Finding your family requires two major tools: methodology and resources. We have previously focused on genealogical methods, so this month well 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 and other evidence of the past.
Easily, the most useful website for Jewish genealogists is Jewishgen.org. This 13-year old treasure trove of information should be bookmarked, as it contains perhaps hundreds of millions of records of many kinds, along with a cornucopia of resources that are invaluable.
The ‘Learn’ section contains great resources for getting started in Jewish genealogy, along with Infofiles, a collection of very informative articles on a wide range of topics that will help your research.
Under the ‘Research’ section, is the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) which is a compilation of surnames and towns currently being researched by over 80,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide.
It contains over 400,000 entries: 100,000 ancestral surnames and 18,000 town names, according to the webpage.
Within the extensive database listing in this section, youll find the JewishGen Holocaust Database almost two million entries regarding Holocaust victims and survivors, from many sources. Youll also find the The JewishGen ShtetlSeeker, a great way to find that shtetl youre looking for, thats spelled eight different ways.
The ‘Projects and Activities’ section includes The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), where youll find an index to almost a million Jewish burials throughout the world.
The Yizkor Book Project Database allows you to find the many memorial books written about hundreds of shtetls and larger towns which may not exist anymore, but mentions many of the residents.
Under ‘Discussion Groups’ is an important resource that encompasses methodology and resources the JewishGen Discussion Group listserve. Anyone can subscribe, and ask questions or just learn about the many aspects of Jewish genealogy.
The Special Interest Group (SIGs) contains a gold mine of groups devoted to almost any Eastern and Central European country, where most Ashkenazi Jews emigrated from. Within those SIGs you might find vital records translated through hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, from a variety of languages.
For example, if you knew you had ancestors in Poland, you might find a translated index to their birth, marriage or death records and how to obtain them, at the jri-poland.org group listed there (which is actually separate from Jewishgen).
These are just a few of the collections youll find at Jewishgen there is far more than can be described here.
All of these databases are continually growing, so if you checked it months ago, its time to check again.
All of JewishGens material is free to use, although if you use it more than once or twice, you should strongly consider supporting their work financially (or volunteer).
An even larger Holocaust database is Yad Vashem, a collection of over three million ‘pages of testimony’ by survivors of those who were killed or lost.
Found at yadvashem.org, it offers a very large accounting of what became of victims and survivors of the Shoah.