Footnote: Interactive Census free through April

Our friends at Footnote have announced that their Interactive Census Collection will be free to the public through the end of April.

To view images in this collection, readers only need to register (for free). Footnote currently has available the 1860 and 1930 US censuses, as well as parts of 1900, 1910 and 1920. They are planning to add the balance of the censuses, 1790-1930, by the end of the year.

For more information, click here.

Did you know that Footnote also holds newspaper archives, great historical comic strips, weird news and vintage ads (some of which are not exactly politically correct by today’s standards).

Click here to learn more about those interesting collections.

New York: Beyond the basics, April 11

The Jewish Genealogical Society of New York will present “Basics and Beyond,” an afternoon family history seminar, on Sunday, April 11.

The program will run from 1-5pm, at UJA-Federation of New York 130 East 59th Street, 7th floor, Manhattan.

Experienced genealogists will present two tracks – for beginners and those more experienced.

Beginners’ Track:
— How to get started
— Tracing your family in the US
— Finding/interpreting census/vital records
— Crossing the pond: Finding/interpreting passenger arrival/naturalization records

Advanced Track:
— Organizing, goal-setting, record-keeping
— What’s new in computer research
— Researching European records at home

Tracks run simultaneously; participants may attend sessions in either or both tracks

Topics include:

— Finding and interpreting census and vital records
— Passenger arrival and naturalization records
— Computer research
— Research organization
— Record-keeping and goal setting
— Searching European records from home.

Advance registration required, no on-site registration. For more information and registration, click here.

Fee: JGSNY members, $18; others, $25. New member special: $40, includes 2010 JGSNY membership (annual membership alone is $36).

Footnote: Free census access … for awhile! is making all of its US census documents accessible for free for a limited time.

No end date was announced, and the Interactive Census Collection is available to all after a simple registration.

According to, this collection provides a unique ability to connect people related to ancestors found on the historical documents. By clicking the “I’m Related” button for a name on the document will identify you as a descendant and also list others that have done the same.

Click here to get started, and you too may find a record bearing an ancestor’s name and your own personal connection to the past.

Interactive tools on Footnote allow viewers to enhance documents and add photos, stories, comments and other records.

Each contribution from a Footnote member means that people can find each other and connect to exchange information about their mutual ancestors.

Footnote CEO Russell Wilding says, “TV programs including ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ on NBC and ‘Faces of America’ on PBS will surely increase the interest in family history in the United States.”

He believes that the interactive census collection is a great way to get started for newcomers to family history research.

If you haven’t checked out recently, there are now 63 million historical records, including military documents, historical newspapers, city directories and naturalization records.

Check out the census collection for free now – you just might find some interesting connections!

Boston: Hands-On Problem Solving, Feb. 21

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston will host “Problem Solving with Experts – A Research Session” on Sunday, February 21.

It begins at 1:30 pm at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St., Newton Centre.

Beginners as well as more experienced attendees will be able to consult with experts for help with family research.

Roundtables will feature the following topics:

— Getting started with Jewish genealogy
— Using immigration, naturalization, and vital records
— Eastern European country-specific research
— Translation of foreign-language documents (Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, German)
— Holocaust research

Admission: members, free; others, $5. Refreshments will be served. For directions, click here.

For more information, visit JGSGB.

Belarus: Dunilovichi 1834 census, cemetery

Artist and genealogist Susan Weinberg of Minnesota spent six weeks studying Yiddish at the Vilnius Institute and also visited Dunilovichi, Belarus, during the summer of 2009.

While there, she made a copy of the 1834 census for Dunilovichi, which has 375 entries and some 60 surnames.

Susan would like to have it included – to benefit other researchers – on JewishGen’s All Belarus Database, but there is a cost to get the translation done. She has already created a ShtetLinks page for the town with extensive information (see link below).

Readers with roots in the area may wish to contribute to this effort.

Where is the shtetl?

It is 82 miles N of Minsk, 80 miles ENE of Vilnius, 18 miles WSW of Hlybokaye (Glebokie) and 16 miles ESE of Pastavy (Postawy). Interestingly, Tracing The Tribe had a TALALAY branch that lived in Glebokie for a short period of time.

Readers might know this shtetl by some of its other names: Dunilovichi (Russian), Dunilowicze (Polish), Dunilovitsch (Yiddish), Dunilavichi (Belarus), Dunilavicy, Danilevitch, Dunalovitch, Dunovitz, Duniloviche, Danilevicai, Dunilovicy, Dunilaviciy. It looks like this in Belarusian: Дунілавічы; in Russian: Дуниловичи; and in Yiddish: דונילאוויטש

She also visited the Dunilovichi cemetery, but it was nearly impossible to walk through as it was so overgrown and stones have fallen (see above photo).

