Sunday, February 5, 2023

Tips to Find Relatives on JewishGen

JewishGen is an incredible collection of resources, especially the databases containing millions of indexed records--which has thousands of new records being added each month.  But both because of how JewishGen's search engine works as well as how records are being indexed from (mostly) Eastern European languages to English, you may not be finding indexed records that are there and you would want to find.  This post will discuss some different techniques that could help you find these records.  And if you have additional techniques, please add them in the comments to help other readers!

JewishGen's Search Interface

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Records, Not Revenue: We Need Your Help

The USCIS Genealogy Program holds many historical records, including US immigrant A-Files and C-Files.  These can be a treasure trove of information for genealogists, sometimes including original birth certificates, photos, and more.  (To get an idea of the types of information you can get, you can see what I received for my grandfather here and here, as well as my grandmother here and here.)

The program has always been slow to respond (it took 16 months to get my grandmother's A-File, and that was with me sending regular pings) and not inexpensive.  Back in 2020, USCIS tried to raise the already high rates by an exorbitant amount, and thankfully that request was denied.  But they are trying again.  And we need your help to stop this 269% (yes, 269%!!) fee hike from happening.

(And besides, many of these records should already be publicly and readily available at the National Archives, without having to deal with the bottleneck and transparency-free entity that is the USCIS Genealogy Program.) 


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Hungarian Holocaust Survivors (And Other Yad Vashem Additions)

Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial, has been digitizing and indexing many Holocaust-related records and making them searchable by the public.  Their Pages of Testimony, where people memorialized relatives who were murdered during the war, have been searchable for a while and are an invaluable resource.  But even if you've looked at Yad Vashem's database of records in the past, it's definitely worth re-looking every so often because of the scope of record sets they've added.

One of their recent additions has been information about Hungarian Holocaust Survivors--including many that were from what is now Subcarpathian Ukraine (where my mother's mother's family originated)--which can help you identify relatives who survived the war.

Survivor Card for my 2nd cousin twice removed Samuel Ruttner/Fuchs

Monday, November 28, 2022

JewishGen's Newly-Indexed Ukraine Records--Strategies to Increase Found Family

JewishGen's Ukraine Research Division just announced the spectacular news that they have added over 200,000 newly-indexed records to JewishGen's databases, with a promise of more to come.  For those of us with Ukrainian ancestry, this is huge!  The newly-indexed records are wonderful and will make these records more accessible to researchers--but there are some quirks I've seen that could inhibit searchers from finding records that have been indexed.  I'm going to talk about some of these and give you  strategies to find records impacted by these quirks--assuming they've been indexed, of course!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Ancestry's Concentration Camp Collection - Town Searches

Ancestry has a collection of records from concentration camps.  These records can help you learn the fate of relatives, or at least where they were for a period of time during WWII.  Some also have significant genealogical information--parents' names, spouses names (with maiden names for the mother and spouse, when applicable), and at times there are photos.  Not everyone who was in a concentration camp has records included in this collection (especially those who were murdered upon arrival), but many are.

While searching just for surnames can help you locate relatives, I've found that searching for town names--with some caveats--can often be even more powerful.

Concentration Camp Intake Form; David Ruttner (my 4th cousin twice removed)

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Westernized Ancestral Names

My great-great grandfather was Yechiel Suttleman.  He did come to the United States, although his first two wives did not (as they had died in Europe).  On official papers in America, he used the name Charles or Charlie.  His first wife, Kreina, never left Europe or used any westernized name, same as wife #2, Chana.  But how do these three people appear on their children's records?

Death Record of Roza Zutelman Paciornik; Curitiba, Brazil; 1945

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

80th Yahrtzeit of Senkevichivka Ghetto's Destruction--Details per my grandmother

Tonight into tomorrow (18th of Tishrei) marks the 80th anniversary of the destruction of the Senkevychivka Ghetto.  On that day, thousands of my paternal grandparents' relatives, friends and neighbors were murdered.  Among those were three of my great grandparents, a great-great grandfather, great aunts and uncles, and many other relatives.  My teenaged grandfather was out of the ghetto on that day on a work detail, but my grandmother was there.  I've transcribed her life story before (you can read her nine-part story here covering her life before and during the Holocaust).  But today I'm going to repeat the chapter about the ghetto's destruction, from her perspective. 

My grandmother is on the right, with her arm on her grandmother's shoulder.  Her younger sister Malia is to the right.  And her parents are in the center.  Her grandmother had died before the war.