THE REST OF THE WORLD

UNITED KINGDOM
EUROPE
THE AMERICAS
MIDDLE EAST
ASIA & AFRICA

Jewish communities are found in almost every country on the planet. But Jews have also been a highly mobile population, sometimes by choice, more often by circumstance. From the exodus from Egypt to the expulsion from Spain in 1492, from the mass migrations from Eastern Europe in the 18th and 9th centuries to the great ingathering prompted by the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Jews have wandered across the face of the earth collecting stories and traditions from the many cultures and communities where we have sojourned.

Searching for the evidence of your ancestors can be a tie consuming but hugely rewarding activity. The social upheavals of the last few hundred years, the time when most records are available from, has meant that records have not always survived. The breadcrumbs left behind by our ancestors are, however, out there and many services now exist to help you track their tracks across time and geography.

This section of our website offers links to major online resources and some tips and tricks to help you make the most of their use. If you have a suggestion for a new link to add or find a link that is no longer functioning please send us an email.

Please note: External links will open in a new window.

UNITED KINGDOM

The United Kingdom comprises England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Jews have been resident in the UK for generations and there are extensive records and resources available online and offline.

International genealogical databases such as JewishGen, Ancestry, MyHeritage, and FamilySearch have indexed records going back to the 17th century. Records from some sources go back much further than this – especially if you manage to connect your family to an aristocratic bloodline.

The Genealogical Society of Great Britain is a good start for Jewish resources.

Jewishgen has a specific page for Jewish Community Records UK (JCR-UK) with extensive links to specific databases, discussion groups, and archives. It also has links to specific resources for England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Gibraltar.

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EUROPE

The Jewish presence in Europe goes right back to the Greek and Roman Empires. Trading throughout the Mediterranean took Jews across the ancient world and communities flourished throughout the region. The history of Jews across Europe is marked, however, by massive migration events. The expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal in 1492 and the mass movements of people from Eastern Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries are etched into our communal consciousness. The last 100 years in particular saw huge displacement of Jewish communities into, out of, and around Europe, culminating in the tragedy of the Shoah.

Across Europe, before the Shoah, there were hundreds of small villages and towns known as Shtetls. Today, while not being rebuilt on the ground, these communities are being remembered online. Jewishgen has KehilaLinks (formerly Shtetlinks) which hosts webpages about communities: their history, memories, traditions, and notable residents. Virtual Shtetl contains an interactive map and information on communities and heritage sites throughout Eastern Europe.

Many Australian Jews trace their lineage back to Europe: convicts on the first and second fleets, entrepreneurs seeking their fortune during the gold rush, and a disproportionate number of Holocaust survivors all made their homes here.

Tracing your lineage back can be challenging but there are excellent resources available. See below for country, region, and subject-specific links and resources. If you have any tips, tricks, or traps for a specific area of research that you think will help other researchers please let us know by sending an email. If you have a specific question or need some help come along to one of our workshops.

GENERAL EUROPEAN RESOURCES

JewishGen is a vast treasure trove of databases, contacts, and interest groups. For those researching their European ancestry they host the Kehilalinks page (formerly Shtetlinks) Kehilalinks collates webpages created by individuals that commemorate communities destroyed during the Shoah. Curators of these pages collect information, personal stories and photographs to retain the memory of communities that no longer exist on the ground.

Refer to the International Resources page for more information on Jewishgen.

Centropa describes itself as “an interactive database of Jewish memory

From their website:
The first oral history project that combines old family pictures with the stories that go with them, Centropa has interviewed 1,200 elderly Jews living in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the Sephardic communities of Greece, Turkey and the Balkans.

With a database of 22,000 digitized images, we are bringing Jewish history to life in ways never done before.

At Genealogy Indexer you can search:

  • 740,000 pages of 1,523 historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., mostly from Central and Eastern Europe),
  • 114,000 pages of 256 yizkor books (memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust),
  • 32,000 pages of military lists (officers, casualties, etc., mostly from the Russian Empire and Poland),
  • 43,000 pages of community and personal histories, and
  • 24,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources.

New genealogy sources are added weekly.

REGION AND COUNTRY SPECIFIC RESOURCES

The Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna is in the process of digitising records relevant to Jewish genealogy.

Now available online are scans of Jewish Birth records, Vienna 1826-1848. To locate a specific record number consult the index at Genteam.

The following information has been generously collated and shared by Daniela Torch and is correct at the date of publication (JUL 2016). If you find any errors, broken links or information that is no longer current please contact the AJGS webmaster.
PLEASE NOTE: Links to external websites will open them in a new window.

JEWISH COMMUNITY (IKG)

Website: www.ikg-wien.at/
Birth, marriage, and death records of the Jewish Community – from 1826 to 1938, are available for public and private research. After 1938 all vital records are held by the Vienna City Archives. (More below).
Issue of certificates for public and private purposes (there is a fee).
Response to verbal and written inquiries, partially in cooperation with the supervisory board of the cemetery and the library of the Jewish Museum.
Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien
Seitenstettengasse 4
A-1010 Vienna, Austria

IKG Archives

Mag.Wolf-Erich Eckstein
Email: w.eckstein@ikg-wien.at
Office Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 9.00 am – 2.00 pm.
Friday: 9.00 am -1.00 pm.
For security reasons make an appointment in advance. Remember to take your passport or you won’t get in through the stringent security at the front door.

JEWISH CEMETERIES

The IKG website has a good link to an online database for the large Jewish cemetery at the Zentralfriedhof in Simmering.  On this database, you can find online entries for other Jewish cemeteries in Austria e.g. Klosterneuberg, Stockerau, and about 20 others.
Website: https://www.ikg-wien.at/cemetery-database/?lang=en
There is also a list of cemeteries with hours for visiting and a description of each cemetery.
The cemetery link is found on the IKG website under the heading of “Religion and Kosher”. If you click on that icon it takes you to a drop-down menu that includes cemeteries. You then have to double click on “cemeteries” and you will see in that drop-down menu “database query of cemeteries”. It gives you access to more than 20 Austrian Jewish cemetery records. Make sure you tick the box that says “show record for deceased where the date of deceased and date of a funeral does not exist”.
Note also that if you click on the grave number you may find that someone else has been buried in the same grave. Sometimes husbands and wives and even children were buried together this way.
Sometimes it is possible to obtain copies of original burial records from the cemetery itself as well as details of burials at the IKG. There is an office at the Fourth Gate of the Zentralfriedhof where some records are kept. You can write and ask if they have any paperwork for your relative buried there. You can also arrange for repairs of the grave through this office. There is a stone mason on site who does a lot of work for the Jewish community. His company is called Schreiber Steinmetzbetrieb.
Contact: 1110 Wien
Simmeringer Hauptstrasse 244
Email: schreiber@i-one.at
The mailing address for the Jewish Cemetery at the Zentralfriedhof is:
Zentralfriedhof 4. Tor
Simmeringer Hauptstraße 224
A-1110 Vienna, Austria.

If you want to visit an actual grave make sure you check the opening times of the cemetery and also which gate the grave is visited from. The older Jewish part of the Zentralfriedhof is found via Gate 1 and the Fourth Gate is where the later burials took place and are still happening. Note the Jewish community only manages the new section, not the old one. It’s easy to get there on the tram or the train or you can drive.

If you cannot get to Vienna you could be lucky and find a photograph of the grave you are looking for if you register with the website Grave Pictures, a site where thousands of graves in Austrian Jewish cemeteries have been photographed by volunteers. Registration is free. This site is mainly in German but there is some English too.
More information about cemeteries can be found in the later section on online resources.

JEWISH MUSEUM

This Jewish Museum in Vienna claims to be the first Jewish museum in the world – www.jmw.at/en (English version). It has excellent exhibitions in two locations Palais Eskeles and Museum Judenplatz which can be most informative and useful for researchers. If you are going to Vienna both sites are worth visiting. They have a very good bookshop.

Museum Palais Eskers

Dorotheergasse 11, A-1010 Wien,
Sunday to Friday 10 am – 6 pm.

Museum Judenplatz

Budenplatz 8, A-1010 Wien,
Judenplatz is the site of the first ghetto. There are archeological remains of the original site which are worth seeing.
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10 am – 6 pm, Friday 10 am – 2 pm.
Library: The library is open Monday to Thursday 10 am – 4 pm.
Archive: The archive is open to visitors by prior appointment.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has been digitising a lot of the Vienna Jewish Museum’s records and so you have to ask in Washington about them.

CITY OF VIENNA

Website for City archives section on family history (in English):  https://www.wien.gv.at/english/history/archives/ancestors.html

The City of Vienna archives are found in the Gasometer building in the Eleventh District of Simmering. It’s easy to get there on the train. They have a very well set up reading room for the public where you can work and also order records. No advance arrangements are necessary.
To get to the Gasometer take the U3 line from Mitte. It’s the fifth stop. The archives are at the farthest Gasometer building so you have to walk a fair way through the shops and cafes to find it. And take the escalator to the top floor. If you are in Vienna you can personally search in these archives. The staff is very helpful and I found them to be friendly and co-operative. Take your passport for ID.

Note that Vienna is both a city and one of the States in the Federal Republic so they have archival documents relating to both City and State.
To find the address of your family member you can ask in the City Archives for a Meldezettel, [literally “a registration notice”]. The Meldezettel records are most helpful. All residents of the city had to register with the authorities where they lived and these records are held by the Vienna City Archives at the Gasometer.

Contact: Magistrat der Stadt Wien
Magistratsabteilung 8
Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv
Gasometer D, Wien 11, Guglgasse 14
postal address: Rathaus, A-1082 Vienna
Email: POST@m08.magwien.gv.at?Website: www.wien.gv.at/kultur/archiv/ (in German)

You can send the archives your relatives’ names and if you have them, the date of birth and place of birth and they will search their extensive records to find where your relative lived and whom with. The record will also have an occupation and the names and details of other people living in the same apartment.
You can write a letter, send an email, or ask in person at the Gasometer. It’s OK to write in English.

The City of Vienna archives hold what we would call Death Certificates (from 1648 to 1938) and Wills. The department that deals with these documents is the Magistratsabteilung 8. If you go to the archives you can personally order these records a day ahead and view and copy material from the files. If you cannot visit you can write or email the MA8 department and they will advise whether, for a few Euros, they can copy and mail the material to you. Alternatively, you may have to pay someone to go there and do the copies for you.
The Death Certificates contain the last known address, age of deceased and marital status, occupation, and cause of death. Often it also lists the remaining family members left alive and where they live. You need to know when they died as there are no indices for these records.
Wills are held from 1850 onwards. To request to see a Will you need to provide a year of death and last known address.

The Lehman’s address book (Vienna addresses from 1859 onwards) is useful to obtain an address that is held on microfilm at the Gasometer. A full set of the books is also held in the National Library at the Hofburg.   If you have a name you can find an address for each year lived there. It often has occupation as well and business addresses too, even whether the household had a telephone.