Susan reports that there is now an opportunity to work with the Jewish Heritage Research Group of Belarus to arrange for an annual site clean-up, during which vegetation would be cut back and fallen stones lifted.

“We are fortunate that there is an intact cemetery in this shtetl as so many others have been destroyed,” she writes.

Photos on these pages were received from Susan, who writes that she would very much appreciate the efforts of Tracing the Tribe and its readers to assist in both these projects.

The Dunilovichi site contains extensive information, including name lists, gravestones, families, maps, photographs and more.

Contact Susan directly for more information.

She researches and paints her family history, which focuses on Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. During her Vilnius summer, she conducted research in the archives and traveled to her family’s Belarus shtetls.

Since her return, Susan has created Shtetlink websites for Dunilovichi and Radom, published an article in Avotaynu and is now developing a body of artwork based on her travels. Her art addresses family history themes through painting and collage. She also does genealogy consulting and lectures frequently on genealogy topics.

Additionally, Susan is a geneablogger – see her Layers of the Onion: A Family History Exploration. She began blogging last summer when she studied Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute for six weeks.

UK: 1939 census may hold answers

Looking for ancestors who lived in the UK in 1939? The following new resource may help, according to London researcher Laurence Harris.

While census records are a major source of information for family historians and genealogists, access to recent records is limited in most countries, thus access to this 1939 collection may be useful to researchers.

Laurence writes that there has been a UK census (England and Wales), recording individual names and other relevant details, every 10 years since 1841, with 1911 being the last publicly released census data for individuals:

  • There was a 1921 census (data to be released in 2021).
  • The 1931 census data was destroyed during WWII.
  • There was no 1941 census due to the war.
  • There is a massive gap (1911-1951) in currently available UK census information.
  • In preparation for war, an effective census (1939 National Registration Act) was taken on September 29, 1939, including such details as name, sex, age, occupation, marital status and membership in the armed forces.
  • Data was later used for issuance of ID cards, post-war National Insurance numbers, and other purposes.

In a recent development, individuals may now apply to have a copy of the data in this 1939 register (relating to those then living in England or Wales) by applying to The Information Centre of the NHS (National Health Service).

CAVEAT: Data is only supplied about individuals known by the NHS to be deceased (they know about the deaths of most individuals who died in the UK) or whom the researcher can prove is deceased.

Laurence has personally contacted the NHS department handling applications for 1939 data and shared the following information.

There are two main ways of applying:

  • Supply the full name and (exact) date of birth of an individual – and you will be sent all the details they have about that individual including their 1939 address, OR
  • Supply a 1939 address in the UK and they will supply the details of up to 10 persons living at that address at that time.

The data is not publicly available online, and each application costs a hefty non-refundable £42. CAVEAT: The fee is non-refundable even if no information is found or if it is incomplete or illegible, or if information is located but cannot be released because it relates to a person whose death cannot be proved by the NHS or the researcher.

However, says Laurence, “Despite the high cost of obtaining this data and the restrictions on its availability, this unique source may provide some researchers with breakthrough information about their ancestors at the outbreak of WWII.”

For details about the process (England and Wales only), click here for the application form, payment information and more. For access to the 1939 Scottish data, click here for more information.

Researchers should bear in mind, adds Laurence, that to get details of family members in 1939 – if you don’t know their September 1939 address – might require two separate sequential applications:

  • Step 1: Apply to obtain an address, AND
  • Step 2: Apply to find out who else was living at that address.

No information will be given for individuals who are or could be living.

Those who request an address search will only be provided the names and details of people known to be deceased. If there were other family members who could still be alive, the researcher will not be told.

Readers who would like more information about this data or other sources for tracing people who lived in – or passed through the UK – from 1880-1950, should contact Laurence, who is a specialist in UK Jewish family history research.

Long Island: Exploring the 1940 census, Jan. 24

Explore the 1940 census with NARA’s Dorothy Dougherty, at the next meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island (New York) on Sunday, January 24.

The program begins at 2pm at the Mid-Island JCC, in Plainview.

The 1940 Census will be made publicly available in April 2012, and this workshop will prepare family historians by describing the genealogical information contained in this database.

This census was conducted during the Great Depression and the New Deal, on the brink of US involvement in World War II, and documents Americans during a time of national struggle.

Dorothy Dougherty is the public programs specialist for the National Archives’ Northeast Region branch in New York. Her responsibilities include public, education and outreach efforts.

Her NARA career has also included development, training and deployment of NARA’s online Archival Research Catalog, (ARC). And she has been a Manhattan research consultant, New York State Archives Records Manager, and a historical museum interpreter.

She holds a master’s degree in history with an archives certificate (CW Post, LIU, New York)

For directions and more information, view the JGSLI site.