- Start your search
Jewish genealogy is a wonderfully enriching project that takes people on a journey into their own past and helps them discover their own personal histories. Beit Hatfutsot offers some helpful resources in this exciting project. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Write down what you know about your family. Start with you and your close relatives: parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, children, and grandchildren. Then add uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws, etc. Interview elderly relatives or other family members who might know more about the family history.
- Look for documents at home. Look for things like birth, marriage and death certificates, family bibles or prayer books, old photos, ketubbot, old passports, immigration papers, newspapers clippings and so on.
- Find gravestones. Visit or ask family members to visit the graves of deceased relatives and note down the inscriptions as they may contain valuable information.
- Broaden your search. Look into municipal and state archives, libraries, and Jewish community records. Keep in mind that sometimes you will need help from experts as old handwritten documents generally are difficult to read and in some cases might be written in languages that you do not understand.
- Trace names. Remember that most Jews started using family names only during the last two hundred years or so. Therefore tracing back relatives that lived before the introduction of hereditary family names could be very challenging. Nevertheless understanding the meaning of family names could provide valuable clues in disclosing family’s roots, its former places of residence, the occupational and social status of its members and more. To order a search for the meaning and origin of your family name click here.
- Search the Internet for genealogy sites. Some have valuable genealogical databases online, for a genealogical search of the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center’s database fill out our Search Order online.
- Ask for advice and guidance at your local Jewish genealogical society. They may be instrumental in providing further assistance on how to search your family and where to find specific sources of information in your area and around the world.
- Use a genealogy software program. This is useful to help you record all data and organize your family tree. We recommend the use of a program that can generate GEDCOM files.
- Contact Beit Hatfutsot. Once you have gathered all the information, you can record it in the database of the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center.
- Build your family tree
Build your Family Tree with Family Tree Builder from MyHeritage.com
Build your family tree and share it with the database of the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beit Hatfutsot. Family Tree Builder is an advanced genealogy software that offers an innovative and user-friendly approach to Jewish genealogy. It enables building a family tree in one or more of the 36 languages that are supported by this software and sharing your family tree with your relatives anywhere in the world.
Building a family tree is easy and free of charge (except for the Premium version). There is no limit to the number of individuals that you can record on your computer. You may add photos, events and other documents to bring your family tree to live and preserve your vintage family photos in a safe place. You may choose between downloading Family Tree Builder and building your family tree locally on your computer or building your family tree online.
Build your Family Tree on your computer:
1. Download the free software Family Tree Builder – click here
2. Install Family Tree Builder on your computer
3. Sign in for a free registration
4. Start entering your own details
5. Make sure that names of individuals and places are entered in Roman characters.
6. Choose the option “Publish your family tree” to make sure you have a backup and enjoy exclusive features like the Smart Matching.
7. You may continue building your family, adding photos and other material.
Build your Family Tree online:
1. Go to MyHeritage.com
2. Agree to Beit Hatfutsot’s terms & conditions and start entering your own details. Click on GO and a free account will be created for you.
3. Once signed in, you may continue building your family tree, adding photos and other material that will be saved automatically as you proceed. Note that some of the features, like bi-lingual data entry, are only supported from within the “Family Tree Builder” software.
4. Make sure that names of individuals and places are entered in Roman characters.
DO NOT FORGET TO ALLOW SHARING YOUR TREE WITH BEIT HATFUTSOT:
Build your family tree online with “Family Echo”
The Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center and Family Echo invite you to build your family tree online and then to register your family tree with the Jewish genealogy database of Beit Hatfutsot. This is an innovative and user-friendly approach to Jewish genealogy that enables people to build an interactive family tree and then share their projects with family members anywhere in the world.
Building a family tree online is easy and free of charge, and does not require genealogy software. There is no limit to the number of individuals that may be recorded on a family tree. In addition, you may add photos, events and links to personal blogs and websites. You may download a copy of your family tree to your computer anytime and you may “plant” your family tree with the genealogy database of Beit Hatfutsot.
Entering your family tree to the database of the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center will ensure that your records will be preserved for future generations.
To build your Family Tree online follow the following instructions:
1. Go to Family Echo.
2. Start by entering your own details, then click ‘OK’.
3. Use the options that appear to add more individuals on your family tree.
4. Make sure all names and dates are recorded in English characters.
5. Save your family in progress by clicking ‘Sign In’ in the top right and creating a free Family Echo account.
6. Once signed in you can continue growing your family and it will be saved automatically as you proceed.
7. To prepare your family for submission to Beit Hatfutsot, click ‘Download / export this family’ button in the lower left corner. Choose ‘GEDCOM’ in the panel that appears on the left, then click ‘Download’ and save the file to your preferred location on disk.
8. To submit this downloaded GEDCOM file to the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center, please follow the instructions.
- Create a GEDCOM file
It is very simple to “plant” your family tree in the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beit Hatfutsot. All you have to do is to enter all the data you have on your family with the help of almost any genealogy software program, to create a GEDCOM file of your family tree, and then to send this file to us.
IMPORTANT: when submitting your family tree to the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center make sure that all relevant data is entered in Roman characters; data in Hebrew characters would not be recognized.
GEDCOM (Genealogy Data Communication) is a file format used to exchange data between genealogy programs.
We accept standard GEDCOM files created with the help of any genealogy software program. Family trees should be sent in a GEDCOM 5.5 format file.
