for the beginner 

Jewishgen.org offers a wide variety of resources for the beginner; resources, tools, classes and advice are available.

Familysearch.org is an invaluable free resource.  It is affiliated with the Family History Library in Utah.  Many of the library’s resources can be accessed locally.  You can search the catalog to determine what resources are available. Many resources are now online. Microfilms is no longer being sent out to local libraries as they are focusing on digitizing all of their records.  At least during the pandemic, the Family History Library Records Lookup Service will find requested images and email them to you.

Ancestry.com is a resource that you will become very familiar with.  It is a pay site, but you can access it for free at most libraries, the local Family History Centers and the Minnesota Historical Society library. Bring a flashdrive and copy the files you identify. You can also find a free two week trial on their genealogy resource page. Gather all your info and clear your calendar. 

Closer to home we have the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives at the University of Minnesota. They offer an excellent introduction to beginning genealogy at Genealogy Research.

other beginner sources

RESOURCES

resource spotlight

Jewishgen.org offers a wide variety of resources for the beginner; resources, tools, classes and advice are available.

Familysearch.org is an invaluable free resource.  It is affiliated with the Family History Library in Utah.  Many of the library’s resources can be accessed locally.  You can search the catalog to determine what resources are available. Many resources are now online. Microfilms is no longer being sent out to local libraries as they are focusing on digitizing all of their records.  At least during the pandemic, the Family History Library Records Lookup Service will find requested images and email them to you.

Ancestry.com is a resource that you will become very familiar with.  It is a pay site, but you can access it for free at most libraries, the local Family History Centers and the Minnesota Historical Society library. Bring a flashdrive and copy the files you identify. You can also find a free two week trial on their genealogy resource page. Gather all your info and clear your calendar. 

Closer to home we have the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives at the University of Minnesota. They offer an excellent introduction to beginning genealogy at Genealogy Research.

other beginner sources

for the beginner 

Jewishgen.org offers a wide variety of resources for the beginner; resources, tools, classes and advice are available.

Familysearch.org is an invaluable free resource.  It is affiliated with the Family History Library in Utah.  Many of the library’s resources can be accessed locally.  You can search the catalog to determine what resources are available. Many resources are now online. Microfilms is no longer being sent out to local libraries as they are focusing on digitizing all of their records.  At least during the pandemic, the Family History Library Records Lookup Service will find requested images and email them to you.

Ancestry.com is a resource that you will become very familiar with.  It is a pay site, but you can access it for free at most libraries, the local Family History Centers and the Minnesota Historical Society library. Bring a flashdrive and copy the files you identify. You can also find a free two week trial on their genealogy resource page. Gather all your info and clear your calendar. 

Closer to home we have the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives at the University of Minnesota. They offer an excellent introduction to beginning genealogy at Genealogy Research.

other beginner sources

 
 
 

Cemeteries

 

Minnesota Roots

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Much of what is held at the archives originated with the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.  They are now focusing their efforts on projects and exhibitions that may well relate to your Minnesota roots.​

The Upper Midwest Jewish Archives  allows you to search the database for records that are held at the University of Minnesota in the Nathan and Theresa Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.  The archives are located at the Anderson Library.

For Jewish records, it is useful to look at the American Jewish World which was published in St. Paul beginning in 1915 and Minneapolis after 1925. You will find the microfilm filed accordingly by city at the MNHS. You can find it online at UMedia  where it was digitized by the UMJA. And check the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub for other area newspapers.

The Minnesota Historical Society Gale Library has birth and death indexes online.  At the library itself, you can access regional newspapers, naturalization records and the actual birth and death records. At the Minnesota Historical Society check indices for wills.  If you locate one in which you have interest you can go to the probate office in the city hall in which the will was filed and pull it up. And don't forget to check out guides to on-line records on a variety of topics.

 

 

You may find your family has a long history at a particular address. If those walls could speak! Well they may have some stories to tell. The MN Historical Society provides a library guide that you may find helpful in exploring the land, building and people associated with a home. You may also find this comprehensive guide useful as well, as you study the genealogy of buildings that were significant in your family history.  And don't forget that you can pull up an image using Google maps.

The Hennepin County Library  offers a number of digital collections on the history of the Minneapolis area. The collection includes its city directories, photos of early buildings, building permits, school yearbooks and newspaper photos including images of people, places and events.

The Saint Paul Public Library has online versions of city directories from 1856 to 1922. Users can perform a word search on these to look for names or addresses.

