Jewish research

Novelties of research avenues to the once significant minority of the country

Wednesday, April 2, 200810:11:53 CET
Stephen Fry in WDYTYA episode on show in LA

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Pamela W. of the Jewish Genealogical Society of LA sent a kind invitation to their upcoming meeting on Apr 13 to the H-SIG @ JewishGen. The event is going to include two episodes of BBC's popular Who Do You Think You Are? show. One of them features Britain's celeb actor, writer and host Stephen Fry. "Stephen Fry seems as English as tweed, silver toast racks and the London black cab he can be seen driving around the streets of the capital." On the maternal side Stephen's roots (the Neumann/Newman family) go back to the Jewish community of (Nagy)Surany in the former Nyitra County of Hungary, now Suran in Slovakia.

I've just checked HipCat's extensive catalog of famous Hungarians to see if Stephen Fry is included. He is not.

filed under: Jewish research Genealogy in the news

Wednesday, January 23, 200822:25:45 CET
Tracing Your Family Roots delves into ITS Bad Arolsen records

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In today's edition, Episode 177, of Tracing Your Family Roots show host Sallyann Amdur Sack tells about her experiences during their visit to the ITS records archives in Bad Arolsen. (Her companion was Avotaynu's Gary Mokotoff.)

Sack shares the discovery of TD files and their importance for genealogists. These are the ITS correspondence files, originally not selected for filming - due to privacy concerns. Looks like the early ones can now be added to digitization plans, to be available by 2010.

Then Sack demonstrates the rich content of various record types and the modus operandi of research in Bad Arolsen. She even mentions her discovery of records for her Hungarian family in Solotvyno, former Maramaros County.

Avotaynu has managed to get approval for a group of researchers to go to Bad Arolsen and do on-site research in May 2008. (announced in Nu? What's new? vol. 8 no. 2). The group has a limit of 40 persons. Sack mentions at the end of the above episode that more than 30 have already signed up, so, anyone interested should act fast. (Oh, I see just now that the previously announces deadline was Jan 20.) Anyway, I can imagine that further research groups might be organized in the future.

filed under: Jewish research

Friday, January 18, 200812:20:13 CET
Two further morsels re: Jewish research

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Arline Sachs and Sallyann Amdur Sack have been running the Tracing your family roots series for a couple of years now. They started to put the show videos to the net, to Google Video. Show #172 features Paul Shapiro of USHMM. He explains how the unleashing Bad Arolsen ITS records can help in research. (One can find a good record of the opening process by browsing through mid-2007 - early 2008 issues of Avotaynu's Nu? What's New? newsletter.) Shapiro uses the records of Zakarpattya young man Nicholas Schwartz to demonstrate the depth of info available from the ITS collection. Scroll to about 23:30 to see the documents about Nicholas.

And a blog piece from Leland Meitzler's Genealogy Blog: Non-Jewish Neighbors Restore West Side Cleveland Jewish Cemetery. Cleveland's second oldest Jewish cemetery was founded by the Liberty Aid and Hungarian Aid Societies and has been the resting place for people with Hungarian ancestry.

filed under: Cemeteries Jewish research

Friday, January 18, 200811:22:20 CET
A new book about Hungarian Jewish metrical books - and more Jewish research items

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The archivist at the Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, Zsuzsanna Toronyi published an article about the history of the archives in the 2007/3 issue of the Levéltári Szemle (Archives Gazetteer, the journal of the Hungarian Archivist Association).

When writing about recent history, her footnote #34 mentions a new book that shouldn't be overlooked: Magyaroszági zsidó anyakönyvek 1760-tól napjainkig (Jewish matricula in Hungary from 1760 to our days) by Kinga Frojimovics, published in Budapest, 2007.

