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15 April 2014

Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916 to 1947

So many of those just beginning their family history research start with one of those most basic records, the Census.  It helps to identify a family at a certain time in a specific location. If the researcher knows where the family was from and some of the names of other family members, the census can be a great tool. The record below shows the family of Addie Cohen in Illinois at the time of the 1940 United States Census.

The record shows us that she is 80 years of age and a widow. Living with her in the household are 2 sons, Julius (age 51) and Sol (age 49). All three of them were born in the State of Illinois. To many this is where the first obstacles start to pop up, trying to identify what Addie's maiden name was and then identifying her parents. Now, as more and more states are making their records available to websites such as FamilySearch and Ancestry, it is becoming a little easier to answer those questions.
In the last week, has added a new Historical Collection, the Illinois Deaths and Stillborns, 1916-1947.  This collection, which as of this date has just under 2,900,000 records, will be a great source to break down the obstacles for Jewish families in Illinois. The record below is for the same Addie Cohen whose family we located in the census.

From this record we are able to add a lot of information to our records of her life. We now know that she was born in Urbana, Illinois on 17 August 1859 the daughter of Sol Bernstein and Fannie Wertheim. We also know that she died on 25 May 1943 also in Urbana and was buried in that same city on 27 May 1943 at the Mt. Hope Cemetery. The information for this came from FHL film #1983453.
As more and more people become involved in finding their families, lets hope more and more communities will make those records available.

04 April 2014

Canada Census 1916

The national census of Canada has been taken every 10 years since 1871 and every five years since 1971. Only the four original provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario were included in that first census of 1871. The census of 1881 was the first to include the entire country, however Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949, so those records are not included.
The census of 1916 only includes three provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Now, FamilySearch has added the Canadian Census, 1916 database to the Historical Collections section at As of today over 500,000 records are included in this collection. The original images have not been included, however the records have been indexed and the information includes the original Family History Library film number.
The record below is the family of Aron and Lina Cohen and there three children. Included is all the vital information, such as names, ages, birthplaces, marital status, and ethnicity. The Family History Library film number of 2,434,941 is also included.

 This  1916 census is added to the censuses of 1851, 1871,1881, 1891, 1901, 1906 and 1911, which are already part of the Historical Collections at These records are a great way to follow your ancestors through their life in Canada. As with all records at FamilySearch, the collection can be searched for free from the comfort of your own home.
More great information on the various Canadian Censuses can be found at the FamilySearch Wiki, on the Canada Census page.

28 March 2014

Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949

The latest additions to the FamilySearch website include many more databases that contain valuable records for finding our Jewish ancestors. One of the newer collections, Minnesota, County Marriages, 1860-1949 , is a great example.
The collection, which at this time includes marriage records from 13 different counties, contains almost 600,000 images. Of those images, over 280,000 are now name search able. The majority of the records are the applications for marriage licenses. They do not give a great deal of information, however they do include the name of bride and groom, date and place of marriage and in some cases the ages of the new husband and wife. The record below is for the marriage of Emanuel Polikoff and Ida Cohen.

From the marriage license we gain the knowledge that Emanuel was 26 years of age and Ida was 22. We also notice that at the bottom of the document it states "subscribed and sworn to before me this 8th day of January A.D. 1910".  With the collection covering 1860-1949, most of the couples should be search able in the various United States census records, which will help verify the information and possibly link them to their families. The collection can be searched for free at

11 March 2014

New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815-1938

The registration of deaths in Canada began in 1887. The government wanted to keep a written record of the population for their own use. With the passing of the Vital Statistics Act of 1887, governments began to collect the records of death. Some of those records predate the act, and because of that the collection includes some records as far back as 1815.

This collection, New Brunswick Provincial Deaths, 1815 - 1938, which has been published by FamilySearch, includes over 177,000 images which are name search able.
I did a basic search for David Cohen, husband of Molly, who I knew died in December of 1935 at just under 50 years of age. The search results gave me the following information.

 In addition to extracting all the information from the death record, the results also includes the Family History Library microfilm number (2167255), from which this record was extracted. The original record (below) can also be view by clicking on the view document tab.

This collection can be viewed free of charge at

28 February 2014

Hoop Lane Cemetery, London, England

The Hoop Lane Cemetery, also known as the Golders Green Cemetery is located in the Borough of Barnet, in London. Hoop Lane, which had its first burial  in 1895, is a fascinating place to visit. The first thing that I noticed when I visited a few months ago, is that the cemetery has two distinct parts.

The eastern side of Hoop Lane is a very traditional Sephardic cemetery (above picture), where the gravestones are laid horizontal. The east side is used by the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation. The western part of the cemetery is maintained by the West London Synagogue, and it is a more traditional Askenazic cemetery, the stones being upright (below).

