Immigration & Naturalization Collections FREE on

Beginning today, August 29th through September 5th, is offering free access  to indices and images of new and updated U.S. immigration records as well as selected international immigration records from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Mexico.

The JewishGen homepage has a search box that links directly to Ancestry. Please consider using it to begin you search. In the event you eventually purchase something from Ancestry, JewishGen will receive a percentage of the revenue.

Best of luck with your research!

Announcement: JGS of Conejo Valley and Ventura County

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County (JGSCV) will be meeting on Monday, September 12, 2011 7:00-9:00 pm at Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Note: different time and day of week

The Topic: U.S. Immigration and Naturalization

One of the first things that the newly created United States of America did was to establish laws covering naturalization. These laws, however, were administered by the states with many variations. Over the years, the laws were repeatedly changed. Finally, in 1906 the Federal Government took control of the entire process. The standardized documentation after 1906 has
proven invaluable to genealogical researchers. Similarly, laws controlling immigration have also changed over time, generally becoming more restrictive. As immigration and naturalization documentation can be key information in tracing one's roots, understanding how the process worked over time, understanding how the information was recorded and where it might be found is essential. This lecture will provide a short history of immigration and naturalization laws and provide general guidance in finding your ancestor's documentation.

Speaker: Hal Bookbinder has been researching eight family lines for over 27 years, identifying 4,000 relatives and tracing two of these lines into the mid 1700s. A founding member of JGSCV, and former president of JGSLA and IAJGS, he created and continues to edit the annual Jewish Genealogical Yearbook. In 2010, Hal received the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award for his various contributions to Jewish Genealogy. Hal was recently elected to the JewishGenBoard of Governors. He has spoken at numerous conferences, synagogues and society meetings on topics from computing to geography to brick walls.

Our Schmoozing corner, which starts 15 minutes before the meeting begins will be facilitated by Sonia Hoffman, an accomplished genealogist, and member of JGSCV. This permits attendees to ask questions on brick walls and get directions on how to do their research.

We are replacing our 5-minute book report starting with this meeting with a 5-minute genealogical technique--this one with JGSCV board member, Marion Werle, JGSCV board member will be talking on reviewing older genealogical notes to see how they fit now with more recent information.

Our rotating traveling library will have Categories A and C . To see which books are listed under which category, please go to our website, and look under traveling library. The books are available starting 30 minutes before the program to shortly after the program.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County isdedicated to sharing genealogical information, techniques and research tools with anyone interested in Jewish genealogy and family history. ( There is no charge to attend the meeting and all are welcome to attend.

For more information including directions to the meeting, see our website

Jan Meisels Allen
President, JGSCV

The Future of Censuses- The Economist Article

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

Census records are very important to genealogists. The future of census as we know it is changing. A recent article from The Economist, June 2, 2011 talks about the new way to do censuses--by using national databases not speaking to the individual.

The reduction in costs to governments which use existing government databases rather than census takers appeals to some; other concerns address privacy for the individual. Germany's anti-census lobby blocked census for 24 years after 1987. The European Union requires a decennial headcount. By 2014, 17 European countries will use government databases somehow in their census counting. The article talks of different countries --in Europe, US,
Asia and Africa.

In the United Kingdom the Office for National Statistics has established the "Beyond 2011 Population Statistics Programme" to establish and test future models for census type statistics. See:;
Original url:

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Jewish Daily Forward Article on Keiden/ Kedainiai (Lithuania)

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The Jewish Daily Forward (August 19, 2011) has an article on Keiden/ Kedainiai Lithuania --the 70th anniversary of the communities destruction is August 28.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President, Membership
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

[UK] National Archives Losses Hundreds of Historic Papers; National Archives Microfilms Downloads, BBC Places Archives on Line

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The National Archives of United Kingdom has reported hundreds of historical papers lost-some since the 1990's. See this August 8, 2011 article from TheTelegraph. See:
original url:

The National Archives (UK) has created PDF files of some of their microfilmed records and placed them on their website--for free. See:
original URL:
Some of the documents are very large therefore, it is recommended to use a broadband connection for downloading.

