I live most of the time in Spain only thirty minutes by car from Gibraltar. I discovered that Gibraltar is a territory of the United Kingdom and has been since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Gibraltar passports and driving licenses have UK stamped across them and it is strange when one goes across the border to find traditional English policemen (albeit many with Spanish accents) and red buses.
It was with that thought that I decided to approach the Gibraltar Jewish Community to find out if they might be willing to allow their records to go online. An appointment was made with their archivist, Mesod Belilo, and with fear and trepidation I went to meet him expecting to be thrown out on my ear. Far from it. Mesod is a wonderful and knowledgeable man who was quite delighted at the idea that more Sephardim would be able to find ancestors amongst the couple of hundred thousand plus records held in the All-UK database (www.jewishgen.org/databases/UK) and personally had great foresight to realise how invaluable the records would be to worldwide genealogists. First though he had to persuade the Board of the Community. After quite a number of visits I finally signed the agreement with them last week.
JCR-UK has a new tab at the top, Gibraltar, to join England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Channel Island and the Isle of Man. The four synagogues which opened in the 18th and 19th centuries and which are still active are represented on the site with photographs.
There are photographs of a few graves of the Jewish evacuees who died whilst in Northern Ireland during Word War II. The non combatant inhabitants of Gibraltar, some 10,000 to 11,000 , were first evacuated to Morocco but were shortly thereafter sent back and then went to England and from there some to Northern Ireland and a few others to Jamaica.
The first tranche of vital records are in the All-UK database and will be joined by many more once they have been transcribed.
I do hope that there are many of you who will look at the Gibraltar web pages and search for records amongst the Gibraltar population of a couple of centuries ago.
I have been extremely busy over the past few weeks doing things to improve the look and feel of our sister site Jewish Communities and Research – United Kingdom (JCR-UK) www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk, and negotiating with the Gibraltar Jewish Community for the inclusion of their vital records.
Firstly JCR-UK’s new look. The main site had not been radically redesigned since its inception over ten years ago and was looking old fashioned and terribly bitty without a theme continuing through all pages. Having designed a main and subsidiary template, with new font and colour, I set about putting all the old pages onto it. I had not realised what a deep and fascinating website JCR-UK is until I started. Although I knew the idea was to cover every congregation and community in the United Kingdom (including Southern Ireland, now the Republic of Ireland), the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, I had not realised how extensive that coverage was. There are approximately 5,000 pages as part of the site and that doesn’t include vital records which are found at www.jewishgen.org/databases/UK.
JCR-UK’s webmaster, David Shulman, has done a wonderful job since he took over some seven or eight years ago. He has written pages on the Jews of England Pre 1290, updated most of the congregational pages with more information and just yesterday included a list of synagogues that were destroyed or partial destroyed by German bombs in WWII. He must be congratulated on a superb job well done.
I hope you will be pleased with the new look of the website and will be able to surf around it more easily.
Petra Laidlaw has done an update to her incredible database which is available to read about and search exclusively at http://www.jgsgb.org.uk/1851-database. This is a most exciting work which covers Jewish families backwards and forwards through the years with a starting point of the 1851 census. JGSGB is proud to be the only website which gives details of Petra’s study and the facility to search for names. Regular users of the AJDB will notice that the ability to search by ID has been removed. This has been done to add extra security to the valuable information.
Thank you Petra for your many years of hard work and research which has been invaluable to so many genealogists worldwide. You are an inspiration.
Whenever a new database is uploaded it invariably creates frustrations and difficulties for me with the technical side of the process. I must pay special tribute to our member Michael Tobias (also JewishGen Vice President). He has come once again to my rescue with his expertise and has also devised a way of adding security to the database. I could not have done it without him and both JGSGB and I pay tribute to his ‘coming to the rescue’ once again.