A new page for beginners

Are you a new user of There’s now a special page for beginners.

View it here, and see these sections:

— Discover who you are: Find and organize your family history

— Discover through history: See Footnote’s documents online.

— Start by searching for your name among the 63 million-plus documents.

— Are you related? Start a Footnote ancestor page for your family.

— What do others know? Share the page you’ve created at Footnote on Facebook.

There’s new Footnote content to search:

— Naturalization Records: Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania
— City Directories: Des Moines, Indianapolis
— Civil War Union Soldier Service Records: Nebraska, Arkansas, Colored Troops
— Homestead Records: Nebraska
— Texas Death Certificates: more than 3 million images
— Final Payment Vouchers Index for Military Pensions, 1818-1864

And do check out the new enhanced image viewer.

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.

WDYTYA: Back to Belarus with Lisa

From Suzanne Russo Adams at, comes a detailed report on March 19’s episode on Lisa Kudrow and her search for information in Belarus and Poland:

Kudrow’s episode was one of the most riveting of the series, says Suzanne. In it, Lisa visits the small shtetl of Ilya, Belarus, where her great-grandmother was murdered during the Holocaust.

Lisa’s father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, always wondered what happened to Yuri, a cousin who had escaped to Poland and who told about Lisa’s great-grandmother’s death. Yuri was never heard from again.

On a visit to Gdynia, Poland, to discover Yuri’s true fate, Lisa is shocked to learn that Yuri was still alive! Despite the tragic history, there is a beautiful reunion between two families separated by the Holocaust.

If you missed the episode, watch it here. (CAVEAT: Unfortunately, the link only works in the US, and not in Hong Kong or Australia, where I most recently attempted to watch it via online links.)

Suzanne provides tips (additional comments by Tracing the Tribe are included) for those curious about how the team of genealogists for this episode found out more about Lisa’s Jewish family.

Here are resources to help newcomers better understand Jewish family history research.

Go-to resources: U.S. passenger lists, Yad Vashem,,

How they helped: Lisa Kudrow’s US family heard about her great-grandmother’s death from a cousin named Yuri who visited Lisa’s dad and grandmother in the late 1940s. Lisa’s research goal is to discover where her great-grandmother was buried and learn more about Yuri. Her visit to Belarus and online resources help her achieve that goal.

Resource #1: List of Jews murdered in Ilya massacre
Lisa’s family knew her great-grandmother was killed, but through a list of victims in Ilya, she sees the proof. Written next to her name are the words “killed and burned.”

Resource #2: Yizkor book: “A Tale of Struggling, Toil, and Tears,” by David Rubin
While visiting Ilya, Lisa reviews a translated Yizkor (memorial) book about the massacre of 900 Jews in March 1942. The town’s Jewish population came to an end that day. Lisa walks the same path her great-grandmother was forced to walk 68 years ago. At the gravesite is a memorial to the murdered Jews.

Resource #3: Passenger list
Looking for some positive news on her trip, Lisa turns her search toward the one relative she knows survived – Yuri – who visited her father in the late 1940s. An Ancestry passenger list shows a man with the same surname but the given name Boleslaw. Are Yuri and Boleslaw the same person?

Resource #4: Registry card
In Gdynia , Poland, Lisa sees Boleslaw’s city registry card. Yuri changed his name to a Polish name for assimilation. His wife and son are registered.

Resource #5: Phone directory
The phone director lists Boleslaw, who is still alive.

Weren’t Eastern European records all destroyed?
The records from Eastern Europe that Lisa’s family found aren’t uncommon. Although millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, records did survive.

Are you following US Jewish lines? Follow step -by-step through the US, including census records, passenger lists, citizenship records, vital records and more at various sites such as Ancestry and Once you’ve found all the US records, then jump to European records.

Learn about your family’s towns and villages, immigration data and clues to other relatives.

Check out sites such as JewishGen for a town’s Yizkor book or its Special Interest Groups (SIGs), Yad Vashem for other Holocaust-related documents, Ancestry’s holdings,’s Holocaust collection (and other records), the Jewish Family History Collection, and, of course, Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog.

Never give up, and keep searching.

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!

Footnote: Vietnam War records, photos online today added 27,000 photos and records to its Vietnam War Collection, which now stands at more than 100,000 photos and documents. View it free throughout February.It provides viewers with a better perspective for this often misunderstood event in US history.

“Our partnership with the National Archives has proven to be invaluable as we work to make these records more accessible,” explains Russell Wilding, CEO of “Previously you were required to travel to Washington, D.C. to see these records. Now anyone can access the original records through the internet.”

Army Unit Service Awards include documents relating to Presidential Unit Citations, Valorous Unit Awards and Meritorious Unit Commendations. These were usually awarded to units going above and beyond the call of duty, and in most cases, showing exceptional valor. These documents contain: dates of service, duties performed and letters of recommendation

Army Photos feature various activities of the US Army during the Vietnam War. In nearly every case, there is a caption or description of what was happening and the names of soldiers in the photos. Everything ranging from daily duties to Bob Hope’s visits are captured, providing a glimpse into the soldiers’ lives.

Justin Schroepfer,’s marketing director, says that his father is a Vietnam War hero, but he can rarely get him to share his wartime experiences. “Going through these photos allowed me to visualize a little more what he went through and the sacrifices he made for his country,” he said.