For civil marriage records (from 1870), birth records (from 1868), and death records (from 1872) of persons who did not belong to a religious community (including many mixed marriages and their children),

Contact: Magistrat der Stadt Wien, MA 61 Zivilmatrik
Rathaus Stiege 8
Parterre
Zimmer 17 C 1
1010 Wien
Österreich
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 8:00 am – 12:00 Noon

If your family member married “out”(i.e. they married a non-Jewish spouse) then you can search elsewhere in the Catholic or Protestant records.
Up to 1938, the records for Catholics are held by the Archdiocese of Vienna: www.kirchenarchive.at/
If they married a Protestant then you have to contact the Protestant Church in Austria: http://www.evang.at/

[2008 note (edited) from SIG member Vera Finberg about civil marriages…
Austria was very advanced in the civil registration of marriages and eventually the introduction of the term “Konfessionslos” (non-religious). One could enter a “Konfessionslos” marriage after 1868. There are “Konfessionlos” marriage books in the archives in Vienna. They date back to at least 1875 and probably from 1868. In most cases, at least one of the parties was Jewish. 
The marriage would have been legalised at the Magistrat. “Konfessionslos” meant one did not have to pay the “Kulturssteur” to support the appropriate religious body. 
To obtain information from the “Konfessionslos” records one can write to: 
Magistratsabteilung 35
Abt.: Personenforschung
Dresdnerstrasse 91
1200 Vienna/Austria 
You must pay for this service. The minimum is €43 (approx. $AUD65) As minimum data are full name and birth date (husband!) required. 
The archives also have the “Alt-Katholisch” birth, marriage, and death records from 1878-1938. There are privacy restrictions if one cannot give the date of death of both parties. If the people were born before 1897, then the restrictions do not apply]

DOKUMENTATIONSARCHIV DES ÖSTERREICHISCHEN WIDERSTANDES

Website: www.doew.at.
The Dokumentationsarchiv (Documentation Archive) in the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) in Wipplingerstrasse in Vienna was established in the 60’s by former fighters and anti-Fascist historians who wanted to keep their stories alive for future generations. They get financial support from the City of Vienna and the Federal Government. Their research centers on Resistance and persecution, the Holocaust, neo-Nazism, and more. They have a permanent exhibition, a large archive, and a library with a lot of information on the Holocaust.
Their website now has a searchable online database of over 62,000 Austrian Holocaust victims.  The database is also searchable from computers at the new museum on the Judenplatz in Vienna, where there is a new Holocaust memorial.
Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes
Altes Rathaus
Wipplingerstraße 8
A-1010 Wien, Austria
Email: docarch@email.adis.at
Permanent exhibition in Altes Rathaus is open:
Monday to Wednesday, Friday 9 am to 5 pm.
Thursday 9 am to 7 pm.
You can write them an email in English. They have experts on the Holocaust who can help you search.

ÖSTERREICHISCHES STAATSARCHIV

Website: www.oesta.gv.at (English)
This is what we would call the Austrian Federal Archive.
Austria is made up of nine separate Regions or Länder. The Archives are decentralised so if you are searching for someone who lived outside Vienna in another Region, say in Burgenland or Styria, you have to go to the regional archive. The National Archives has a list of Regional Archives on their website.
Contact: Austrian State Archive
Nottendorfer Gasse 2
1030 Vienna
Austria
Email: gdpost@oesta.gv.at
The Internet Unit can be reached at: webmaster@oesta.gv.at.
Opening times: Mon Tues Thurs 9.00 am – 3.00 pm; Wed 9.00 am – 6.00 pm; Fri 9.00 am – 1.00 pm
You can use the Reading Room at the Austrian Archives in the Third District where they have photocopiers you can use and helpful reference librarians. But make sure you take plenty of change as there is no café in the archives itself and no shops nearby. If you plan to visit the Austrian State Archives, please give them advance notice in writing and send a brief description of your research project.
Dr. Hubert Steiner of the Österreichische Staatsarchiv (Federal Archives)   produced a search aid for the property lists that all Jews in Vienna were forced to submit in 1938. The unpublished manuscript is held at the reference desk in the Reading Room. You can borrow it and read it there and then order the actual files to copy and read. If you are unable to go there in person you can look at the list on the web at: http://www.avotaynu.com/HolocaustList/a2.htm.
The property lists contain detailed lists of possessions and property and also sometimes contain data on what happened to the persons concerned, including their exile addresses and so on.  Practically all Jews in Vienna in 1938 completed one, because if they didn’t everything was confiscated.
See Steiner, Hubert/Kucsera, Christian: Recht als Unrecht. Quellen zur wirtschaftlichen Entrechtung der Wiener Juden durch die Vermögensverkehrsstelle. Wien 1993.
Public transport is easy: Take U3 to Erdberg exit Nottendorfergasse. Buses 78A, 79A, 80A to Erdberg.
You just have to take your passport with you. No advance arrangements are required.

KRIEGSARCHIV

The Kriegsarchiv (Military archive) is in the same building as the Staatsarchiv and contains personal details of members of the Imperial Armed Forces (up to WW1) who originated from the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire and other parts of what is present-day Austria (After 1918 relevant files were sent to Prague and Budapest and so on).  For ordinary soldiers, you have to know the date of entry into the armed forces and which regiment, and then you can see the “Grundbuchblatt”.
Officers are listed in an alphabetically organized archive of so-called “Qualifikationslisten” (the file numbers are all QUALL ###) and can be accessed by name alone! The files contain mainly military career details, but it is possible to pick out details on date and place of birth, marital status, and whether and when children were born.  See www.genealogy.net/reg/AUT/karchiv.html for a detailed description of the archive in German, or contact:
Österreichische Staatsarchiv
Kriegsarchiv
Nottendorfergasse 2
A-1030 Vienna, Austria
Adresse: Nottendorfer Gasse 2-4, 1030 Wien
Email: kapost@oesta.gv.at
Website: www.oesta.gv.at
Opening times of the reading room: Monday, Thursday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; Friday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Files for soldiers up to 1918 are in the Kreigsarchiv. After 1918 military service records are held in the Archiv Der Republik.
Archiv der Republik
Adresse: Nottendorfer Gasse 2, A-1030 Wien
Email: adrpost@oesta.gv.at
Website: www.oesta.gv.at
Opening times of the reading room: Monday, Thursday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm; Friday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

AUSTRIAN NATIONAL LIBRARY

Website: www.onb.ac.at/
In the Austrian National Library (Österreiche Nationalbibliothek) you can view several useful resources.
The library holds some school records. It also has a newspaper archive downstairs, where you can view old copies of the Neues Wiener Tageblatt (New Vienna Daily Gazette) (microfilm 394.205 – D.Per) and the Neue Freie Presse (New Free Press) (microfilm 393.929 – D).  These are the two papers in which Jewish families put death notices.  The notices usually contain the names of all family members (also parents, brothers, sisters, and in-laws).
The library is slowly digitising many of its newspapers and includes the Neue Freie Presse and the Wiener Zeitung (Vienna Gazette) for example and many others as well. It is possible to view them online.
Also in the library, you can get Lehmann’s Wiener Wohnunhgsanzeiger (cat. # 393.867 – C.Per).  This is an alphabetical listing of all heads of household in Vienna from 1859 onwards.  It is like a telephone directory for the 19th century.  The Mormon FHL has these directories available for 1870, 1902, 1906, 1908, and 1925.
Contact: Josefsplatz 1, 1015 Wien
Email: onb@onb.ac.at
The entrance is from the Heldenplatz in front of the Hofburg Palace, opposite the Volksgarten.
[Note from Peter Lowe a SIG member:
ANNO website (Austrian Newspaper Online) – http://anno.onb.ac.at/anno.htm – The newspapers included in the National Library’s online database are extensive. They include the Prager Tagblatt a German paper covering Prague, Neue Freie Presse which was Jewish-owned and ran many death notices, and the Wiener Zeitung which is starting to be searchable. The period covered is from the 1800s through to 2000. Not all are yet digitised though or searchable.] 

HOLOCAUST AND NATIONAL SOCIALIST RELATED RESOURCES

Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus

Website: www.nationalfonds.org (English)
The Austrian government set up a fund to assist needy Holocaust victims from Austria.  The main task of the National Fonds is to provide financial support for victims of National Socialism as quickly, flexibly, and unbureaucratically as possible.  It was established in 1995, the 50th Anniversary of the Second Republic, to “remember all the immense wrong inflicted on millions of human beings by Nazism as well as the fact that Austrians, too, were involved in these crimes.”
In case of grave illness or social need, payments to younger persons can be made   – in case of social hardship, the amount of 70,000 Austrian Schillings (approximately $6,000 US dollars) can be tripled.
Contact: Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus – General Secretary
Dr. Karl-Renner-Ring 3
1017 Wien, Parlament, Austria
Email: nationalfonds@eunet.at
In 2001 the Federal Austrian Government set up another programme to compensate Jews and other victims. This is the General Settlement Fund. Applications have closed but their database may be a useful source of information. They have taken on a role as a tracing agency and will put Holocaust victims and survivors in contact with each other.

The General Settlement Fund for the Victims of National Socialism
Email: gsf-sekretariat@nationalfonds.org

Historikerkommission (Historical Commission)

In 1987 the Austrian government set up a historical commission to write a series of reports on the Nazi era and its aftermath. Unfortunately, their website is no longer functioning. Its extensive, multi-volume report was completed and tabled to the government in 2002.

Email: hiskom@oesta.gv.at

The University of Vienna Memorial Book

The University of Vienna has created an online Memorial Book Dedicated to the Victims of National-Socialism at the University of Vienna in 1938. The site’s English version is at http://gedenkbuch.univie.ac.at/index.php?id=433&L=2

A searchable database lists expelled students and dismissed staff, as well as graduates whose academic credentials were rescinded after the German Anschluss. The database includes names and biographical information of over 2,000 people — mostly Jews, several hundred of whom were from Galician towns.

Enter your town name in the Full Search field to find names of students/faculty who were born or were residents (“heimatberechtigt”) there. The search assumes a wild card; so, for example, writing Tarno brings up people from Tarnobrzeg, Tarnopol, and Tarnow.

Archive of the Mauthausen Memorial

The Mauthausen Memorial Archive and Library are in Vienna and are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are requested to notify their visit in advance.
Location: Minoritenplatz 9, 7th floor, room 720 Vienna I, centre

Email: mauthausen-memorial@mail.bmi.gv.at

VIENNA WIESENTHAL INSTITUTE FOR HOLOCAUST STUDIES

The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies is a joint project of numerous Austrian organizations whose objective is to establish a center in Vienna for social-political debate regarding anti-Semitism, racism, and the Holocaust.

AJGS Member David Laufer has also shared a list of his favourite Austrian Genealogy sites.

[Information current @2020 If you discover an error please email with a link and description.]

ALBANIA | BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA | BULGARIA | CROATIA | GREECE | REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA | MONTENEGRO | SERBIA | SLOVENIA

Can you help us build this entry? If you have specific links, tips and trick for these geographical areas please email them for inclusion on our site.

LATVIA | LITHUANIA | ESTONIA

The Baltic states were once part of the Russian Empire. They briefly gained independence at the beginning of the 20th century before becoming part of the Soviet Union. With the fall of the USSR in 1989 the three states remained their independence. Jewishgen has extensive resources covering the whole of eastern Europe and a good place to start is their Eastern Europe FAQ page.

LATVIA

Historically part of the Russian Empire Latvia became independent in 1918, being formed from the gubernias of Courland, southern Livonia, and western Vitebsk. Between 1940-1989 they were part of the Republic of U.S.S.R. but regained independence in 1989 with the falloff the Soviet Union.

LITHUANIA

Most of Lithuania was annexed by Russia in 1795.  Independent Lithuania was re-established in 1918, formed from Kovno, eastern Vilna, and northern Suwałki gubernias (and a tiny piece of East Prussia).  Vilna area was annexed by Poland in 1919-1939, establishing a capital in Kaunas (Kovno).  Between 1940-1989 Lithuania was part of the Republic of U.S.S.R and, with the fall of the Societ Union, regained independence in 1990. Today the capital is Vilnius.

ESTONIA

Formerly part of the Russian Empire Estonia gained independence in 1918 and was formed from Estland and northern Livonia gubernia.  From 1940-1989 it was part of the Republic of U.S.S.R. and, with the fall of the Soviet Union, regained independence in 1989.