The BBC has placed its radio and TV archives on-line.
See: Note that due to copyright
issues some programs are not available outside the UK.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

[UK] National Archives to Celebrate 100 years of 1911 Census

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

To celebrate the centenary of the 1911 census, The National Archives [UK] is holding a one-day conference, "Celebrating the Conference" on October 1. Accommodations are on a first come first serve basis. The one-day conference looks at aspects of the census in its historical setting. The censuses of Scotland and Ireland will be included in the program. The cost per ticket to attend the seminar is £30.00 each. The National Archives partners, Ancestry, Findmypast and Genesreunited will be offering workshops on census searching. No additional charge for the workshops.

To read more about this conference go to:
original url:

Jan Meisels Allen
Vice President, IAJGS
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

New JewishGen Course: Breaking Brick Walls in the United States

Posted by Phyllis Kramer

If, despite basic online research, you have not yet found the Hebrew names, birth year or former European residence for some of your U.S. immigrant ancestors consider this course... as it covers more complex U.S. topics such as Naturalization, Military and Governmental records (Passports, Visas), Death Records (obituaries, probate), Mormon microfilms and local archival research.

The lessons can be read online and/or downloaded; read at your own pace (we do not meet at a specific time because our students are international). The class assumes you're comfortable with topics covered in the Basic U.S. Course (genealogy formats, organizing and tracking information, U.S. vital records, U.S. census, Ellis Island manifests),browsing the internet and have 8-10 hours available each week.

All of JewishGen's courses feature our personal mentoring program; students use our online FORUM to post an ancestral branch, set goals for research, and work one on one with the instructor. PLEASE read the course descriptions and requirements and enroll via our Learning Center at:

The course is open for enrollment and will begin Sept. 1.
Please email questions to 

