In this blog I want to share resources that I hope will help you build your Jewish genealogy tree. Because many Jewish families’ kinship links were fragmented by immigration and the Holocaust, it can be difficult to uncover Jewish ancestors. Moreover, obstacles such as name changes, towns that no longer exist, and shifting national boundaries have created barriers to tracing Jewish genealogy and family history.
There is good news though! There are more resources available now than were in the past. Previously closed archives, such as some in the former Soviet Union, have recently made their holdings public. Many genealogical and historical societies, whose interests are focused on Jewish genealogy and history as well as family roots, have indexed and posted historical documents online. Jewish genealogy resources have become more organized and available so more professional genealogists are knowledgeable about Jewish family history. Many family historians will now be able to take their trees back two or more generations than was possible five years ago. If you are a first-time genealogist, or stuck someplace on your family tree, these links will help you in your search for your Jewish roots.
JewishGen is one of the best all-around resources for tracing Jewish genealogy. It has multiple data bases and over 20 million records that can be accessed for free! In one of their data bases, Family Finder, there are over 90,000 researchers you can link with and 450,000 entries. There are also discussion forums where you can interact and with other family historians on specific topics. On this site almost everyone will find something relevant to their family Jewish genealogy. There is so much information on the JewishGen website that it can be overwhelming, but don’t worry, there is a Get Started menu where you can learn how to use the site to your best advantage.
Lithuanian-Jewish Family History Resources
There are several good resources for family historians whose family links trace back to Lithuania. LitvakSIG has a free searchable database with more than 1.1 million. You can take a membership out for $36.00/year and access considerably more information such as historical documents, archived materials, maps, an image library, and a digest and scholarly journal.
The Jewish Family History website focuses on Jewish families who lived in Poland-Lithuania during the 17th and 18th centuries. The research group translates documents and provides maps, photos, town lists, and surnames. One of the valuable features of this site you can determine what the names of towns were in the past and what the towns are now called. The same applies to surnames. Though not a lot of documents such as census, this website has valuable information that will help you identify your family roots in Lithuania.
The Lithuanian Jewish Family History Research Guide from the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute provides four pages of useful resource links. The LITHUANIA-JEWISH-L is a listserv and is another good resource for family genealogists tracing their 18th century Jewish roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
It is sad to think that most Jewish people living today had one or more relatives that died during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem is the main center for Holocaust education, remembrance, research, and documentation. Yad Vashem’s online site contains a list and biography of two-thirds of the six million Jews who died as a result of the Holocaust, a photo archive, exhibitions, untold stories section, and many other resources of interest to family historians.
Jewish Genealogical Society
The Jewish Genealogical Society is based in New York City but has members throughout the world who access its genealogical services, including information and resources, much of which is online. There is a members’ fee but they do offer much in return: field trips, annual summer seminars held across the United States and worldwide, an annual conference, a library, archives, podcasts, access to more than 500,000 records, and exclusive databases. Additionally, members have free to access to the Jewishdata.org database.
Genealogical researcher Jeffrey Malka, an expert in Sephardic genealogy, has a website where he shares vital genealogical resources for those interested in Sephardic family history. His site at sephardicgen.com contains 27 databases and links to many offsite databases. You will also find on this site Sephardic history, archives, a gazetteer, family trees, and many other useful resources. For more information on Jeffrey Malka, visit Kim Richards’ blog Dr. Jeffrey Malka – Author of “Sephardic Genealogy” – Shares Important Research Tips for Jewish Genealogy.
Yasher Ko’ach – well done in tracing your genealogy tree, stay the path because it is a good act of remembrance, a path to learning who you are and a family treasure!
For help with your Jewish genealogy and Jewish family history search, consider the assistance of a genealogy ancestry service. You can speak to a professional genealogist well versed in Jewish genealogy today at recordclick.com.