent to towns of interest. This index has now been made an integral part of WOWW-RE.

There have been numerous other improvements to WOWW in the new Revised Edition, all outlined on the web site at In fact, it could be described as a total revision of the original work. Even thousands of latitude/longitudes have been changed to reflect the latest locations as defined by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.

The number of towns identified in WOWW-RE listed here by country is:
   Poland    6,160
   Germany    3,290
   Ukraine    3,288
   Hungary    2,252
   Romania    1,434
   Czech Republic    1,289
   Belarus    856
   Moldova    635
   Slovak Republic    634
   Lithuania    603
   Austria    460
   Latvia    330
   Croatia    225
   Russia    219
   Serbia    175
   Greece    116
   Bosnia    64
   Slovenia    61
   Bulgaria    52
   Estonia    33
   Macedonia    18
   Montenegro    5
   Regions    45
   Not determined    1,337

TOTAL    23,581

Race and U.S. Immigration Laws

I find valuable and interesting many of the articles written by Marian L. Smith, senior historian for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Often they have a direct bearing on genealogical research. She has written a number of articles for AVOTAYNU. Smith recently wrote an article titled "Race, Nationality, and Reality: INS Administration of Racial Provisions in U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law Since 1898" for the Summer 2002 issue of "Prologue", the quarterly magazine of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It is on the Internet at

While the article focuses primarily on racial discrimination against non-white persons trying to immigrate to the U.S., Smith covers aspects that affected white Eastern Europeans and Jews. As the article notes:
"By far the most pressing, and embarrassing, item on the List of Races or Peoples in the late 1930s was the term "Hebrew." The American Jewish Committee protested the classification of Hebrew as a race as early as 1930, warning that such "inquisition" into religion by the government was "improper and susceptible of unfortunate abuse." At that time, the solicitor for the Department of Labor wrote a long memorandum on the legal requirement for including race--and Hebrew as a race--on both immigration and naturalization forms. The department found the American Jewish Committee's complaint groundless and rejected their request. In the following years, as Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe increased, dissatisfaction with the presence of Hebrew on the list widened and deepened."

For those interested in American history and the activities of NARA, "Prologue" always has valuable articles and information. An index to the latest issue can be found at It gives you a flavor for the type of stories that appear in the publication. You can subscribe to the printed version of "Prologue" for $16 at Alternately, you can mark your calendar to go to the above-named home page and read it on line each quarter. The printed version is very well designed and has excellent use of pictures of America's past. It is the type of magazine whose back issues you might include in your library rather than throw out after being read.

Pedigree Resource File

For a great number of years the LDS (Mormon) Family History Department had only two major databases for genealogical research: Ancestral File and the International Genealogical Index (IGI). Ancestral File is a database of family trees submitted mostly by Mormons; consequently, it has few Jewish entries. The IGI is a database of some 250 million people for whom a Mormon ordinance has been performed, usually posthumous baptism. In fact, the IGI is a misnomer. It is more an International Baptismal Index than an International Genealogical Index. The IGI has never had many Jewish entries, and even less, since the historic contract signed in 1995 between the Church and the Jewish community which stated that the Church would no longer knowingly posthumously baptize Jews unless they were direct ancestors of Mormons.

The Family History Department has always talked of having a database of lineage-linked data that did not mix Mormon religious practices with genealogy. That database has now come to pass. It is called the Pedigree Resource File (PRF). The Pedigree Resource File is a database of lineage-linked (family tree) data that contains 40 million entries and, it is claimed, is growing at the rate of one million entries per month.

You can only browse relationships to ancestors, not descendants, possibly as a privacy feature. A great advantage of PRF is that it includes the name of the submitter making it possible to contact the person who did the original research.

While the database does not contain many Jewish names--it has yet to attract Jewish genealogists--its easy access on the Internet makes it worth searching. It is located at the main Internet site of the Church at To limit your search to PRF, link to

There are 164 persons named Shapiro, 162 named Finkelstein. It was not possible to determine how many persons named Cohen are in PRF because the system uses a soundex mechanism that commingles Christian names that sound like Cohen with this most popular Jewish surname. One Frenchman, descended from distinguished rabbinic dynasties, submitted a number of Katzenellenbogens, Lurias and Treves going back to Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Isaac) born 1040, Troyes, France.

