Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

THIS AND THAT GENEALOGY TIPS ON EUROPE



JEWISH SURNAMES:
Visit these sites: Consolidated Jewish Surname Index:
http://www.avotaynu.com/csi/csi-home.html
for a database of more than 200,000 Jewish surnames found in 23 different sources. Key in the surname and the system will display all surnames that have the same Soundex code as the name you are searching. The Soundex system used is the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex system which is used in all Jewish genealogical databases and is gaining popularity in genealogical circles in general (a description of the D-M system is located at:
http://www1.avotaynu.com/Soundex.html

Next to each spelling variant of the name are up to 23 codes which identify which of the sources contain the surname. Scroll down for a description of each source and a Web link to additional information about the source.

Some other valuable research tools include:
-- JewishGen Family Finder. This is a searchable database on the Internet which lists more than 25,000 Jewish surnames being researched by some 12,000 genealogists worldwide. It you get a hit, the JewishGen site will give you the postal and/or e-mail address of the submitter.

-- "Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire" and "Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland." These two books list more than 80,000 different Jewish surnames from czarist Russia at the turn of the century. It includes the names etymology, where in the empire the name appeared, and all known variants of the name. If you are non-Jewish with ancestors from the Russian Empire, if the name in not in either of these books, it is unlikely the surname is Jewish.

-- "First American Jewish Families." This book attempted to document all descendants of Jews who arrived in the U.S. prior to 1838. If you have colonial ancestors who you think may have been Jewish and the surname is not in the book, do not be disappointed. There is some evidence the book may have only captured half the possible people. In addition, the author did not include any Jews who came to America and brought up their children as non-Jewish; there had to be at least one generation of Jewish-Americans in the family.

-- "Gedenkbuch." For non-Jews trying to determine if their German ancestors were Jewish, it is a good source of German-Jewish surnames. The book's origin is steeped in tragedy. The Gedenkbuch is a list of 128,000 German Jews murdered in the Holocaust. From a genealogical standpoint, it can be thought of as a list of virtually all German-Jewish surnames (about 25% of the Jews of Germany were murdered during this period). If your surname is not in the list, it is unlikely your ancestor is Jewish.

For non-Jewish researchers, be cautious of the source of information; a few databases include non-Jewish surnames. For example, the Jewish Genealogical People Finder is a database of Jewish family trees. Clearly it includes non-Jewish persons who married Jews. Similarly, "First American Jewish Families" noted above, is also a database of family trees that definitely includes non-Jewish surnames (many of the earliest Jewish families assimilated into the Christian American environment).

Another consideration is that many surnames are shared by Jews and non-Jews alike. The origins of surnames are often occupations or place names, either of which can occur in families independent of religion. The third most common Jewish surname in the United States (Cohen and Levy are the first two) is Miller.

Gary Mokotoff is the publisher of "Avotaynu, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy" - http://www.avotaynu.com or send e-mail to info@avotaynu.com - co-author of "Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust" and "How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust," co-author of the Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex Code, and creator of numerous databases of interest to Jewish and Eastern European genealogists, including the Jewish Genealogical Family Finder, Jewish Genealogical People Finder, and the Consolidated Jewish Surname Index.


INTERNATIONAL REPLY COUPONS:
When writing to someone outside of the United States, IRC coupons are usually sent to cover the cost of replying to your letter. You can't send them U.S. stamps as they are unacceptable for postage in other countries. IRCs are issued by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in Bern, Switzerland and one coupon can be exchanged in any post office in the world (except South Africa) for stamps sufficient to reply to your letter by surface mail. However, it usually takes three IRCs to cover the cost of air mail postage. IRCs can only be applied against the cost of overseas postage, one coupon per mailing and they are fast becoming useless for replies because of restrictions placed upon them. The cost of a "Standardbrief" (standard-weight [air mail] letter from Germany is now DM 3.00. Two IRCs, exchanged at DM 2.00 each, would have been more than sufficient, with change in stamps for the DM 1.00 overage. Under the restricted application that now apply, a correspondent in Germany not only can not get stamps in change any longer, but has to pay DM 1.00 in order to come up with a total of DM 3.00 in postage. IRCs cost Americans $1.05 each, and are available at full-service post offices throughout the country.

