Here is a list of various resources to help you get started:
The most important resource is Jewishgen at
www.jewishgen.org. A warning: you will spend many hours on
Beginners, start at http://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/
and here: www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/faq.html. Jewishgen has thousands
of databases and literally millions of records from all over the
You may want to start by looking at the Jewish Family
Finder database to see if anyone with your family name is reaching out
to other researchers.
If you need help translating a document or
interpreting a family photo, check out ViewMate.
If you are trying to find information about your
ancestral village, go to KehillaLinks and see if Jewishgen volunteer
has created a virtual shtetl for your town.
There are numerous Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on
Jewishgen, each with their own resources and members willing to help
you with your toughest questions.
The International Association of Jewish Genealogical
Societies (IAJGS) at http://www.iajgs.org/links.html has hundreds of
links to different sites.
Gary Mokotoff’s website, www.avotaynu.com, is also a good
place for beginning researchers to. Gary is the leading publisher of
products of interest to persons who are researching Jewish genealogy,
Jewish family trees or Jewish roots. If you are a beginner, make sure
you go to http://www.avotaynu.com/csi/csi-home.htm and search your
family’s surname. Also go to www.avotaynu.com/recommend.htm for a list
of Gary’s most important resources for beginners.
The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) Names Index is a database where you can search for names of relatives, friends, ancestors; anyone worldwide who has received JDC aid, financial or otherwise. Currently indexed material includes lists of people helped from 1914 to 1973. While this is a substantial sampling of names on lists in our records, it is by no means our entire collection. The JDC Archives documents the relief, rescue and rehabilitation activities of the JDC from its founding in 1914 to the present. Its holdings include over 3 miles of text documents; over 100,000 photographs; a research library of 6,000 books; and approximately 1,500 audiovisual materials, including 200 oral histories.
Go to http://archives.jdc.org/archives-search/?s=archivestopnav
Some other tips:
Start with what you know
Work from the known to the unknown, one small step at a
Work backwards, from the present to the past, gathering
facts as you go.
Be methodical and use software or paper charts to keep
track of information. Familysearch and other websites have
Interview your relatives. Write or talk to your family
members. Ask them about family names, where they lived, when they
immigrated, what town they came from.
Google your family name.
Check the U.S. Federal Census, taken every 10 years. The
1940 Census is the most recent available. Available online at
Check other records:
City directories; birth, marriage and death records;
Probate records; deeds, etc. Your local Mormon Church
may have computer access to its family search database and others, such
Coordinate with other genealogists researching the same
family names and towns: Consult the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) at
Get involved with the Triangle Jewish Genealogical
Join us on Facebook.
Subscribe to Avotaynu--go to
Attend conferences on Jewish genealogy--go to the
International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies for more
information on the IAJGS yearly conference.