1901 Census of England and Wales Back Online

The 1901 census of England and Wales is back online after an eight-month hiatus. Based on a limited amount of use on my part, it appears to be a well-designed system with fast response time. I accessed it at 8 a.m. New York time, which is mid-day in Europe and there was no delay in response. The census database is located at

The Public Records Office is cautiously referring to the site as a test site available only between 09.00 to 23.00 hours (GMT+1 hour) Monday to Saturday. They state they are conducting this test phase "in order to undertake detailed monitoring and further optimise the site settings to ensure a good user experience for the high levels of demand we expect when we launch the live service."

Searching the comprehensive name index of more than 32 million individuals is free, but to receive an image download, print request or transcribed detail is part of an elaborate fee schedule explained at the site. You can establish an account with a credit or debit card.

See Dick Eastman's article at the web site for a variety of newsgroups, software tools and websites that provide assistance in using the census.

The census originally went online in January 2002, but was suspended almost immediately due to system overload and other technical problems.

10th-Annual Jewish Genealogical Research Trip to Salt Lake City

There still are a few openings for the 10th Annual Jewish Genealogical Research Trip to Salt Lake City. Since 1993, professional genealogist Eileen Polakoff and I have taken a group to the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library for a week of concentrated research and education on genealogical research. This year's trip is from October 31-November 7. The group is limited to 40 persons. At present 35 have signed up. Additional information, including costs, can be found at

Thank You, Stephen Morse

It has taken more than a year, but the "Nu? What's New?" subscriber list has finally reached 6,000 after attaining 5,000 subscribers in early 2001. We had reached about 5,700 subscribers earlier this year, and I had resigned myself to the fact that we had peaked because the number of new subscribers was equalling the number who were opting out. With all the publicity "Nu? What's New?" has gotten recently about its coverage of the Stephen P. Morse portal to the Ellis Island database, our subscriber list grew by more than 500 in less than two weeks.

This likely makes "Nu? What's New?" the most-read Jewish genealogy e-zine with even more subscribers than the JewishGen Discussion Group.

Vol. 3, No. 20 - October 6, 2002

Morse's Handiwork Now Has Copycats

The Stephen P. Morse "Searching the Ellis Island Database in One Step" has been copied to other sites. One site, Kindred Konnections, a Utah-based commercial site, has copied from Morse the Main Page as well as the Missing Manifest function. It can be linked to from their Home Page at Click "Ellis Island Genealogy" to the left of the screen. Meanwhile negotiations continue to resolve the matter between Morse and the Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island Foundation. There appears to have been a "meeting of the minds" between the parties involved, and contracts have been written for their review.

1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia Online

Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906, a 12-volume work of 15,000 articles, has been placed on the Internet at Its search engine has full-word indexing; therefore it will identify any article in the encyclopedia that includes the key words you specify.

Old encyclopedias can be valuable in research because they give a perspective on history as it existed in their time period. The encyclopedia represents what was important in Jewish matters at the beginning of the 20th century. There are descriptions of many notables of the second half of the 19th century who do not merit a mention in today's Jewish encyclopedias. The Dreyfus affair, fresh in the memories of the encyclopedia's compilers, merited 29 pages. Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish French army officer found guilty of treason in 1895 and sentenced to prison at Devil's Island. It was demonstrated that he was the victim of anti-Semitism in the French army and the charges were false.

Another valuable feature of the
Jewish Encyclopedia site is that you can view the original pages which often contain pictures of personalities or events. A small distraction is that most letters of the alphabet that have diacritic marks display as question marks (?). Access to the original page permits the reader to see the characters. The project was funded by the Kopelman Foundation. All in all, the work is of high quality.

[Initially reported to me by Shirley Flaum of Rav-SIG, the Rabbinic Genealogy Special Interest Group]

WOWW-RE to the Printer

Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition goes to the printer tomorrow (Monday). It will be a 736-page gazetteer divided into four sections. Section 1 is introductory material providing background about the book and instructions and hints on how to use it. Section 2 is the gazetteer itself containing more than 41,000 town names for 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. Section 3 lists the towns based on their latitude/longitude in a scheme that allows the user to determine which towns are nearby a town of interest. The final, fourth section is a list of the 41,000 names as a phonetic index using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system.