 
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MOMS stands for Minnesota Official Marriage System and provides an index of marriages dating back to the 1800s. The years will vary by country. You can search by either name and it will provide the marriage date and certificate number and give you an option to request a copy for a small fee.

Don't let the name fool you. Its records span all of Minnesota.The Iron Range Research Center contains one of the largest collections of genealogical and local history research materials in the Upper Midwest and includes census, naturalization records, passenger arrival records, mining company newsletters, and a survey of Women in Industry taken in 1919.

In addition to the Iron Range Research Center of Chisholm, MN noted above, the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota also has the following resources:

 

Jewish resources

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Jewishgen.org is the main site for Jewish genealogy.  Within it you can map out ancestral towns, identify and contact others who are searching a specific area and name, search the Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry, explore special interest groups, review Yizkor books on your town and access Kehilalinks on ancestral towns. Registration is required, but free.

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Jewishgen Community Finder can help to locate where your family came from when those changing borders are challenging.  Use the community finder to locate towns of a specific or similar name and their relationship to other towns.  Here you can find the other names it may have been called and the other countries that may have controlled it. If you want to know how the town name is pronounced, click here.

Viewmate Once you get a record from Eastern Europe odds are it is in Polish, Russian or another language.  Go to Viewmate for instructions on how to post it to get a volunteer to translate it for you free of charge.​

JRI-Poland offers a searchable database to indexes for 5 million Polish Jewish records and 550 Polish towns. Once located records can be ordered from Poland or the Family History Library. Some records are being put online so look for a notation to that effect.

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There are many additional special interest groups that are accessed through Jewishgen.

Litvaksig offers a searchable database, actually many individual databases, that focus on Jews from Lithuania.​

Sub-Carpathia Genealogy® is a free resource for anyone with Jewish roots in the pre-1918 Hungarian megyék (counties) of Bereg, Máramaros, Ugocsa and Ung; the 1918-1938 Czechoslovak territory of Podkarpatská Rus' (Subcarpathia Ruthenia); or the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine. You can search databases that contain vital, census, Holocaust records and more. Copies of records can be purchased. In addition, you can view tombstones from 240 surviving Jewish cemeteries in Sub-Carpathia.

Routes to Roots Foundation will tell you what records are available in Eastern Europe and where they are located. You search by the name of your ancestral town.​

The JDC Archives document the relief, rescue, and rehabilitation activities of the JDC. Within it, you will find the JDC Names Index, a database where you can search for names of ancestors; anyone worldwide who has received JDC aid. Indexes include lists of people helped from 1914 to 1973. Keep checking back, more lists will be added. 

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The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) is an organization of r organizations supporting Jewish genealogy (including MNJGS). They put on the annual International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. To view its list of member societies in the United States and around the world, click here. You may want to contact those that represent areas where your family lived. Many maintain databases and informational resources.

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Jewishgen.org is the main site for Jewish genealogy.  Within it you can learn about ancestral towns, identify and contact others who are searching a specific area and name, search the Jewish Online Worldwide Burial Registry, search for records on the Unified Search,  review Yizkor books on your town and access Kehilalinks on ancestral towns. Registration is required, but free.

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JewishGen Community Finder can help to locate where your family came from when those changing borders are challenging.  Use the community finder to locate towns of a specific or similar name and their relationship to other towns.  Here you can find the other names it may have been called and the other countries that may have controlled it. If you want to know how the town name is pronounced, click here.

Viewmate is found on JewishGen. Once you get a record from Eastern Europe odds are it is in Polish, Russian or another language.  Go to Viewmate for instructions on how to post it to get a volunteer to translate it for you free of charge.​

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Routes to Roots Foundation will tell you what records are available in Eastern Europe and where they are located. You search by the name of your ancestral town.​

stevemorse.org a website that offers a multitude of more effective search engines, often for existing sites.  Basically, Morse has built a better front end that allows you to search on more variables. While immigration is a focus, it also offers census, vital records and translation aids.

NY roots

The JDC Archives document the relief, rescue, and rehabilitation activities of the JDC. Within it, you will find the JDC Names Index, a database where you can search for names of ancestors; anyone worldwide who has received JDC aid. Indexes include lists of people helped from 1914 to 1973. Keep checking back, more lists will be added. 

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The Center for Jewish History, with the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute, is based in New York and provides a collaborative home for five partner organizations: American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.The partners’ archives comprise the world’s largest archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. Click here for a resource guide.

