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JewishGen has, once again, come to the assistance of roots
researchers by signing an agreement with the Ellis Island Foundation
that allows full restoration of Stephen Morse's fantastic search aids
to Ellis Island records. For those of you who don't subscribe to
Gary Mokotoff's bulletins, here's his report including a description
of the the special feature that JewishGen's Michael Tobias and
Stephen Morse developed for searching Jewish immigrants.
To ensure that JewishGen can continue to provide this kind of service
on behalf of us all and to show your appreciation for the restoration
of this vital resource, please make a donation today. As of October
18 we have raised $111,081 toward the $300,000 needed by the year's
end. Click on http://www.jewishgen.org/JewishGen-erosity/
follow the instructions to make your contribution.
At 8:11 AM -0400 10/22/02, email@example.com wrote:
Morse/Ellis Island Dispute Resolved
The dispute between Stephen Morse and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
Foundation (SLEIF) has been resolved. JewishGen has signed a contractual
agreement with SLEIF to "provide enhanced search capabilities for the Ellis
Island Database." The immediate benefit is the reestablishment of the full
functionality of Morse's "Searching the Ellis Island Database in One-Step"
The negotiation between JewishGen and SLEIF was done in rather quick time.
It was less than two months ago that SLEIF approached Morse with complaints
about his site and proposed that there be a contractual relationship between
him and the Foundation. Morse decided he did not want to go through the
hassle which would involve lawyers and negotiations. Instead he elected to
shut down his site. Avotaynu came to the rescue with the interim solution of
making available his Main Page, which provided the One Step capability. At
about the same time, JewishGen approached both Morse and SLEIF and, upon
discovering what SLEIF was offering Morse, decided they were willing to
accept the essence of the SLEIF proposal. JewishGen is used to negotiating
with institutions and has lawyers to advise them.
The reestablishment of all the Morse functionality at the JewishGen site
hopefully is the tip of the iceberg. It includes the One Step Page, the
Missing Manifest Page and the so-called Jewish Page. The Missing Manifest
page, in actuality, is an embarrassment to the SLEIF technicians. It exists
only because the Ellis Island database site, located at
http://www.ellisislandrecords.org, sometimes does not display the actual
ship's manifests. Hopefully, this will motivate them now to clean up the
More significant is the so-called Jewish page. It provides functionality
that does not exist in the SLEIF system. Properly this functionality should
be made available over the entire Ellis Island database. As examples, it
should be possible to search for town of ancestry for any immigrant ethnic
group. Soundex searching would solve a host of misspelling problems that
exist in the database.
My personal experience is that the Jewish Page has such powerful search
capabilities that if you know enough about your immigrant
ancestor--approximate year of birth (within five years), sex, marital
status, approximate year of arrival (within ten years)--in many instances,
you need not specify the person's name--only the initial letter of last
The functionality on the Jewish page includes:
1. Ability to search first and/or last name using the Daitch-Mokotoff
2. Ability to search first and/or last name by contained strings (e.g.,
searching for all last names that contain "berg", or that contain "koto" and
3. Ability to search by town (including starts with, sounds like, or
4. Ability to search by year of birth. The Main Morse search
form relies on
the limited ability of the Ellis Island database to search by range of age
at time of arrival. It is more likely that the searcher knows the
approximate year of birth and approximate year of arrival. The ability to
search by year of birth is a very valuable feature because it allows you to
restrict the number of hits considerably. For example, if you know that an
ancestor was born between 1880 and 1885 and arrived at Ellis Island between
1900 and 1910, using the limited Ellis Island database functionality, you
would need to compute his age at arrival as between 15 (1900-1885) and 30
(1910-1880). That 15 year span will produce many false hits. But if instead
you entered his year of birth which had only a 5 year span, you will get
many fewer hits.
5. Ability to search by marital status.
6. Ability to specify the number of hits per page. The New
on the Main Morse page, developed by Yves Goulnik, provides comparable
function, but only for four values: 25, 50, 75, and 100. The Jewish form
lets you enter any value you want so you can see all your hits at once, even
if it is in the thousands.
7. Ability to search by arrival day and/or month. The Main Morse search
form only allows you to search by arrival year.
8. Ability to specify any port name. The Main Morse search
form only has a
partial set of ports >from which you must chose. Ability to search for ports
by leading characters or by contained strings.
9. Ability to search for ship's name by leading characters.
The Main Morse
search form requires that you specify the name of the boat exactly, and even
then you might not get a match because of the way the boat keys were entered
in the database.