Deadline for Pre-Publication WOWW-RE Offer Nears

Person interested in purchasing
Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition at the discounted pre-publication price must do so in the next nine days. The offer ends October 15, 2002. The list price of the book is $85. Subscribers to our journal, AVOTAYNU, can buy the book for only $69.50 plus shipping if ordered before the deadline. Non-subscribers can buy the book for $75 plus shipping before the deadline. Ordering information is at

Example of Nearby Town Feature
Using a 120-page Nearby Town index in
WOWW-RE, it is possible to identify those towns that are nearby a specific town. I was able to identify 57 towns in WOWW-RE within 20 miles (32 km) of my ancestral town of Warka, Poland, and mapped the towns on a template supplied with the Nearby Town index of the book. This feature is illustrated at

Apropos to the Worth of WOWW

A recent posting to the JewishGen Discussion Group demonstrated one of the uses of WOWW. A subscriber questioned why Shtetl Seeker, the JewishGen gazetteer, shows the same town in Moldova with six different latitude/longitudes. The answer was that it is not the same town with six different latitude/longitudes, but six different towns with the same name. It was in hundreds of cases such as this one that
WOWW's authors spent considerable time evaluating the evidence to decide which of the possible towns was the one being referred to in Jewish sources--which of the six towns was the place where the Jews lived.

Ordering information about
Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition can be found at

Guidelines for Publishing Web Pages on the Internet

The National Genealogical Society is one organization American genealogy turns to set up standards for a variety of genealogical endeavors. Those who use genealogical software may have noticed one of the many reports is known as the NGS Register Report Format, a standard format for producing descendancy reports.

NGS has now published "Guidelines for Publishing Web Pages on the Internet." It is located at


Release of Post-1901 Canadian Censuses Moves a Step Closer to Success

After years of stalling, holding public meetings, ignoring the issue, and legislative red tape--but constant prodding from the Canadian genealogical and historical communities--the Canadian government may be on the verge of releasing post-1901 censuses to the public. In the next session of Parliament, a bill will be introduced to release 92-year old census records "for historic research purposes." I questioned Gordon Watts, one of the leaders of the committee to make these censuses available, whether "for historic research purposes" might exclude use by genealogists. He stated that the committee seeks the same unrestricted access to post-1901 census records as is currently enjoyed for records up to 1901--no strings attached.

Canadian censuses of 1901 and earlier have public access. Statistics Canada, holder of the post-1901 censuses, claims that these censuses were taken with the assurance to the information providers that it would be kept confidential. Watts and his committee claim no confidentiality was promised beyond that which existed for prior censuses.

American Likes the 1901 British Census Online

One "Nu? What's New?" subscriber from the U.S. has written to me about his success using the recently released online version of the 1901 Census of England and Wales located at One branch of his family stopped in England for 10-15 years before coming to the U.S. He reports that in 10 minutes "I found all of my four great-great-grandparents who were in England at the time, got the information, and downloaded images. In one instance, my ggf, Harris Cohen, who was married to a Molly Cohen, was living next door to two other Cohen families--a serendipitous discovery!"

The researcher also liked the "pay-as-you-go" structure of paying for this fee-for-service system. The cost to acquire all the images was about $10. He preferred this approach to that of many of the commercial ventures, such as, who charge a greater amount of money and provide unlimited access for a specific time period.

Entire U.S. 1930 Census Now Online
========================== has announced that their project to place the entire U.S. 1930 census online is completed. In just six months after the census' release by the U.S. government, 2,667 rolls of microfilm representing 137 million individuals were digitized and are now available at Ancestry's fee-based service.

In order to use the information, for most states, you must know the Enumeration District in which the family resided. Various finding aids have been developed to assist in determining the ED. One was developed by Stephen Morse and is located at

When you place that many images online there are bound to be some initial errors, but why did one error have to be the page with my maternal grandparent's family? They lived on the Lower East Side of New York in Enumeration District 6. The image shown for that district is ED 31. Ancestry provides a method for reporting errors, and the response was that they were aware of the problem and hope to resolve it shortly. continues to index the 1930 census. To date, they have indexed the following states: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire (90%), New Jersey, Rhode Island and Utah.

Ancestry's Next Census Project

Starting with the 1891 England Census, plans to post images and every-name indexes for the census years of 1841 through 1891 for England, Wales, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man.

Planned Census Release: Mark Your Calendar for January 1, 2101

In the year 2101, the 2001 National Census of Australia will be released to the public. When this event occurs, it will be the first public access to an Australian census since 1828. The change in policy was the result of intense lobbying by genealogists and historians who convinced the government of the importance of census records to an understanding of the history of a country at a particular time. It took 20 years of effort to make it happen.

Congratulations are in order to those who accomplished this task selflessly. Not only won't they be able to take advantage of their efforts, but neither will their children and few of their grandchildren.