Can you help us improve this entry? If you have specific links, tips and trick for this geographical area please email them to us for inclusion on our site.

Can you help us improve this entry? If you have specific links, tips and trick for this geographical area please email them to me for inclusion on our site.

Member Daniela Torsh has generously shared an extensive list of archives, websites, resources, and researchers for Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia in the former Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Information is correct at the date of publication (JUL 2016). If you find any errors, broken links, or information that is no longer current please contact the AJHS webmaster.

PLEASE NOTE: Links to external websites will open them in a new window.

CZECH NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Website: http://www.nacr.cz

Chodovec in the Prague 4 district is where the new National Archives building can be found. Adjacent are two other important archives, the Prague City Archive and the Prague Regional Archive.

To get access to the archive, email or call ahead and make an appointment if you want to meet an archivist or use their reading room or reference library. The research room is open Mondays and Wednesdays 9am to 6pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am to 4pm. Closed last Friday of every month. You must take ID with you, preferably your passport, as security is strict. They have a reading room and library.

Street address:
Narodni Archiv
Archivni 4/2257
149 01
Praha 4- Chodovec
Email:  na@nacr.cz

Way to the Archives using public transport:
The best way is to go by underground – red line “C” – to the station “Opatov”, here change to bus number 213 (goes all day long) or bus number 260 (goes only part of the day). The nearest bus stop to the Archives is “Chodovec”.

There are some publications for sale at the front counter of the Archives including a useful two part street register which shows how street names have changed over the years and includes historical background on the street names. This is also where one can purchase copies of the 1793 and 1783 censuses. (The titles can be found on the website under publications).

The CNA have another important building in Prague 6 in the suburb of Dejvice near Prague castle.

The research room of the 1st department in Prague 6 – Dejvice
Address: Milady Horákové 133, Praha 6 – Dejvice
Email: na1@nacr.cz

BIRTHS, MARRIAGES & DEATHS

Births, marriages, and deaths are now available online www.badatelna.eu

The Czech National Archive has a lot of background information about these records on its website (in English) and there is also another important collection of Prague Jewish records on the website front page.

All the Jewish births, deaths and marriages records for the last few hundred years are kept by the First Department of the National Archives in Dejvice. They have collected over 3,000 Matriky- the record books of each Jewish Community in Bohemia and Moravia. These original documents were initially collected by the Nazis and then liberated in 1945 by the Communists. Their library call sign is HBMa.

The director (as at July 2016) Dr Matušiková is a trained historian and archivist and is able to find records and provide copies if you write to her or email a request. The records have been microfilmed now to preserve them. Some records were destroyed by the Nazis, some under Communism so regrettably there are gaps in the records. Dr Matušiková has created an index book which shows the years for which records are held at the archives for each town and city in the Czech Republic. This unpublished index is held in the Reading Room so you can see which of the HBMa collection you want.

Entry to the archive can only be gained by contacting Dr Matušiková ahead of time. Her email address is: Lenka.matusikova@nacr.cz If you want to use the reading room you have to take your passport as security is strict.

This archive is open to public Monday to Thursdays from 9am to 6pm and Fridays 9am to 2pm. It’s closed on the last Friday of every month.

Way to the Archives using public transport:
Best to go by underground line green “A” (station Hrad?anská) or by tram number 1,8,15,18,25,26 (station Hrad?anská).

NB the Czech BDM records are NOT available through the Mormon film records so the Czech National Archives is the ONLY place to get them from though some local and regional archives also have copies of limited numbers of vital records as well as other records.

POLICE RECORDS – PRAGUE 1850-1914

English website: http://www.nacr.cz/en/fondy-a-pomucky/digitalni-badatelna/konskripce/.

The CNA hold the household registration records for Prague and some regional areas as well. Recently the so called “conscription” records- what we would call household registration -have begun to be digitised and so can be searched on line. They are asking for donations to make this work faster. Some of you may wish to contribute. If so the details are on the website.

Family and individual registration i.e. where one lived are shown in a table of police records for Prague (some areas only, it is not comprehensive for all of Prague) 1850-1914. They are adding names all the time.

You can search on family name, first name and or year of birth. The records give head of household, wife with maiden name,  children and other relatives who lived at the same address, date of registration,   number of house, occupation of man, year and place of birth, religion,  deaths in family, marriages, (NB conscription means something different in this context, nothing to do with army service. It means the registration form.)

At the time of writing there are 1.3 million entries that have been digitised. They are at the back end of the alphabet so not long before they will have completed this work.

CITY OF PRAGUE ARCHIVES

In Czech they are called: “Archiv hlavniho mesta Prahy”
Website: www.ahmp.cz.

These are co-located with the CNA at Chodovec but are in the smaller building behind the National Archives. The City Archives have good reference materials like city business directories and Year Books from the 1800’s through to the WW2. They also hold school records for Prague schools- “tridni katalog” in Czech. Plural = “tridni katalogy”.

The same advice applies as for the CNA, take ID and make an appointment ahead of time. Check opening hours before you go. The directions to get there are the same as for the National Archives.

PRAGUE REGIONAL ARCHIVES

Website: http://www.soapraha.cz

These are found in the building adjacent to the CNA at Chodovec. Same access rules as above two archives. These archives hold files on businesses, Aryanisation during WW2 of Jewish businesses, personal files and much more.

Contact: Statni oblastni archiv v Praze
Archivni 4/2257
149 01, Praha 4
Email: soapha2@mvcr.cz

LOCAL ARCHIVES

Local and regional Czech archives are also very worthwhile checking for census records, domicile records, school records. In Moravia the usual rule is that the reading rooms are only available to the public on Mondays and Wednesdays and for restricted hours. Make sure you call, write or email ahead to confirm your visit.

The Association of Czech archivists’ website has complete lists of addresses and email contacts of all the local archives and regional ones too. It has an English language section that explains how the archives are organised.

Website: www.cesarch.cz.
If you need help you can email them to ask at cesarch@cesarch.cz

MORAVIA

The Moravian Regional Archives are in Brno.
Website: http://www.mza.cz

Moravsky zemsky archiv v Brne
Palachovo nam 1
P.O. Box 51
625 00 Brno
Email: podatelna@mza.cz

Uhersky Hradiste:
The Director
Statni Okresni Archiv Uherske Hradište
Frantiskanska ul.c.124
686 66 Uherske Hradište

CZECH REPUBLIC

Prerov:
P?erov Archive
Email: podatelna@pr.archives.cz

Frydek-M?stek:
Website: www.archives.cz/frydek-mistek
Statni okresni archiv
Frydek- M?stek
Bezrucova 2145
CZ-738 01 Frydek- M?stek
Czech Republic
Email: podatelna@fm.archives.cz

Ostrava:
Mgr. Hana Šústková
Ostrava City Archive (Archiv m?sta Ostravy)
Špálova 19
702 19 Ostrava
Email: hsustkova@ostrava.cz

BOHEMIA

Most:
Statni okresni archiv v Moste
Leose Janacka 1310/2
434 01 Most
Email: sokamost@soalitomerice.cz

Jindrichuv Hradec:
Statni okresni archiv Jind?ich?v Hradec
Vaclavska 37/III
377 11, Jind?ich?v Hradec
Email: posta@jh.ceskearchivy.cz

NATIONAL LIBRARY OF CZECH REPUBLIC

Website: http://www.en.nkp.cz
The National Library of the Czech Republic
Klementinum 190
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic
E-mail: sekret.ur@nkp.cz (Office of Director General)
oms.ur@nkp.cz (Foreign Relations Department)

Location: A Baroque complex in the Old Town close to the Charles Bridge
Entrances into the complex:
– from Marianske namesti (Virgin Mary Square)
– from Karlova ulice (Charles Street)
– from Krizovnicka ulice (Krizovnicka Street) through the passage next to the St. Salvator Church (St. Saviour’s Church)

How to get there: Metro – line A – Staromestska Station
Tram – 17, 18 – Staromestska Station
Visitor Information and Library Shop: Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm; closed Saturday

Main Hall: Help and Information Desk Mon – Sat 9am – 7pm

Kramerius” At Czech National Library

Website: http://kramerius.nkp.cz/kramerius/Welcome.do
This is the digital library project. The digital library contains more than 8 million scanned pages. Some of the documents are in German, Russian, English and other languages. The search pages are in English.

SIG member Peter Lowe posted:
…The index is largely based on OCR, so is far from perfect as can be seen from the “snippet” transliteration that one gets for each entry. The digitized books and periodicals are mainly in Czech or German. If you are researching common surnames, try including their town or village of origin together with their surname.

When researching my Bohemian surnames, the periodical “Bohemia” gave a lot of interesting “hits”. In particular it often has death notices similar to those in the Prager Tagblatt. A key difference is that the latter is unindexed. So this has allowed me to find a number of death notices, and using the publication I could then also find the notices in the Prager Tagblatt (from http://anno.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno?aid=b).

From the overall index, and the “snippet” transliteration, I found that an edition of “Bohemia” from 1912 must have had an announcement of my grandparents’ marriage. This was the first clue to the marriages’ exact date.  Unfortunately, I could not see the image of the announcement as it appears that for copyright reasons the website does not provide images of most pages after about 1900. However, it does allow one to order copies of such pages.

Another interesting resource is a series of directories for Bohemia, including:
Statistik und Beamten-Schematismus des Grossgrundbesitzes im Koenigreiche Boehmen 1891 which lists all tenant farmers, which of course includes many Jewish names.

Allgemeines Adress- und Handels- Handbuch der Hauptstadt Prag sammt Vorstädten 1871 which is a detailed address and trade directory from Prague and surroundings and the rest of Bohemia. Within it there are several name and place indexes, and I could find many of my direct ancestors in this book

One series of publications: Liste der P.T. Curgäste in Carlsbad in the period around 1870 is quite fascinating. ( I have edited Peter’s posting here). These list guests staying in the spa resort of Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary). For each it gives some information about profession, and  their normal residence, date of arrival and address in Carlsbad, and sometimes information on accompanying family members. I was amazed at how many of my family are listed as staying there. No doubt this was where many family connections were created.

I think there is a lot to learn from this website, and no doubt others who are more expert at understanding the way it is arranged and indexed can give further advice.

MILITARY RECORDS

Before 1918 Czechs were obliged to join the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. All their military records were housed in Vienna at the Military Archives. When Czechoslovakia was created by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 most of the military records for Bohemian, Moravian, Slovakian, and Silesian personnel were transferred to the Military archives in Trnava in Slovakia. Officers’ records however remained in Vienna.

The Austrian Military archives say that records of men born 1865 to 1886 are what were transferred to the new country. They note these records are incomplete until 1864, 1887–1898 largely destroyed!

In 1995 Czechoslovakia ceased to exist. Instead two new Republics were created: the Czech Republic which includes Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia and the Republic of Slovakia. So the Trnava records were split between the two new Republics and the Czech Military archives got the records for Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.

The Czech Military Archive address is:
Vojenský Ust?edni Archiv v Praze,
Sokolovská 136,
18600 Praha 8
Czech Republic

The Slovak records include those from 1793–1921, war graves and military cemeteries 1914–1919, military parish records 1621–1950.

