Category Archives: Press Release

Jewish Sites at Arlington National Cemetery

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW), in partnership with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW), is raising funds to design, print, and distribute a new brochure about Jewish history in Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). It will include information about prominent Jews buried in the cemetery and discuss Jewish burial rites in relation to the cemetery with touches of the history of Jews in the military. Special monuments like for those for Space Shuttle astronauts, Confederate soldiers, and the new Jewish Chaplains Memorial will be included.

In 2008, JGSGW embarked on a project to index the Jews at rest in Arlington National Cemetery. The team of volunteers walked the grounds of the cemetery and photographed all markers bearing a Magen Dovid (a Jewish star). A database was created and is searchable at http://anc.jgsgw.org/index.htm. The data and photos were also donated to JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR). They currently have entries for 5,219 Jews buried in ANC.

In March 2012, JGSGW donated $3,000 to the effort to create a new brochure about the highlights of the tour the JHSGW has hosted for years of the Jewish sites and history at ANC. They are asking for donations to reach the goal of $10,000.

Donations may be sent to: ANC Fund, c/o JGSGW, PO Box 1614, Rockville, MD 20849.

This message was sent to us last month from JGSGW, with a photo of the new Jewish Chaplains Memorial. That picture can also be seen on their web site here.

RAOGK Is Back

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is back!

Begun in 1999, RAOGK was online for just over a decade, providing genealogists a list of volunteers in the US and internationally who could help with things like quick look-ups and cemetery photos. The site grew to have 4300 volunteers all over the world, helping genealogists reach local records that they otherwise could not obtain. Volunteers did the work for free, only asking for reimbursement for actual costs involved, such as photocopies or postage.

RAOGK’s creator, Bridgette Schneider, passed away in November 2011. Shortly before her death, the site experienced some problems and was taken offline. Facebook groups quickly emerged to try to take the place of this powerful resource.

But now it’s back, in the form of a wiki. (A wiki is a user-generated site; anyone can contribute to the content of a wiki, like Wikipedia.) The information from the web site was able to be saved and set up on the new wiki. Unfortunately, all the contact information for the volunteers was not publicly available and therefore is not on the new site.

Those who used the site in the past, or anyone who wants to be a new volunteer, is welcome to sign up for an account and become a RAOGK volunteer.

1940 Census Complete at MyHeritage

If you’ve been trying to access the census at http://1940census.archives.gov/ and you’re still having trouble, so you’ve been waiting for another site to have the images you need, your wait is over.

This morning, MyHeritage announced that they have images for the entire 1940 US Census online now and are continuing to index. As of this article, it appears that Bristol County, Rhode Island is still the only index available, but the day is young.

WWII is Free on Fold3

Fold3, formerly known a Footnote, is offering all of their World War II content free for the month of April. You can search from their World War II page.

I did a search on just the surname Feldstein. The first page of results were all draft registration cards from the fourth registration, known as the “Old Man’s Draft”, because it targeted men who were aged 45-64 at the time. The second page produced many draft registrations and a few other things, including one for Mathausen Death Books.

The draft registrations may help in the search for 1940 census records, providing addresses from April 1942 of men born between 28 April 1877 and 16 February 1897.

1940 Census – First Index Online at MyHeritage

MyHeritage has just announced that they have two million 1940 US Census images online, and the first searchable index.

From their press release:

MyHeritage, the most popular family network on the web today, announced the availability of the first indexed records from the 1940 US Census, searchable for free by names, facts, and other criteria, on http://www.myheritage.com/1940census. In addition, MyHeritage has published two million images of the 1940 US Federal Census out of the total 3.8 million, with complete availability of all images expected in less than 24 hours.

The highly anticipated searchable indexed records and images are amongst the very first to appear on the Internet as millions of people rush to satisfy their curiosity and access one of the most significant and meaningful sets of historical records ever to be released. The first indexed records come from Bristol County in Rhode Island, with a deluge of additional records to be added by MyHeritage each day. The images currently available … cover all of New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia, Rhode Island, Missouri, Wyoming, and Nevada. Images for additional states are added every hour.

MyHeritage is the only provider to make the 1940 US census searchable in 38 languages. … The census images are also currently available on the additional historical content sites owned by MyHeritage on http://worldvitalrecords.com/1940census/ and http://familylink.com/1940census/ – with initial searchable indexes expected to be live soon on these web sites, and to grow throughout 2012.

While genealogists around the world are searching for their relatives by using addresses to look up enumeration districts, then scanning through pages of records, previous US censuses have been indexed by several genealogy sites, including MyHeritage and WorldVitalRecords. MyHeritage is the first site to provide an online searchable name index of any 1940 US census records.

What this particular press release didn’t mention is the search technology available at MyHeritage. As records are indexed, they will automatically match up the names to the people found in users’ trees on their web site, alerting users to the census listings even before they may know the location has been indexed. The first states that MyHeritage made available for browsing on April 2nd were New York and Rhode Island.

1940 Census Time

It is April 2nd and it’s Census Day!

At midnight, three companies picked up their copies of the census from NARA and are already busy uploading the files. As of 12:30am MDT, Ancestry.com has some images available for DC, Nevada, and it appears they have just begun to upload Maine. There will probably be more by the time you read this. No sightings yet on some of the other sites, but they will have some available later in the day.