Vol. 3, No. 21 - October 20, 2002

Morse/Ellis Island Dispute Resolved

The dispute between Stephen Morse and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation (SLEIF) has been resolved. JewishGen has signed a contractual agreement with SLEIF to "provide enhanced search capabilities for the Ellis Island Database." The immediate benefit is the reestablishment of the full functionality of Morse's "Searching the Ellis Island Database in One-Step" at

The negotiation between JewishGen and SLEIF was done in rather quick time. It was less than two months ago that SLEIF approached Morse with complaints about his site and proposed that there be a contractual relationship between him and the Foundation. Morse decided he did not want to go through the hassle which would involve lawyers and negotiations. Instead he elected to shut down his site. Avotaynu came to the rescue with an interim solution of making available his Main Page, which provided the One Step capability. At about the same time, JewishGen approached both Morse and SLEIF and, upon discovering what SLEIF was offering Morse, decided they were willing to accept the essence of the SLEIF proposal. JewishGen is used to negotiating with institutions and has lawyers to advise them.

The reestablishment of all the Morse functionality at the JewishGen site hopefully is the tip of the iceberg. It includes the One Step Page, the Missing Manifest Page and the so-called Jewish Page. The Missing Manifest page, in actuality, is an embarrassment to the SLEIF technicians. It exists only because the Ellis Island database site, located at, sometimes does not display the actual ship's manifests. Hopefully, this will motivate them now to clean up the problem.

More significant is the so-called Jewish page. It provides functionality that does not exist in the SLEIF system. Properly this functionality should be made available over the entire Ellis Island database. As examples, it should be possible to search for town of ancestry for any immigrant ethnic group. Soundex searching would solve a host of misspelling problems that exist in the database.
My personal experience is that the Jewish Page has such powerful search capabilities that if you know enough about your immigrant ancestor--approximate year of birth (within five years), sex, marital status, approximate year of arrival (within ten years)--in many instances, you need not specify the person's name--only the initial letter of last name.
The functionality on the Jewish page includes:
   1. Ability to search first and/or last name using the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex system.
   2. Ability to search first and/or last name by contained strings (e.g., searching for all last names that contain "berg", or that contain "koto" and finding "Mokotoff").
   3. Ability to search by town (including starts with, sounds like, or contains functionality).
   4. Ability to search by year of birth. The Main Morse search form relies on the limited ability of the Ellis Island database to search by range of age at time of arrival. It is more likely that the searcher knows the approximate year of birth and approximate year of arrival. The ability to search by year of birth is a very valuable feature because it allows you to restrict the number of hits considerably. For example, if you know that an ancestor was born between 1880 and 1885 and arrived at Ellis Island between 1900 and 1910, using the limited Ellis Island database functionality, you would need to compute his age at arrival as between 15 (1900-1885) and 30 (1910-1880). That 15 year span will produce many false hits. But if instead you entered his year of birth which had only a 5 year span, you will get many fewer hits.
   5. Ability to search by marital status.
   6. Ability to specify the number of hits per page. The New Format function on the Main Morse page, developed by Yves Goulnik, provides comparable function, but only for four values: 25, 50, 75, and 100. The Jewish form lets you enter any value you want so you can see all your hits at once, even if it is in the thousands.
   7. Ability to search by arrival day and/or month. The Main Morse search form only allows you to search by arrival year.
   8. Ability to specify any port name. The Main Morse search form only has a partial set of ports from which you must chose. Ability to search for ports by leading characters or by contained strings.
   9. Ability to search for ship's name by leading characters. The Main Morse search form requires that you specify the name of the boat exactly, and even then you might not get a match because of the way the boat keys were entered in the database.

Call for Papers: 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, host of the 23rd International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, has issued a call for proposals for lectures. Deadline for submission of proposals is December 31, 2002. Because of the extensive archival resources and tourist attractions in the Washington area, JGSGW expects a record attendance at the conference. Requirements for proposals can be found at

The presenters selected will receive free registration at the conference. All presenters invited to the conference must agree to submit a presentation summary, 1-4 pages in length (special programs may require additional material). The summary materials will be included in the conference syllabus and CD-ROM as a resource for conference attendees. Presentations will also be professionally tape-recorded.

The conference will be held from July 20-25, 2003, at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington D.C.

