Sunday, January 28, 2024

Town-Focused Searches - New Research Pathways

More and more records are being indexed, which is wonderful.  But many are misindexed either because of poor handwriting or fading of originals or just poor indexing (often due to unfamiliarity with ethnic names by those indexing), which means that you might not find records that could be critical to your research.  Even if everything is indexed correctly, if your family has a common surname, it might be difficult to find your Cohen among all of the Cohen records you'll get with a typical search.  

In addition, not all fields are always indexed in some record sets, so there may be mention of your relatives in records that a simple search wouldn't find.  So how do you improve your chances of finding these records?  Especially if your family members are from smaller towns and villages, searching only by town can be critical.  I'll give examples of how to do this on Ancestry, but you can do similar searches in most of the other large record repositories. 

Edmund David Lebovitsch WWII Draft Registration

Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Diamond Cousin? Searching by Address, Steve Morse, and More.

Diamant/Diamond is a very common name.  Most Diamonds (and variants) are not related to me, as many distinct families took the same surname.  But I’m always on the hunt for Diamonds who are related.

Schloma Diment Manifest; June 5, 1911

Results from's Gold Form

Recently I did a search using Steve Morse’s Gold Form to look at Diamants (and variants) that arrived in Ellis Island, and I sorted the results by town.  One of the results looked intriguing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Researching in the USHMM's Shappell Center

I recently spent time at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Shappell Center (located in Bowie, Maryland), finding documents relating to my relatives.  Before going, it's important to have done your homework, reserving materials and logging what you hope to find in each record set.  You'll have a set amount of time to do your research, so advance planning is critical to make sure you can get everything you want while there.

Remember, there are many record sets that are Holocaust-related, but there are also many record sets related to pre-war European Jewry (and some non-Jewish communities as well).

Thursday, September 14, 2023

USHMM Online Resources

I have a scheduled research appointment at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), and I've been preparing for what I'll want to see while I'm there.  But one thing I've noticed is that not all USHMM research needs to be done in person, as there are documents that are scanned and available remotely from the comfort of your home.  And it's also important to note that not all collections housed by USHMM are Holocaust-related--some documents that the museum has are from events that took place well before the Holocaust.

Below I'll show an example of a document found that mentions one of my relatives in 1919, and then I'll explain how you can see if there are documents relating to your ancestral town or relatives.

List of 1919 Pogrom Victims for Nezhin; Derz︠h︡avnyĭ arkhiv Kyïvs╩╣koï oblasti via US Holocaust Museum Memorial

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Last Jewish Birth in Dulfalva

I've indexed records for many towns for JewishGen.  I feel like I get to know families, as I see their joyful events (marriages and births records) and sorrowful ones (death records) unfold over decades.  Now that records in Ukraine (which has a 75-year privacy law after which records are accessible) include vital events through 1945, I also see when Jewish life abruptly ended in some of these towns.

Last week, I was indexing records from the villages of Dulfalva, Hungary (now Dulovo, Ukraine) and Talaborfalva, Hungary (now Tereblya, Ukraine).  These two adjacent small villages' vital events were recorded in the same books.

The 1940s were tumultuous in the area, with some of the population's Jews being deported to Kamenets-Podolsk in 1941, and the area changed hands many times--from Czechoslovakia to Hungary to local rule to Hungary and then Germany's invasion.  This is reflected in the number of Jewish births each year:  1938 (10 births), 1939 (11 births), 1940 (10 births), 1941 (4 births), 1942 (1 birth), 1943 (2 births).  And then no Jewish births in 1944 or 1945 or thereafter.

Frida Laksz Birth, Dulfalva, July 1943

Monday, May 29, 2023

International Newspapers: Rutners Becoming Landowners

My 4th great grandfather David Rutner was born in what is now Kolodne, Ukraine, but which was Darva, Austria-Hungary during his life.  I've found various clues about his life over the years, but I know to always check where I've checked before, as more is getting digitized and discovered all the time.  I semi-regularly check Arcanum Digitheca, a great resource for Hungarian newspapers, journals, and more, but it had been a while.  And sure enough, when I checked recently, I found a newly-added 1857 article in German that mentioned David Ruthner from Darva!

Pester Lloyd, February 5, 1857

Monday, April 17, 2023

Yom Hashoah 2023

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) starts this evening.  For the past six years, I have listed the names of the family members I've found who were murdered in the Holocaust.  In 2020, I listed 454 relatives.  In 2021, I listed 515.  In 2022, I listed 642.  And this year I list 916.

Every year, this list grows as I find new branches of my family--and then find that multiple members of those branches were killed between 1941 & 1945.  This year I found 274 more people--and many other relatives whose fates are as yet unclear.

Publishing this yearly list is my one small way to make sure they are all remembered--all 916 of those currently on this list.

Front Row L-R: Yosef Wollich, Mendel Chechman, Devorah Chechman; Back Row L-R: Sara Fine Wollich, Moshe Wollich, Chaike Chechman.  All were murdered in the Holocaust