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Avotaynu The International Review of Jewish Genealogy
The word Hebrew word Avotaynu means Our fathers or Our ancestors. Avotaynu, Inc., is the premier publishing company in the field of Jewish genealogical research. Its journal, Avotaynu, The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, is a must-read publication for persons doing Jewish genealogical research. In addition to the periodical, Avotaynu publishes a wide range of books, microfiche, and CDs and offers for sale books, maps, and videotapes published by other companies. All back issues of Avotaynu are available on CDROM as well as in printed form. Among the offerings available from Avotaynu are:
- Library Resources for German-Jewish Genealogy a concise directory of library sources and how to use them efficiently. The book gives details of scientific, university, and specialized German libraries that have material relevant to Jewish family research. It also explains how to access the most important Online Public Access Catalogues and how to use online ordering services.
- Finding Your Jewish Roots in Galicia: A Resource Guide. This is the definitive work on Galician-Jewish genealogical research. This book organizes what is known about Galician Jewish record searching and other resources to assist genealogists in tracing their Jewish Galician roots. Such resources include archival collections of Jewish vital and other records, geographic, visual and language aides, books, documents related to the Holocaust, and articles about travel and research in specific towns by members of Gesher Galicia, the Special Interest Group for Jewish genealogy.
- Microfiche. Recognizing that some works are worth publishing but are not commercially viable in printed form, Avotaynu has published more than 20 works on microfiche, an inexpensive way of making information available to the public.
Beth Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish People
Access to the unique Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beth Hatefutsoth in Israel is available via the Internet. In the Center, visitors can search a computerized database containing thousands of genealogies of Jewish families from all over the world and can also register their own family trees. More than 750,000 names have already been entered into the constantly expanding database. Visitors from all backgrounds can explore their ancestry and record and preserve their own family trees for future generations, thus adding their own branch to the family tree of the Jewish People. One can place an online search order and receive the initial results by e-mail. Printouts will then be sent to you by mail or fax. For more information, contact Ms. Diana Sommer, Director, the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center, Beth Hatefutsoth.
Fax: +972 3 646 2134
Tel: +972 3 646 2061/2
FEEFHS Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies
This Web site offers information on the best genealogy search engines, maps, and other information helpful to genealogists working on Eastern European family connections. Among the areas covered are Albania, Armenia , Latvia, Belarus, Bukovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. The snail mail address is Federation of East European Family History Societies, P. O. Box 510898, Salt Lake City, Utah 84151-0898. To use this website, you just type in the keyword a surname, full name, or place name. This website lists numerous home pages of helpful organizations all over the world. It also offers important news in the world of genealogy.
JewishGen: The Home of Jewish Genealogy
JewishGen is an excellent web site for beginners. Easy to use and navigate it includes the JewishGen Discussion Group, the JewishGen Family Finder (a database of over 70,000 surnames and towns), the comprehensive directory of InfoFiles, and a variety of databases like the ShtetlSeeker.
ShtetlSeeker, which can be reached directly at www.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker, helps you locate the shtetl (the small town or village in Eastern Europe) where an ancestor lived. Very often its difficult to find these towns because of variations in spelling. ShtetlSeeker provides optional spellings for the name of the town that you provide. For example, when I asked for a search of the name Skwira, which appeared in this spelling on one of my grandmothers documents, Shtetlseeker found Skvira located 61.3 miles Southwest of Kiev, which I knew to be correct. ShtetlSeeker also gives you the latitude and longitude for the place youre looking for and notes whether the name given to you is the native name or a variant.
JewishGen is staffed by volunteers and is supported by donations. It provides access to a number of different Jewish genealogical organizations, websites, and special interest groups. Among these are:
- The Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies. This is the umbrella group for the more than 60 Jewish genealogical societies in the world. At its Web site, you can get the name and address of the society nearest to you. By joining a Jewish genealogical society, you will have access to people who can help you in your research as well as a number of books and databases of use in your research.
- Regional Special Interest Groups. These are research and discussion groups interested in a particular region. Some of the current SIGs include :Galicia, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary.
- The JewishGen InfoFile Index is a rich research and information source for both beginning and more advanced Jewish genealogists. There is a wide variety of topics and information. Among the countries covered are Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russian Empire, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States.
Stammbaum Journal of German-Jewish Genealogy
Established in 1993, Stammbaum is an English-language publication specializing in German-Jewish genealogy. Besides covering information about Germany, it also covers areas of German historic and linguistic influence including Austria, Switzerland, Alsace, and Bohemia. Stammbaum is affiliated with the Leo Baeck Institute (www.lbi.org; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), which publishes this journal twice a year.