Internet Privacy Policies

A popular topic of discussion is the problem of the Internet and privacy. It is becoming fashionable for Internet sites to have a published "Privacy Policy." Be aware that just because a site has a privacy policy does not imply that the owners of the site will keep private the information they acquire about you. There is nothing improper about having a privacy policy that says "we will sell your name to the highest bidder." That may be the site's policy toward privacy. Also, watch out for a statement that says something like "we limit the usage of the information to our own organization and its affiliates." What is an affiliate? It may be any company willing to swap e-mail lists or even pay to acquire your e-mail address; in other words, anyone.

Deadline for WOWW Pre-Publication Offers Passes

The special pre-publication offer for the Revised Edition of
Where Once We Walked ended on October 15. More than 550 people took advantage of the discounted price. Copies of the revised edition of this award-winning gazetteer of more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe can be ordered at The production schedule is on target for initial deliveries of the book in late November.

Next Edition of Nu? What's New? Will Be November 10

Nu? What's New? is normally published every other week. The next issue will skip a week. From October 30 - November 7, I will be on my annual trip to Salt Lake City with a group of Jewish genealogists who use the expertise of myself and a professional genealogist for a week of intensive research at the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library. This year there will be 32 people in the group. Consequently, the next issue of Nu? What's New? will be published on November 10.

Vol. 3, No. 22 - November 10, 2002

The Appeal of Online Research
Ancestry magazine recently polled a number of persons active in American genealogy about how they perceived genealogical research to be in 10 years. Here was my reply.

"I predict genealogy will become very boring in the next ten years. More and more, from the comfort of your home, you will be able to access the records of your ancestors on the Internet. No more fighting with archivists, no more standing on line at the copying machine, no more writing letters that produce responses in weeks or months, no more pouring through frame after frame of microfilm looking for that one record that will take you back another generation. Just hop on the Internet and find billions of records--most of them indexed--that will guide you through your family history in days, a task that used to take years."

Using these online databases is quite amazing--especially if you have a high speed access line such as DSL or a cable modem.

I just got back from my annual trek to the "candy store"--the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City--where billions of people are recorded on millions of microfilm rolls. In the 20 years that I have been visiting the Library, I have had no qualms about browsing through a roll of microfilm, such as the 1920 census for a particular soundex code, in the hopes that the effort would yield the single record I was searching for. This consists of retrieving a roll from the 1920 census index, a 3-4 minute effort; cranking the reel to the starting point of the soundex, possibly a 2-3 minute effort; then cranking through each microfilm image, perhaps 30-60 minute effort.

I recently performed the same function on the Internet. Instead of retrieving a microfilm reel, it took me about 60 seconds to reach the search page for the 1920 census at I keyed in the surname I wanted to search and specified it should be a soundex search. In about 20 seconds, the search engine displayed the first 10 records and stated there were 435 matches. That number of hits seemed formidable, but remembering the patience I exhibited scrolling through the 1920 soundex index on microfilm, I proceeded. It took me only six minutes to browse the 435 matches. One reason it went so quickly is that the Head of Household is printed; with the microfilm equivalent, you must read handwriting.

I took less than a minute to retrieve the actual census page online. At the Family History Library, I would have gotten up from my microfilm viewer, searched for the appropriate drawer that housed the microfilm with the actual census image, retrieved the microfilm, placed the film on a reader, and cranked the film to the appropriate frame.

At the Family History Library, if the record was of interest, I would remove the microfilm from the reader, walk halfway across the floor to the film copying room, wait my turn to use the reader/printer, place the film in the machine, pay the fee and produce a hard copy on a laser printer. At home, I was able to print the census page directly on my home computer's printer. Because it was stored on my computer in JPEG format, I was able to resize the image and even edit it to improve its quality.

This is the future of genealogical research.

1880 US Census, and 1881 Canadian and British Census Now Online

The 1880 U.S. census and 1881 Canadian and British census records are now online at the FamilySearch site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons): Fields available to limit the search criteria include first name, last name, country of birth, birth year, birth year range (+-2, 5, 10, 20 years), state (U.S.), province (Canada), country (British). You cannot retrieve the census image page, only the information contained in the index. The U.S. census is an all-person index not just heads of household.

Information provided includes the town name, county and state and the page number on the census sheet. It took me a while to match the Mormon page number with the Ancestry census page. Page number refers to a sequential number placed in the upper right-hand corner of the right page of the census book. This number is unique for a specific town or ward in large cities.

