Need Help Tracing Your Jewish Roots?
A Five-minute Guide to Jewish Genealogical Research
Some Basics of Jewish Genealogy
JewishGen Family Finder. The most valuable database to assist you is the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF). It is a list of surnames and towns being researched by more than 55,000 Jewish genealogists throughout the world. Go to the JGFF site and see if any other genealogists are researching your family name. In most cases, it will give you the person's e-mail address so you can contact the individual and jump start your research. If you know the town from which your family came, also use JGFF to see if others are researching your town. A word of caution before using JGFF. The same name can be spelled different ways in different countries, so when you use JGFF change the SEARCH TYPE from Standard to the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex option.
Consolidated Jewish Surname Index. The next step is to locate reference material that contains information about your family name. Go to the Consolidated Jewish Surname Index and key in your family name. It will make you aware of up to 42 different sources of information that contain your family name. When the information is displayed by CJSI you will only see codes next to your name. Scroll the screen down to see what these codes represent and they will link to other places on the Web that will give you a more detailed description of the source and how to access the source (an Internet database, a reference book, etc). Be sure to research all spelling variants of your name that are shown.
Family Tree of the Jewish People. The final Internet database worth looking at is the Family Tree of the Jewish People. This is a database of family trees that have been submitted by Jewish genealogists. It contains more than 2 million individuals. Members of your family may already be on other researcher's family tree and this database will link you up with the researcher.
Jewish Genealogical Societies
There are some 80 Jewish genealogical societies in the world. If there is one in your area, we strongly recommend that you join the society. At their meetings you will be able to discuss your research with experts that can point you in the right direction. A complete list of societies is available at http://www.iajgs.org/Member-Index.htm
Books, Maps, Microfiche, Videos
Avotaynu is the leading supplier of works of interest to Jewish researchers. We have published books on names, towns, getting started, and a host of other topics. Browse our web site to see what we offer. We have made it simple to order our products with a shopping cart system. Start at the Avotaynu Home Page and browse our Book, Journal, Microfiche, Maps, Other books and CD-ROM Web pages. If you are unsure what to buy, click the Recommendations button to see what we recommend.
We saved the best for last. It is also the one area on the Web where you can spend hours looking at the wealth of information available. JewishGen supports the JewishGen Family Finder and Family Tree of the Jewjeankathryn@hotmail.co.ukish People previously mentioned. But there is much, much more. Subscribe to their Discussion Group and you can post a personal message that will be read within 24 hours by more than 5,000 Jewish genealogists throughout the world. Maybe one of them can answer your query. Go into the Discussion Group archives to see if any questions have been asked (it goes back to 1993) that may be of interest to you. The JewishGen environment is too huge to describe here. Just go to the JewishGen Home Page and browse, and browse and browse.
Good luck in your research!
Please do not contact Avotaynu with questions about your personal research. We are not geared to handle inquiries of that nature. Instead, contact your local Jewish genealogical society or post a message on the JewishGen Discussion Group.
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