Update: Yizkor Book Project

Posted by Lance Ackerfeld
Whilst the Guinness Book of Records Team are seemingly quite apathetic to our impressive figure of 73 new books, entries and updated projects during July 2011, we at the Yizkor Book Project, are more than very pleased with this achievement.
Indeed, there were a number of milestones that took place this month as we completed adding in the last set of the 18 Kremenets booklets (details below), thanks to the dedicated coordination of Ron Doctor, the meticulous editing by Ellen Garshick and excellent translations by Sara Mages, Thia Persoff and others. The work on these booklets continues as we speak and we look forward to seeing further additions to them as time goes on.
This month also saw the culmination of two online Yizkor Books. The first being the "Memorial Book of the Community of Ostrow-Mazowiecka" book which was coordinated by Judie Goldstein, who also did the bulk of the translations in this project and who deserves a heartfelt "yashar koach" for seeing the project through to its successful completion. I would also like to thank Stanley Diamond for his important assistance behind the scenes and particularly, in helping assemble the images from the book to be placed online. Quite a team!
The other book that was completely placed online, this month, was "The destruction of Proskurov", the translation of which, was kindly donated by Anne M. Brennan.
And speaking of completed books, the Yizkor Book Project recently set up the Yizkor Books in Print initiative under the guiding wings of Joel Alpert to prepare hard copies of the books that have completely translated within the Yizkor Book Project. After sending out a call for volunteers, Joel and I were thrilled by the messages of support that we received for this initiative and also the encouraging response from volunteers who offered their skills in the myriad tasks required for this project. However, in spite of the many offers of assistance that we did receive, there are a still a number of positions that we still need to fill:
  • A Publicity Specialist to take care of publicizing these books in as many directions as possible.
  • Document Coordinator to submit applications for Copyrights, Library of Congress Numbers, ISBN numbers and keeping track of submittals and responses.
If one of these positions suits your abilities or you would like to learn more about this new initiative, please look at:  If you do find a task that you would like to take on, please contact Joel Alpert via the link appearing on this page.
And on responses, I was also pleased by the incredible response for my cry for html help and our ranks have now been joined by Jason Hallgarten who has already shown himself to be an important boost to our little team. There are a number of others who have shown interest and are trying their hand at preparing our web pages and we look forward to expanding our team even further. We also received encouraging response from a number of volunteers who are have now begun helping prepare the necrology database files - help that was sorely needed.
As far as the July figures go, during this last month we:
Added these 9 new projects:
  • Eger, Hungary (The Jews of Eger)
  • Hatvan, Hungary (Recollections (memoirs) of deportees and labor servicemen from Hatvan)
  • Kremenets', Ukraine (Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora - Booklet 5) 
  • Kremenets', Ukraine (Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora - Booklet 6) 
  • Kremenets', Ukraine (Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora - Booklet 9) 
  • Kremenets', Ukraine (Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora - Booklet 12) 
  • Kremenets', Ukraine (Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the diaspora - Booklet 13) 
  • Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki, Poland (Memorial book of Nowy-Dwor) 
  • Siauliai, Lithuania (Memorial Book of Shavli - A Diary from a Lithuanian Ghetto)
Added in 38 new entries:
  • Kaimelis, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kalinova, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kalyan, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Karklenai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kernava, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kinderishky, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kirsne, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Krasne-Selke, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kreve, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kriukai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Klebiskis, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kubiliunai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kulautuva, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kuziai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kvetkai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Kvietiskis, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Madziunai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Malinova, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Marseky, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Marvele, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Mauruciai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Mazonai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Medingenai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Meskai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Meskuiciai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Meteliai, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Moletai, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Montevidove, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Mosedis, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Nemaksciai, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Onuskis, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Pakruojus, Lithuania (Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities: Lithuania) 
  • Pasvitinys, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Pikeliai, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Plateliai, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Pumpenai, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
  • Vieksniai, Lithuania (Protecting Our Litvak Heritage) 
We have continued to update 26 of our existing projects:
  • Andrychow, Poland (Memorial Book of the Communities Wadowice, Andrychow, Kalwarja, Myslenice, Sucha) 
  • Baranow Sandomierski, Poland (A memorial to the Jewish community of Baranow) 
  • Bedzin, Poland (A Memorial to the Jewish Community of Bendin) 
  • Borshchiv, Ukraine (The Book of Bortschoff) 
  • Byten, Belarus (Memorial book of Byten) 
  • Chelm, Poland (Commemoration book Chelm) 
  • Czyzewo, Poland (Czyzewo Memorial Book) 
  • Dabrowa Gornicza, Poland (Book of the Jewish community of Dabrowa Gornicza and its destruction)  
  • Dieveniskes, Lithuania  (Devenishki book; memorial book) 
  • Dubno, Ukraine (Dubno; a Memorial to the Jewish community of Dubno, Wolyn) 
  • Gabin, Poland (Gombin: The Life and Destruction of a Jewish Town inPoland)   
  • Gorodets, Belarus (Horodetz; history of a town, 1142-1942)  
  • Grajewo, Poland (Grayewo Memorial Book)  
  • Kaluszyn, Poland (The Memorial Book of Kaluszyn)  
  • Khmelnytskyy, Ukraine  (The destruction of Proskurov)  
  • Kolomyya, Ukraine (Memorial Book of Kolomey)  
  • Kremenets', Ukraine (Voice of Kremenets Emigrants in Israel and the Diaspora - Booklet 11)  
  • Lowicz, Poland (Lowicz; a Town in Mazovia, Memorial Book)  
  • Ostrolenka, Poland (Book of Kehilat Ostrolenka; Yizkor Book of the Jewish Community of Ostrolenka)  
  • Ostrow-Mazowiecka, Poland (Memorial Book of the Community ofOstrow-Mazowiecka)  
  • Rokiskis, Lithuania  (Yizkor book of Rakishok and environs)  
  • Shumskoye, Ukraine (Szumsk, memorial book of the martyrs of Szumsk)  
  • Smarhon, Belarus (Smorgonie, District Vilna; memorial book and testimony)  
  • Svencionys, Lithuania (Svintzian region: memorial book of 23 communities)  
  • Svir, Poland (Our Townlet Swir)
  • Turka, Ukraine (Memorial Book of the Community of Turka on the Stryj and Vicinity) 
Please remember that all this month's additions and updates have been flagged at to make it easy to find them.
Before signing off, I would like to thank Gloria Berkenstat Freund for kindly agreeing to lead the Yizkor Book BOF meeting at the just concluded IAJGS Conference. 

Announcement: JGS of New York

Posted by Edith Ewenstein

Next Meeting

September 18, 2011

2:00 p.m.

130 East 59th Street
New York, NY

Genealogy Technology: Latest Trends, Hardware & Software

David M. Kleiman

We’ll take an updated look at how genealogy database software can help to organize research, share charts, and create books or websites for your family.  Presented as a very interactive (audience participation) program offering expert insights on how to judge your own needs and requirements in choosing or upgrading this primary genealogical tool.

