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|Records in Other Countries|
Tracing Jewish Roots
Jewish Perspectives on UK Records
Service Records of Jews
Records in Other Countries
Pulling It All Together
By the time you have exhausted the UK-based record sources and collected as much background material as possible from your family, you are likely to have some sense of where your ancestors originated.
The easiest way to begin a search for your ancestors in Central and Eastern Europe is through the internet. The best places to start are:
You will not find all of the answers, however, on the internet. Unfortunately, Jewish genealogical research in Eastern Europe is challenging to say the least. Although millions of records of genealogical value do exist, they are scattered throughout dozens of archives and repositories.
There are four main ways to access records in Eastern Europe:
Many Eastern European archives hold records of genealogical value. Many now have inventories and finding aids such as microfilms, Soundex indexes (which provide ideas about variant spellings of transliterated names) and catalogues of holdings. Most archives also have photocopy machines, fax and email facilities, and many also have useful web sites.
Nevertheless, with requests it can take many months before any replies are received. Almost all archives can accept inquiries in English, and these can be made directly to the archive or through a local consular office. They may, however, come back in the language of that country.
Private researchers are available for most areas. Personal recommendations from other genealogists should always be obtained.
Visiting the country of your ancestors allows you to learn more about their lives, and also to familiarise yourself with the archives available and how they function. Conditions vary widely from country to country.
Doing research in Eastern Europe can be particularly difficult. Unless you speak the native language, can read archaic (often Cyrillic) scripts and have plenty of time, you will need to hire a local guide or translator.
The LDS (Mormon) Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, has the world's largest collection of microfilmed records of genealogical value, including Jewish records from Eastern Europe. For more information about the Family History Library link to JewishGen FAQ, Question 13.
Using LDS microfilms is the easiest, most direct and least expensive approach if records from your area of research have been microfilmed. The FHL has made a systematic effort to microfilm any records that have genealogical value from all over the world, including Jewish records. They have extensive collections of 19th-century Jewish records from Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Hungary.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the FHL has begun to microfilm previously inaccessible records from Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.
Many of these listings have been published, but a lot of new records are microfilmed and added to the collection every year. Check the Family History Library Catalogue (FHLC) for the most recent listing.
The FHLC has a card catalogue of the holdings of the library in Salt Lake City, which is available on microfiche and/or CD-ROM at all local Family History Centres, and is now online at www.familysearch.org.
Using the FHL Catalogue
The most important part of the FHL catalgue is the LOCALITY section, where records are organised by jurisdiction: by Country, Province/State, County/District, City/Town. Each heading is organised as follows:
[Country], [Province], [Town] - [Topic]
Poland, Lublin, Chelm - Jewish records
Germany, Preussen, Brandenburg, Berlin - census
Instructional guides to using the FHLC are available from a local Family History Centre. The Hyde Park Family History Centre in London is the largest in Europe and has a good collection of finding aids, namely:
Link here to view a list of films of Jewish interest available at the LDS Family History Library, Hyde Park, London.
The address of The Hyde Park Family History Library is:
64-68 Exhibition Road, South Kensington
London SW7 2PA
Below, in alphabetical order, Eastern European countries are listed to allow you to link to pages with the details you need to research the particular country that is of interest to you. Where possible the following categories have been covered to aid your research:
Simply click on the country of your choice for details:
Reading around your subject is almost as important as doing primary research: with a good understanding of the political and social history that affected the lives of your ancestors you will be better able to place your own research in context, and to find new avenues to explore. Our Further Reading Suggestions for Researching Ancestors are good places to start.
Creators: Saul Issroff
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