If you have very little information, begin with:
- Passenger Records,
- Naturalization Records,
- Census Records,
- Marriage Records,
- Social Security Application, and
- Passport Records.
Jewish immigrants often “Americanized” their names. Further, they used a lot of nicknames and derivatives of their real name.
- Hint: Search with initials and last name to maximize your chance of finding your relative.
To find a Jewish ancestor’s town of origin (“shtetl”), look to their grave and local synagogue. Jewish immigrants often formed societies based on their hometowns and members frequently bought lots in cemeteries.
A lot of areas where Jewish individuals originated from had shifting boundaries. It is not unusual for people to identify with other areas than the one named in official documents.
Galicia (province of Austria) – Now in Poland and Ukraine.
- Gesher Galicia is a Galicia research group.
- Records are scattered.
- Jews avoided registration of marriage. Children are often listed under their mother’s surname as illegitimate.
A number of Jews immigrated to Mexico. Search the 1930 Mexico National Census and the Brazil Immigration Cards on FamilySearch.
Since the 1950’s, the International Tracing Service has researched and documented the fates of millions who suffered persecution during the holocaust.
- American Sephardi Federation
- Avotaynu is a Jewish surname index.
- Family Tree of the Jewish People
- IAJGS Cemetery Project
- Industrial Removal Office was created as part of the Jewish Agricultural Society to assimilate immigrants into American society.
- International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies
- Istanbul Jewish Genealogy Project
- JewishGen is one of the best websites to get started with Jewish genealogy.
- It is free to use, but you must register with the site.
- Contains great tutorials and information sheets.
- Family Finder is an interactive database which allows users to post family surnames and ancestral towns, and to find other researchers with similar interests.
- ViewMate Tool – Allows users to post photographs and documents, and ask for help in translating or identifying information.
- Infofile – contains a very useful list of Yiddish and Hebrew names and their derivatives.
- Yizkor books are memorial books created to commemorate Jewish communities destroyed during the holocaust. Many Tizkor books can be accessed through JewishGen’s Yizkor Book Project Database
- JRI Poland is a search engine for Jewish records in Poland.
- Litvaksig is the primary resource for Lithuanian Jewish genealogical research.
- Routes to Roots shows where records are currently kept.
- Sephardic Gen
- Southern Jewish Historical Society
- Tracing the Tribe: The Jewish Genealogy Blog
- Yad Vashem is the central database of Shoah (holocaust) victim’s names.