- How to export GEDCOM from "Family Tree Builder"
- How to export GEDCOM from "Dorotree"
1. Select the GEDCOM export from the File menu of your DoroTree software program. A dialog box will be displayed for you to specify the GEDCOM file. Save your GEDCOM file after naming it and making sure you remember its location on your hard disk.
2. Click on SAVE. A second dialog box will be displayed for you to specify the desired format of the GEDCOM file: Select export to OTHER and export ALL to include all individuals in your family tree.
3.Click on Submitter. A third dialog box will be displayed. Make sure you fill out ALL Latin and Communication fields, then click ob SAVE. You will be returned to the second dialog box.
4. Click on SAVE button on the second dialog box. Your GEDCOM file will be created immediately and a final dialog box will be openedwith a confirmation.
For technical support to your DoroTree Jewish genealogy software program, please visit DoroTree.
- How to export GEDCOM from "Hamishpacha Sheli"
‘Hamishpachah Sheli’ is also capable of making use of Hebrew information from other genealogical applications.
In order to register family trees in the database of the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center at Beit Hatfutsot it is necessary to record names of people and places in Hebrew and Latin characters.
Here are the instructions for the export of your family record to the GEDCOM 5.51 format:
Before starting the “Language of Names Window” setting must be changed from Hebrew to English Open the Family File Select “Language of Names Window” from the Tools
Select “English”, click the “OK” button and in the dialog box which appears
click again “OK
Select a family from the list of families.
A dialog box will appear in order to provide the submitter details for the family tree. Fill the check box next to “Diminishment of spaces between words”. “Click “OK”
Finally, a file browser dialog box will appear. The name for the file is “family” and it will be created in the directory where the exporting family record file is located, although both of these defaults can be changed.
For technical support of “Hamishpachah Sheli”, go to the website of Beligal Software.
- How to export GEDCOM from "Family Tree Maker"
Select the Copy/Export Family File from the File menu of your Family Tree Maker software program. A dialog box (“New Family File”) will be displayed for you: select GEDCOM (*GED) in the “Save as type” field. Save your GEDCOM file after naming it and making sure you remember its location on your hard disk.
A second dialog box will open: Make sure you select GEDCOM version 5.5 and Abbreviate tags.
Click on OK. Your family tree has been saved in a GEDCOM file. To submit your family tree to the Douglas E. Goldman Jewish Genealogy Center send this file as an attachment to your e-mail message.
Technical support: http://www.familytreemaker.com/
- How to export GEDCOM from "Family Echo"
After you’ve signed in, built your family tree and saved it (free of charge), using the Family Echo in cooperation with Beit Hatfutsot, click on EXPORT THIS FAMILY at the bottom left of the screen.
Then select GEDCOM from the list, click DOWNLOAD and save the file on your computer.
- How to export GEDCOM from "Geni"
A Guide to the Polish State Archives
The Polish State Archives managed by The Head Office of State Archives (Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwow Panstwowych) includes three main central collections and 29 Regional State Archives with 53 branches and five local offices.
The Website of the Polish State Archives offers access to a number of searchable databases, including the database of the Program for the Registration of Records from Parish and Public (civil) Registers PRADZIAD (Program Rejestracji Akt Metrykalnych i Stanu Cywilnego PRADZIAD). The database of the PRADZIAD program contains information on parish and civil registers preserved in all branches of the Polish State Archives, various Church archives and other archives and libraries in Poland, including material from the former Polish territories situated to the east of the River Bug that are now in Lithuania, Belarus, and the Ukraine (“Zabuzanskie” Archive). The database has details on specific holdings of Jewish vital records in those archives, but does not contain lists of individuals.
Searches must be conducted by the name of the town, one of the following five fields that need to be filled out for launching a database search:
Name of the town: must be entered according to its current Polish place name or, for names of towns that were not located within the pre WW2 borders of Poland or are now situated outside the current borders of Poland have to entered according to their either former Polish or foreign name.
Name of a larger town: To narrow the search for small towns and villages it is recommended to fill out the name of the bigger town or other administrative division to which the town belonged before WW2.
District/Province/Region Name: For towns within the current borders of Poland select the name of the province according to the administrative divisions of Poland from 1975 to 1998; for towns that are now in Lithuania or the Ukraine, by county and/or province; and for towns that were within the borders of Germany and are now in Germany or Russia, by county and/or districts.
Creed or Religion: In this field select mojzeszowe (“Jewish”) to access Jewish records only.
Type of event: It is highly recommended to select “all”; however, there is an option of choosing specific types of documents by the following categories:
Ksiega rodzin, Familienbuch (German)= Family register
Other types of documents refer mainly to non-Jewish inhabitants; however selecting “all” will list all documents of Jewish interest.
Names of towns must be entered with a capital letter. Use either Polish fonts (with diacritical signs) or plain Latin characters, but not a combination of them. Example: enter either Lodz or Łódź.
Ordering documents from the Polish State Archives
Permission to use certain genealogical records by non-Polish citizens is granted by the director of each branch of the State Archives. Access to archival material is free of charge and searches can be conducted on the premises during the business days and hours of each branch. Genealogy inquiries and search requests by private persons are subject to the payment of a charge in accordance to the price list of each branch of the State Archives. Separate charges are required for the reproduction of material on microfilms, photocopies or Xerox copies.
To order specific documents or a genealogical search you may use either the service system of JRI-Poland, or contact directly the relevant branch of the Polish State Archives.
List of Polish State Archives (Central and Regional)