Regardless of which side you visit, its hard not to be in awe of the stories the stones tell. Our ancestors went through so much as they laid down the foundations for our own lives. For example, as with many cemeteries, Hoop Lane has a good number of remembrances for those who paid the ultimate price defending their country.  The stone pictured at the right, marks the death of Lieut. Ronald Lucas Quixano Henriques. who lost his life at the Battle of Aisne on September 14th, 1914. Even though he "Rests On The Field Of Battle", he is remembered here. Just a few stones away a brother is also remembered. We have so many who have died protecting us, may we never forget them.

 History, reminds us how many men and women have died serving their country, however not all who perish during wartime are members of the military. The stone at left marks the Belasco family, torn apart by enemy action on December 14th, 1944. The strength to carry on after 3 family members are lost is remarkable.

 As I walked past one headstone, I couldn't help but stop and soon found myself lost in thought over the events of January 30, 1962 for the families of David and Betty (Jacobs) Goldberg. They had just celebrated a happy event, the marriage David and Betty. Shortly there after, the young couple, while on their honeymoon, died together. I do not know what happened, and reading it I had many emotions, however, I found great comfort in the line that reads "Forever together never to be parted".

I am thankful for all those who have sacrificed so much. May they truly never be forgotten.

The information gathered from the stones has now been added to the Knowles Collection- Jews of the British Isles, and will be available after the next update, which will be very soon.

14 February 2014

Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953

In previous posts on this blog, the births and marriages records of the State of Ohio have been discussed. Now, the death certificates from the state of Ohio for the years 1908-1953 have been added to the Published Collections section at
As of today, the collection includes over 7.3 million images, which were are copies of the original death certificates.

The image above (which can also be found on FHL Film #2022731) is the death certificate of Max Cohen, who was born in 1873 in Latvia. He died on 24 Oct 1936 in Akron, Summit, Ohio. We also learn that he was a widow, his wife Bertha, having preceded him. We also learn the names of his parents, Leon Hyman Cohen and Rachael Mirvis. One very important piece of information which would help the researcher locate all the family members is that even though he died in Ohio, the burial took place in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

When combined with the other Ohio databases mentioned above, people with ancestry in the state of Ohio should be able to build a good picture of their families. This collection as with all the others at is available free of charge from the comfort of your own home.

04 February 2014

Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885 -1950

This past week a large collection of records was added to that should be very beneficial to many with Jewish ancestry. The collection, Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950, includes over 2.2 million images of marriages certificates from various Pennsylvania counties. The collection is name search able and provides some incredible information.
I did a search for a marriage that I knew took place in Pennsylvania in the early 1900's, that of  Nathaniel David Kremer to Effie Bertha Cohen. Using the standard search box at
FamilySearch, I was able to receive the following information.

In addition to the date of the marriage I now know the names of both sets of parents, as well as the estimated dates of births for both the bride and groom. In addition, by clicking on the tab to view the original document it is also possible to see the original Application for Marriage License as well as the Original Marriage License (below).

By being able to view the original documents, we are now able to gain additional information such as the addresses of the bride and groom as well as their occupations. We also now know that the marriage was performed by the Rabbi Louis Silver. This database should be a great access for families in Pennsylvania.

28 January 2014

The Kelly Street Historic Jewish Cemeteries of Indianapolis, Indiana

By the middle of the 19th century, the population of the city of Indianapolis, Indiana included a large German community. Sometime shortly before 1856, the earliest of the Jewish settlers in Indianapolis also made this community their home. In 1856, the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation (IHC) was formed, which became the first in the city.As the congregation grew older it became necessary to buy land for the burials of its members and
that they did so. A large piece of land  was purchased on Kelly Street.

Over time, especially with the immigration from Eastern Europe in the 1880s, more and more immigrants meant more synagogues. They all needed to have their own burial grounds, so land was sold to them by IHC. This led to the land actually become not one but eight burial grounds serving the various Jewish Congregations. Those congregations were;
  • Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation 
  • Shara Tefilo                                     
  • Ohev Zedeck                                     
  • Knesses Israel                                  
  • United Hebrew Congregation           
  • Esras Achem                                   
  • Congregation Etz Haim Sefarad    
  • Congregation Beth-El Zedeck          
Beginning in 2006 the Kelly Street Historic Jewish Cemetery project was formed. Under the direction of Gloria Green, the project leader, teams set out to document and photograph the records of the burials in these historical cemeteries located on Kelly Street. Their incredible work has led to having the information on over 5,600 burials preserved for future generations. Thanks to their service to the Jewish community of Indianapolis and the world, these great people, who have passed, will never be forgotten.

I am also extremely humbled to have had a copy of this project donated to the Knowles Collection- Jews of North America. It will be available for all after the next update.