Note: The Australian Jewish Genealogical Society is now a part of the Australian Jewish Historical Society. The AJGS website can still be accessed at https://www.ajgs.org.au
The Australian Jewish Genealogy Society (Victoria) remains a stand-alone society. Their web site can be accessed at https://ajgs-vic.org.au/
It’s exciting to start researching your family tree but you soon realise it can be a daunting undertaking.
Researching Jewish ancestry presents unique challenges as Jewish families migrated widely, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries, and many were torn apart by the momentous events of the 20th century. Countless records, if they existed at all, may have been lost or destroyed… Names changed as people migrated and the many languages spoken created multiple spellings and translations of those names. Towns changed jurisdictions and also acquired new names or altered spellings.
Unfortunately, for some localities, it’s almost impossible to find records. For example, records for Sephardi communities from the Middle East are scarce, however moves are afoot to access, digitize and index hitherto inaccessible resources.
Extensive records do exist for the U.S., UK and Australia. There are excellent online resources to search available records for Europe – both east and west – and resources are also available for some Asian regions; for example the Jews of China.
As complex as all this sounds, we are here to help you uncover your Jewish roots and understand the rich cultural context in which your ancestors lived.
Where do you start? If you’re very new to genealogical research check out some of our tips, tricks and traps to avoid!
Family tree research comes down to three main actions –
- COLLECT data, stories, photos and documents. Find information on websites, archives and other resources for specific localities.
- COLLATE into a collection, a book or an archive – either in a box, a folder or online;
- SHARE the fruits of your labour with the rest of your family. Discover resources and inspirational ideas.
Collecting and collating tend to happen simultaneously and once you begin its very hard to actually ‘finish’ a family history as new information seems to pop up all the time. This isn’t a problem, it’s just one of the realities and pleasures of this type of research.