Starting from a truly independent viewpoint, we look at current technology trends (software and hardware), and at the three most popular genealogical database programs currently available (Windows PC or MAC). The Q&A includes a discussion on best practices for entering, sourcing, and reporting with your research data.

David Kleiman is a publisher, historian, and educator, and has been a genealogist and family historian for over 35 years. He is co-founder and chair of the New York Computers and Genealogy Special Interest Group and serves on the executive council of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc. and on the Education Committee of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. David is president of Heritage Muse, Inc., digital and print publishers in the humanities, and is the curator for the Loeb Visitors Center at the Touro Synagogue National Historic Site in Newport, Rhode Island. He has authored articles for PC Magazine, Home & Small Business Computing, Avotaynu, and other genealogical publications.

For further information contact

IAJGS Honors JewishGen VPs Michael Tobias and Phyllis Kramer

JewishGen congratulates Michael Tobias and Phyllis Kramer on their recent awards from the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies (IAJGS).                                                        

The awards were announced on August 18 at the IAJGS Conference Gala in Washington, D.C. Michael Tobias, JewishGen Vice President for Programming and co-founder of Jewish Records Indexing-Poland, received the IAJGS Lifetime Achievement Award for his role in development and improvement of online 
database systems.  Michael Tobias was singled out for his leadership role in the creation and maintenance of free databases that provide access for hundreds of thousands of Jewish genealogists to the records of their ancestors.

Phyllis Kramer, JewishGen Vice President for Education, won the award for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Genealogy via the Internet, Print, or Electronic Product, for her role with the JewishGen Learning Center.The JewishGen Learning Center features six online interactive courses to help researchers organize their information and begin to trace their ancestral roots. Ms. Kramer has reached over 1,400 researchers in the last five years through a comprehensive educational curriculum addressing all levels of experience. 

With a growing database of more than 18 million records, is a volunteer-driven forum for the exchange of information about Jewish life and family history, and has enabled thousands of families to find records of their ancestors and connect and re-connect in a way never before possible.  

JewishGen includes several databases that include vital information for anyone interested in Jewish genealogy.  The site’s content includes databases from several different countries; the Worldwide Burial Registry of 1.5 million records from around the globe; the JewishGen Communities Database, which allows users to search for town names based on proximity and phonetic spelling; the Holocaust Database; and the Given Names Database. Discussion groups are also available and are read and contributed to by researchers around the world. On the discussion group, readers ask questions, provide tips, and focus on specific geographic areas and interests. 

Recent success stories include that of two cousins, Moshe Perelman and Moniek Garber, who survived the Holocaust and thought each other had perished. Through JewishGen, they reunited 67 years later. 

Thanks to JewishGen, there have been countless other poignant stories about brothers’ families reconnecting decades after the war, and multiple family members being found after decades of searching.

“JewishGen provides the crucial link between modern life and the stories of our ancestors,” said Warren Blatt, JewishGen’s Managing Director.  “For those with Jewish ancestry, JewishGen is the 21st century resource for researching our 19th and 20th century roots.”

JewishGen 2011 Update

Posted by Avraham Groll

JewishGen today published its 2011 update, which highlights the efforts of thousands of dedicated JewishGen volunteers throughout the world. Topics include Fundraising, Communications, and general JewishGen features, along with a special section dedicated to the accomplishments of JewishGen’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
The update can be viewed below, or by clicking here.
Note: If you prefer to download a copy as a PDF, you can do so by clicking the “download publication” icon on the page linked above.
If you have comments or experience any difficulty viewing the update, please email

Introducing KehilaLinks

Posted by Susana Leistner Bloch

Kehila קהילה [Hebrew] n. (pl. kehilot קהילוּת):
Jewish Community.  Used to refer to a Jewish community, anywhere in the world.

JewishGen ShtetLinks has a new name.  As announced by Warren Blatt at the IAJGS Conference in Washington DC, JewishGen ShtetLinks has been renamed JewishGen KehilaLinks.

Kehilot, as the plural form, include Jewish Communities wherever they are or were: Eastern Europe, Western Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, the Middle East or perhaps a future one in outer space.  

While all communities were always welcome and many are represented on the site, we now have a title that is truly inclusive and represents the Jewish community in its entirety.

We hope that our KehilaLinks pages will overflow with additions the will truly show the diversity of the Jewish communities throughout the world.