The address is:
Vojenský Historický Archiv v Trnave,
Univerzitné námestie 1,
91700 Trnava
Republic of Slovakia

For officers’ records you still have to ask at the Austrian Military Archives:
Kriegsarchiv
A-1030 Wien
Nottendorfer Gasse 2
Austria

Officers are listed in an alphabetically organized archive of so-called “Qualifikationslisten” (the file numbers are all QUALL ###) and can be accessed by name alone! The files contain mainly military career details, but it is possible to pick out details on date and place of birth, marital status and whether and when children were born.  See http://www.genealogy.net/reg/AUT/karchiv.html for a detailed description of the archive in German, or contact:

Adresse: Nottendorfer Gasse 2-4, 1030 Wien
Email: kapost@oesta.gv.at
Website: www.oesta.gv.at
Central reading room opening hours: Monday, Thursday 9am – 5pm; Tuesday, Wednesday 9am – 6pm, Friday 9am -1pm

CZECH CEMETERIES

Stonepics is a new Czech website of cemeteries mostly not Jewish ones but municipal cemeteries do contain graves of some Czech Jews who were assimilated or for some other reason were not buried in Jewish cemeteries. Worth a look. Website: http://czech.stonepics.com/czech.htm

CZECH MAPS

mapy.cz  is a modern map source produced in the Czech Republic so it is up to date and has a lot of smaller towns. It is in Czech but easy to use even if you don’t have the language.

JEWISH COMMUNITY

Federation of Jewish Communities in Czech Republic

Website: Federation of Jewish Communities of Czech republic (English)

Useful history and map of CZ with location of all official Jewish Community offices throughout the country and good links.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic is based in the Old Town of Prague in the former Ghetto in Josefov at 18 Maiselova Street. That is where the Prague Jewish Community is also based and the High synagogue and the Chief Rabbi.  There is also the original card file for all transports of Czech Jews which contains the final address from where they were deported. They will certify copies for you for a small cost.

The postal address is;
Federace Zidovskych Obci v Ceske republice
Maiselova 18
P.O. B. 297
110 01 Praha 1
Czech Republic

The Jewish Community of Prague

Website: Jewish Community of Prague

The Jewish Community of Prague (JCP) is a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic. It supports the religious and cultural life of its members and administers their social and health needs. The Community today has about 1,600 members. However, since 1989 the number of members has grown by approximately 900 persons and the average age of the members has decreased from 80 to 57 years.

JCP is in charge of the Old-New Synagogue (Alt-Neu Schul) and other cultural and religious institutions (synagogues, cemeteries, museums, memorials etc.) unless they are under the care of The Federation of Jewish Communities. They a kosher restaurant and supports Jewish education of its members and contributes to comprehensive education in Judaism and Jewish history, especially in its work with youth, and they speak out against all manifestations of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, Nazism, fascism, discrimination, and intolerance and commemorates Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

JCP also provides financial support and space to a number of Jewish unions and associations. Their activities include sport, culture and the challenges facing the next generation.

Email: sekretariat@kehilaprag.cz

Through its company, Matana Inc., The JCP administers the real estate holdings of the Jewish Community. Since 1990 Matana has been involved in the reconstruction and renovation of synagogues and cemeteries that have suffered from extensive damage and neglect. JCP also administers nineteen non-Prague synagogues and more than 170 cemeteries with large number of adjacent buildings (morgues, ceremonial halls, and cemetery houses).

Matana, a.s., Správa budov a h?bitov? –
Matana, Inc., Administration of Buildings and Cemeteries
Malá Štupartská 1, 110 00 Praha 1
Email: sbh@cmail.cz

Jewish Community Of Brno

Website: Jewish Community of Brno (in Czech)
The website has links to the Brno Jewish Cemetery which is large and well cared for and still in use and also has an online searchable database.

To write to them:
Jewish Community of Brno
Zidovska obec Brno
t?. Kpt.Jaroše 3
Brno, 602 00
Email: zob@zob.cz
jas@zob.cz
secretary@zob.cz

CZECH JEWISH HISTORY RESOURCES

For good general background on Czech Jewish history see this Porges family website: http://www.porges.net/JewishHistoryOfCzechRepub.html

The Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia Project

This is collaboration between Czech, Austrian and German academics, archivists and others. Dr Matušiková of the Czech National Archives is involved.

“Bohemia, Moravia et Silesia Judaica is a project in which we would like to collect all documents concerning the Jewish population in Moravia (and later?? and Bohemia) in the period 1520-1680. But in the research we are trying also to identify the documents from 18. and 19. century, which could be used for genealogical studies.”

Website: http://bmsj.eu/ (in Czech and German)

JEWISH MUSEUM OF PRAGUE

Website: http://www.jewishmuseum.cz

Jewish Museum expositions can be found in different buildings in the centre of Prague.
Opening hours: Daily except Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
November – March: 9 am – 4.30 pm; April – October: 9 am – 6 pm.

Email: office@jewishmuseum.cz

They have a new reading room at Smichov in the former synagogue right near the And?l Metro station in Praha 5.  They hold a lot of records from destroyed synagogues and Jewish Communities and of course historical records.  They will do research for you.

Main office:
U Staré školy 1
110 00 Prague 1
Czech Republic

Since 1965 they have published Judaica Bohemiae a journal devoted to Jewish history and culture in Bohemia and Moravia (and other countries of the former Habsburg Monarchy) from the Middle Ages through to the present. Special attention is paid to the history of the Jewish Museum in Prague and to research into its collections. Featuring original specialist papers (studies, reviews, and reports); it is intended for local and foreign researchers, as well as for others with an interest in Jewish issues. The texts are published in English and German.

JEWISH CEMETERIES

New Jewish Cemetery

Located at Zizkov, Praha 3, The cemetery may be visited Sunday to Thursday from April to September from 9am to 5pm. From October to March the hours are 9am to 4pm. Fridays all year round hours are 9am to 2pm.

Address:
Zidovsky hrbitov
130 00 Praha 3
Izraelska 1
Email: berkovic@kehilaprag.cz

You can catch the underground to get there. The entrance to the cemetery is right opposite the metro station Zelivskeho on the green “A” line.

The New Jewish Cemetery was founded in 1890 and is a preserved historical monument. It is the only functioning Jewish cemetery in Prague where funerals of Jews are still held. The cemetery occupies more than 10 hectares with about 25,000 graves. The manager has a computerised database where he can find the grave position by name. He can also arrange for repairs and renovation of graves. Email: sbh@cmail.cz

Alternatively you can approach Matana a.s. (the community property management company) as it is responsible for the management and upkeep of Jewish cemeteries and real estate owned by the Jewish Community in Prague and by the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic.

Matana a.s.
Mala Stupartska 1,
110 00 Prague 1

Erich Lewitus has put together some information on some of the graves at the New Jewish Cemetery at Zizkov. As it is online and if he has photographed your ancestral grave it is quite a good website to visit.

You can email him directly on Erich Lewitus: erichl@bezeqint.net

Achab Haidler has a long term project of mapping all Jewish cemeteries. His website is supported by the Jewish Museum but it is only in Czech: http://www.chewra.com/keshetnew/kweb/kategorie.aspx?kid=2

Cemetery Of Noda B’yehuda

This cemetery is next to subway station Ji?ího z Pod?brad, on the green line “A”. There is no record book of burials and the cemetery is not well tended but many stones still stand and names are legible.
Opening hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 9 am – 1 pm

1793 CENSUS OF JEWS IN BOHEMIA

During the past five years, seven volumes of the Bohemian Jewish census of 1793 (Soupis zidovskych rodin v Cechach z roku 1793) have been published in Prague by the State Archives [Statni ustredni archiv v Praze]. The final volume VI/2 is a cumulative “name and place” index which makes searching much easier. It also includes a list of errata and a useful bibliography.

This final volume has some explanatory German text, whereas the other volumes are entirely in Czech, but the actual census entries are transcribed from the old German records and are therefore in German.

The libraries and research centres which hold copies include the

  • Prague Jewish Museum reading room in Smichov,
  • Central Archives, Prague in Dejvice;
  • YIVO Institute in New York;
  • the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City;
  • British Library, London;
  • Adler Society, Vienna;
  • Harvard’s Widener Library, UC in Berkeley, Stanford University
  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC,
  • Czechoslovak Genealogical Society have it in their library in St. Paul, MN.

ISBN numbers and Kreis/Kraj Contents for Volumes I – VI/2 are:

  • Vol I ISBN 80-85475-91-X – Elbogen/Loketsky; Bunzlauer/Boleslavky and Budweiser /Budejovicky Kreis/Kraj;
  • Vol II ISBN 80-85475-96-0 – Kaurzimer/Kourimsky; Bidshover/Bydzovsky; Leitmeritzer/Litomericky Kreis/Kraj
  • Vol III ISBN 80-86712-03-6 – Prachiner/Prachensky; Berouner/Berounsky; Tabor/Taborsky Kreis/Kraj
  • Vol IV ISBN 80-86712-12-5 – Chrudimer/Chrudimsky; Pilsner/Plzensky; Saatzer/Zatecky; Koniggratzer/Hradecky Kreis/Kraj
  • Vol V ISBN 80-86712-21-4 – Czaslauer/Caslavsky; Klattauer/Klatovsky; Rakonitzer  Rakovnicky Kreis/Kraj
  • Vol VI/1 ISBN 80-86712-03-6 – Prague only – Praha 1792 – Praha 1794
  • Vol VI/2 ISBN 80-86712-34-6 – called Praha 1792 Praha 1794 – Cumulative index bibliography; errata and German-language introduction.

To purchase these volumes costs range from 200 Czech Crowns down to 100 CZK.

The census was also taken at the same time in Moravia.  Unfortunately the Moravian censuses are not as yet collected from their various locations in the Moravian Regional Archives and the Archives of the Estates and so far no funds or personnel have taken any interest in transcribing them.

TEREZIN MEMORIAL AND INSTITUTE

Website: www.pruvodce.com/terezin (In English)

The Terezin Memorial and Institute is located at the former concentration camp itself, housed in one of the old barracks. Terezin is once again a Czech town with its citizens living in between the ghetto memorials.

They have a small museum in the former Magdeburg Barracks which displays art and music of the Holocaust and a bookshop and some archives in the small fortress.

To get to Terez?n you catch the Usti nad Labem bus from Florenc bus station in Prague. It goes fairly frequently costs very little and takes about an hour through the lovely Czech countryside. You need to write or email before you go to arrange access as public access is quite limited.

Director is Dr Jan Munk
Postal address:
Principova alej 304
CZ- 411 55 Terez?n

The Terez?n Initiative Institute attempts to document the names and fates of all prisoners of the Terezin ghetto and of other victims of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” in the Czech Lands and to use this data in order to assist commemoration and promote Holocaust education. The information gathered in the framework of this documentation project is made available for survivors, family members, but also to the public, to historians and for schools.

It was founded in 1993 by an international association of former prisoners of Terezín ghetto. They host a Holocaust website with details of all former prisoners.

Address: Jáchymova 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic.
Email: database@terezinstudies.cz
Website: www.holocaust.cz (English)

The aim of this website is to provide the Czech public with reliable information about the history of the Holocaust. The Czech version of this website contains numerous texts and documents about the Holocaust, including interviews with survivors.

The website is specifically designed for use in Czech schools, by both students and teachers.

CZECH FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCHERS

Czech family history researchers who will do paid work for you (and whom I can personally recommend):

Jaroslav Klenovsky works for the Jewish Community in Brno looking after all the cemeteries and graves in Moravia. He also does private work as a genealogy researcher and is also the author of many books and articles about Moravian genealogy

Jaroslav will charge you by the day if he takes you round in his car to see your ancestral towns, or to visit archives and cemeteries. Arrange the trip well before you go and make sure you explain exactly where you want to go and he will take you to see synagogues, local and regional archives, properties, and cemeteries too. (His daily rate available on request).