There aren't too many references to it yet on the net. The best I can find is the What's news page of the Budapest ELTE university Dept. of Assyriology and Hebrew Studies. According, this work is #3 in the series Magyar zsidó levéltári repertórium (Guide to Hungarian jewish archival materials), also it's #21 in the series Hungarica Judaica. The publisher is the Center of Jewish Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Number of pages: 692, ISBN 963-508-518-4. The previous work in the former series was the 1993 2 volumes by György Haraszti, the list of Jewish archival materials in Hungarian repositories.

The book can be purchased at the univ dept and probably from the Center of Jewish Studies of HAS, as well.

Kinga Frojimovics is not unknown to the Hungarian Jewish family historian. She is a former staff member of the Hungarian Jewish Archives, invited speaker at the IAJGS 2003 conference, and according to the Toronyi article Dr. Frojimovics is now the Director of the Hungarian Desk at Yad Vashem.

In her article Ms. Toronyi also makes mention of an online archival aid in progress. The archives develops a database of the 19th century personal legacies and bequests in their holdings. The (tentative?) address of the database would be this.

The TOC of issue 4 of 2007 of the Archives Gazetteer has that there is a review of yet another book of possible interest in the matter. The reviewed book is a Hungarian language guide to handling Hebrew archival materials (Segédlet a héber iratok kezeléséhez), authors are Gábor Dávid and Zsuzsanna Toronyi, Budapest, Hungarian Jewish Museum and Archives, 2006, 115 pages.

filed under: Archives, libraries, museums Jewish research

Wednesday, May 2, 200717:36:09 CET
How to identify Jewish families in the period before surnames were acquired?

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The Apr 29, 2007 issue of Nu? What's New? provides a list of articles to appear in the Spring 2007 issue of Avotaynu. According to the newsletter, "Carole Vogel and Yitzchok Stroh push past the brick wall that exist for the time prior to the period when Jews acquired hereditary surnames; circa 1800. The authors demonstrate that with sufficient data there are enough clues to identify individuals without surnames. The article is titled “Constructing a Town-Wide Genealogy: Jewish Mattersdorf, Hungary, 1698–1939.”"

That could easily be an interesting read for family historians seeking Jewish ancestry in the Habsburg Empire.

filed under: Jewish research

Thursday, August 17, 200615:32:06 CET
The Book of Fathers saga now available in English

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One of the most memorable books of Hungarian fiction writer Miklós Vámos has been the "Apák könyve" (Book of Fathers). Since its come out in 2000 the novel has had several editions in Hungary, was translated to German, French and Italian, and now to English, too.

What makes the novel somewhat interesting to family history enthusiasts is that it's a great family saga, spanning through 12 generations and 300 years. The story starts back in the early 18th century, the time of Ferenc Rákóczi's fight for Hungary's independence and leads up to the 20th century, 1999. During the generations family members convert to Judaism, making lives of descendants of difficult eras really suppressed.

Vámos provides the readers with a lesson of Hungarian history. Interesting to note a similar piece of fiction from the same years (1999), the movie Sunshine, directed by István Szabó, featuring Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and other celebs. Sunshine depicts the history of a 20th century Jewish family. (If you allow me a personal note, I don't like Sunshine because I feel it too didactic and its shown history is too much common place.)

The Book of Fathers was published in the UK by Little, Brown, and at the moment not directly available at Amazon.

Its first chapter and description are available on Miklós Vámos' site.

filed under: Jewish research Paragenealogy

Monday, July 31, 200621:09:46 CET
Oroklet cemetery database

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Stephen S. of the Hungarian Special Interest Group (HSIG) @ Jewishgen posted a noteworthy site a few days ago. Öröklét? (eternal life or eternal existence, when translated into English) contains a database of names and information found on headstones in various, mostly (or exclusively?) Jewish cemeteries across modern Hungary. 100 cemeteries are listed. The number of persons is not easy to assess, it's a 6 figure number, for sure. The completeness of the records for each cemetery varies. The Kozma Str. Cemetery in Budapest has 200,000 records - probably a complete set, while some others have only 1-10.

filed under: Databases Cemeteries Jewish research

Saturday, December 31, 200515:08:54 CET
Database of Jewish businesses in Slovakia confiscated in 1941-42

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This is going to be a quickie post to say goodbye to 2005 (and in the advent of a real fat 2005 retrospect to come in Jan 2006).