(A Formal Announcement will be distributed shortly-Ed).

Susana Leistner Bloch, JewishGen VP- KehilaLinks
Barbara Ellman, KehilaLinks Technical Coordinator

More than 1200 expected at IAJGS conference

Click here to read the entire article from the Maryland Community News

In the News: JewishGen Yizkor Books

From the Jewish Tribune, by Brigit Katz    
“On sunny Shabes afternoons…the young people played on the lakes near Probeken and sang sweet, haunting, Russian romantic, Zionist, and worker songs…[I]n winter, when the frost crackled, we skated there on steel ice skates or rode in sleighs.”

This description of Jewish life in Poland during the 1920s can be found in the Yizkor Book of Brzezin, one of hundreds of memorials written by Holocaust survivors about the shtetls in which they once lived. Thanks to the JewishGen Yizkor Book Project, these memorials are being translated from their original languages, thus becoming accessible to those who wish to discover their Jewish heritage. 

Yizkor Books were originally published in large numbers by landsmanshaft, or societies of Holocaust survivors from the same town. The books pay tribute to communities that were decimated by the Holocaust, providing descriptions and histories of various shtetls, biographies of prominent community members and lists of people who perished in pogroms and in the Holocaust. 

JewishGen is a volunteer-driven organization that accumulates records of Jewish life from across the world, and then makes those records accessible through online databases and other online research tools. Its Yizkor Book Project was founded in 1994 by Lance Ackerfield, one of the many volunteers that actively contribute to JewishGen’s growing collection of resources. 

The mission of the Yizkor Book Project is to make the information contained in the Yizkor books accessible to those who cannot read Yiddish and Hebrew, the original languages in which the books were composed. Both volunteers and paid translators are recruited to translate the large corpus of Yizkor Books. These translations are then published online and, occasionally, in print.  

“We would like to translate as many books as we possibly can,” Avraham Groll, the director of Business Operations for JewishGen, told the Jewish Tribune. “If we feel that there’s enough interest, we will actually publish the books.” 

The Yizkor Book Project is also in the process of adding to online indexes of names that appear in the books. According to Groll, these indexes allow researchers to find the specific Yizkor Book in which their family name is mentioned. 

“That will have value in trying to focus your search,” he said. 

“Perhaps [researchers] have relatives in a town [who] they didn’t know about.”

Yizkor Books not only allow those with Jewish heritage to discover where their families came from. Through detailed descriptions of shtetl life, they also paint a picture of the Jewish communities that were destroyed by the Holocaust.

“[The Yizkor books] really give you an idea of what life was like,” Groll said. 

“The books have value [for those] who want to research their family and want to know [about] their heritage.”

Click here to read the entire article and here to visit the Yizkor Book Project.

US Department of Veterans Affairs Nationwide Gravesite Locator

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has put on line a nationwide grave locator of veterans and their family members, known as the Nationwide Gravesite Locator. Sources for the information for private burials were collected for the purpose of furnishing the government grave markers.
Private burials prior to 1997 are not yet included.

The American Battle Monuments Commission provides information on service members buried in overseas cemeteries.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Australian National Census August 9, 2011

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

The Australian National Census will be conducted on August 9. Similar to Canada, there is an op-in question, whether the person answering the questions wants their individual census preserved or not when it will be eligible to be made to future historians and genealogists in 99 years. This is question 60. A "yes" response preserves the information for release in 99 years, a 'no" will mean the census form is destroyed after the statistical information has been collected. Not answering the question is equivalent of a "no" answer.

An survey found that 1/3 of Australians are planning to say "no"--a lower number than the Canadian census 5 years ago- but still a significant loss of individual data.

The census forms are being delivered to 9.8 million households who have the choice of answering the questionnaire on an eCensus online or paper form. To read more go to:

To read more on the Australian census go to:

Thank you to Dick Eastman and the Eastman Online Genealogy Newsletter for alerting to the opt-in question.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

[UK] National Archives Launches New Library Catalogue

Posted by Jan Meisels Allen

The National Archives of the United Kingdom has replaced its library catalogue of published works with a new open-source system called Koha. This new web-based system uses the data transformed from the previous library catalogue. New features include an RSS feed of new book lists, access to bibliographies on specialist subjects created by records specialists at The National Archives. To read more about the new system go to:
While looking at the site, look at the latest document releases and document release archive --buttons are on the left.

