List of Useful Jewish Research Resources

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Jewish American Research

This article is part of a series.
Overview of Jewish American Research
Jewish Migration to the United States
Holocaust Research
Finding Jewish Records
List of Useful Jewish Research Resources

This article originally appeared in "Jewish American Research" by Gary Mokotoff in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

Manuals and Source Books

Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire. Teaneck, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1993. A compilation of fifty thousand Jewish surnames from turn-of-the-century Russia showing etymology, where within the empire the names existed, and variants of names. A ninety-four-page introduction describes the origins and evolution of Jewish surnames in Russia.

---. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland. Teaneck, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1996. Comparable to above-named book except coverage is for the area that was the Kingdom of Poland.

---. A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciations and Migrations. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2002. A comprehensive analysis of fifteen thousand Jewish given names from central and eastern Europe.

---. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2004. Comparable to the other surname books by this author except coverage is for the area that was Galicia.

Faiguenboim, Guilherme, Paulo Valadares, and Anna Rosa Campagnano. Diction'ˆš°rio Sefardi de Sobrnomes (Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames). Rio de Janeiro: Fraiha, 2003. Compilation of 17,000 surnames used by Jews who lived in Spain and Portugal for fifteen centuries before 1492 and then spread throughout the world.

Freedman, Chaim. Beit Rabannan. A review of 130 books that are major sources for rabbinical genealogy.

Gorr, Rabbi Shmuel. Jewish Personal Names: Their Origin, Derivation and Diminutive Forms. Teaneck, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1992. Some twelve hundred Jewish given names are listed, not in alphabetic order but by root name. Most variants of root names are annotated to show how the name evolved.

A Guide to YIVO's Landsmanshaftn Archive. New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 1986.

Guzik, Estelle M., ed. Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area. New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, 1989. A detailed guide to every agency between Albany, New York, and Trenton, New Jersey, that could provide data of use in Jewish genealogical research, including many specific records, hours of operation, public transportation, finding aids, fees, and restrictions.

---. Genealogical Resources in New York. New York: Jewish Genealogical Society, 2003. An updated version of the above book but area is limited to New York City and Albany.

Kemp, Thomas. International Vital Records Handbook. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000. Names and addresses of vital records repositories throughout the world.

Krasner-Khait, Barbara. Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors. North Salt Lake, Utah: Heritage Quest, 2001. A comprehensive beginners' guide that includes many illustrations and case studies.

Kurzweil, Arthur. From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Personal History. New York: Harper-Collins, 1994. A very personal approach to each step of the research process.

---, and Miriam Weiner, eds. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy. Vol. 1. Sources in the United States and Canada. Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson, 1991. A finding aid for sources of Jewish genealogical information.

Malka, Jeffrey S. Sephardic Genealogy: Discovering Your Sephardic Ancestors and Their World. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2003. Definitive guide to tracing Sephardic ancestry.

Menk, Lars. A Dictionary of German Jewish Surnames. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2004. Provides information about more than 13,000 surnames from pre-World War I Germany. Information includes etymology, variants, and when and where the name appeared in Germany.

Mokotoff, Gary. How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust. Teaneck, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1995. A how-to book for locating documentation of individuals caught up in the Holocaust.

---, and Warren Blatt. Getting Started in Jewish Genealogy. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2000. An Internet-oriented primer for Jewish genealogy.

---, and Sallyann Amdur Sack. Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust. Rev. ed. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2002. A gazetteer of 23,500 central and eastern European localities, arranged alphabetically and indexed phonetically under the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex System so that various spellings can be readily found.

Pinkassim HaKehillot [Encyclopedae of Towns]. 17 vols. Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1984'šÃ„ì99. Seventeen volumes with more planned. A detailed history of Jewish communities in many areas of central and eastern Europe; there are five volumes for Poland alone. This series is in Hebrew.

Sack, Sallyann Amdur. A Guide to Jewish Genealogical Research in Israel. Rev. ed. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1995. A detailed guide to the accessibility and holdings of each agency. Appendixes include yizkor books and landsmanshaftn listed at Yad Vashem Library and a list of towns represented at the 1981 World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors.

---, and Gary Mokotoff. Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2003. Comprehensive one-hundred-chapter guide to Jewish genealogy written by more than sixty experts in the field.

Wynne, Suzan F. Finding Your Jewish Roots in Galicia: A Resource Guide. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1998. Comprehensive guide to records and other resources in Galicia.

