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30 November 2012

Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit, 1906-1954

One of the latest databases at FamilySearch to be updated is the Michigan, Detroit Manifests of Arrivals at the Port of Detroit,1906-1954.   
This collection, which is name search able, now includes almost 1.7 million images, of the card file containing the information on individuals who entered the United States through the Port of Detroit.
The index cards include an incredible amount of information on those entering. Included in the record is the following:

  • Port and date of departure
  • Port and date of entry
  • Name of ship
  • Country of citizenship
  • Name of passenger
  • Age, gender, marital status and occupation of passenger
  • Birthplace of passenger
  • Place of last permanent residence
  • Name and address of friend or relative at last address
  • Final destination
  • Name and address of friend or relative in U.S.
  • Physical description 
The card below is the record of  Hilda Kazdan Cohen who came across on 16 Apr 1936.

 In addition, since the collection is in alphabetical order, it is possible to search all people of the same surname very quickly, which helps identify other relatives who themselves are included in the collection. As always, this database is free to search.

20 November 2012

Knowles Collection -Jews of Europe updated

The growth that continues to take place has made it possible to update the Knowles Collection - Jews of Europe database. The database was last updated in August of 2012 to include the records of 82,800 people. Today's update increases that number by 60%.  The number of people who are now  included in the records is over 134,700.
The majority of the growth comes from two major sources;
  1. The 1869 Hungarian Census. This database is now about 70% loaded into the collection. This collection is possible because of the wonderful work of Marelynn Zipser, who has spent years extracting this information. My thanks to her for making this accessible for everyone.
  2. Headstones from Cemetire- du Pere-Lachaise, Paris, France. This information was gathered in August of 2012, by myself as I was in Paris speaking at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) conference.
In addition to the sources above, the database has also benefited from the family histories that people have continued to add. I am most grateful to all of those who have shared the records of their families
with me, as so many are now able to document their own families.

16 November 2012

Russian Jews in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

At this time of year in the United States, we celebrate two major holidays, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. The first honors all those who have served their country. The second holiday, Thanksgiving, gives us all a chance to pause and give thanks for all that we have. It is not surprising that to many of us, you can't have one without the other.
I am most thankful to those who have served, like my own father, who put his life on hold to serve as a proud member of the United States Marine Corps, without them we wouldn't have all the freedoms we enjoy.
A great example of others who have given of themselves through  their military service is the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Australia formed it's regular army in 1901, which was backed up by an all volunteer militia. When World War I broke out, the Australian government committed to send 20,000 troops to support the British Military. The regular army formed in 1901 was only allowed for home defense, so a new overseas force was formed. That overseas force is the Australian Imperial Force.
The first of the AIF ships left Australia in November of 1914 bound for Egypt to receive training. Upon arrival the Australian Forces were combined with the New Zealand forces to form the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Some of these troops were sent to defend the Suez Canal, however most were sent to the Gallipoli Front. Of these troops, over 1/3 paid the ultimate sacrifice before they were ordered to withdraw at the beginning of 1916. After their withdraw from Gallipoli, most of the troops serving in the Anzac's were then sent to the western front, where they fought for about 2 years. Over the course of the First World War, no country lost more men that did Australia. Over 300,000 troops served and almost 60,000 of them gave their lives. For them I am thankful
It wasn't just Australian and New Zealanders who fought in the AIF, there were troops from many countries. The fourth largest national group were the over 1,000 Russian servicemen who fought in the AIF. Of these, about 130 were Jewish. Elena Govor, has written a book about the Russians who served and also has a website where these servicemen are listed. That website,, is a great resource for anyone searching for those who served. The website also has information about her book.
The website includes a list of all Jewish servicemen who were from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The information about each serviceman is amazing. Clicking on the name Wolf Dorfman, gives the following;

The information with the red links, takes you to the original records held in other archives and libraries. The genealogical information is very complete and thanks to Elana for all her hard work. May we never forget the incredible service and sacrifices that our ancestors made for us. We should all give thanks to them.

13 November 2012

Jews of Azerbaijan

The history of the Jews of Azerbaijan is a very long and for the most part a peaceful one. The approximately 7.5 million people of Azerbaijan, which is located on the southern end of the Caucasus Mountains are a very diverse group. The country is surrounded by the countries of Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Iran and the Caspian Sea.
The Jewish community today numbers about 30,000 people,  with about 2/3 of those located in the city of Baku. The Jewish community of Azerbaijan is for the most part comprised of 2 different groups, the Ashkenazi Jews and the Mountain Jews, who are of Persian origin.

Ashkenazi Jews began arriving in the 1800's, when Russia, which was in control, tried to influence the people by bringing in  Russian heritage. This group also grew during World War II as other Jews fled the Nazi's.
The Mountain Jews on the other hand have a history that probably dates back over 2000 years. Many of these came from the area that is now Iran and are said to be descendants of the Jews who left Israel after the destruction of the First Temple. They survived for such a long time by settling in areas that others didn't travel, the extremely remote areas of the mountains.
When the Constitution was written in the early 1990's, religious freedom was given to all, and no state religion was declared. This freedom led to the Jewish community being somewhere between 75-100 thousand people. While the freedom still exists, many families have now emigrated to Israel, Russia or the United States because of the  poor economic situation.

07 November 2012

New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935 at

In 1908, New York began requiring marriage records for all counties. Now the FamilySearch website has begun to add these records to it's Historical Collections Databases. While the counties are included, New York and its boroughs are not included. The collection as of today is a little over 40% complete and includes over 558,000 images. More will be added as the indexing is complete.
The collection is very easy to find as it is included in the section for United States databases. The record itself is listed as New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935.
The collection is name searchable. Looking for a family that I am familiar with, I did a search for Samuel Goldberg who was born in 1882 in England. I know he married a woman by the names of Yetta, who was born in Russia in about 1889. As of the 1940 United States Census, this family is living in Rochester, New York. That record is below:

Doing the search I was able to locate the following record:

 Going one step further, I was able to click on the link that allowed me to view the original record. That record shows that the happy couple were also married in Rochester.

As with all FamilySearch databases, it free of charge and available to all.