Thank you to Dick Eastman and the Eastman On-Line Genealogy Newsletter for alerting us to the new system.

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

A Holocaust Survivor Story of Finding His Daughter

Posted by Jan Meisels Allen

Leon Weinstein's story of making his daughter safe and his story of
survival from the Nazis and Warsaw Ghetto.,0,5045071.story

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Director-at-Large
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

Little Shul on Stanton Street

From the Forward by Jenna Weissman Joselit

Built in 1913 on a narrow lot on a modest little street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side by Jewish immigrants from the town of Brzezany, the synagogue has managed to outfox both Father Time and Mother Nature by staying afloat. 

When the Lower East Side was known as America’s “great ghetto,” synagogues just like it were thick on the ground. Immigrants from the same place in Eastern Europe gathered together under the mantle of geography to socialize, daven and keep one another company. A humble, even rudimentary affair, the landsmanshaft, or hometown society, synagogue made up in warmth — through a familiar dialect, say, or nusach, a prayer style — what it lacked in physical amenities. Eventually, the institution succumbed to the siren call of modernity. Members moved away or simply looked elsewhere for companionship. 

But not Anshei Brzezan. Although its membership rolls ultimately included landsleit, or compatriots, from other towns, this synagogue held on.

Click here to read the entire article.

The Gaon of Vilna Exhibit

Yeshiva Har Etzion has a special jewel on exhibit in its vast library – writings and artifacts of the Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797).

Click here to read the entire article.

Update on the All Galicia Database

Posted by Pamela Weisberger

Gesher Galicia recently announced the launch of our new search engine, The All Galicia Database (AGD), and already people are making discoveries which are taking their research in entirely new directions.

The database features 172,954 records from 41 different data sources, covering everything from birth, death, marriage and divorce records to phone books, school
and landowner records, all from the former Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia.

Coming soon will be the following completed indexes:

  • Birth records for Zbarazh -- 1897 and 1899
  • Cadastral (Property) Records for Rohatyn -- 1846
  • Land records for Buczacz -- 1879
  • Land records for Grzymalow -- 19th Century
  • Land records for Krystynopol -- 1784
  • Residents of apartment buildings in the Jewish Quarter of Lviv -- late
  • 19th and early 20th Centuries
  • School records for Zbarazh -- 1911-12; 1912-13; 1913-14; 1927-28

Please click here for more information

US, Iraq clash over Jewish trove

Ranging from medieval religious book to children's Hebrew primers, from photos to Torah cases, collection rescued from Baghdad basement during 2003 invasion is testimony to once vibrant Jewish community.

Click here for the entire article.

JewishGen Basics: Town Information

This is the third article in the JewishGen Basics series. See last month's article on the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), and the first article on the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF).
One of the first steps to doing genealogy research is to find the town that each person in your tree was born. For most Jewish researchers, this means tracking back to towns that may no longer exist or have not had any Jewish population for generations. Certainly the Holocaust was the cause of many of these disruptions.

A Jewish ancestral town is sometimes generically referred to as a shtetl, which in Yiddish simply means town. Shtetl is sometimes used more specifically to mean small towns in Europe with large Jewish populations. Finding your ancestral town is a different topic (or rather there are many topics related to finding one's ancestral town), and an important one, but for the purposes of this article I will assume you already know the name of the town from which your family originated.

So you've found the name of the town, now what? I think the first step in doing research on the town your family came from is to find out where the town is, and what it is/was near. This might seem simple, but many of the towns Jews lived in in the past had the borders switch around them amid the wars and dealings of the empires (Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Prussian/German) that ruled them.

There are several resources that can help you find out more about your town. Two important databases on JewishGen are the Communities Database and ShtetlSeeker. These two databases are not the same, and I'll explain the differences.

JewishGen Communities Database

The Communities Database contains information on known Jewish communities across the globe. If your town is in the database, there is a page that contains a lot of basic information on the town, as well as links to other data on the town. The resultant page is largely generated automatically. It will show you which country and region the town existed in during different time periods, as well as which towns are nearby. Knowing which towns were nearby is very important, because while you might only search your town, your relatives might have moved to the town nearby and there might be records in that town for your family that you could miss. It's always worth looking into the nearby towns, searching the JGFF and searching for records in the nearby towns, as you are likely to find you family didn't all live in one town.