He has worked with me a lot and recently taken researchers Eva Brown from Sydney, Claire Bruell from Auckland and Robert Fraser from WA round Moravian towns.   He speaks and writes Czech and German but is able to read and write in English. He took me to Brno archives to search the “Heimatsrechtkarten” which is a card file of registrations of where people lived. He can also arrange accommodation if you need it.

Contact: Jaroslav Klenovsky
t?. Kpt. Jaroše 3
602 00 Brno, CR
Email: jaroslav.klenovsky@zob.cz,
Website: www.zob.cz

Julius Müller of Prague has his own company called Toledot which has its own website: www.toledot.org/kraje.html.
His email is: jmuller@toledot.org

He will take you to ancestral towns and to the archives to do research, rate on request. Müller is the Czech correspondent for AVOTAYNU and has written extensively about Jewish genealogy. He has a project funded by a grant from the IAJGS to digitise the Familianten Bücher which is available via a link on his website. Julius speaks and writes in English, Czech and German.

Iva Steinová writes and speaks English, Hebrew, German and Czech. Her charges are available upon request. Her contact details are:

Postal address:
Pan? Iva Steinová
Slunecni nam 6
Praha 58
158 00 Czech Republic
Email: i-e-stein@seznam.cz

Some other professional researchers and translators listed on the Austria/Czech SIG on Jewish Gen:
Prof. Ing. Felix Gundacker?
Professional genealogist for Austria, Bohemia and  Moravia:
email: kontakt@felixgundacker.at
Website: http://www.felixgundacker.at/felix/de/   (German)

Mr. Jiri Osanec?I.
P. Pavlova 26
Olomouc
Czech Republic
Email: josanec@iol.cz

Magda Simonovska?
Na Konvarce 17,
Prague 5
Czech Republic
Email: m.simonovska@quick.cz

If your family had Ostrava roots there is a group in England who has a newsletter and is working with Mrs. Libuše Salomonovi?ová of Ostrava (salomonovic@volny.cz) who does local research & whom you may wish to contact. The general contact is David Lawson lawsonassoc@btinternet.com.

Back to top
Back to Continental Europe

Jewishgen French SIG – includes links to resources France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Cercle de Généalogie Juive – the first Jewish genealogical society in France (website available in English and French). Information, publications, forums and workshops (in Paris).

The Stolperstein “Stumbling Block” Project
You may have heard of the Stolperstein Project which has been running in Austria and Germany for some time and is now starting in the Czech Republic and other countries.  It was established and is run by Gunter Demnig
Brass plaques are set into the pavement outside houses or schools etc as a memorial to people who were murdered or forced to flee by the Nazis.

Each “stone” is 96mm by 96mm and has inscribed on it:
Here lived (or studied, or taught etc)

  • Name, family and maiden name
  • Date of Birth
  • Date of Deportation and place to which deported
  • Ultimate fate with date of death (if known)
  • Children or family members who fled to safety (e.g. on Kindertransport) or even who committed suicide under the stress and terrors of the time can also be commemorated with a stone.

PRUSSIA

Prussia was one of the great European military powers of the 16th and 17th centuries. From the establishment of a formal monarchy in 1701 the Prussian Empire expanded to encompass much of what today is Germany and Poland. Prussia’s star waned after the defeat of Germany in WWI and the country effectively ceased to exist, although it was not officially dissolved until 1947.

The following material and resources were collated by Evelyn Frybort. Information is correct at the date of publication (JUL 2017). If you find any errors, broken links, or information that is no longer current please contact the AJHS webmaster.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF PRUSSIA

Prussia (German Preußen; Polish: Prusy) was a historic state originating out of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (established 1157) and the Duchy of Prussia (established 1525). Today this territory encompasses much of Germany and Poland. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern reigned, with a formal monarchy being established by Frederick I (1657-1713; reign 1701-1713), using the title King IN Prussia from 1701 and then, with the rise of Frederick the Great (1712-1786; reign 1740-1786) and the elevation of the Duchy to a Kingdom in 1772, King OF Prussia.

The Prussian province of West Prussia (Westpreußen) was established as a political entity in 1772, after the first partition of Poland. At that time, East and West Prussia (Ost- und Westpreußen) became separate provinces within the Prussian state.

In territorial terms,

  • In the north, the area around Danzig (now Gdansk);
  • in the west bordering on Pomerania (Pommern), are the districts (Kreise) Flatow, Schlochau and Deutsch Krone;
  • In the south Thorn, Culm and its surrounding area and the district of Strasburg, once called Michelau;
  • in the east – from north to south – are the districts of Elbing, Marienburg, Stuhm, Marienwerder and the Weichsel (Vistula) cities of Graudenz and Schwetz.

With its capital originally in Königsberg then from 1701 in Berlin, Prussia indelibly shaped the history of modern Germany.

Before 1772, most cities had autonomous status and privileges, which were now abridged or abolished altogether. Until then, for the most part, Jews were not permitted to live in cities, because individual city privileges permitted them to exclude Jews. For this reason, most Jews were living in rural areas, usually under the protection of landowners and estates.

Frederick’s views, however, were that Jews should live in the cities, not in the countryside. Since most Jews were rather poor, Frederick did not deem them useful. Only those with at least one thousand Taler could stay, but they were required to live in cities. Subsequently, thousands of Jews were expelled from Prussian territory. Despite this Royal Decree, under Frederick’s rule, the Jewish population was restricted in numbers and only privileged Jews were permitted to reside in his kingdom.

As an example of Frederick’s practical-minded but not fully unprejudiced tolerance, Frederick wrote in his Testament politique that:

We have too many Jews in the towns. They are needed on the Polish border because in these areas Hebrews alone perform trade. As soon as you get away from the frontier, the Jews become a disadvantage, they form cliques, they deal in contraband, and get up to all manner of rascally tricks which are detrimental to Christian burghers and merchants. I have never persecuted anyone from this or any other sect; I think, however, it would be prudent to pay attention so that their numbers do not increase.

Jews on the Polish border were therefore encouraged to trade and received protection and support from the king as any other Prussian citizen.

After his death in 1786, little changed under his successor, Frederick II. It was only after 1800 that some slight improvements took place. The political scene changed markedly when Napoleon was crowned Emperor in 1804. As leader of a coalition, his army moved through Europe and defeated Prussia in 1806.

When Karl August Hardenberg (1750-1822) became chancellor in Prussia in 1810, he and Heinrich Friedrich Karl Reichsfreiherr[a] vom und zum Stein (1757 –1831), commonly known as Baron vom Stein, instituted sweeping reforms including improvements to the army, the abolition of serfdom and feudal burdens, the throwing open of the civil service to all classes, and the complete reform of the educational system.

One of the most significant reforms was the Edict of Emancipation of March 11, 1812, which granted Jewish residents the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens:

“We, Frederick William, King of Prussia by the Grace of God, etc., etc., having decided to establish a new constitution conforming to the public good of Jewish believers living in our kingdom, proclaim all the former laws and prescriptions not confirmed in this present edict to be abrogated”

To gain citizen rights, all Jews had to declare themselves to the police within six months of the promulgation of the edict and choose a definitive surname. Jews were finally allowed to own land and take up municipal and university posts. They were free to practice their religion and their traditions were protected. Nevertheless, the edict of emancipation in Prussia did have some limits – Jews could not become army officers or have any government or legal role, but were still required to do military service. In practical terms, it took many, many years before Jews in Prussia obtained equal rights.

The success in integrating the Jews into those areas of society that Frederick encouraged them in can be seen by the role played by Gerson von Bleichröder in financing Bismarck’s efforts to reunite Germany. In 1871, with Napoleon III’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the German states united to create the German Empire under Prussian leadership.

The years up to 1914 were more or less peaceful for the Jews. Anti-Jewish agitation did occur in 1880/81 and 1900, but the rule of law was always restored. When Germany was defeated in 1918, the Prussian province of Westpreußen (West Prussia) effectively ceased to exist. In the north, Danzig and its surrounding area became a Free City (Freie Stadt); in the west, the districts of Deutsch Krone, Schlochau, and remnants of the district Flatow were united with a remnant of the Province Posen, called after 1922 Grenzmark Posen-Westpreussen. In the east, the German-speaking districts of Elbing, Marienburg, Stuhm, and Marienwerder were added to East Prussia and formed a special government district in this province.

During the German Revolution of 1918–19, the monarchies were abolished in favour of a republic and the nobility lost political power. The Free State of Prussia became a state of Germany between 1918 and 1933. However, in 1920 the largest part of Westpreußen was incorporated into the recreated state Poland. For all practical purposes, Westpreußen as a German province ceased to exist.

After 1933, Prussia lost its independence as a result of a coup, when the Nazi regime was successfully establishing its Gleichschaltung laws in pursuit of a unitary state. With the defeat of the Nazis after WWII, the division of Germany into allied occupation zones, and the separation of its territories east of the Oder–Neisse line, which were incorporated into Poland and the Soviet Union, the State of Prussia effectively ceased, existing de jure until its formal liquidation by the Allied Control Council Enactment No. 46 of 25 February 1947.

ONLINE LINKS & RESOURCES

Many Roads – Beginners help and resources
www.many-roads.com/manyroads-services/german-prussian-genealogy-aids/

Pinkas Hakehillot: Polin
Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Poland (Volumes I-VIII)
Published by Yad Vashem
jewishgen.org/yizkor/translations.html#Poland

Virtual Shtetl – www.sztetl.org.pl/en/

National Digital Archive – Poland – www.nac.gov.pl/en/institution/

Civil Registration office for the Wroclow (in Polish)
Urzad Stanu Cywilnego
bip.um.wroc.pl/artykul/227/3173/urzad-stanu-cywilnego

Pommerndatenbank – en.pommerndatenbank.de

Berlin Registry Office (in German) – berlin.de/standesamt1/

Centre for Jewish History – digital.cjh.org/

Polish Genealogical site (in Polish) – geneteka.genealodzy.pl/

Pommeranian Genealogical Society – www.ptg.gda.pl/index.php/default/lang/enutf8/

Aus der Geschichte der judischen Gemeinden im deutschen Sprachraum
(The history of the Jewish communities of German speaking areas – In German)
www.xn--jdische-gemeinden-22b.de

The Poznan Project – poznan-project.psnc.pl/
Their goal is to transcribe the 19th century marriage records from the historic Greater Poland (then Prussian Province of Poznan) into a searchable online database. (with thanks to AJGS member John Shrimski)

Large sites such as…

…all have resources and records useful for Prussian research.