Morse "Short Form" Site Now Giving Good Performance

The Stephen P. Morse "Ellis Island Database in One Step--Short Form" located at is now giving excellent response time. For the first few weeks the system was overloaded and it was difficult to complete a search. This Short Form site virtually obsoletes the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation search site at

The Morse site provides the following features--across the entire database of 23 million immigrants: First name can be specified as Starts With, Is or Contains. Last name can be specified as Starts With, Is, Contains or Sounds Like. Town name can be specified as Starts With, Is, Contains or Sounds Like. The year of arrival can be isolated to a range of years. This is also true for age at arrival and year of birth. The soundex algorithm is the Daitch-Mokotoff soundex system. This system is superior to the conventional soundex in many ways. Two examples are that soundexing is to six meaningful codes instead of four (eliminating many false positives in large databases such as the Ellis Island database) and the initial letter is soundexed (the conventional soundex system retains the initial letter of a name).

As an example, my next-door neighbor is the grandson of Italian immigrants. He did not know the correct way to spell his grandfather's original name (is was Marcogiuseppe) so I keyed in Marcogiseppe and requested a soundex search. The Morse site found not only the grandfather, but seven other relatives with the following spelling variations: Marcogiuseppe, Marcoguesippe, Marcoguiseppe, Marcoguiseppi and Marcoquiseppe, When I tried the SLEIF site using Marcogiseppe, there were no hits, and I could not invoke the spelling variant feature. In other words I got nothing.

In another application, I took advantage of the fact that only the first letter of the last name had to be specified when I was searching for a man whose given name was known but surname unknown or misspelled. I knew the person arrived in 1901 and was born about 1880. At the Morse site I specified the First Name, limited the arrival years to 1900-1902, limited the birth year to 1878-1882 and stepped through 26 searches of possible last names (A-Z). Total time was 10-15 minutes. I did not find the record I was looking for. Such a search would not have been possible at the Ellis Island site.

Avotaynu Marketing Library and FTJP CDs

Avotaynu is now selling two CD-ROMs published by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies:
* Index of Jewish Records at the Family History Library
* Family Tree of the Jewish People
Both databases are available free on the Internet, but each of the CDs has it own unique advantages.

The Index of Jewish Records at the Family History Library CD is an annotated index of thousands of collections at the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library of value to Jewish genealogical research. The index is available on JewishGen at The CD has a valuable feature not available on the Internet version: the ability to browse the collection. For example, browsing the Library's holdings for the State of Israel, I noted "Reprint of six booklets published between 1901-1913. Transcriptions of tombstones on the Mount of Olives." Another item is "Vital records, 1899-1927, registration of births, marriages and deaths for members of the Moshav at Rishon le-Ziyyon, Israel." A disadvantage of the online version is that a search of the database displays only the title of the record group. You must click on the title to get the description. For example, the Mount Olives burials in the online version described above is merely shown as "Helkat mehokek : kolel kol tsiyoni ha-keverim asher be-har ha-zayitim : ha-aattik kol ha-harut al ha-tsiyon : lefi seder ha-shurot". The Rishon le-Ziyyon group is described as "Vital records, 1899-1927" with no indication that it refers to the specific town only.

The Family Tree of The Jewish People is well known to veteran Jewish genealogists. It is a database of family trees submitted by Jewish genealogists. The CD-ROM contains approximately 1.8 million names and is a snapshot of the database as of the year 2000. It too is available free on the Internet at, but the Internet version does not disclose the names/address of the submitters. The CD version does. If you have suffered the frustration of trying to contact someone who submitted information to FTJP, you can now have their name/address.

Cost of either CD is $20.00. The set can be purchased for $30.00. Ordering information is available on the Avotaynu catalog page under the CD-ROM section at

Fall Issue of AVOTAYNU in the Mail

The Fall issue of AVOTAYNU, the International Journal of Jewish Genealogy, will be mailed to subscribers this week. The lead article is by Stephen P. Morse. It is a rigorous description of the 1930 census and the many options available in locating a specific household in the census. In anticipation of the 23rd International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Washington, D.C., in July 2003, the Fall issue starts a series of articles about resources in the Washington area with "Research Materials and Opportunities at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum."

Other articles cover the discovery and subsequent indexing of 19151932 Canadian naturalization records; the 1897 All-Empire Russian Census; a project to photograph and index 50,000 tombstones in Chernivtsi (Chernowitz), Ukraine; a project to research Turkish and Balkan Jewry at the Diaspora Research Institute; a history of Venezuelan Jewry; using a local library to access databases on the Internet; and others. All told, the issue includes 14 articles, five book reviews, letters to the editor and the regular columns: As I See It, Ask the Experts, From Our Contributing Editors, U.S. Update and SIG Update.

