A high point of each ICJG is founder Stanley Diamond's session on what's new with Jewish Record Indexing-Poland (JRI-P).
From a small personal project to locate related families sharing a rare genetic mutation (beta-thalassamia), the Montreal-based researcher's organization has grown to millions of online records, assisting thousands of worldwide researchers.
To date, the records of 450 towns have been indexed. Funding is needed to index some 125 additional towns.
In three years, the JRI-P ordering center has filled orders for 1,400 researchers in 25 countries. Diamond announced that a new digital order system is being implemented.
In addition to birth, marriage and death records, the database now includes Warsaw Ghetto death cards, court announcements from the Monitor Polski, army draft-dodgers from the Bialystok region, and the 1897 census of Lomza district, with 25,000 individuals.
The database now includes books of residents, including the Suwalki temporary residents books. These give the hometowns of individuals and provide clues to deeper researching.
Some surprising discoveries were made, such as the 1866-1892 records for Jaslo. They were believed to have been destroyed, but were found in the Skalyszyn archives inventory. In January, the vital records for Radzyn Podlaski were found.
Records may be misfiled, mislabeled, accidentally hidden or sit in undocumented collections. They may not be discovered until a researcher looks for something else and happens to stumble across them.
JRI-P is working with the Institute of International Genealogy in Jerusalem to reconstruct the town of Ostrow Mazowieska, developing family trees with data from archives, Yad Vashem's Pages of Testimony and the town's yizkor book.
JRI-P is working with Gift of Life (the Jewish Bone Marrow Registry) to help save lives. In one case, with the cooperation of the Lublin Archives, 50,000 records were indexed to find possible donors.
Diamond says he "looks forward to each day," and this project is truly a collective mission, which include verifying Holocaust testimony and related research, honoring the memory of victims, connecting generations, identifying gravestones, and saving lives. Volunteers and donors are needed.