AVOTAYNU presents a list of World Wide Web (WWW) sites that might prove useful for Jewish genealogy research. The list is certainly not exhaustive, but all sites were valid at the time this article was written. Web sites are not static; some sites cease to exist; other sites move to new addresses and new sites are created daily. Additions and updates to the sites listed above are welcome and should be e-mailed to Avotaynu at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article will be placed on the Avotaynu Web site, http://www.avotaynu.com, and will be updated as required.
General Jewish Genealogy Information
JewishGen: By far the most comprehensive Web site for Jewish genealogy, JewishGen is your best starting point. It will lead you the subsections of JewishGen described below as well as link you to many other useful sites. Be sure to try the "Tutorial" button, which offers training on how best to use this site.
JewishGen InfoFile Index: More than 100 JewishGen InfoFiles provide information on topics relevant to Jewish genealogical research. They include such varied topics as "Jewish records from Belarus at the LDS Family History Library (with microfilm numbers)," "How to Interpret New York Passenger Arrival Index Cards," "Vital Records in Poland," and "Surfing the Net for Relatives." Read the info files before asking questions on the JewishGen discussion group.
FAQ-Frequently Asked Questions About Jewish Genealogy. Warren Blatt has written an outstanding, concise document useful to both beginners and more experienced researchers. Print this out first and read it carefully before you post questions on the JewishGen discussion group; you may find your answer in this InfoFile. If you know of someone who is interested in getting started in Jewish genealogy research, FAQ would be an excellent guide to help them.
Index to the First 24 Volumes of AVOTAYNU: This site will enable you to locate prior articles on subjects that you are researching. AVOTAYNU maintains an index to selected articles that appeared in the first 24 volumes (1985-2008) of the publication. Once you determine in which issue the articles appeared, you can obtain the back issues directly from AVOTAYNU.
Avotaynu Home Page: Avotaynu, Inc. maintains a presence on the Web where you can read about the various books and other products it sells.
Consolidated Jewish Surname Index (CJSI) is your gateway to information about more than 699,00 Jewish surnames that appear in more than 42different databases (see "Avotaynu Puts Database on Web," Vol. XII, No. 3., Fall 1996). The databases together include more than 1,000,000 entries. By accessing CJSI, you can determine immediately which of these databases have surnames of interest and eliminate the need to waste time referencing each database to find that surnames of interest to you are not there. CJSI is sequenced in soundex order using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System rather than pure alphabetic sequence; therefore, the spelling variants of the name you are searching will be grouped together.
JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF): Here you can search by surname or town name and locate other people who are researching your names or towns. It provides mailing addresses and (in some cases) e-mail addresses. Contact these researchers to determine if a connection exists to your family. Others may have already done much research on your family or town; considerable time and effort may be saved if they are willing to share their data. From this site, you can enter your own names and towns into the JGFF database or modify your previous submissions to the database.
Social Security Death Index: Here you can enter a surname and get a listing of people who died, generally in the U.S., plus some individuals with U.S. Social Security numbers who died overseas. Close to 98 percent of the entire index contains individuals who died after 1962 (when the Social Security Administration began keeping the database on computer). The index includes the name, Social Security number, date of birth, date of death (usually month and year), state where the Social Security number was obtained, and, in most cases, the location (ZIP code) of last residence or where survivor checks were mailed. With this information you can write to the Freedom of Information Officer at the SSA in Baltimore. For $7.00 per name you will receive a copy of the individual's application for a Social Security card. The application will have the names of the parents, place of birth and considerable other potentially useful information. With the information from the index and the Social Security application, you will be able to request birth and death certificates, and obituary notices. A very informative article about the Social Security Death Index is located at http://www.ancestry.com/ssdi/article.htm. (see also AVOTAYNU, Vol. VIII, No. 1, page 42)
JewishGen Communities Database and JewishGen Gazetteer: From here you can search for towns in Central and Eastern Europe using the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system. The search will display latitude and longitude for each location, as well as the distance to the country's capital city. You can also list all of the towns (with multiple spellings) within a certain distance of given latitude/longitude coordinates. Volunteers are currently constructing graphical mapping functions into Shtetl Seeker. In the future, you will be able to click on a button after your search and bring up a map showing exactly where your shtetl is located. This option is now available for Poland.
Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (JRI-Poland): is a database containing indexes of 19th-century Jewish vital records from Poland available at LDS (Mormon) Family History Centers as well as records in the Polish State Archives not filmed by the LDS. From the indexes, one can determine quickly the number of the particular microfilm that may include a specific document of interest or obtain instructions on how to order a copy of the record from the Polish State Archives. The database does not include all the vital record indexes for Poland; as of May 2001, JRI-Poland reported more than 5 million records indexed, with more being added weekly. Searches may be done by surname and geographical area. Records come from all areas of present-day Poland as well as some for areas that were once part of greater Poland.
Yizkor Book Database: When you search for a particular town in this database, you will receive a report describing books for that locality. The report will include names of individuals known to be interested in those books, if any, are included in the database. If there are no contact persons in the database, then the contact fields will be empty. Additions to this database are welcomed; instructions for doing so are provided at the site.
JewishGen Discussion Group Archives: This site provides the ability to use a keyword (surname, location, e-mail address) to search the database of all messages that have been posted to the JewishGen Discussion Group since September 1993. This should enable many readers to find useful information about towns, names, research techniques and any other topic that may have been included in messages that were posted to JewishGen. There are html links to the e-mail addresses of the individuals who posted the messages if you wish to send them a private message. Caution: Many people have changed their e-mail addresses since 1993.
1895 Vsia Rossiia Database : This searchable database is an index to the contents of Vsia Rossiia (All of Russia) of 1895, for Chernigov and Poltava guberniyas only. Today these areas are in north central Ukraine. There are 4,651 separate listings, but fewer individuals are involved; some persons are listed more than once because they had several businesses. Vsia Rossia is a business directory covering all of Russia. This site is comparable in function to the one at the Jewish Genealogical Society of Rochester noted above.
Cleveland Jewish Jews Obituary Database: This is a searchable database of more than 2,000 obituary notices that appeared in the Cleveland Jewish News. The index covers the years 1988 through 1996. For each entry, the index provides the deceased's name, date of death and in which issue of the Cleveland Jewish News the obituary appeared. Each entry usually has the deceased's age, birthplace and maiden name. The name of the cemetery occasionally is noted.
London Jews Database: This is a searchable database of names, addresses and other information about Jews who lived in London during the first half of the 19th century. It was compiled principally from London trade directories of the period, with a few other sources such as subscription lists and some printed obituaries.
HaMagid Persian Famine Donation Lists-Donors from Lithuania: The Persian Famine donation lists printed in the Russian Hebrew newspaper HaMagid in 1871 and 1872 provide a resource of names of 40,000-plus Jews from the Pale of Settlement, including more than 5,000 Lithuanian Jewish heads of families. The database is searchable by surname or by town.
Other Jewish Genealogy Related Sites
JOS: This program converts names to both the Daitch-Mokotoff and the U.S. National Archives soundex codes, calculates dates to/from Gregorian and Jewish calendars, and calculates distance and direction between towns in both kilometers and miles.
Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid: From this site you can do an on-line search of 3 million internments in Ontario. Jewish Cemeteries are included in the database.
International Jewish Cemetery Project: Follow the path to "accessing the information" and you will find a database of over 17,000 cemeteries around the world where Jews are burried. Is there a cemetery in your shtetl? Find out more about this project and how YOU can help add to the database.
Internet Address Finder: Locate someone's e-mail address by entering name. If you have an e-mail address and want to know who it belongs to, just enter the e-mail address and hit search. This site had almost 6 million entries and is growing daily.
Polish Jews Service: Find out how to get current photos of your Polish shtetl as well as information about Jewish cemeteries and other sites of Jewish interest. There is a charge for this service.
There is an ever-growing number of on-line telephone directories available to genealogists to help them locate potential living family members around the world. Many non-U.S. on-line telephone directories include only the yellow (business) pages and/or fax numbers, but the directories for Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Israel (Hebrew only), Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden currently have residential listings. Use them to locate names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses.
The Israeli white pages telephone directory, including exact addresses and latest updates of telephone, fax and cellular telephone numbers is accessible through the Israeli yellow pages (this site), but in Hebrew only.