The Communities Database does not let you search using an exact match, so it will show you results on all similarly sounding towns. If you're searching for the first time and you don't actually know the modern spelling of the town's name, this can be very useful. If you know the exact current spelling of the name, then you'll just need to scroll through the results until you find the correct name.

For example, if you were to search for 'Kanczuga' you would get results like the following:
JewishGen Communities Database Search Results
There are six results, from several countries. If I had specified Poland as the current country then there would only have been two results. Of course, you may not know which country the town is in currently, so if you are not sure then do a broader search to see all the possibilities. Only one result has the exactly spelling I searched for, which if you know the spelling means it's easy to figure out which one is correct. Also note the other information shown in the results. It gives you the district the town was in during different periods and the number of listings in the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) database.

If you move your mouse over each town name, you'll see a pop-up box giving you basic information on the town:
Mouse-over pop-up details
This can be useful if you're not sure which town is the correct one. When you click on a town name, it will take you to a page summarizing information on that town, called a Locality Page:
JewishGen Community page for Kanczuga
If you click on the image above it will load it full size and you can see my annotations showing what to look for on the page. The key things you should notice are the alternate names for the town (useful when searching for records in databases that don't know alternate names - like on, the country the town was in during different periods (so that while you know the town is now in Poland, you now know for example to look for 'Austria' as a country in records because it was in the Austrian Empire), a direct link to the JGFF search, a list of nearby towns ordered by distance, and a list of other resources. Some of these pages will also link to the town's ShtetLink page if one exists, although for some reason this particular Community page does not. ShtetlLinks is discussed below.

As an aside, if you search using the Enhanced Genealogy Search on Blood and Frogs: Jewish Genealogy and More (my site) and the town you are searching for is from Galicia, then the search engine will automatically add in alternate names of the towns when searching. In order for this to work, you must use the same modern name of the town that is at the top of the Locality page for that town in the Communities Database. Full details of how this works are on the search page.

JewishGen ShtetlSeeker

The ShtetlSeeker is a bigger database that contains information on towns everywhere, even if there is no known Jewish community that existed there. It also contains geographical names, such as the names of mountains and streams. Whereas an open search above for 'Kanczuga' returned 6 results, an open search on ShtetlSeeker returns 303 results including Kamchikha, a section of a town, Konchuga, a town, and Kunzhuga, a stream. If the place in the list is also in the Communities Database, it will have a small flower icon next to the name of the place, and you can preview the town info with a mouse-over and click on it for more information like in the Communities Database search itself. In this case only four results have the icon next to them. Why aren't there the same six results from the Community Database before? I have no idea.

The information in the search results is also a bit different in ShtetlSeeker. For example, this is a portion of the Kanczuga results:
Part of ShtetlSeeker search results for Kanczuga
If you take a look (you can click on the image to enlarge it) you can see the flower icon next to Kanczuga, indicating that it is in the Communities Database.

After the name is a column defining the name as a 'populated place', or as a stream, mountain, etc.

Next is a column showing the map coordinates for the location. This is actually a link that will take you to a Resource Map for that location. The Resource Map is a very useful map that shows you what resources (such as records in JRI-Poland, names in JGFF,  etc.) exist on the JewishGen site for every town in the immediate area. This is very useful, even more so if your town is not in the Communities Database, as you will be able to see what towns with known Jewish communities existed nearby, and you can then see what resources exist for those communities.
Kanczuga-area Resource Map
In the map above, I've selected Kanczuga and it has popped up a bubble showing what resources exist for Kanczuga. If I had selected any of the other little tree icons around the map, it would show me similar information for those. If you look along the top of the image, you can see that you can select what type of resources you want to see on the map, although the default is to show everything.

Going back to the search results page, the next column has links to various mapping web sites, showing you the location on each site. The mapping sites include Expedia, Mapquest, Microsoft Bing Maps and Google Maps.

Next the search results show you the current country the town is in, it's distance from a reference point (usually a large nearby city) and a bullseye button that will take you to a new set of search results that show all towns within a 10 mile radius of the town on whose line you press the button. 

