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JewishGen ShtetlSeeker — New and Improved

July 1, 2005

JewishGen is very pleased to announce a new and improved version of its ShtetlSeeker database, the gazetteer of towns in Central and Eastern Europe.  The new version of the ShtetlSeeker includes many new features, including the expansion of its scope, updated USBGN data for many countries, accented character displays, complete synonym display, more choices of mapping software, direct links to town radius searches, and other improvements.  These features are described in details below.

  • Expanded scope — from 24 countries to 31 countries:

    • The new ShtetlSeeker now contains data for all former Soviet Republics: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; plus Turkey.

  • Updated data for many countries:

    • New USBGN data for former Soviet republics:
      Armenia, Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine — Updated from 1970 to 1996 gazetteers.
      Includes new native Belarussian/Ukrainian/Moldovan names.  (The former version of the ShtetlSeeker used the Soviet-era Russian-language names as the native names.)
    • New USBGN data for the Balkan countries:
      Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia — Updated from 1983 to 1996 gazetteers.
    • More towns — The total number of entries has grown from 589,803 to 766,955.

  • Accented characters displayed:

    • Town names are now displayed in their proper native form, with accented characters in Polish, Czech, Lithuanian, etc.

  • All synonyms for a town now shown together:

    • Instead of separate entries for each synonym, all alternate names for each town are shown together in one entry, for easy cross-reference.
    • The native name is shown in bold.  (The former version of the ShtetlSeeker used an 'N' to distinguish the Name Type).

  • Choice of mapping software, in addition to MapQuest:

    • Expedia maps
    • MultiMap

  • Radius Search — Better Integration:

    • In the Town Search results display, there is a link to a display of all towns within 10 miles.
      (In the former version of the ShtetlSeeker, the central town's latitude and longitude had to be input manually).
    • The "Another Search" link fills in default parameters, for easier subsequent searches.
    • Radius searches can be filtered to towns starting with a certain prefix.

The new JewishGen ShtetlSeeker can be found at http://www.jewishgen.org/Communities.


Changes to the JGFF

In conjunction with the improvements to the ShtetlSeeker, some changes have been made to the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF).

  • Updated placenames to modern native names:
    The names of some localities have been changed, to reflect their current native-language names.  This mostly affects the new nations created by the breakup of the former Soviet Union in 1991: Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova.  The former version of the JGFF was still using the Soviet-era Russian-language names of most localities (as did the former version of the JewishGen ShtetlSeeker, and the original 1991 edition of Where Once We Walked).  We have now converted all place-names over to the new native Belarusian, Ukrainian and Moldovan language names (as per the latest U.S. Board on Geographic Names data), to be in sync with the new JewishGen ShtetlSeeker, and the 2002 Revised Edition of Where Once We Walked.

  • Town Synonym Table:
    To assist users searching for towns by their former names, JewishGen has created an internal "Town Synonym Table" for the JGFF.  The Town Synonym Table consists of alternate, historical, and misspelled names of localities.  Thus all of the place-names which we converted in the previous item are still accessible, via the Town Synonym Table.  You can opt to use the Town Synonym Table when searching the JGFF (for exact-spelling matches only).  When you choose to use the Town Synonym Table, your entries are automatically converted into their modern native equivalents.  For example, "Vilna, Russia" ⇒ "Vilnius, Lithuania";  "Lemberg, Austria" ⇒ "Lviv, Ukraine".

  • Improved search interface:
    The "Search Type" for Surname and Town Name can now each be specified separately, providing for more refined searches.  Previously, a single "Search Type" ("Standard", "Wildcard", "D-M Soundex", "Partial Text") applied to both the Surname and Town Name parameters.  We have also redesigned and renamed the "Search Types" to be more intuitive: "Is Exactly", "Starts With", "Sounds Like", and "Contains".

  • Privacy Improvements:
    As part of ongoing security measures, we have changed the format of the JGFF search results, to eliminate the display of all email adresseses.  All contacts will now be made via JewishGen's Blind Contact System, to protect the security of our users.  Each researcher has the option of displaying their name and/or postal address.  For more information, see the JGFF FAQ.

The JewishGen Family Finder is located at http://www.jewishgen.org/JGFF.  Complete information about the JGFF can be found in the "JGFF-FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about the JewishGen Family Finder".


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