You can subscribe to AVOTAYNU at

Ship Date for Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition

Our printer has informed us that the ship date for Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition is November 15. This means the books should be at our distribution center about November 22 and copies will be mailed shortly thereafter to the nearly 600 presubscribers.
Where Once We Walked (WOWW) was the most popular book ever published by Avotaynu (we have published 23 books since 1991). The revised edition is a gazetteer of more than 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. For almost all entries, shown are latitude/longitude of the town, Jewish population between the World Wars, and up to 50 sources of information about the Jews of the town. Equally important is the inclusion of more than 17,500 alternate names for towns including pre-World War I names, Yiddish names and other names while under the control of other political systems. The book has become a standard reference work in many libraries and archives throughout the world.

The Revised Edition is divided into four sections. Section 1 is introductory material providing background about the book and instructions and hints on how to use it. Section 2 is the gazetteer itself containing more than 41,000 town names for 23,500 towns in Central and Eastern Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust. Section 3 lists the towns based on their latitude/longitude in a scheme that allows the user to determine which towns are nearby a town of interest. The final, fourth section is a list of the 41,000 names as a phonetic index using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system.

There have been numerous other improvements to WOWW in the new Revised Edition, all outlined on the web site at

The number of towns identified in WOWW-RE listed here by country:
Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
Not determined


You can order Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition at

CAHJP Back in Operation

The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem has completed the move to its new location at 46 Jabotinsky Street.

Vol. 3, No. 23 - November 24, 2002

New Book by Avotaynu: Sephardic Genealogy

Avotaynu's latest book has gone to the printer.
Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World, a comprehensive guide to researching Sephardic ancestry, has been sorely needed. The author, Jeffrey Malka, did an excellent job writing a book that will work for beginners (he included a chapter on getting started) as well as advanced researchers. The book is divided into five parts.

Part I deals with a brief review of Sephardic history, the status of Jews under Islam, Sephardic languages, and the evolution of Sephardic names from biblical times to the present.

Part II covers the methodology for valid genealogical research including record keeping and date conversions from a variety of calendars.

Part III discusses the known archives and resources for genealogical research in 20 countries where Sephardim have lived, from pre-expulsion Spain to North Africa, Turkey, the Balkans, Egypt, Syria, the New World and more.

Part IV contains a directory, sorted by country, of Internet sites and resources of interest to Sephardic genealogists.

The final section, the appendices, provides a dictionary of many Sephardic surnames giving their etymological meanings and origins, reference tables of Arabic and of Sephardic Hebrew cursive alphabets, Islamic calendars, genealogy forms, archival resources, and other useful tools. An extensive bibliography, 19 illustrations and maps, 8 tables, separate person and topic indexes make for easy reference and use.

The author, Jeffrey Malka, M.D., a retired orthopedic surgeon, is descended from a long line of Sephardic rabbis. His grandfather was chief rabbi of Sudan from 1906-1949. He has been researching his Sephardic roots for more than 20 years and is the author of "Resources for Sephardic Genealogy," an award-winning website for Sephardic genealogy. He was asked by JewishGen in 2001 to create its SefardSIG section, a site he continues to develop.

The book is 384 pages. Additional information, including a complete Table of Contents, can be found at Adds 1930 Census Every-Name Index for
California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania
======================================= has added to its Internet site an every-name index to the 1930 census for California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. Every-name means that all members of the household appear in the index. These states had a major Jewish presence in 1930. Other important states, such as Massacusetts and New Jersey, have been previously indexed.

Households I could not find using the correct spelling of the surname, could be found easily using the soundex option. These misspellings were caused either by the census taker or in the indexing of the census. Because Ancestry uses the conventional soundex system, it is not uncommon to get a very large number of hits, especially since every member of a household is identified. You can limit the number of hits by restricting the search to a specific county within the state (for example, my Illinois search was limited to searching Cook county, the location of Chicago). Another technique is to provide the given name of a member of the household. Searching for the name Mokotoff in New York State uncovered the household of only one of my three granduncles. When attempting to locate other Mokotoffs using the soundex option, there were 1,039 matches in the soundex search of New York State. By adding the given name "Charles" to the soundex search, there were only 12 matches, one being my granduncle "Charles Makotoff" ("Mokotoff" on the census, misspelled by the indexer).

The quality of the index seems less than that of Ancestry's 1920 census. In my brief search for Mokotoffs and Tartaskys (my maternal grandfather), I found a number of errors. I did not have a similar experience with Ancestry's 1920 census index.