BOOKS OF INTEREST

Jewish Communities in the places named below are described in
Gedenke der Tage der Vorzeit – History of the Jews of Westprussia- Zur Erinnerung und zum Gedenken Die Einstigen Juedischen Gemeinden Westpreussens – Published 2009 by Gerhard Salinger
ISBN 978-3-00-026168-8
Verleger: Gerhard Salinger, New York

Baldenburg (Kreis Schlochau) 601
Berent (Kreisstadt) 1
Bischofswerder (Kreis Rosenberg) 562
Briesen (Kreisstadt) 221

Christburg (Kreis Stuhm) 706
Czersk (Kreis Koenitz) 498

Danzig (Stadtkreis) 24
Deutsch Eylau (Kreis Rosenberg) 570
Deutsch Krone (Kreisstadt) 254
Dirschau (Kreisstadt) 65
Dobrin (Dorf) (Kreis Flatow) 417

Elbing (Kreisstadt) 79

Flatow (Kreisstadt) 378
Freystadt (Kreis Rosenberg) 576

Garnsee (Kreis Marienwerder) 536
Gdingen 57
Gollub (Kreis Briesen) 229
Gorzno (Kreis Straßburg) 683
Graudenz (Kreisstadt) 477
Granau (Dorf) (Kreis Flatow) 421

Hammerstein (Kreis Schlochau) 612

Jastrow (Kreis Deutsch Krone) 287

Kamin (Kreis Flatow) 423
Karthaus (Amtssitz des Kreises Karthaus) 112
Könitz (Kreisstadt) 502
Krojanke (Kreis Flatow) 428
Kulm / Culm (Kreisstadt) 244
Kulmsee (Kreis Thorn) 722

Landeck (Kreis Schlochau) 633
Lautenburg (Kreis Strassburg) 686
Lessen (Kreis Graudenz) 489
Loebau / Lobau (o umlaut) (Kreisstadt) 519

Marienburg (Kreisstadt) 122
Marienwerder (Kreisstadt) 539
Maerkisch / Markisch Friedland (Kreis Deutsch Krone) 315
Mewe (Kreis Marienwerder) 558

Neuenburg (Kreis Schwetz) 669
Neumark (Kreis Loebau) 530
Neustadt (Kreisstadt) 140
Neuteich (1818-1920 Kreis Marienburg, ab 1920 Freie Stadt Danzig) 133

Podgorz (Kreis Thorn) 727
Preussisch Friedland (Kreis Schlochau)620
Preussisch Stargard (Kreisstadt) 153
Putzig (Kreisstadt) 208

Rehden (Kreis Graudenz) 494
Riesenburg (Kreis Rosenberg) 581
Rosenberg (Kreis Rosenberg) 590

Schlochau (Kreisstadt) 642
Schloppe (Kreis Deutsch Krone) 348
Schoeneck / Schoneck (Kreis Berent) 11
Scoennsee / Scoennsee (Kreis Briesen) 239
Schwetz (Kreisstadt) 674
Strassburg (Kreisstadt) 693
Stuhm (Kreisstadt) 716

Thorn (Kreisstadt) 729
Tolkemit (Kreis Elbing) 109
Tiegenhof (bis 1920 Kreis Marienburg, ab 1920 Frei Stadt Danzig) 137
Tuchel (Kreisstadt) 747
Tuetz / Tutz  (Kreis Deutsch Krone) 361

Vandsburg (Kreis Flatow) 445

Zempelburg (Kreis Flatow) 452

Zoppot (Stadtkreis Danzig) 58

History of the Jews of Pommerania – Zur Erinnerung Und Zum Gedenken- Die Einstigen Judischen Gemeinden Pommerns by Gerhard Salinger
ISBN 3-00-013480-8

Teilband 1: Vorwort, Teil I, Teil II, Anhang zu Teil II
Teilband 2: Teil III A-M
Teilband 3: Teil III N-Z
Teilband 4: Anhang zu Teil III, Literaturverzeichnis

Verleger: Gerhard Salinger, New York

For More information:
Dr. Rita Scheller –
Husarenstrasse 26
30163 Hannover, Deutschland
helferbund@web.de

Can you help us improve this entry? If you have specific links, tips and trick for this geographical area please email them to me for inclusion on our site.

National Archives of Hungary  (in Hungarian)
JewishGen All Hungarian Database
Hungarian SIG
Forum and Web Archive of Hungarian Genealogy
Geni Hungarian Jewish Online Database

Can you help us improve this entry? If you have specific links, tips and trick for this geographical area please email them to me for inclusion on our site.

Jewishgen Italian Infofile – Information and links pertaining to the history of Jewish Italy since Roman times and resources for researching Italian Jewish Genealogy.

POLAND

Poland’s centuries old Jewish community was almost entirely wiped out during the Holocaust. But it’s a common misconception that few records survived WWII. In fact there are millions of records for Poland going back several centuries and organisations have been working for decades to collect, collate and conserve these records.

One of the hardest working of these groups are the volunteers of Jewish Records Indexing (JRI) Poland.

Integrated into JewishGen, JRI-Poland is the go-to resource for records researching Polish, Ukrainian and Galician records.

Miriam Weiner’s Routes To Roots provides extensive guides to Jewish and civil records in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Lithuania. They provide links to articles and essays, archive contacts and maps, as well as providing valuable insights into dealing with archives in small towns. This site has been around a long time so some of the information may be out of date. however it’s a good place to start for smaller archives.

Foundation for Documentation of Jewish Cemeteries is a database of inscriptions collected in Jewish cemeteries at locations listed under the Database on their site. The list is continually being expanded as volunteers index subsequent cemeteries.

UKRAINE

JewishGen Ukraine Database
JewishGen Ukraine SIG

GALICIA

Galicia as a region no longer exists however prior to WW1 it was a distinct province of the Austro- Hungarian Empire and home to tens of thousands of Jewish families. Today Galician territory is covered by southern Poland and northern Ukraine. Some Galician territory was also under Russian control at times and so some records may be in Cyrillic script depending on the timeframes. Major Centres like Kraków and Lviv were in Galician territory.

JRI-Poland has extensive indexes for Galician records. It’s a great place to start.

The SIG Gesher Galicia specialises in Galician research. They have initiated hundreds of small scale record recovery and digitizations projects to ensure the holdings of small archives across former Galician territory are examined, indexed, digitized and made available to researchers.

Courtesy of Daniela Torsh:
Galicia and Bukovina
Under the Austrian Empire from 1772 Galicia- now southern Poland and parts of Ukraine -was part of the Austrian Territories. Its capital was Lvov. So the website JRI-Poland is helpful to locate family in Galicia which included Krakow and Lvov. Bukovina was annexed by Austria in 1775 and became a separate province in 1849. Tarnopol was lost to Russia in 1809 but came back to be part of Galicia in 1815. There was a large population of Jews in eastern Galicia.

Because Russian, Yiddish, German and Polish languages were used to register Jewish births, deaths and marriages in this territory the volunteer transcribers for JRI-Poland have done a huge mitzvah. JRI-Poland transcribed into English allows you to find a name and then locate its attached records by town and archive. You then have to pay for the copy of the record and send payment and afterwards you will receive your copy. There are four million records already indexed and the database is being updated regularly.

Some important notes about Vital records in Galicia
Courtesy of Suzan Wynne, Kensington, MD – Author of The Galitzianers: The Jews of Galicia, 1772-1918 (via Daniela Torsh)

Variation in towns in vital records
Galicia was broken into JEWISH administrative districts by the Austrian government. Every district was governed by elected and appointed men from the Jewish community. Each district was itself, a branch of the central kehilla in Lemberg. Austrian law required every Jew to belong to a kehilla for the purpose of taxation, census. A person was attached for life to a kehilla. When people married someone in another kehilla, they didn’t automatically change their membership to the kehilla where they newly resided. Kehillot officials were sometimes reluctant to approve a transfer because it meant a loss of revenue from taxes. Then the children came. So, to which kehilla did the children belong? Say that Mom belonged to one, Dad to another. The children were born in still another.

So, over time, we can imagine that there might be some confusion creeping in.

When a person lived in a town which shared its name with other towns, sometimes the registrar would put a slash indicating which kehilla/administrative district the town was in. The kehilla issue shows up in the census records where every individual’s kehilla was noted….too bad we don’t have more census records. Voter lists contain the current residence of the individuals eligible to vote in the kehilla elections. We can see that emigration from Galicia to “Amerika” did not always end one’s membership either!  In fact, all sorts of official documents that can be seen on microfilm at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem illustrate the importance of kehilla membership. A person had to be in good standing with taxes to vote, obtain a business license, marry officially, etc.

Galicia and Bukowina border
In any discussion about the border between Galicia and Bukowina, I think it is vital to keep in mind that for a long time, Bukowina was officially considered to be part of Galicia. When Austria absorbed it into its Empire, to live in Bukowina meant one was living in Galicia. The people of Bukowina were fairly nationalistic and never liked having their national identity wiped out in that fashion and constantly pressed for designation as a separate Crown land. So, a couple of times, Austria granted Bukowina’s wishes. The first separation was in 1849 but then the Austrian Parliament rescinded the decision in 1859 and until sometime in 1861, Bukowina was again part of Galicia. Bukowina had only one kehilla based in Czernowitz because most of the Jews lived in that city or in surrounding towns.

The following information is courtesy of AJHS member Hilary May Black and is current as of October 2022. Note: The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. Some quoted material has been edited for clarity. You can VIEW & DOWNLOAD A PDF of this article.
Historic map of Romania
Historic Romania Source: JewishGen
Modern map of Romainia
Modern-Day Romania Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

A Brief History of Romania

“Like most European countries, Romania’s borders have changed considerably over time.  Starting in the late 15th century, the Ottoman Empire ruled the Romanian provinces of Moldavia, Walachia, and Dobruja, while Austria and Hungary controlled the Banat, Bihor, Maramures, Satu Mare, and Transylvania.  Austria took over Bukovina (northwestern Moldavia) in 1774, and Russia obtained Bessarabia (eastern Moldavia) in 1812.  An unsuccessful Balkan revolt against the Turks ultimately led to the Russian occupation of Walachia and Moldavia from 1829-34.  The two principalities merged in 1859 to form Romania (also spelled Rumania or Roumania at various times), which remained subservient to the Ottomans until full independence was achieved in 1878.  The province of Dobruja was also added at that time. After World War I, Romania regained control over the territories of Banat, Bessarabia, Bihor, Bukovina, Maramures, Satu Mare, and Transylvania at the expense of Austro-Hungary and Russia.  During the Holocaust period, Romania temporarily gave up northern Transylvania (including northern Bihor, Maramures, and Satu Mare) to Hungary, and permanently lost northern Bukovina and Bessarabia (now the Republic of Moldova) to the Soviet Union. Jews were present in the region under the Roman Empire, but subsequent invasions and wars severely disrupted their existence.  The Jewish population increased significantly after 1800, primarily due to immigration (first from the Balkans and later in the mid-19th century from the Russian Empire and Kingdom of Galicia).  A 1930 census showed a Jewish population of 757,000 in Romania, including 207,000 in Bessarabia and 93,000 in Bukovina.  During the Holocaust, there were many massacres and deportations. After World War II, the Jewish population within the new borders of Romania was estimated at 430,000.  By 1965, as a result of massive intermittent emigration, the Jewish population had dropped to 100,000.  By 1989, toward the end of the Communist period in Romania, there were only 19,000.  By 2005, there were only 9,000 Jews left.” Source: Amit, M. Genealogy Guide: Romania and Moldova, 2 June 2011 History Reference Books A list of reference books about Romanian Jewish History can be found at: https://libguides.cjh.org/genealogyguides/romania_moldova/cjh_resources