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The New York City Municipal Archives has undertaken a mass digitization project to provide online access to 13.3 million historical birth, death, and marriage records. A large portion is now available a new online vital records platform which lets visitors search and view historical New York City records of birth (1866-1909), death (1862-1948), and marriage (1866-1949). High-quality copies can be downloaded and printed from the site at no charge.

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The Italian Genealogical Group’s website, www.italiangen.org, contains extensive indexes of New York City vital records, not just Italian ones, along with certificate numbers and helpful hints. Included are birth, marriage, death, naturalization, and military records among others.

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There are many  regional research divisions that are accessed through JewishGen and address country resources. Their separate databases have been consolidated through the Unified Search, but can also be accessed separately along with additional resources. 

JRI-Poland offers a searchable database to indexes for 5 million Polish Jewish records and 550 Polish towns. Once located records can be ordered from Poland or found through Familysearch.  Some records are available online so look for a notation to that effect. JRI-Poland offers additional resources such as Your Town pages and the Surname Distribution Mapper

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The following web pages are helpful with Polish research. BaSIA, a unique Polish site, will allow you to search successfully for many of the records in what is referred to as Greater Poland (Wielkopolski), a region that was once part of Prussia. Links will take you to the documents in the Polish Archives. Geneteka is a database hosted by the Polish Genealogical Society. While not Jewish specific, the indexed records include Jewish records.

Litvaksig offers a searchable database of over 2 million records known as the All Lithuania Database that focuses on Jews from Lithuania.​ Be sure to check out their other resources which include a Given Names database .

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Sub-Carpathia Genealogy® is a free resource for anyone with Jewish roots in the pre-1918 Hungarian megyék (counties) of Bereg, Máramaros, Ugocsa and Ung; the 1918-1938 Czechoslovak territory of Podkarpatská Rus' (Subcarpathia Ruthenia); or the Republic of Carpatho-Ukraine. You can search databases that contain vital, census, Holocaust records and more. Copies of records can be purchased. In addition, you can view tombstones from 240 surviving Jewish cemeteries in Sub-Carpathia.

 
 
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Want information from Canada? The Library and Archives Canada is a key resource for Canadian genealogy. This is a general site for Canada, not a specifically Jewish one, but has many useful documents including census and immigration records.

Holocaust Records

Holocaust records can be an important part of your family search. The USHMM Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database has a robust search engine and extensive data. They will email you many of the documents without charge.

Yad Vashem offers the Central Database of Shoah Victims Names which has copies of testimony that family members have submitted. Don’t forget that you can submit testimony as well.​

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If you have family members who were in a concentration work camp, it is likely that the Arolsen Archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany has a file on them.  You can contact them on-line to get a copy although it can be a lengthy process. Now many of the records are on-line so do a name search and you may find documents if you scroll down the page.

And don't forget to check the extensive resources on the Jewishgen Holocaust database.  There you will find ghetto lists, wartime censuses and lists of Jews from towns and countries. You will find a search engine on their site as well as a list of the databases within it.

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Centropa, a non-profit, international Jewish historical institute, has conducted 1,200 interviews with Holocaust survivors in Central and Eastern Europe, Balkans and former Soviet Union - translated to English! Under Magazine there are travel blogs through Eastern Europe by Ruth Ellen Gruber and others. Under the teaching materials there are links to short videos that you can click on, many produced by them. Click here to search in the website’s databases.

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Viewable on the VHA Online are more than 4,000 testimony videos from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. Testimony videos not viewable in the VHA Online can be viewed onsite at many institutions around the world. Find an access site near you , where all testimony videos can be viewed.

 

OTher resources

 
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DNA

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Looking for maps?  Two great places are the FEEFHS map room and the David Rumsey collection.The Rumsey collection will let you identify the region of interest and the time period you seek and will pull up maps relevant to that time and place. 

As the providers of DNA tests multiply, many are uncertain which company they should go with. The answer is ...it depends. What you hope to achieve may lead you to different choices. Here are two resources  that allow you to compare  many of today's providers - Innerbody and DNA Testing Guides.

The Ancestor Hunt contains many links to genealogy resources, including its links to on-line Jewish newspapers, both historical and current.

If you would like to explore still more genealogy websites check out:

 

Translation Resources 

  • stevemorse.org - convert names to Russian print or cursive or Hebrew text for easy visual recognition

  • Viewmate - a jewishgen volunteer service where volunteers will help to translate documents

  • Google Translate - useful for text translation as well as photo and voice translation

  • TREX- a bilingual contextual dictionary that includes such languages as Russian and Czech

Don't forget to check out helpful blog articles on the blog page