Sunday, September 3, 2017

When There Are No Records For Your Family's Town On JewishGen

On various Facebook groups, people regularly post saying that they've searched for their family on JewishGen but that there was nothing for that family's town.  Well, there's something those people can do about that!  JewishGen is overwhelmingly run by volunteers as are affiliated independent organizations like JRI-Poland--so why not be one?  You can help yourself and others.  Here's the type of information you may get for yourself (and others researching the same towns) and how you can do this.
Death record for my great-great-great-great grandmother, Tzipra Brandman--found via a JewishGen project I run

Several years back, there was essentially nothing on JewishGen for my family towns.  I worked with Ukraine SIG and set up a project to get records for the area around Shpikov.  JewishGen helped me to contact many Shpikov-area researchers who donated money--and we've gotten vital records from the 1830s-1850s and census records from the 1870s-1890, allowing people to trace their families back generations.  You can see some of what I found for my own family here, and we've gotten additional records since I wrote that post.
My Zubkis Family in Shpikov in 1882.  My great-great grandfather is the 25-year-old.

While in this case my project obtained and transcribed the records, for many towns, there are already images of records from a town--but no one to coordinate transcription.  For example, look at Ukraine SIG's page on Nemirov.  The "Projects" section shows that Ukraine SIG has 1837 metrical (vital) records--but that no one is working on them.  If you have family from Nemirov, you could have images of their vital events sitting on a server somewhere--but if you coordinate transcription (or better if you can read Hebrew or Russian, you can transcribe them yourself), you could get indexes of those records up on JewishGen.  If your family is from the area associated with Ukraine SIG, check to see if they already have any documents for your town which need to be transcribed.

If someone is already organizing a project for your area, ask how you can help.  Can you read the language in which the records are written?  (Some languages, like Hungarian and Czech, can be easily read by English-speakers; see the below image.)  Can you help financially to pay for someone to photograph more records or to pay for professional transcription?  Project leaders so appreciate others wanting to help.
My Great Grandparents' Marriage Record
People tell me that they do not have the time to do this sort of thing.  I don't have the time.  I work 50 hours a week, I don't work (or do genealogy research) for 25 hours a week over the Sabbath, I run the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland, and I try to find time to write this blog.  But I also run the Shpikov project, JewishGen's Subcarpathian SIG (through which I've gotten over 20,000 Jewish vital records in less than a year), and I'm Ukraine SIG's projects director (keeping those lists of what Ukraine SIG has up to date).  Just take on a small project for one town and dedicate two hours to it a week.  You'll be amazed at how much you can get done.  And you'll likely find records for your own family in the process and help out others.

For the vast majority of towns in Eastern Europe, records DO exist.  But if no one has indexed them to be searchable elsewhere, people assume they aren't there.  I wrote a series of posts about two years ago that talk about how to find records; the second half of those posts can help you figure out where to find records for your town that you can obtain, index, and get up on JewishGen for others to find.

So get to it!  And let me know when you get records up on JewishGen.  Good luck!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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15 comments:

  1. For the Subcarpathian region the former Czechoslavakian 1930 natioal census is quintessential.
    Provide names and city to the Czech National Archives by English email or via their portal and get yourself a scan of the desired record.
    Service is fast and courteous.Transaction cost a nominal few Euros.

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    1. Yes, if your family is listed there, it can be helpful. Once the Subcarpathia SIG gets vital records, I'm hoping to move onto census records.

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    2. According to the Prague archivists, chances are poor any significant records are still stored locally (Uzhgorod) due to the subsequent occupations

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    3. They are in Berehove. I have some for my family's towns.

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  2. Alas, I've been told by several people who have explored the records where my great-grandparents lived (Tarnobrzeg, Poland) that whatever records existed have been found and transcribed. These people (including Stanley Diamond of JRI Poland) have assured me there are no more records. Sometimes you just have to accept that there is nothing more to be found. :(

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    1. That is true. And it seems like someone (JRI Poland, in this case) has already indexed records for the town. But I'm talking about the large number of places which have never had anyone look at what records exist and getting them indexed.

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  3. I understand. I am just expressing my own frustration...

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    1. I get it. There is nothing for Lubny. :(

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  4. My DNA cousin contracted a researcher to go to the Rovno archives for records for her relatives, and I chipped in because my family's town's records should have been housed in those archives. They found 1850 and 1858 census records for only one branch of my huge family in that town, and none for the other family, which should have had 20th century records also. No births, no deaths, no marriages. What you have neglected to state in this blog is that the records will only be there if your family elected to register the birth death or marriage, and if they didn't hide at census time. Not to mention if the Nazis didn't pull and destroy Jewish records. Yes, some people will be lucky, but for many of us THERE ARE REALLY NO RECORDS.

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    1. That is true--but perhaps your family was in a neighboring town back then. My Zitelmans, who were registered in Muravitsa (nearby Rovno), didn't appear in the revision lists for 1850 or 1858. Turns out they were enumerated in Boremel!

      For the Rovno area, some records are in Lutsk and Zhitomer archives, not Rovno. It's worth checking.

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  5. Hello Lara,

    Thank you for the blog!

    I am currently researching my family history and therefore visit archives in Minsk, Belarus, from time to time to search the records there. I was wondering whether there is a chance I could upload copies of the records related to my family, but which are missing in JewishGen databases, I was able to find. This might not be a huge contribution, but might still be helpful for someone.

    Thanks in advance!

    Cheers,
    Dzmitry

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    1. Unfortunately JewishGen only takes full data sets, not random records. However when I get random records, I post them on my blog so that perhaps others will come across them. You could do the same.

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