On the H-SIG mailing list of Jewishgen Vivian Kahn posted a new database available on the website of Nation's Memory Institute of the Slovak Republic.

The database lists Jewish business properties that were confiscated by the state during Tiso's Slovak Republic, 1941-42. There are more than 10,000 listed.

Type letters in the Podnik field to search by surname, searches for place names would need input in the Mesto (obec) field. Note that proper Slovakian accented letters are needed. If you are not sure, you can just type the beginning of the words, auto-truncation will help you - to search for the place Presov (there is a hachek over the s), simply type Pre.

See you in 2006!

filed under: Databases Jewish research Slovakia

Monday, October 3, 200522:07:30 CET publishes Romanian Jewish database

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A new set of data has been added to's offers. This time their partner in Romania, Marcel Mindrescu added a collection of transcribed Jewish Cemetery records from Oradea, Romania (formerly Nagyvárad, Hungary). The press release also mentions that this is ment to be only the beginning, "the first of many planned from this part of the world".

I remember Gene Hall, FamilyTrackers, Inc. CEO sharing this news item with the members of Rootsweb's Hungary-L, too, and according to Google here and there it got posted on the Jewish Genealogy 2000 and Genealogy on the Internet lists, as well.

The former Google search brings up a new genealogy blog, the one by Gene Hall: FamilyTrackers blog. Interesting. One of the more recent blog items gives a basic overview of genie research in Romania: Genealogy in Romania - It's Tough but Possible.

I should sign up for the offered free account at FamilyTrackers to report what's inside. Does anybody have experiences with them? They made some nice peaks in May and August 2005 - according to Alexa. (But what are those unrelated domain names?)

filed under: Databases Cemeteries Jewish research Romania

Friday, March 12, 200419:03:02 CET
Writing competition about Jewish history in Veszprém County

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The Jewish Community in Veszprém and the Veszprém Jewish Heritage Foundation announced a writing competition for 25-30 pages length papers dealing with history of Jewish people in the county. They welcome family history studies, as well. Deadline is set to 31 Aug 2004.

filed under: Jewish research

Friday, March 5, 200419:31:13 CET
Volunteers cleaning old Jewish cemetery in Topolya

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The February issue of Szombat, the magazine of the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association writes about the cleaning of the old Jewish cemetery in Topolya (now: Bačka Topola, Serbia and Montenegro). The article (in Hungarian).

filed under: Archives, libraries, museums Cemeteries Jewish research Paragenealogy

Friday, March 5, 200419:06:07 CET
New York City Council considers supporting Hungarian Holocaust survivors in Gold Train Case

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City Council to hold legislative hearing on resolution urging prompt and just settlement. Read the story here.

filed under: Online resources Books, mags, CD-s, DVD-s Archives, libraries, museums Jewish research German research Slovakia Ukraine Romania Genealogy industry Genealogy in the news Events Clubs, associations

Sunday, February 29, 200415:52:41 CET
New Hungarian professional genealogy service with Jewish speciality

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Levéltár.Lap.Hu (site linking to Hungarian archives websites) took me to Hungarian Jewish Roots - new genealogy service in Hungary specializing in Jewish family history research. Good luck with that!

Their introduction page has that they would like to set up a database by mid-2004 that would have all kinds of information about "ordinary and famous Hungarian Jews". Interesting!

filed under: Jewish research Genealogy industry

Sunday, February 29, 200414:11:33 CET
Report by the Jaross-Lists Committee complete

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Back on 11 Jan I blogged the set up the Jaross-Lists Committee. This week the committee reported its findings. The assumption was that these lists, which were taken after an order by the Hungarian minister of interior in early April 1944, were the sources for picking Jewish people and taking them to concentration camps.