Historical Regions of Romania

“Modern-day Romania is a combination of different historical regions, with different pasts. The most notable historical regions of modern-day Romania are as follows: Moldavia, located in the Eastern part of Romania, was united with Wallachia in 1859 to create the modern country of Romania, before which it was part of the Ottoman Empire. This includes communities such as Iași, Galați, Bacău, Botoșani, Dorohoi, Piatra Neamț, Fălticeni, and Focșani. Wallachia, located in the Southern and Southeastern parts of Romania (and comprised of the territories of Muntenia and Oltenia), was united with Moldavia in 1859 to create the modern country of Romania, before which it was part of the Ottoman Empire. This includes communities such as Bucharest, Craiova, Ploiești, and Brăila. Dobrogea, also called Dobruja, is located in the Southeastern part of Romania, which became part of Romania in 1878, before which it was part of the Ottoman Empire. This includes communities such as Constanța and Tulcea. Bucovina, located in the Northeastern part of Romania, became part of Romania in 1918, before which it was part of the Austrian Empire. Bucovina was historically German-speaking and is today divided between the modern-day borders of Romania and Ukraine. The communities located in modern-day Romania include Suceava (Suczawa), Rădăuți (Radautz), and Siret (Sereth). Communities that were located in Romania before World War II but are now in Ukraine include Cernăuți (Czernowitz/Chernivtsi), Sadagura (Sadagora/Sadhora), Vijnița (Wiznitz/Vyzhnytsya), and Storojineț (Storozynetz/Storozhynets). Transylvania, located in the Western, Northwestern, and Central parts of Romania, became part of Romania in 1918, before which it was part of Hungary. Reference to Transylvania often includes the historical regions of Crișana, Maramureș (part of which is now in Ukraine), and Banat. This includes communities such as Cluj-Napoca (Kolozsvár), Sighetu Marmației (Máramarossziget/Sighet), Satu Mare (Szatmár), Oradea (Nagy-Várad), Arad, Timișoara (Temesvár), Dej (Dés), and Târgu-Mureș (Maros-Vásárhely). Because this part of Romania was historically part of Hungary (with records written in Hungarian), please reach out to the Hungary Research Division regarding this area. Bessarabia was part of Moldavia before 1812, after which it was part of the Russian Empire, only to return under Romanian control between 1918 and 1940. It generally comprises the modern-day Republic of Moldova, with small parts in Ukraine. This includes communities such as Chișinău (Kishinev), Hotin (Khotyn), Bălți (Bieltsy), Soroca (Soroki), Briceni (Brichany), Edineț (Yedintsy), Bender (Bendery), Lipcani (Lipkany), and Orhei (Orgeyev). This territory is not covered by the Romania Research Division, and you should instead contact the Bessarabia Research Division.” The JewishGen Romania Research Division website has a list of towns that were, at any time, part of Romania for which there is a specific “town page” on JewishGen, see: https://romania.jewishgen.org/research/regions-and-towns For those regions that were formerly Hungarian, inquiry should be made with the JewishGen Hungary Research Division. For towns that are today in the Republic of Moldova, contact the JewishGen Bessarabia Research Division. Source: JewishGen Romania Division Website. Where to start? From the JewishGen Romania Research Division Website: “Knowing your family came from Romania is a good start, but Romania is made up of many different territories that have diverging histories. Some of modern-day Romania was formerly part of Hungary, Austria, or the Ottoman Empire. Some of former Romania is now part of Ukraine and Moldova. So an important first step is identifying the town of origin. To do so, you should begin your search by: FamilySearch.org (free), and MyHeritage.com (subscription). Documents such as naturalization (citizenship) records, ship records, military records, and death records might identify the town of origin.
  • Identifying where your ancestors are buried. Many Jews were buried in cemetery sections organized by landsmanshaftn, which were mutual aid organizations that supported individuals from a common town of origin. [For USA searches]
  • Submitting a DNA test to one of the commercial sites and reviewing DNA matches.
  • Asking older relatives.”
The JewishGen Romania Research Division website contains many resources for Romanian genealogy research. Click on the following links for the following topics: Genealogy and History: links to websites for general Romanian research, Jewish research, history, the Holocaust, and more. Romanian Regions and Towns: information about the different historical regions of Romania, as well as links to the JewishGen pages for specific towns in Romania, broken down by region. Jewish Cemeteries in Romania: description of towns and links to Romanian cemeteries in the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), as well as other Romanian cemetery resources. Historical News: read transcriptions of historical English-language newspaper articles regarding the Romanian Jewry, both in Romania and abroad. Rom-SIG Newsletters: historical newsletters from Rom-SIG that are filled with a significant array of details on Romanian Jewish genealogy and history. Romanian Sudits: a description of the history of the Jewish “foreign subjects,” those Jews who arrived in Romania from foreign lands. Miscellaneous Record Sets: records relating to Jewish communities in Romania and overseas. The JewishGen Romania Research Division can also be contacted via its Facebook page

Romanian Family History Research Guides

Glaskie, M. 2019 Resource Guide: Searching your Jewish Ancestors from Romania, Israel Genealogy Research Association:  for information about accessing Romanian government archives and other sources for family history records. Amit, M. Genealogy Guide: Romania and Moldova, 2 June 2011, Centre for Jewish History, Ackman and Ziff Genealogy Institute, N.Y  for information about accessing primary records, resources available at the Centre for Jewish History, relevant websites, maps, and videos.

Accessing Records

Romanian Government Archives
Previously most genealogical research had to be done on-site in the various Government archives in Romania and it is possible to hire local researchers to research on your behalf but this is, of course, expensive and time-consuming. You will also need to pay for translations. However, many valuable records can be accessed via intermediaries such as the JewishGen Romania Research Division and the Botosani Research Team group (see below). JewishGen (for record index searches) The first place to look for Romanian family records is the JewishGen website. The majority of listings are indexed records, some with a link to a copy of the document and a reference to the source. The Romanian-Moldova database contains over 1.2 million records from a variety of sources, including voter lists, census records, business directories, vital records, diplomatic records, yizkor books, and others. Records can be searched for free. However, further advanced search features are only available to contributors of $US100 or more to the JewishGen General Fund. See the website for further details.
JewishGen Romania Research Division
Once you have identified relevant records you can request copies of the original documents (where available) from the JewishGen Romania Research Division. This is a group of “volunteer genealogists and researchers exploring the lives and experiences of Jewish ancestors and relatives who lived in Romania.” The group charges US$15.00 per record as a way of recouping the costs involved in accessing and copying original documents from various Romanian archives. Contact: Dana Lugassy. Research inquiries can also be sent to the Romania Division Director, Michael Moritz.
Jewish Genealogy in Romanian Moldova (The Botosani Research Team)
Records for certain towns in what was formerly Romanian Moldova have been obtained from Romanian archives and indexed by a private group of researchers called the Botosani Research Team who run the Jewish Genealogy in Romanian Moldova Facebook Page: Sorin Goldenberg, Robert Zavos and Luc Radu They have created a free searchable database of family names for the cities of Botosani, Dorohoi, Husi, and Vaslui: (Google registration required for access). They can provide records (apart from the ones you can locate on their database above) for the following towns:
Adjud Focsani Podu Turcului
Baia Frumusica Puiesti
Bara Harlau Pungesti
Barlad Hertza Radauti-Prut
Bacesti Hertza Villages Roman
Bivolari Husi Saveni
Botosani Lespezi Sculeni
Bozienii (de sus) Mihaileni Stefanesti
Bucecea Moinesti Sulita
Buhusi Negresti Targu Frumos
Burdujeni Odobesti Targu Ocna
Codaesti Panciu Targu Neamtz
Darabani Pascani Vaslui
Dorohoi Piatra Neamtz Zvoristea
Falticeni Podu Iloaei
The group does research for free, but charges a fee to supply records and translations. Their price list is available online and you can contact them via email: romanianjewishrecords1@gmail.com

Challenges to Genealogy Research in Romanian Moldova

Luc Radu, Botosani Research Team “There are some major challenges to genealogy research in Romanian Moldova, as opposed to, say, limitrophe [states or territories situated on a border] areas like  (Russian) Bessarabia or (Austrian) Bucovina:
  1. Extreme “fluidity” of Surnames: while the use of surnames was legalized from the 1860s, in practice for most of the 19th century and in some cases as late as 1948, Jews used surnames, which varied, from record to record and within the same family and from year to year. The same person may have been registered, say, with a German/Yiddish surname, with a Romanian occupational name, with a traditional Jewish “ X son/daughter of Y”, with some specific Romanian toponymic [surname based on place name]   or a specific Romanian patronymic or matronymic [surname derived from father or mother’s name].
  2. Lack of Census input data forms: while country-wide censuses were done every 10 years since 1859 the only ones preserved are from after 1930. There are a few specific in several places or for foreign subjects but offer, in general, limited information.
  3. The non-standard type for civil records (Births, Marriages, Deaths – BMD): while their content has been stated in the 1866 Civil Code, the records are in a narrative form, where the order of information varies from place to place and from year to year. This, and the use of many archaic, fallen [out] of use words, makes the work of transcribing the records much more complicated than for places where the data is in a fixed format. However, there is a particular advantage of Romanian Births and sometimes Marriage records where the Civil Office kept them up to date with notations for other events: marriage, emigration, name change, and death.  Such information is lost in case [where] one accesses the Archives-developed index (not always available or correct).
  4. Civil records started in 1865/66 only: the community-kept records (metrical) have been preserved only for limited years and places. Also, they contain bare-bones information. I also note that civil records are NOT separated by religion so to find Jewish records one has to look through at least twice and, in many cases, multiple times pages of registers.
  5. LDS [Latter Day Saints] Church has not been allowed to access and copy records. As a result, there has been almost no information online on major genealogical sites like Ancestry and Family Search. At the time our group started the research in 2008 or so, the only collections available on JewishGen were some Cemetery Burial records and the 1942 Jewish Males Census. More recently JewishGen has acquired civil records from several places.
Due to all these factors, serious genealogical research that attempts to find information for an extended family, as important data may be revealed only that way, has to employ a specific methodology we [The Botosani Research Team] have developed:
  • Acquire ALL the civil records
  • Transcribe the Jewish records using forms specifically designed to capture all significant data to allow a comprehensive search
  • Generate a database and a specific search engine allowing to search multiple places via very flexible search keys.”

First Steps in Researching Your Jewish Botosani Roots – A Very Short Guide.

Sorin Goldenberg 23 09 2014, Botosani Research Team Background:
  1. Places: Botosani is a city, but it was also the main city of the county by the same name. By 1894, Botosani had the 3rd largest Jewish population in the old Kingdom of Romania, 17 thousand Jews out of a total of 32 thousand. Other settlements in the Botosani county were Harlau, Sulitsa, Stefanesti, Burdujeni, and Bucecea. Other Jews might have lived in the many villages in the county. Some might have lived all their lives in one place, others might have moved to other places following the marriage, and some might have moved through several places during their lives.
  2. Civil State Registration: Civil state registration in Romania started in December 1865. Before that, it was carried out by the community, but very few registers remained, and many were not registered. In the 1st decade, many, especially girls were not registered at birth. The registration was performed at the city hall in every city, town, or commune (center of several villages). Thus, there were tens if not more possible places where the registration of events was performed. The civil state registers are kept for 100 years in the place of the registration, and only then transferred to the local branch of the National archives in Botosani. The registers of the settlements that were part of the former Dorohoi County are now at Botosani. The registers of Harlau and Burdujeni are now at Iasi and Suceava respectively.
  3. First Names: Botosani Jews in the second half of the 19th century, usually used Yiddish first names. Those names had sometimes Romanian localized versions – like Bercu or Hershcu instead of Berl/Hersh. Only the rich families used European 1st names – Max, Oscar, Jacques, etc… Romanian typical 1st names were very rarely used.
  4. Surnames: The Romanian State never required Jews to adopt surnames, unlike many of the other places in Europe. For generations the Ashkenazi Jewish naming practice was “X son of Y” – or in Romania, “X sin Y”. Jews that immigrated to Romania from outside in the 1st half of the 19th century might have abandoned the surnames adopted as a result of foreign laws. Adoption of surnames in Romania was voluntary, and slow. In Botosani, a city far away from the capital, it was slower. Even when adopting a surname, most Jews would not register it with the authorities, as the law required, from 1895 on. At least 50% of Botosani Jews did not have surnames in the second half of the 19th Romanian law required people to have civil marriage. Starting with the mid-1880s, children of couples who only had religious marriage might have been registered as illegitimate, carrying the mother’s name and surname (if she had one).
  5. Dates: Romania used the Julian calendar until 1919. There was a difference of 12/13 days between the Julian and Gregorian calendars in the 19th/20th centuries respectively. While this might create confusion – that is not the big problem. Romanian records are not consistent in registering ages. Our experience shows that even after emigration, Romanian Jews did not record their true birth date – sometimes they were close, usually several years away.
Guidelines [for conducting a records search in Romania]
  1. Places of origin: Botosani might be the place of origin of your ancestor – but it might be the county and not the city. Try to determine, as best as you can the exact place of origin. [For family members who went to the U.S.] Ellis Island manifest, naturalization papers can be the source of this information. However, sometimes they are not accurate, as the information supplied by the immigrants was not accurate.
  2. First Names: It is important to determine the names people carried in Romania. Your Romanian ancestor almost surely was not a John, Henry, Harry, Louis, etc… While some names have immediate equivalence, others might not have, or the person might have chosen a different 1st name rather than the expected one. Usually, the tombstone would carry the Hebrew name of the person. The Hebrew name would be fairly easily translated into the Yiddish Romanian one, though sometimes, in the case of a double name, the person might have been known by only one of the names, not necessarily the 1st
  3. Surnames: As surnames were rare in Botosani – the surname your ancestor carried [when they emigrated to the US] might have been adopted only at Ellis Island, or even in the States. The surname itself might not be very important. The spelling of the name is usually meaningless, as many Jews did not write Romanian, so the clerk would register whatever he thought he heard.
  4. Family member search: This is major information [for a search.] For each emigrant:
    1. Hebrew name if possible.
    2. Date of birth (usually it will not be accurate)
    3. Place of birth
For the heads of families, it would be very useful to gather information about their parents (tombstones, death certificates). Any information about siblings might also add pieces to the puzzle. If you have specific links, tips, and tricks for this geographical area please email them to us for inclusion on our site.