Alternatives to IRC might be:
When writing to Europe, if it's an official agency such as an archive or government office, don't send money, either for anticipated services or for postage. In your initial inquiry ask to be billed and request the cost of mailing and handling be included in the invoice.

If you are writing to a private party, parish offices, etc., send a small amount of cash $2.00 or $3.00 to cover postage.


CELTIC LANGUAGES AND CULTURE:
Gaelic and Gaelic Culture: http://sunsite.unc.edu/gaelic/ Gaelic Language: http://link.bubl.ac.uk/gaelic Gaelic-English Dictionary: http://www.sst.ph.ic.ac.uk/angus/Faclair/ Scots: http://www.snda.org.uk/scothist.htm Scottish Gaelic Language: http://www.editpros.com/scottish.html


LESS COMMON LANGUAGE RESOURCES:
http://www.susx.ac.uk/langc/others.html

Among the links at this site are The Abyssinia CyberSpace Gateway (resources for Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somali/Somaliland, and Djibouti); The WWW Virtual Library: Middle East Studies; Al-Mashriq -- Levant Cultural Multimedia Services (Arabic); two Basque Web pages; Belarusian dictionary; Bengali; Bulgarian Electronic Resources; Catalan language lessons; Cheyenne (with links to other Native American languages); Croatian language; Dutch newspapers; Esperanto; Finnish language; Gaelic; Greek (modern Greek language lessons through the Internet); Hebrew, a Living Language; How to View Hebrew on the Internet (including special Web Hebrew fonts); Hungarian language course online; Icelandic language page and Icelandic phrases (with audio); major Indian languages; Korean through English (online tutorials); Medieval Latin; Old English; Portuguese (online beginner's course); Culture of the Andes (songs, stories, poems, and jokes in Quechua with translations in Spanish and English, with audio); Kiswahili (lessons, grammar, links to more Internet resources); The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary (with pronunciation and grammar guides); Introduction to Swedish (with English-Swedish dictionary); Swedish Lessons from Uppsala University; Learning Practical Turkish, for example, business, computing, and culinary terms (with RealAudio); Welsh language course from Brown University (includes dictionaries, a spellchecker, and links to more Welsh resources on the Internet); an online Welsh grammar at Brighton University; and The Virtual Shtetl (Yiddish language and culture).


FREE TRANSLATION SERVICE:
Genealogy Exchange & Surname Registry site has a list of Free Volunteer Genealogy translators! There are many launguages available, including German to English. The Url for Genealogy Exchange & Surname Registry: http://www.genexchange.com/index.cfm

Another free genealogy translation service is located at: http://www.genealogy.com/gene/www/abt/translation.html - They do German to English, English to German and several other foreign languages.

There is a free automated translator of plain texts. Copy and paste or type your text into the input box, set the translator from foreign language to English or whatever you desire and hit the "translate" button. The translation comes back in the box above the input box. It does not reformat syntax perfectly, and sometimes it mistranslates words (e.g., the surname "Zulauf" gets translated "inlet"). When this automated translator knows it cannot translate a word, it leaves that word in the original language. Go to: http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-


RESEARCH WEBPAGES:
http://www.whowhere.com/redirects/familytree.rdct (Internet FamilyFinder - includes a database of over 10,000 researched surnames) http://www.fairacre.demon.co.uk/ (Dictionary of names)
http://www.worldgenweb.org/eurogenweb/border/bordersurnames.html (more border names, updated twice a month)
http://www.CyndisList.com/ (Cyndi Howell's Genealogy Links list)
http://www1.jewishgen.org/ShtetlSeeker/loctown.htm (Town locator for West Europe)
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/2739/ (Kaj Malachowski's homepage)
http://hum.amu.edu.pl/~rafalp/GEN/gen-eng.html (Genealogical information by Rafal Prinke)
http://www.rand.org/personal/Genea/ (Rand genealogy club)



Go back to the index page