30 October 2008

Jewish Records: Largest online collection launches

Ancestry.com has announced the launch of the world's largest online collection of Jewish historical documents and databases from JewishGen and the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC - known popularly as The Joint).

Joint and JewishGen databases in this release will be searchable for free in a new Jewish Family History experience on Ancestry.com. The Jewish historical documents - many online for the first time - offer photographs, immigration records, Holocaust records and memorials, for more than 26 million records of Jewish life, in combination with millions of relevant Ancestry.com records such as census records, passenger lists, military records and more.

The Joint's archives contain some 40-50 million pages of archival materials dating from 1914 to the present; many have genealogical interest to scholars and Jews around the world. Two important Joint collections were digitized for the first time:

Jewish Transmigration Bureau Deposit Cards, 1939-1954: This collection shows funds paid by American Jewish citizens to support the emigration of friends and relatives from European countries during and after WWII. There are deposit cards for about 60,000 individuals who emigrated from Germany, Austria, former Czechoslovakia, Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, mostly 1940-1942. Some cards show travel completed as late as 1956.

Munich, Vienna and Barcelona Jewish Displaced Persons and Refugee Cards, 1943-1959: This collection contains records of displaced Jews who were provided with food, medical care and clothing and emigration assistance by the JDC. It includes some 85,000 registration cards of Jewish Displaced Persons who registered with the emigration department of JDC in Munich and Vienna after World War II, in addition to cards for Jewish refugees for whom JDC provided care in Barcelona during and after the war.

More than 300 JewishGen databases will be available, representing 14 countries with more than 5 million records. JewishGen's 250,000+ users share genealogical information, techniques and more, utilizing a growing database of more than 11 million records. In July 2008, It entered into a partnership with Ancestry.com which will eventually provide Ancestry with access to some 10 million records, while Ancestry will provide technical support to Jewishgen. Databases available include:

·The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry: More than 1 million names of Jews represented in nearly 2,000 Jewish cemeteries around the world.

·Yizkor Book Necrologies: Names of those murdered in the Holocaust which directs users back to the Yizkor Books themselves – memorials which offer vivid, first-hand accounts of the Holocaust and its aftermath.

·The Given Names Database: Learn possible European, Hebrew and Yiddish translations of an ancestor’s given name.

·A Holocaust Database: Two million names including 1,980 names on "Schindler’s List," in Plaszów, Poland and Brünnlitz, Czechoslovakia.

·Jewish Records Indexing (JRI-PL) Poland and All Lithuania Database: More than 2 million indexed names from databases in Lithuania and Poland containing vital information.

Ancestry.com, JewishGen and the Joint celebrated the collaboration and unveiled the new Jewish Collection Wednesday mornin (October 29) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (JewishGen is a Museum affiliate).

More on the partners:

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) was founded in 1914, and today works in more than 70 countries to rescue those in danger, provide relief to those in distress, revitalize overseas Jewish communities, and help Israel overcome the social challenges that beset its most vulnerable citizens. It also provides non-sectarian disaster relief and long-term development assistance to the world's least fortunate populations.

JewishGen became an affiliate of the Museum on January 1, 2003. An Internet pioneer, JewishGen was founded in 1987 and has grown from a bulletin board with only 150 users to a major grass roots effort bringing together hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide in a virtual community centered on discovering Jewish ancestral roots and history.

Ancestry.com's global network of family history sites is owned by The Generations Network, Inc, including nine Web sites in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden and China. Ancestry members have access to 7 billion names contained in 26,000 historical record collections. Tree-building and photo upload are free on all the sites. Users have created more than 7.5 million family trees containing 725 million profiles and 12 million photographs. In August 2008, more than 5 million unique visitors logged onto Ancestry.com in August 2008 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide).

For more on this collaboration:

Read Newsday's article here, with comments by JewishGen's managing director and a rabbi, on how this release will be valuable for Long Island's major Jewish population.

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