JewishGen ShtetLinks

ShtetLinks is a large collections of town-specific web pages developed by real researchers who know about the town. You can think of them as the hand-made version of the Communities Database. They are intended to be virtual memorials to the towns. Depending on who worked on the ShtetLink page for your town, it might be a simple one-page site with a few links, or it could be a full-blown web site with multiple sections, photo albums, historical documents, etc. It all depends on how much time and effort were put into the site by the volunteers who put together the pages. Sometimes a page was developed by someone who is no longer involved, and it hasn't been updated in years. In these cases sometimes the administrator of ShtetLinks will post that pages need new administrators to the JewishGen e-mail list.

If your town does not have a site as part of ShtetLinks, you can of course volunteer to create one yourself. This is a great way to give back to the genealogy community.

Virtual Shtetl

JewishGen is not the only organized source for information on Jewish communities. Another site is the Virtual Shtetl, a project of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is currently under construction and planning to open in 2012 in Warsaw. The site contains basic information on over 900 towns, but is meant to be a collaborative effort to collect information on the towns. Users can upload documents on the towns to share with others, and they can 'like' a town, similar to how someone 'likes' a page on Facebook. Users with interest in the same town can communicate anonymously through the site.

As the site is intended to be used both by Polish people, as well as their descendants (i.e. Jews living in other countries whose ancestors once lived in what is now Poland), it is available in several languages. Some content is not yet translated into all languages, so you might find a town's information only in Polish. Information on towns can include history, synagogue info, cemetery data, places where people were killed in the Holocaust, legends, stories, memories of the town, as well as contemporary information such as transportation, hotels and restaurants.

The Virtual Shtetl is a work in progress, and most of the resources are not yet in English, but by the very nature of its location in Poland and the attempt of the hosting museum to attract many local Poles to the site, it has a lot of potential to be a unique resource on towns in Poland.

Other Sites

There are many many other sites online with information on specific towns, regions and countries. Many people have created their own web sites with information on their ancestral town, or started a Yahoo Group or Rootsweb mailing list for their town. Try searching for your town name and seeing what you find. Use the alternate names from the Community Database in your searches as well, as you never know which version of the name a person used online. Keep in mind that some of these groups and mailing lists may not have a lot of people, or a lots of message traffic in them. That could be good or bad depending on your perspective. As long as there are knowledgeable people on the lists, it doesn't really matter how often people post to it, as long as there is someone who knows how to answer questions posed on the list.

Figure out which region your town was in, as there may be regional sites as well. Kanczuga, the town I used as an example above was in the Galicia region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before WWI. That means the Gesher Galicia organization is a great place to look for information. Gesher Galicia even has a sub-group for the specific region of Galicia that Kanczuga was in, the Kolbuszowa Region, which has its own web site. On Rootsweb there is an Austro-Hungarian-Jewish list, and on JewishGen there is a Gesher Galicia mailing list.

Google, beyond the straight web site search which you should do, has two other sites that you can use to research your town. Google Books contains the scanned contents of millions of books from all over the world, and will show you which books mention your town. If the book is out of copyright, you may even be able to download the whole book. If it's still in copyright, you still might be able to search inside the book and find out information, depending on what the publisher allowed Google to do. Google News Archive is a site for searching news sites including some that you will need to pay for if you want to read the whole articles. Again, this is useful just for seeing where your town may have been mentioned.

There are also some web sites with lists of location-specific Jewish genealogy links. Some of those sites include Cyndi's List, Jewish Genealogy Links, and (for some reason the Europe link isn't working right now but here are links for Poland, Belarus and Hungary).

Helping Out

Once you find which sites contain information on your town, see if there's a way that you can help. Do you have photos or documents from that town that your can contribute? Are you a web designer that can improve the look and function of one of the sites?

If there is no site for your town, consider starting one. Starting a group on Yahoo is a good way to organize researchers from the same town, and allows you to share photos, documents, links and other information is a neat organized way (and doesn't require any web design skills).

A Shameless Plug
This has nothing to do with town information or JewishGen, but I will be speaking at the 31st IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in DC in August on the topic of Utilizing Belgian Archives for Jewish Research.

I'll be speaking on Monday morning the 15th of August at 9:30am. If you're at the conference come hear me speak (unless one of the other six concurrent lectures and two meetings interest you more – I understand).

Philip Trauring is the author of Blood and Frogs: Jewish Genealogy and More, a site where you can find out about general genealogy techniques and how to apply them to your Jewish genealogy. Philip can also be followed on Twitter at and on Facebook at