The most important result is that there aren't any complete series of the lists remaining, despite of the fact the originals were taken in four copies. Some lists come up here and there, but there is no single repository holding the whole series.

Also, the committee found more sources that would be more helpful in setting up a list of those who were taken. More about the findings.

filed under: Jewish research

Sunday, February 29, 200409:19:11 CET
Pro genealogists working on celebrity trees

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Sorin Fortiu's GenealogRO Group of Timisoara, Romania was asked to do a research of Johnny Weismüller's tree. Johnny was known in the 1920s for his swimming performance, and then, probably even more known for his Tarzan films. Weismüller's autobiography and official papers had that he was born in Pennsylvania. Sorin's research revealed that Johnny was born into a Danubeswabian family in what was then Hungary's Banat region, now Romania. Read the story here.

US presidential candidate John Kerry was believed to have an Irish-American family from Massachusetts. In February 2003, following the research done upon commission from the Boston Globe newspaper Ing. Felix Gundacker reported his findings. According to it, Kerry's grandfather, Frederick A. Kerry was born as Fritz Kohn to Jewish parents in a small town in what is now the Czech Republic (then Austria-Hungary). Read Gundacker's posting.

filed under: Jewish research German research Austria Genealogy in the news Education Clubs, associations

Sunday, January 11, 200400:41:57 CET
Jaross-lists committee formed

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The Hungarian Minister of Culture appointed the members of the committee to research the fate and whereabouts of the so-called Jaross-lists (named after the Minister of Interior in 1944, Andor Jaross, sentenced to death and executed for war crimes in 1946). The 1944 decree ordered to compile lists of Jewish people to be sent to ghettos.

Little is known about the fate of these lists. It is still unclear if they are still extant, and if yes, whether they should be found at Hungarian secret services archives or in the ex-Soviet Union or somewhere else.

filed under: Jewish research

Thursday, January 1, 200416:50:58 CET
Developments in the Hungarian Gold Train lawsuit

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Well, it pays to read every now and then the GenealogyBlog over there.

Joe Edmon posted an entry about the new developments of the Hungarian Gold Train case. This train shipped the confiscated valuable personal properties of Jewish families at the end of WW2 and ended up in US custody. Now US government agencies are accused of being non-responsive to requests.

filed under: Jewish research

Tuesday, December 30, 200300:02:35 CET
Hungarian minister of culture signed agreements in the US

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Ok, this is not a really new one. During his visit to the US in early November 2003 Hungarian minister of culture must have been really busy.

He signed an agreement at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. According to this microfilm copies of archival materials not available for public research in Hungary will be available at the Museum's research facilities - with measures to defend privacy.

Then Prof. Hiller signed another one with the Committee for Hungarian Education in North America "to help Hungarians living in North America preserve and promote Hungarian traditions, culture, language, and art". The release on the ministry's website also mentions that the ministry would like to provide help to American Hungarians in researching their ancestry in the old country.

filed under: Archives, libraries, museums Jewish research

Thursday, December 25, 200308:33:24 CET

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This site was found thanks to the "new" label in the Eastern European section of Cyndi's site. And amazed I am...

Centropa is an initiative with its headquarters in Vienna, Austria to document Jewish life in Central Europe, or, to widen the horizont, in Eastern Europe. They are working on collecting photographs and on doing oral history interviews. As of today, they have some 20 interviews with Hungarian persons, translated to English, 200 historical photos taken in Hungary, depicting either single persons or groups. All cataloged.

filed under: Jewish research

Thursday, December 18, 200323:30:14 CET
Approx. 30,000 records added to the All Hungary Database @ JewishGen

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Warren Blatt informed researchers on the H-SIG list of an update of the All Hungary Database at the Jewish genealogy site, JewishGen. This includes additions to the 1869 national census transcriptions database (almost all of the remained sheets of this census relate to what is now Slovakia), and a database created from various censii taken between 1795-1850. All Hungary Database

filed under: Databases Jewish research

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