Listener-Recommended Jewish Genealogy Resources

The world of genealogy is so huge that one person can’t possibly know everything. That’s why I’m always glad to hear from readers who research different ancestries. Recently I heard from Diane Goldman in Bethesda, MD, USA, who wrote in about her favorite Jewish genealogy resources:

“Dear Lisa,

I love listening to the tips and interviews on your podcast.  So I’m excited to send a recommendation your way. You haven’t broadcast much on Jewish genealogy, but there are some fabulous resources.

  • Salt Lake City just welcomed the latest conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies The last 2 conferences were in Boston and Paris; next year’s will return to Jerusalem. (My tip: Use their website’s member list to find a Jewish genealogy organization for you–either one near you or one that focuses on the right region of the world for your family.)
  • A conference highlight is always the update for JewishGen.orgbegun by Texan Susan King and now associated with New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage.  JewishGen’s grown from a bulletin board linking researchers across the globe to a resource complex featuring personal stories, databases, and digitized materials. Each regional/topical Special Interest Group features its own wealth of resources, often the only access to materials of a particular country or of a region now split among several countries, such as the Galician or Sub-Carpathian group.
  • JewishGen also hosts the independent LitvakSig (Lithuanian data) and Jewish Records Indexing (JRI)-Poland.  The latter has mushroomed from an individual’s medical research to an invaluable resource complex: ‘The largest fully-searchable database of indexes to Jewish vital records accessible online.  4 million records from more than 500 Polish towns.'”

Thank you, Diane! It’s a pleasure to share these resources with Genealogy Gems readers.

Family History Episode 26 – Using Church Birth Records in Family History

Listen to the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast by Lisa Louise Cooke. It’s a great series for learning the research ropes and well as refreshing your skills.

Family History: Genealogy Made Easy

with Lisa Louise Cooke

Republished April 8, 2014

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Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-09. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Episode 26Using Church Birth Records in Family History

In our last episode we covered civil birth records. As promised, in this week’s episode we finish up this two part series on birth records by talking about church birth records. Just like with civil birth records, there are a variety of records to track down. So to help us in the hunt I’m bringing back professional genealogist Arlene Eakle, PhD. She helps us see the challenges we face and the success we can have locating church buy herpes medication online records about our ancestors’ births.

Read the show notes below for exciting updates to the original conversation.

The first place Arlene looks for church birth records is the International Genealogical Index (IGI).  This database can be found at FamilySearch.org. As you can see below, you’ll see a search tool for just the IGI. Community-indexed IGI is what you want to search: the collection of vital and church records from the early 1500s to 1885.

church birth records, IGI

Unfortunately, the indexed entries are not sourced in this database. Chase down the original source of the record with this FamilySearch tutorial.

Here are 3 tips for searching for church records

1. Search for a namesake of the person you are looking for, particularly if they have a fairly unusual or unique name.  Often times that person will be related and give you a clue as to where to find the other person.

2.  Always attempt to get a copy of the original source for information found in transcribed records or online.

3. When you want to locate a church in the U.S. and determine how to access their records, Arlene suggests using Rootsweb and USGenWeb.  US Gen Web is organized by state, then county.

And here are links to 3 more places to look for your family history:

1. Google Books

2. The Social Security Death Index, or SSDI, which we talk about in Episode of this podcast.

3. Volunteer lookups: Arlene mentions Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. That site went offline, then was revived, but isn’t exactly the same. Find it listed along with other volunteer lookup sites at Cyndi’s List.

How to Find Your Family History for Free – Getting Started

Free Family History has a nice ring to it!

Did you know you don’t have to pay for a subscription to anything to be able to start learning more about your family history?

Start to find your family history for free by asking the four questions listed below.

1. What do you already know?

Chances are that you know something about your family already. The most important facts we start with are our relatives’ names and their dates and places of birth, marriage(s) and death. These facts can help you later to distinguish between records about our relatives and others with the same name.

Write down what you know about your “direct ancestors”–your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.–on a family tree chart like this free fill-in pdf format (these are also called pedigree charts).  Then use family group sheets like this one to organize facts about each individual couple (this is where you can list all the children your grandparents had, for example).

2. What do your relatives know?

After filling out what you can, show your family tree chart and family group sheets to other relatives. Ask them if they can fill in some blanks. Remember these tips:

  • Try to include a little note about who tells you each piece of information.
  • Someone may dispute what you find. Everyone’s memory of an event is different. Don’t argue. Treat their information with respect:. Write it down. Then ask politely if they have any documentation you could see, or why they believe something to be true (who told them, etc).
  • Ask whether anything is missing from your charts: a grandparent’s second marriage, a stillborn child or even whether someone’s name is accurate. You or others might know someone by a nickname or middle name.
  • Be sensitive to information that might be confidential or not generally well-known, like a birth date that doesn’t appear more than 9 months after a wedding, or a first marriage. Consider asking living relatives if it’s okay for you to share certain facts. Consider only showing part of your charts to a relative.

3. What’s in the attic (or anywhere else)?

We can often find family documents in our own homes and those of our relatives. Look in attics, basements, storage units, safe deposit boxes and safes, filing cabinets, photo albums, scrapbooks, shoeboxes and other places where papers and memorabilia may be tucked. You’re looking for things like:

  • certificates of birth, baptism, marriage or death;
  • obituaries or other news articles, like anniversaries;
  • funeral programs, wedding and birth announcements;
  • photos with names or other notes on the backs;
  • insurance, pension, military or other paperwork that may mention births or deaths or beneficiary information;
  • wills and home ownership paperwork–even outdated ones;
  • a family Bible.

