14 November 2013

Jewish Genealogy Resources, Elizabeth Shown Mills and the NY Times

The New York Times Booming section published Elizabeth Shown Mills' "Advice on How to Research Family History, Part 2," on 13 November 2013.

Among the topics ESM addressed are two regarding Holocaust-related research:
  • Geographic ‘Memory Holes’ Created by the Holocaust
  • Migration of Holocaust Survivors to Argentina
I was actually pleasantly surprised to see this because ESM's case study examples are usually from the southern part of the United States. ESM gave all the correct advice, but the  concept of a "geographic 'memory hole' " (whatever that may be) may be somewhat challenged by the good works in progress by several Jewish genealogists and special interest groups. Most of these projects are free access - although many depend upon donations to keep them going.

Riga, Latvia - See the JewishGen Latvia Database which has over 160,000 records. A query on Riga netted 26,000 results.

Kaunas, Lithuania - Litvak SIG reports that the Kaunas District (Uyezd) Research Group has spend upwards of $35,000 thus far acquiring, translating and distributing 160,000 individual records from this area. The area includes Kaunas and many surrounding villages. Much of this is accessible via the All Lithuanian Database (with 1 million + records) or the JewishGen Lithuanian Database (with 1.5 million records) hosted on JewishGen. Some are currently only accessible via paid membership in the Litvak SIG Kaunas District group.

Moscow, Russia - see the Moscow kehilalinks webpage hosted on JewishGen.

Warsaw, Poland - Jewish Records Indexing-Poland has indexed more than 5 million vital records since it began in 1995. These records are included in registers from many former Polish Commonwealth towns in Eastern Europe, including Warsaw. The most exciting news is that the Polish State Archives is in the process digitizing all their records. As Jewish records are digitized, JRI-Poland creates direct links to them from their indices.

There are many Warsaw records located within the Warsaw archives and among the many not-yet-digitized microfilms of the Family History Library. See JRI-Poland's Warsaw page for the status of indexing these records.

Budapest, Hungary - Ongoing data collection/indexing projects are listed on JewishGen's Hungarian SIG pages.

Vienna  - Genteam has been indexing records from archives in Vienna and the vicinity for several years. They now have more than 8 million records indexed. Many of these are Jewish records.

While there's no question that records have been lost, I like to think that Jewish genealogists may be able to learn from the burned courthouse issues with which U.S. Southern states' genealogists (such as ESM) contend. I think the landowner records/cadastral maps that Gesher Galicia (the Galicia SIG) has been collecting may, for many shtetlach, be the partial answer to Jewish genealogists' missing European records issues. As someone recently pointed out, we need to love the records we have. I think that there is more and more to love.

ESM also addressed several additional questions regarding:
  • Identifying Ancestral Photos
  • Genealogical Templates for Citing Sources
  • Numbering Systems for Genealogy
  • Researching a Railroad Employee in 1921
  • Beginning Indian Research from the U.S.
  • Becoming a Professional Genealogist
I like the fact that the questions selected for treatment are not all beginner issues. And I excitedly await the third installment next week of ESM's New York Times' question and answer sessions. 

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