Zubatsky, David S., and Irwin M. Berent. Sourcebook for Jewish Genealogies and Family Histories. Teaneck, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1996. A finding aid to published and manuscript genealogies in many Jewish archives and libraries for more than ten thousand surnames.

Collected Genealogies

Freedman, Chaim. Eliyahu's Branches: The Descendants of the Vilna Gaon and His Family. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 1997. Identifies more than twenty thousand descendants of this Lithuanian scholar.

Rosenstein, Neil. The Unbroken Chain: Biographical Sketches and Genealogy of Illustrious Jewish Families From the 15th'šÃ„ì20th Century. 2 vols. Elizabeth, N.J.: The Computer Center for Jewish Genealogy, 1990. An enlarged revision of the 1977 edition. Includes descendants of the Katzenellenbogen family-Hassidic and other rabbis, Mendelssohn, Martin Buber, Karl Marx, Helena Rubinstein. Index of surnames only. Available from the Computer Center for Jewish Genealogy, 654 Westfield Ave., Elizabeth, NJ 07208.

Rosenstein, Neil. The Lurie Legacy: The House of Davidic Royal Descent. Bergenfield, N.J.: Avotaynu, 2004. History of this distinguished rabbinic family.

Sackheim, George I. Scattered Seeds. 2 vols. Skokie, Ill.: R. Sackheim Publishing. Chronicles thirteen thousand descendants of Rabbi Israel, one of the two martyrs of Rozanoi (Ruzhany), Byelorussia. He was executed after a blood libel of 1659. Indexed. Available from R. Sackheim Publishing Co., 9151 Crawford Ave., Skokie, IL 60076.

Stern, Malcolm H. First American Jewish Families. Baltimore: Ottenheimer Publishers, 1991. Reprint of a 1978 edition with an added update section. Contains genealogies of all available Jewish families settled in America prior to 1840, traced where possible to the present. Fifty-thousand-name index. This entire book is online at


Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy. 1985-, quarterly. Edited by Sallyann Amdur Sack and Gary Mokotoff. (155 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ 07621). Articles and data of general Jewish genealogical interest written by an international group of authors.

Research Archives and Libraries

American Jewish Archives, 3101 Clifton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45220 (on the campus of Hebrew Union College). Specializes in data on Jews in the western hemisphere. Contains many genealogies, vital records, biographies, organizational and congregational records, and newspaper indexes. Finding aids: James W. Clasper and M. Carolyn Dellenbach, Guide to the Holdings of the American Jewish Archives (Cincinnati: 1979). Also see Zubatsky and Berent, above.

American Jewish Historical Society, 15 W. 16th St., New York, NY 10011. All areas of American Jewish history, including organizational and institutional records, as well as family documents.

American Sephardi Federation (ASF), 305 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001, is an excellent source for finding Sephardic associations organized by nationality, such as the Turkish-Jewish Society, the Bulgarian-Jewish Association, the Syrian-Jewish Association, or any other oriental or Sephardic Jewish group. The ASF has lists of organizations in the United States and abroad.

Jewish Immigrant Aid Society, 4600 Bathurst St., Suite 325, Willowdale, Ontario M2R 3V3, Canada.

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, 333 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10001.

Leo Baeck Institute, 15 W. 16th St., New York, NY 10011. Library and archive of surviving records of Jews from German-speaking lands.

Library of Congress. Jefferson (main) Building, housing the Genealogy and Local History, Independence Ave. between 1st and 2nd St. S.W., Washington, DC. Contains every book submitted for U.S. copyright, city directories, maps, gazetteers, Hebraic Division. Finding aid: James C. Neagles, The Library of Congress: A Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1990). The Hebraic section is located in the John Adams building.

National Archives and Records Administration, 8th and Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20408. The research room has federal censuses 1790 to 1930, passenger arrival records, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century military records, some naturalizations, and land records. Holocaust-related documents from captured German records. Regional branches have microfilmed copies and regional records. Finding aids: Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives. Rev. ed. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1991; and Szucs, Loretto Dennis, and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, The Archives: A Guide to the National Archives Field Branches. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1988.

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place S.W., Washington, DC 20024. Principal repository of Holocaust-related material in the United States. It includes an archives and library. Internet site includes an online catalog to their collection.

Yad Vashem, P.O. Box 3477, 91034 Jerusalem, Israel. Principal repository of Holocaust-related material in the world. Internet site includes Shoah (Holocaust) Names database.

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 W. 16th St., New York, NY 10011. Library and archive of data from Yiddish-speaking lands. Finding aid: Guzik, Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area (cited earlier).

External Links