When you find family names, relationships, dates and places in these documents, add them to your charts.

4. What’s available online for free?

There are two major types of family history information online: records and trees. Records are documents created about specific people, like obituaries, birth certificates and all those other examples I just mentioned. Trees are a computerized form of other people’s family tree charts and group sheets. It can be tempting to just look for someone else’s version of your family tree. Eventually you will want to consult those. But other people’s trees are notoriously full of mistakes! Instead, start by looking for records about the relatives you already have identified.

I suggest that you start your search at FamilySearch.org because it’s totally free. At most other sites, you’ll have to subscribe or pay to see all the search results. At FamilySearch, you just need to create a free user login to get the most access to their records.

After logging in, click Search. Choose a relative you don’t know a lot about. Search for that name. Use the different search options to add more information–even a range of dates and a state/province or country–so you don’t have to wade through thousands of near-matches.

The most common records to find on FamilySearch for many countries are census and vital records.

  • A census is a tally of residents, voters or another target population. Entries often include details about a household: who lived there, how they were related, how old they were, where they were born, etc. You can often extract family information from census listings, though some things (like ages or name spellings) may not be totally accurate.
  • Vital records are official records of someone’s birth, marriage or death. In these, you’ll often find important dates and places as well as names of parents, spouses or others important to the family. They aren’t always totally accurate, and you may only be able to see an index of the record (not the actual document).

As you find search results, compare what they say to what you’ve already learned. How likely is it that this record belongs to your family? Consider how many people seem to have the same name in that location and time period (for example, how many are mentioned in the 1880 U.S. census in that state?). Don’t just look at the search results list: click through to look at the full summary of the entry and, if you can, the original record itself. You may find additional details in these that can confirm whether this record belongs to your relative. You may even find out about new people: your great-grandparents’ parents, for example. Write it all down or begin building a family tree right there on the FamilySearch website (because it’s totally free: learn more about that here.) And one of the greatest keys to long term success is citing your sources. It’s imperative that you make careful note of where you got the resource so that you can find and refer to it again later, and back up your research if it is ever called into question.

People who research their family history often describe it as a puzzle with lots of different pieces. You will need to assemble a lot of puzzle pieces–information about each relative–to begin to see the “bigger picture” of your family history. You’ll start to sense which pieces may belong to a different family puzzle. You may put together a picture that is unexpected, or has some shadows and sadness. There will likely also emerge heroic, beautiful and touching images.

Ready to learn more?

Up next, read:

7 Great Ways to Use Your iPad for Family History

How to Find Your Family Tree Online

Best Genealogy Software

Search the SSDI for Your Family History

 

 

Here’s Where You Can Get the RootsTech 2014 Conference Schedule

Registration is now open for RootsTech 2014, which will be held February 6­-8, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here’s all the info hot off the press including links that reveal classes and computer labs plus a coupon code you can use for early bird pricing:

This annual family history conference, hosted by FamilySearch, is a unique global event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. Over the past three years, RootsTech has grown in popularity with attendees to become the largest family history event in the United States!

Rootstech Whether attendees are just beginning their family history, an avid hobbyist, or an experienced researcher, RootsTech has something for everyone:

  • Classes and Computer Labs —Over 200 classes and computer labs taught by knowledgeable experts and enthusiasts in family history.
  • Getting Started Track —A track of over 30 classes designed to help beginners start their family tree. Passes start at only $19.
  • Developer Day —A preconference event on Wednesday, February 5, for developers to innovate and collaborate with other engineers and family history industry experts.
  • Expo Hall —A huge expo with over 100 informative vendors and interactive booths where attendees can record a family story, scan a book or photo, or create a visual family tree.
  • Family Discovery Day —New! A day of free inspirational classes for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn more about strengthening family relationships across generations through family history.

Pass Pricing and Discounts

Various pass options are available, with pricing set to make RootsTech an affordable experience. Early Bird pricing discounts for a Full Access Pass ($159) and a Getting Started Pass ($39) are available until January 6, 2014.

An additional $20 discount is available for a limited time. Attendees can get a Full Access Pass for just $139 simply by using the promotional code RT14EXCLSV before September 9, 2013.

To get more information and register, visit rootstech.org.

I’ll be there conducting a brand new computer lab: Flipboard for Genealogy: Create an Incredible Mobile Magazine of Your Favorite Genealogy Web Content
NOTE: Computer labs fill up VERY fast so don’t delay!

Also look for my other classes:

  • Panel Discussion: Self-Professed Uber-Organized Freaks Talk Genealogy Tech Organization
  • Become an iPad Power User
  • How to Use YouTube for Family History: Setting Up Your Own YouTube Channel

Where You Can Find Over a Million British Church Records that are Now Indexed!

Over a million Church of England records from the county of Norfolk are among materials now indexed at FamilySearch.org.

Happisburgh church

Happisburgh church of St. Mary’s, Norfolk. Image by Martin at Flickr Creative Commons.

The collection includes bishops’ registers of baptisms, marriages and burials from the mid-1600s to the mid-1900s.

  • Baptismal records may include the child’s name, date and place of baptism, parents’ names and residence, legitimacy status of the child, father’s occupation and minister’s name.
  • Marriage records may include the names, ages, marital status and residence of bride and groom; date and place of marriage; fathers of the bride and groom and information on whether banns were published.
  • Burial records may include the name, age, and residence of the deceased and the date and parish of burial.

The Church of England was a state-sponsored church. This helps genealogists because it means that most everyone who lived there (until the mid-1800s or so) is likely to show up in Church of England records. So if you had English ancestors who lived in Norfolk, take a look. These images have been online since 2010, but the new index makes them a lot easier to search!

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