Spain and Portugal were home to a large, vibrant Jewish community from antiquity. When the Iberian peninsular was conquered by the Muslim Moors in the 8th century, Jews lived and worked side by side with their Christian and Muslim neighbours, in a time commonly known as the Convivienza.

Jews had their own language, Ladino, and one of the most famous Jewish philosophers of all time, Moses Maimonides (Moshe ben Maimon 1135-1204), was born in Cordoba during this time.

During the 15th century, the Catholic Church began to systematically disenfranchise the Jews of Spain and Portugal, forcibly converting tens of thousands to Christianity. When the monarchy found they could not convert the whole population Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II issued the Alhambra Decree, the famous Edict of Expulsion on March 31, 1492, ordering all practicing Jews to convert to Christianity or leave the country.

The Jews who fled Spain at this time are known as Sepharad or Sephardi Jews. Many traveled to North Africa and assimilated into Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) communities in places like Syria, Tunisia, and Palestine. Others sailed to the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, at the invitation of Sultan Bayezid II. The decedents of these refugees eventually made their way back to continental Europe from the east.

Genie Milgrom, author of My 15 Grandmothers, has created an excellent website – Sephardic Ancestry: A Resource Website for Researching Sephardic Jewish Lineages to guide others in locating records and other documents in Spain. For those who have found the joys of the Routes to Roots guide to Eastern European repositories and their holdings, the concept will be familiar. Now those with Spanish roots have a town-by-town guide to what can be found. To facilitate requests for further information, phone numbers, email addresses, and website addresses are listed for each of the archives.

OTHER SEPHARDI LINKS

THE AMERICAS

The US is the home of modern genealogy with the Mormon Church (AKA The Church of the Latter Day Saints/ LDS Church) collecting records from around the world for over a century. Thanks to them we have access to copies of records subsequently destroyed during the two world wars. The church has also collected millions of records from around the US.

The FamilySearch database provides free access to millions of US records going back to the establishment of the colonies as well as records from the countries immigrants traveled from. It’s a great place to start.

Brazilian Jewry: A Concise History (JewishGen) has an extensive list of links at the bottom of the article (although some may no longer be active)

JewishGen also hosts a Latin American SIG.

Jews of Ecuador

Adapted with permission from Searching for Relatives and Ancestors in Argentina with Online Resources: Robert S Weisskirch
(A version of this article originally appeared in Avotaynu, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy: Volume XXXII Number 2 Summer 2016) 

Jews have been resident in Argentina since the sixteenth century when, as Spanish explorers and colonists settled in South America, Spanish conversos (or secret Jews) fled continued persecution following the mass expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. A more open and organised community began to develop in the early 19th century and, as with other areas of the world, large waves of immigration during the next 100 years brought many Jews from Europe to the country,

Today the Jewish population of Argentina is the largest in Latin America with almost 200,000 people (down from over 300,000 in the 1960s). The largest Jewish community is found in Buenos Aries with smaller communities in Bahia Blanca, Cordoba, La Plata, Mar Del Plata, Mendoza, Rosario, and Santa Fe. About 85% of the community identify as Ashkenazi, while 15% claim Middle Eastern and Sephardi origin from Morocco, Turkey, Syria, and other North African areas.

Surnames

In much the same way Jews anglicized their surnames when they migrated to the UK or US, when they arrived in South America they often Hispanicised their names.: so for example the CH sound common in European names could become a J in Argentina. It is also customary for women to retain their maiden names in Argentina, appending their husband’s surname with the connector “de”.

CEMLA

Centro de Estudio Migratorios de Latinamerica (The Centre for Latin American Migration Studies – CEMLA) CEMLA is a Catholic Church run organisation that supports migrants and refugees. They have extracted information from passenger lists of arrivals into Buenos Aires/ La Plata, Argentina.

While the information may be incomplete and prone to errors one can glean important insights from the results. The website is in Spanish and there are some limitations in the search engine – for example, the surname field only searches for exact spelling. Fields include Apellido (surname), Nombre (given name), a date range – Desde (from – year, month, day) Hasta (until – year, month, day). You must also enter a security code with each search. Once you have entered your search parameters hit Buscar (Search).

If records have been found they will be displayed in a table. You can adjust the number of records visible by altering the number in the dropdown box in the top left-hand corner – Mostrar (show) [number] registros (registrants or entries). The default is 10 records at a time but you can show all by clicking on the drop-down and selecting Todos (all).

The table includes the following fields:

  • Apellido – surname
  • Nombre – given name
  • Edad – age
  • Estado Civil – marital status. This is either C – Casado/a (married) S – Soltero/a (single), D – divorciado/a (divorced) or V – viudo/a (widowed)
  • Nacionalidad – nationality
  • Lugar de nacimiento – place of birth
  • Fecha – date of arrival
  • Barco – ship
  • Puerto – Port of embarkation.

Religion may be included in some early records but is not available in the search portal. The word Desconocido/a means unknown.

The voyage to Argentina from Europe took approximately two weeks and the vessel may have stopped at other ports, such as Hamburg, Southampton, New York, or Rio De Janiero, potentially generating further documentation containing passenger names. Outbound passenger lists for Hamburg, Bremen, Britain, and Ellis Island are available online. Brazilian immigration cards for Rio de Janiero (1900-65) and Sao Paulo (1902-1980) are available via FamilySearch.

If you find a relative’s name in the CEMLA database you may be able to cross-reference that information with shipping lists at the Hebrewsurnames ships database, where data from CEMLA has been extracted and organised by ship name. This could help you identify family groups traveling together.

AMIA database of Jewish cemeteries

The Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) maintains a database of Jewish cemeteries in Buenos Aries. Enter a whole or partial name into the simple search box – Nombre (name) – and click Consultar (consult). Results will include the name of the deceased, which cemetery they are buried in, date of birth, date of death, and the section, area, and burial plot number. Information gleaned from this source may be useful in then sourcing vital records from Registro Civil (the civil registry).

In 1994 a suicide bomber drove into the AMIA building in Buenos Aires killing 85 people and injuring more than 200. Spanish Wikipedia has a page on this tragedy with a list of the victims.

Jewish Colonization Association

Not all migrants to Argentina settled in the cities. At the end of the 19th century, the Jewish Colonization Association sponsored migrants to crate rural agricultural colonies in the provinces. The oldest, Moisesville in Santa Fe, was established in 1891; the last, Avigdor, in 1938.

The first colonists arrived on the Wesser in 1889 to settle in Moisesville. They were mostly families from Kamanets-Podolsk in Ukraine (Galicia?). A list of family names can be found here (scroll down). There is a museum in Moisesville that is home to a variety of valuable genealogical records including cemetery lists, copies of the El Alba newspaper, and lists of students and teachers at various schools, amongst other things. You can search an index of names by selecting datos genalogicos (genealogical data) then consultar apellidos (consult surnames). If you find a relevant surname you can email the museum for more information.

The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem also holds considerable information about the Jewish colonies in Argentina. They house records of communication with the Jewish Colonization Association as well as census records from the agricultural colonies and personal papers from some of the colonists. While holdings can only be viewed onsite there is an online index available, although a project is underway to digitise these records for JewishGen.

Hebrewsurnames.com

As mentioned this site has some extracted shipping lists from the CEMLA database for the years 1882-1960. The site also has burial records for Bahia Blanco, Basavilbaso, Bueno Aires, and Rio Negro and some other genealogically useful databases, such as a searchable list of obituaries from 2011 to the present, a list of Jews with Italian nationality (including those from Italian colonies in Libya and Greece) who indicated they were Jewish, and extracted lists of the 1895 census for the agricultural colonies.

JewishGen

FamilySearch

MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA

The term Mizrahi refers to Jewish communities in the Middle East, including Iran and Iraq. Some of these communities identify as Sephardi, as many of their ancestors came to the region from Spain after the expulsion edict of 1492. 

You can learn more about Mizrahi Jews from the FamilySearch Blog: Mizrahi Jews: A Minority of a Minority By  W. Todd KnowlesDiane SagersMay 8, 2022

Jewish tradition teaches that Jews have been in Egypt since the time of the Pharaohs. Little is known about Jewish habitation in Egypt between that time and modernity but with the rise of the Ottoman Empire records started to accumulate.

When the British took control of the region in the 19th century there was a large influx of Jewish migrants from Galicia, as well as other Europeans, particularly Greeks, into Cairo and Alexandria. These cities became cosmopolitan hotspots and popular travel destinations. Sadly this utopia was interrupted by the assaults of two world wars. The mid-20th century proved to be the death knell of the Jewish communities of Cairo and Alexandria with mass migration out of the country between 1948 and 1956.

While records are scarce they do exist. Sadly, at this time, they are almost impossible to access. The political situation of the last several years has made negotiations with government and community bodies extremely difficult. Organisations such as the Nebi Daniel Association and The Historical Society of the Jews of Egypt are working hard to facilitate access to rich resources but as of this writing, this has still not been achieved.

Heritage of the Jews in Egypt Facebook Page

Istanbul was once the heart of the Ottoman Empire, a Muslim administration that conquered almost the entire Middle East and Mediterranean and ruled for almost 600 years. Jews were a protected minority and as such had their fair share of restrictions and privileges. Ottoman records were written in a script particular to the administration and today few people can read this unique writing.

There is a large repository of Ottoman archived in Istanbul and we wait with anticipation for these documents to be translated and indexed for genealogical use.

IGRA – The Israel Genealogy Research Association is your first port of call for Israeli research and resources. They work tirelessly to access and index pre and post-independence records from Israeli, British Colonial, and Ottoman administrations.

Beit Hatfutsot – the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv – is dedicated to telling the story of the Jewish People. It is the home of the Douglas E Goldman Jewish Genealogy Centre. Users can search an extensive database of family trees and upload their family tree. The database search facility is still in Beta (as of NOV 2016). The site has extensive background resources available and users are encouraged to upload their own story to contribute to the collective knowledge base.

ASIA & SOUTH AFRICA

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As with all territories where there was European colonization, Jewish families settled in South Africa. In particular, a large community of Lithuanian Jews settled there.

Resources include: