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Ancestral Discovery

Mark Fearer is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado.

Census records keys to family history

In my last column, I talked about the importance of vital records. But the starting point for most family historians in authenticating family information is the US Federal Census. Although I briefly mentioned it in the past few columns, I’ll flesh it out here.

Since 1790, the federal government has had a keen interest in counting its residents (notice I didn’t say citizens), which it has done every 10 years. Of course, for most Jews, the late 1800s and early 1900s are the most pertinent censuses. Unfortunately for us, the 1890 census was tragically lost in a fire. (A few partial state lists survived, but very little for Jewish population centers.)

However, the early 1900 censuses can be very helpful.

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 October 2008 01:37 )

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Vital records really are vital

As I have mentioned before, accuracy is critical in genealogy. There are many genealogies-family histories, both in books and online, that have flaws (minor and major ones), so verifying information is crucial.One reason they may be inaccurate is the lack of documentation. Vital records, which typically encompass birth, marriage, divorce and death records are primary sources, and often form the foundation of any accurate family history.Religious institutions have kept these kinds of records for ...

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 October 2008 06:01 )

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Our ancestral names

A common stumbling block for genealogists is names — and as you might imagine, Jewish names can be quite challenging. Given Names A quick primer for given (first) names:Most of our Eastern European ancestors had “Jewish” names that were often a combination of Yiddish and Hebrew names. In addition, they probably had a secular name for whatever country they lived in.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 October 2008 06:00 )

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Some nifty websites

My last column about great Jewish genealogy websites focused on the best site, Jewishgen.org. But a few more mentions are in order.With several of these websites, it is critical to know what town-shtetl your ancestors are from — this is especially true if you are researching fairly common names (Levy, Rosenblum, Goldstein, etc.) Readers of my previous columns have been forewarned that if they are very lucky, they’ve already found this out from interviews with relatives, or might be able to f...

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 October 2008 06:00 )

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Best Jewish genealogy websites

Finding your family requires two major tools: methodology and resources. We have previously focused on genealogical methods, so this month we’ll look at resources.Jewish genealogists and family historians are far more fortunate today than just 10 years ago. The Internet is rich with websites to aid you in starting or improving your genealogy skills.The Internet has a great collection of databases, and help give a deeper context to our ancestors’ lives through pictures, testimony, memories an...

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 October 2008 06:00 )

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