At 8:30am Eastern Time (6:30am Mountain), there will be an opening event webcast from NARA on their 1940 census site. At 9am, all of the images for the entire country should be available at that site. NARA is not creating an index, so you will need ED numbers to find any records. Also keep in mind that their servers may not be able to handle the traffic, so have a little patience and check on the other major sites that are also hosting images to see if they have uploaded the locations you need: FamilySearch.org, Archives.com, findmypast.co.uk, Ancestry.com, and WorldVitalRecords.com. The images will be free on all of the sites.

In addition, Ancestry.com has made available one billion records from 1930-1950 on their web site until April 10th. Some of the records in this collection include the 1930 census, city directories, obituaries, birth indexes, marriage details, naturalization records, and more.

And don’t forget to sign up to index. Our group, UJGS, still has only one member.

FEEFHS in July in SLC

If you’re not planning to go to the IAJGS conference in Paris this year, you might consider attending the Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) conference/workshop at The Plaza Hotel in Salt Lake City, July 12-14.

They have a variety of sessions on Polish, Russian, German, and Jewish research in the mornings, followed by individual consultations in the afternoons.

More details can be found on the FEEFHS web site including a schedule, registration, and hotel information.

In fact, if you’re not planning to leave early for IAJGS, you could attend both. Our own Todd Knowles is scheduled to speak this year at both conferences.

Thanks to Louise Silver for bringing this to our attention.

JRI-Poland Surname Distribution Mapper

Jewish Records Indexing -Poland (JRI-Poland) has introduced a new tool to their web site called the Surname Distribution Mapper.

[It is] designed to help genealogy researchers graphically understand where their family names first appeared in the 19th century records and visualize how the family spread throughout Poland into the first part of the 20th century.

Using modern mapping technology provided by Google Maps, the Surname Distribution Mapper allows users to graphically display their search results using a tree icon… By running the cursor over each tree icon, a user can view a popup window displaying the number of vital record entries found in various towns in the JRI-Poland database. Clicking on the balloon brings the user to the familiar JRI-Poland search results for detailed viewing of a town’s entries.

Additionally, and especially exciting for researchers, the Surname Distribution Mapper can display results for specific decades or in a “progressive mode,” where tree icons appear successively by decade to give the researcher an idea of the movement of their family around Poland and the Western Ukraine.

After reading the press release, I realized that there was more to this than I’d originally noticed. As before, from the JRI-Poland home page (link at the top of this post), you go to “Search the Database”. Near the top of that page, click on the text below “Surname Distribution Mapper”. Type in your surname and click on “Map”. Then be a little patient; it’s not instantaneous.

The results will be a map of Poland overlaid with trees, the sizes of the trees indicating the number of records for each location. It uses the Beider-Morse Phonetic Matching. For my own Mularzewicz family, this works great, as there are a few spelling variations in the records/transcriptions. Unfortunately, my Szleper name, while focused on Kalisz correctly, also focused on L’viv and the name Szlimper, which I consider a false match.

Mularzewicz Distribution

You can zoom into the map if the trees are too condensed. Moving your mouse over each tree will show a pop-up of the city/town name and the number of records with that name, including a link to see those hits in the usual table format of the site.

The feature I hadn’t noticed before is the “Time Period” menu just below where you enter the surname. You can choose one decade at a time to see where the name first appeared and then watch it spread out over time. It beings with “All” time as the default.

There are a couple of minor limitations. This is searching the JRI-Poland database, which anyone who has used it as much as I have knows that not every vital event was recorded. If an event was recorded in a different town from where it took place, it will show up where recorded, even if the JRI-Poland listing specifies the town name. For instance, many of those Lomza hits for Mularzewicz actually took place in Rutki, but because the two locations are relatively close, the mapping information is still useful.

The search includes all of the JRI-Poland data, including any census records, books of residents, or other material, along with the vital records of birth, marriage, and death.

The Surname Distribution Mapper is a useful addition to the JRI-Poland database. Instead of searching through the results for each gubernia, or trying to find the towns on the map to determine their proximity, this new tool shows where the surname can be found on the map for you. And the additional “progressive mode” helps you track the surname over time. Before now, I had no idea the first sighting of Mularzewicz in the records was in Sniadowo.

Stanley Diamond, the Executive Director of JRI-Poland, forwarded the press release to us. Any opinions expressed in this blog post are that of the author and not the society.

Save DORIS – Keep NYC Records Accessible

If records from New York City are important to you, or keeping the access open for everyone is important to you, then please pay attention to this notice we received from Roni Seibel Liebowitz, President of JGS New York.

NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg wants to eliminate the autonomy of NYC’s Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS), the agency responsible for the records and archival documents produced by the city government. The proposed legislation would place the currently independent agency within the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS).

DORIS was created in 1977 to remove archives and records services from the Municipal Services Administration, the predecessor of today’s DCAS. In 1995, Mayor Giuliani proposed to merge DORIS with the Department of General Services, but it was successfully argued against.

Now it is in danger of disappearing inside of another agency again. Downgrading the authority of DORIS potentially puts at risk its ability to preserve, protect, and make accessible the intellectual legacy of one of the world’s greatest cities.

Please sign the petition. Every signature counts.