There are missing images. Some of the entries do not have a link to the actual census image. This must be a short-term problem because the images are there. I was able to retrieve them with reasonable speed by going to the part of their site that contains the images and isolating the record by state/county/ED/page--all provided on the index.

Full name indexes can have their disadvantages. If you use the soundex option, you are forced to browse through every member of every household when looking for a particular family. Ancestry might consider adding an option to their search engine to look for Heads of Household Only. This would speed up searching by soundex or common surnames where they number of hits is large. Still, as noted in the last issue of "Nu? What's New?", browsing through a list of 600 entries is rapid (less than 5 minutes) with a high speed Internet line.

Other states already indexed include Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah.

The index can be accessed from the home page

German Emigration Lists

One of the potential fringe benefits of doing onsite research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is the lectures they have daily. Because the patrons the Library have such varied interests, it isn't often that there is a lecture of interest to Jewish genealogists. Some of the lectures given during the week I was there in October included Polynesian research, English census records and Mayflower research. Also that week, there was an entire track on German research. I attended the one on "Determining Place of Origin of German Ancestors."

Because many Germans emigrated to the United States and other countries in the period 1840-1870, often the town from which they left is not known because few government records of the 19th century, at least for the U.S., show town of birth or residence. If the person left through Hamburg after 1850, place of residence might be found through the Hamburg emigration lists. But that is the only source. Naturalization, census and vital records rarely offer a clue.

The lecture offered many potential sources of information but one of particular interest is emigration lists (other than the well-known Hamburg lists). The Family History Library has more than 100 sources, mostly books, on emigration from Germany. Most are lists of emigrants from a particular town or region of Germany. The easiest way to find them is to use the Family History Catalog on CD-ROM. That is the only version of the catalog that has a keyword search. Search for the keywords: auswanderer, auswanderung or auswanderungen, all German for words associated with emigration.

If you do not have a copy of the CD, it can be purchased for $5.00 from the Library at At this Home Page, click "Order/Download Products" and on the following screen, Search for product number 50081.

Name-Change Gazetteers on the Internet

In the last days before "Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition" went to the printer, I debated whether to include in the introductory portion of the book a list of name-change gazetteers that exist on the Internet. At that point I had accumulated only four locations and concluded it would not materially enhance the book. Recently, Alex Sharon, who participated in creating the revised edition of WOWW, made me aware of a very comprehensive list on the Internet of German names for Polish towns. It is located at The site states it contains 59,143 locations with over 25,500 name changes. The area covered is all the eastern provinces that Germany lost at the end of World War I including East Prussia, Memel, West Prussia, Brandenburg, Posen, Pomerania, and Silesia. Therefore, it also includes a small number of towns in today's Lithuania and Russia. When you locate a town of interest, click on its name and a display appears that includes the German name, Current name, German Kreis (county), Current province, and location. It even includes a list of people doing genealogical research for the town and the surname being researched.

The other name-change Internet sites are:

Poland. German names for Polish towns. While this is a small subset of the Kartenmeister site, it has the advantage that you can browse the list.

Poland. German names for towns in Silesia. Again, the advantage is that you can browse the list.

Romania. German and Hungarian names for towns now in Romania.

Czech Republic. German names for Czech Republic towns.

You can order a copy of "Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition at

Article About Auschwitz Resources on Internet

Routes to Roots Foundation has published on the Internet an article about the resources of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Archives written by Teresa Swiebocka, executive director of the Museum. The article is based on her presentation given at the 22nd annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy held in Toronto last August. The article can be found at The Foundation has the most complete description of Jewish holdings at the national archives of Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, and Ukraine. They recently added to this database the 1897 census list for 57 towns and districts in Lithuania. The database can be found at

Stephen Morse Now Has A SSDI Website

Stephen Morse has done it again. He has added yet another portal to a major Internet database--this time, the U.S. Social Security Death Index. His site provides a portal to search the SSDI at any one of the following four sites:,, or RootsWeb. It is located at

Some advantages are:

1. You only have to fill in the form once and then can try it on each of the different sites.

2. It's the same interface for all four sites so it is easier to use.

3. It lets you jump into the middle of the results without having to step sequentially through them. For example, if you have already looked at results 1 to 1000 and want to resume at 1001, you can specify 10001 as the starting point.

Morse's FAQ page gives a very good comparison of the options at the four sites. This allows the user to make an informed decision as to which search engine to use based on the known information.

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