Switchboard USA White Pages: Switchboard, a complete national directory for both private numbers and business numbers.
Yahoo People Search: Find people in the U.S. by their name or telephone number (reverse search or criss-cross).
Infospace: Toll-free, fax, business and residential numbers from the USA and Canada, based on Pro- CD's CD-ROMs. One of the few U.S. sources to specifically include a fax directory, but the fax numbers actually listed are quite limited. Also has a "blue pages" (government agency listings).
WhoWhere: Business and residential numbers for the USA, searchable by name and place. Unusually their search pages are also available in French and Spanish.
Archives, Libraries and Government Agencies
The number of people using the Internet is increasing daily, and various government agencies, archives and libraries have been establishing web sites of great value not only to Jewish genealogists, but to genealogists in general.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Accessing Museum Resources: Some of the museum's catalogues and finding aids are available on the Internet. Archive and library holdings may be searched individually or together using a sophisticated but simple query system. Entering words or phrases will lead to a list of items probably related to the query. Individual catalogue entries lead to direct links among items. The museum does not make original materials available over the Internet, but the catalogue entries are valuable indicators of the museum's holdings.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): NARA is the U.S. government agency responsible for overseeing the management of federal government records. From the home page, you can reach the Government Information Locator Service (GILS), a searchable database of information about NARA information resources with links to other sources of government information. Check the linked pages for additional valuable information about NARA.
Library of Congress Homepage: The user must explore the various links on this page. You will be able to reach numerous databases, search the online Library of Congress catalogue of its holdings by linking to the Library of Congress Information System (LOCIS) and selecting one of the two Telnet options. You can access catalogs at other libraries, plus a host of other resources for the genealogist.
YIVO Library: Supplies information on its holdings and major collections, and how to access them. This site does not yet have online searching capability.
State of New York Department of Health-Vital Records: Includes information about vital records In New York State, e.g., Where to Get Copies of Birth and Death Certificates, Where to Get Copies of Marriage And Divorce Certificates, Download Application Forms and Instructions for Requesting Birth/ Death/Marriage/Divorce Records, How to Obtain NY State Records for Genealogy Purposes, NYS Genealogy Records Request Form--Locations Outside of NY City, How to Obtain Records for Genealogy--Locations in NY City, and Adoption Information Registry.
Leona G. and David A. Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives: An excellent source of information about the Jews of the southwestern U.S. with numerous links to other Jewish web sites in the Southwest.
Maps and Locating Shtetls
Several web sites can provide maps for the locations you are searching:
Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection-University of Texas at Austin: This site has current color political maps from all over the world, including Central and Eastern Europe. Current city maps are available, as are a limited number of historical maps. Links to other map collections and map-related sites.
FEEFHS East European MAP ROOM: This site has 51 historical maps that can be viewed and printed. All but one of these maps are from Comprehensive Atlas and Geography of the World, (Edinburgh: Blackie and Sons, 1882.) The atlas covers almost all of Central and Eastern Europe, including all of the German and Russian Empires and most of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
MAPQUEST--Interactive World Atlas: Interactive atlas allows you to find any place in the world. Very detailed color maps, including streets, are available at this site. Just type in street, city and country and watch your map come up on the screen, capture the image and print it out.
General Genealogy Sites
Many web sites that are not specifically Jewish provide excellent resources for Jewish genealogists. Listed below are some of these sites.
MetaCrawler: This site boasts one of the best search engines available on the Internet. If you are looking for a name, an e-mail address, a subject, a place, or just about anything, then use this site. You can find messages about a particular subject that have been posted to various newsgroups. This is an excellent research tool.
Genealogy Home Page: Links to many genealogy sites, including libraries, searches, genealogy software, guides, etc.
Genealogy Resources in Canada: If you are reseaching family in Canada, check out this site. Find out how get get birth, dealth, marriage, divorce, adoption, and military records. Lots of links to other Canadian sites.
Vital Record Information--State Index: Provides detailed information on how to obtain vital records (birth, death, marriage and divorce) anywhere in the U.S.
FEEFHS Web Site Master IndexPage: This site offers an index to many useful index links to such subjects as Baltic nations Carpatho-Ruysn, Rusin, Ruthenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Galicia, Jewish, Slovak Republic and others.
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