The Stammbaum website is an excellent example of the crossover between the Internet and traditional published sources. On the website, one can find Tables of Contents of previous journals, a Surname Index and a Place Name Index included in previous publications. Having this information can help the genealogist narrow the search and determine which back issues may be helpful. The website also lists the cost of subscriptions to the journal and provides the snail mail and the e-mail address for the Leo Baeck Institute. In addition, like many other websites, it provides links to other important Jewish genealogy websites.
soc.genealogy.jewish (a Jewish genealogy newsgroup)
USENET is a worldwide bulletin board system now containing over 36,000 forums, called newsgroups. As a USENET newsgroup, accessed through the Internet, soc.genealogy.jewish permits the genealogist to post inquiries about his or her own research and to scan posted messages. The group is moderated; the messages submitted are monitored before being posted. This ensures that the group will be free of postings that are not relevant to their interests.
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research is dedicated to the study and preservation of the Eastern European Jewish heritage. Since its founding in 1925, it has become the world’s preeminent research institute and academic center for Eastern European Jewish Studies. The website provides an overview of the YIVO’s extensive collections. Of special interest to Jewish genealogists are the following holdings:
- Memorial Books (650 volumes).
- During the decades after World War II, mutual aid societies known as landsmanshaftn published approximately 700 memorial volumes (yisker-bikher; sifre-zikaron) about the Jewish communities of Poland and neighboring countries. These collective compilations represent the most extensive and often the only published accounts of Jewish life in cities and shtetlekh throughout Eastern Europe.
- The VIVO Library has quite a bit of information regarding specific cities and towns in Eastern Europe, including encyclopedias, gazetteers, and 600 memorial books reference books on the etymology and geographical distribution of Jewish family names. The Library also owns many biographical directories and lexicons. These will be helpful if your ancestor was fairly well known.
- The YIVO Archives boast a collection of thousands of photographs, indexed by town and searchable on videodisk, using a computer keyboard and mouse. The Archives also has a special collection of old landsmanshaft records.
BSZNet published by Bnei Shaare Zion Congregation
This website is a good jumping off point for Sephardic Genealogy sources. Among the links it offers are Sephardim and Conversos A JewishGen InfoFile and The Sefard Forum For Sephardic Genealogy Research.
Sephardic Genealogy Web site created by Jeff Malka
This is an extremely rich resource for Sepharhdic genealogical research. Among its offerings and links are:
- Sephardic Websites
- Sephardic Newslists
- Sephardic Archival Sources
- Search for Sephardic Names
- Some of the countries covered include: Holland, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, North Africa, France, the Caribbean, and South America.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This is the official site for the Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Besides listing information of interest to those wishing to visit the museum, it provides a link to the Museums searchable resources and provides links to other important Holocaust related organizations. These include:
- The Shoah Museum in Belgium
- The Topography of Terror Foundation, Berlin
This organization has published an Overview of Memorial Museums for the Victims of the Nazi-Regime in Germany.
The overview is published in English and German
- The Simon Wiesenthal Center
This is an international center for Holocaust remembrance and the defense of human rights (in English).
- Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is the national Holocaust memorial of Israel. Through this site, one has access to the Hall of Names.
One can also do online requests or searches get information about submission of information to the
Yad Vashem archives.
Links to Printed Resources and Specialized Information
This is a publishing company specializing in immigrant research, Jewish genealogy, and historic map reproductions. The company offers almost 850 highly detailed maps of over 600 cities and towns in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas. Most maps list street names, civic buildings, schools and universities, factories, places of worship and cemeteries by religious denomination, parks and other such features.
Cimorelli Immigration Manifests Online
This is a good place to search for the ship that brought your grandparents from Europe to America. It contains information from the Morton Allan Directory and other sources. Of special note is the SOUNDEX Converter and NARA Records service.
Cyndis List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
This is an excellent genealogy site that includes over 27,000 categorized and cross-referenced links for genealogy in over 70 different categories including ships, passenger lists, and immigration information. Although there is not a Jewish emphasis, there is good general genealogical information available here.
This is the Russian-Baltic Information Center for Jewish Genealogy Research in Russia. The Information Center provides genealogy searches and as well as other research in different Russian archives and libraries.
Surfing the Internet for Relatives
The term surfing the net means to go online and search for information through the many different vehicles that are available in cyberspace.
Directories There are a number of different directories that list peoples names and e-mail or street addresses. One way of researching your family history on the Internet is to use these directories. (see below.) When you find someone with the name youre seeking, write to him or her and ask if you could be related. Give a brief outline of the family line youre tracing. While this may not be the most scientific way to search for someone, you may actually be able to find people related to you in this way. You should use as many directories as you can find for this type of research. Here are some of the Web site directories you can visit:
A bulletin board is just what it sounds like. On genealogy bulletin boards, people leave messages about the people you are searching for. Others who have information can contact you with their information. In addition, next to these bulletin boards are file cabinets. Its possible to open the file cabinets and find information that may be of interest to you. A number of different genealogy sites have bulletin boards that you can explore and on which you can post your own information.