INTERNATIONAL

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Our website is in the early stages of development. Links and resources for specific geographical areas is still being collated and updated. We would love your input and assistance. If you have found a great website or resource on your genealogical journey please email us the link with all the details and we will try to put it on the site. If you have other comments or feedback you would like to share please do: webmaster@ajgs.org.au

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, My Heritage 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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CONTINENTAL 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 century 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, prior to 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 home here.

Tracing your lineage back can be challenging but their 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 SITES

Jewishgen
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
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.

Genealogy Indexer
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.

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AUSTRIA

AJGS Member Daniela Torsh has done extensive research on her family and generously shares with us detailed list of archives, websites and resources related to Vienna particular and Austria in general.
Click HERE to access this great resource.

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

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BALKAN PENINSULAR


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 to me for inclusion on our site.

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BALTIC STATES

Latvia, Lithuania and 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.
Latvia SIG
JewishGen All Latvia database

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.
JewishGen All Lithuania database
Lithuanian SIG
Litvak SIG

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.

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BELARUS

Jewishgen Infofile - Belarus
National Historical Archives of Belarus (English)
Jewishgen Belarus SIG
JewishGen All Belarus 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.

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CZECH REPUBLIC

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

Just click HERE to access this great resource.

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FRANCY & ITALY

FRANCE
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).

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

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GERMANY

GERMANY
JewishGen Germany Database
Centrum Judaicum
Das Bundesarchiv - National Archives (English)

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.

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.

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HUNGARY

HUNGARY
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.

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POLAND, UKRAINE, GALICIA

POLAND
Poland's centuries old jewish community was decimated during the Holocaust. It's a common misconception to think very few records survived WWII. In fact there are millions of records for Poland going back several centuries and several organisations have been working for decades to 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)
Subject: 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.

Subject: 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.

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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.

For a brief history of Prussia and links to helpful resources courtesy of AJGS member Evelyn Frybort please click HERE.

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ROMANIA

JewishGen Romanian 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.

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SPAIN & PORTUGAL


Spain and Portugal was 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 known as 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 systematically disenfranchised the Jews of Spain and Portugal, 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 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 the Sultan Bayezid II. The decedents of these refugees eventually made they 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.

Link to SEPHARDI

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THE HOLOCAUST

THE HOLOCAUST
European Jewish communities were decimated by the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. Thanks to the scholarship of hundreds of people, organisation have worked tirelessly to try and name as many of the estimated 6 million people who perished as possible.

Click HERE to access specific links and resources relating to Holocaust research.

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THE AMERICAS


UNITED STATES
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 for 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.

CANADA
Guide to Canadian Jewish Genealogical Research (Jewishgen)

LATIN AMERICA & SOUTH AMERICA
Guide to Jewish Genealogical Research in Argentina (Jewishgen)
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)

The Summer 2016 issue of Avotaynu contained an excellent article entitled Searching for Relatives and Ancestors in Argentina with Online Resources by Robert S Weisskirch (Avotaynu: Volume XXXII Number 2 Summer 2016). Click HERE to access a hyperlinked summary of this excellent resource.

Jewishgen also hosts a Latin American SIG.

Jews of Ecuador

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THE MIDDLE EAST


SEPHARDI GENEALOGY
While not strictly from the Middle East Jewish communities from this region often identify as Sephardi as many of their ancestors came to the region from Spain after the expulsion of 1492 when the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire sent an emissary to invite the community to Istanbul. Click on the link above to explore available resources relating to Sephardi genealogical research.

EGYPT
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 area 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 right now 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 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.

TURKEY
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 there are few people who 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.

ISRAEL
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 own family tree. The database search facility is still in Beta (as at 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.

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ASIA & AFRICA


CHINA
During the 18th and 19th century a steady stream of Jewish migrants traveled east across the asian continent and settled in China - particularly Shanghai and Harbin. During WWII the Japanese established a ghetto in Shanghai.

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

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