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Jewishgen Creates A First Of Its Kind Jewish Genealogy Center

19 Dec 2023 11:16 PM | Anonymous

JewishGen, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1987 by Susan King, a world-renown professional forensic and genetic genealogist and family legacy historian. Started as a Fidonet bulletin board, users dialed into the connection via telephones in order to access the bulletin board. At that time, there were 150 users.

“Susan King sought to leverage what was then an emerging technology – online bulletin boards, and apply it to genealogical research. At that time, if you were interested in genealogy, you could join a genealogy society and attend meetings, where you would compare names and share information. Susan engaged the new technology to expand these opportunities to share and make connections. Databases and networking opportunities expanded, and in the early 1990s, JewishGen launched a website and a discussion group that’s a precursor to what we have today,” said Avraham Groll, Executive Director of JewishGen at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Today, JewishGen is the global home for Jewish genealogy, offering unique search tools and opportunities for researchers to connect with others who share similar interests. Avraham Groll said, “today, you can search JewishGen’s discussion groups going back thirty years, a searchable archive of over 500,000 messages. The resource is completely community driven. And, you can search listings for over 651,000 names researched by genealogists on the Family Finder, which allows researchers to connect with others who share their same research interests.”

In 2002, JewishGen was acquired by The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, at the southern tip of Manhattan, and which today operates as the Jewish genealogy research division of the Museum. “The mission of JewishGen,” Groll explained,”is to preserve Jewish family history and heritage for future generations. It fulfills this mission in three primary ways: 1. The website provides access to more than 30 million records including vital records, census data, a Holocaust database, and burial registries. To enhance research, we have a number of search tools to help improve results, such as a Soundex system, which accounts for spelling variations. 2. The website provides historical and contextual information about how our ancestors lived, through resources like the JewishGen Communities Database, an encyclopedia of Jewish communities, and the translation of Memorial (Yizkor) books into English – a major, multi-year project. These Yizkor books, written in the immediate decades after the Holocaust predominately by survivors, include histories of Jewish settlement in towns, biographical sketches of Rabbis and famous personalities, details about daily life, education, holiday observance and celebrations, culture, and more. They capture the values which the inhabitants of these towns held most dear. These meticulously translated Yizkor books generally offer first-hand-testimony of the communities during the Holocaust. The translations are freely available on our website, and more than 140 books, also translated and are also available in hardcover via the JewishGen Press. 3. JewishGen offers educational and networking resources, such as online classes (24 courses offered throughout the year), the Family Finder, and the JewishGen Discussion Group and Jewish Genealogy Portal (on Facebook), which allow people to connect with researchers around the world in order to ask questions, share research advice, describe success, stay informed of news around the Jewish Genealogical community, and more.”

JewishGen is offered as a free resource. Its database features important collections of historical records pertaining to Jewish communities across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and North America. Currently, Intensive expansion efforts are bringing many more records, tools, and resources to its collections. such as new programs like holiday companion publications, a fellowship program to train the next generation of Jewish genealogical leaders, and a neshama study/volunteer trip to Poland for those “out of school.” Additionally, over the past year, more than 2.7 million records have been added to their database, JewishGen has entered into two major significant partnerships, “Generations” the new Jewish genealogy themed TV show in partnership with JLTV and the Museum of Jewish Heritage

You can read more in an article by Susan R. Eisenstein published in the JewishPress web site at:

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

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