The Vietnam War Collection at Footnote also includes:

The Interactive Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Photos of the Marine Corps in Vietnam – color
Photos of the Marine Corps in Vietnam – black and white

The online subscription site will continue to work with the National Archives to add more records.

A picture is worth a thousand words is an old adage, and these documents and photos tell a story that isn’t in textbooks.

It’s imperative that we preserve and share this side of history for future generations,” says Footnote CEO Russell Wilding. “We are encouraging everyone to come to and enhance these stories by adding their own comments, photos and documents.”

The Vietnam War Collection is free to the public throughout February.

Colorado: Three great January programs!

While most people might not think of Colorado as a hotbed of Jewish genealogy, Tracing the Tribe knows better.

Ellen Shindelman Kowitt and her colleagues in the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado are doing a fantastic job in educating their community, organizing multi-session courses, and inviting experts to speak.

Three programs will take place during January.

— Sunday, January 10, 9-11am
How to find naturalization records and why they are so useful for researching family history, with Joan Grady, PhD. There is no charge. Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder.

Grady teaches several courses, including one on genealogy, at Arapahoe Community College’s Adult Education division, has presented to local and national groups and her articles have appeared in genealogical magazines.

In addition to earning a PhD, MA, MLA and BA, she completed the BYU Certificate for genealogy with a special emphasis on the British Isles and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She’s been a public and private education teacher, principal and superintendent.

— Thursday, January 14, 6.30pm
Digitized Documents: Footnote & Family Search Pilot, with Janice Prater. There is no charge. Congregation Emanuel, 51 Grape Street, Denver.

Come learn about the exciting research tools on Footnote and FamilySearch. Footnote enhances your genealogy research through the use of digitized documents from the National Archives and Library of Congress.

The FamilySearch Pilot Site is a focus of the LDS and Family History Library; thousands of volunteers are working world-wide to make indexes and digitized images available to researchers. As these records become available, genealogists will benefit from this ever-changing site with expanded search capabilities.

Prater is Colorado Genealogical Society past president and editor of British Connections, a publication of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. She has worked in the Denver Public Library’s Western History/Genealogy Department for eight years, and now volunteers in the same department and archives.

Tracing the Tribe has previously written about Ellen’s eight-session Jewish Family Tree Initiative: Workshop and Mentoring Series. Here’s the information on the next session of this great course, which will take place at Temple Sinai, 3901 S. Glencoe Street, Denver.

— Sunday, January 24, 9.30-11.45am
Maximizing the Internet to Jump Start Research: Jewish Resources Online.

Learn how to successfully navigate Internet resources for tracing Jewish family history. Get pointed in the right direction and jump start your research. This lecture will focus on resources that identify, index or explain specifically Jewish documents, gravestones and traditions; JewishGen, Holocaust Research, Jewish Archives in the U.S. and Israel, Blogs and more.

The lecture and workshop are part of the series supported by the Rose Community Foundation. Sessions are led by members of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado and developed to help people get started in Jewish family history research.

Each session includes an instructional lecture and a hands-on workshop to assist with the creation of family trees and historical research utilizing genealogical resources and techniques. Mentoring assistance outside of class will be available.

There is an $18 one-time fee for non-members to cover a book and materials; the course is free for JGSCO members. For those who have already attended one session and paid the fee, the other sessions are free. Attendance is not required for all eight sessions, so feel free to jump in to the sessions you want.

Questions on any of the JGSCO programs may be sent to Ellen. For more information, click on the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado’s site. WWII collection free in December

Today, has opened its extensive WWII collection to free public access during December.

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, this largest WWII grouping, including the first-ever interactive USS Arizona Memorial, offers more than 10 million records, documents and photos from the National Archives. These resources will help more people to better understand the historical events and to find family members who served in the various military branches.

A quick check for COHEN resulted in 283 mentions in various categories. Try your own names of interest to see what information is available.

The Interactive USS Arizona Memorial online version allows viewers to see the actual wall of names and search for those they know. An interactive box for each name features additional information for each veteran, and provides a place where viewers can contribute photos and stories. As an example, view Franklin Van Valkenburgh – The USS Arizona’s captain – on the wall.

Although more than 2 million WWII veterans are still alive today in the US, thousands of veterans are lost each month – taking their WWII stories with them. Footnote’s efforts to help preserve and transmit these stories is assisted by digitizing National Archives documents and providing tools to help people connect and honor their family members.’s press release mentioned Christina Knoedler of Pennsylvania, who used the Missing Air Crew Reports to discover information about her WWII vet father-in-law. “The other night, I showed him what I had found,” explains Christina. “He couldn’t believe that these papers existed. They had not only his name but also his buddies’ names. He started to reminisce and it was quite an evening. This will allow me to go back and document many more events in our family’s history for the generations to come.”

In addition to the Missing Air Crew Reports, the other WWII collections at include:

Pearl Harbor Muster Rolls
U.S. Air Force Photos
Submarine Patrol Reports
Japanese Air Target Analysis
Army JAG Case Files
Navy JAG Case Files
Naval Press Clippings
Allied Military Conferences
Holocaust Records

According to CEO Russell Wilding, people are making fascinating discoveries in the records. Reading the first-hand accounts helps viewers develop a different view and appreciation of WWII heroes and their experiences.

Experience the Interactive USS Arizona Memorial and the World War II collection.