Chutes & Ladders: Innovative Approaches to Genealogy
Pamela A. Weisberger © 2013
Are you eager to connect the dots, score points and populate your puzzling family tree? Navigate your genealogical game-board using imaginative strategies. Manipulate Google, Facebook, Acris, Fundrace, ProQuest, bank and criminal records to locate M.I.A. relatives. Go directly to jail to uncover a scandal! Clues abound for creative online sleuths.
This handout covers unusual, creative, innovative or simply overlooked online resources for genealogical research. Most of us already know how to use JewishGen, JRI-Poland, Routes to Roots, and the SIG (regional special interest group) databases. We also know how useful paid databases like Ancestry.com are – and that they are freely accessible at public libraries and LDS Family History Centers. But perhaps a few of these links you are not yet aware of may enable you to find out more about your family and even make some surprising discoveries:
The JewishGen Discussion Group is an internet forum, which fulfills the vision to unite Jewish genealogical researchers worldwide as they read and discuss each day’s messages. They share information, ideas, methods, tips, techniques, case studies and resources. Their dedication is to Jewish family history with particulars from their own family lore and reminiscences. Not only do they want to know more, most JewishGenners are very willing to help others along the way. This continual sharing is the very essence of JewishGen. You must register to post, but also remember to search the archives of past messages using keywords related to your search: places, people and events: http://www.jewishgen.org/jewishgen/discussiongroup.htm
CRARG: Czestochowa-Radomsko Area Research Group has a database of records well over 600,000, including Holocaust, tombstone, synagogue, birth, marriage, books of residents, death, emigration, immigration, draft, taxation, craftsman, and 1790s census records covering Poland, and those who passed through Poland: http://www.crarg.org/
The ProQuest Historical Newspapers Collection includes full text and images from runs of prestigious American newspapers including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Constitution, The Boston Globe, The Hartford Courant, The New York Tribune, The San Francisco Examiner, The St. Louis Post Dispatch and more. Access to this collection is only available through subscribing libraries and institutions. Some offer access to one or two of the newspapers, while others offer access to the entire ProQuest Historical Newspapers database. Check with your local, college or state library (or a student who may have access) to see if they offer access to the ProQuest Historical Newspapers collection. Many offer free in-library and remote access to their patrons.
Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages – search over 17,000 pages including the Poughkeepsie Gazette, Brooklyn Eagle: http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html
Chronicling America – Library of Congress: Search America’s historic newspapers pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Learn more
GenealogyBank is an exclusive newspaper archive for family genealogy research provides information on millions of American families from 1690–today. Over 5,700 newspapers provide first-hand accounts about your ancestors that simply can’t be found at other genealogy websites. Discover the stories, names, dates, places and events that have played a role in your family history.
NEW YORK VITAL, NATURALIZATION, REAL ESTATE & COURT RECORDS
New York City Vital Records & Naturalizations: http://www.Italiangen.org
New York Division of Old Records ~ 31 Chambers Street, Room 703 (7th floor), NYC 10007
Director, Old Records: Joseph Van Nostrand – 212-374-4781
Director, Archival Material: Bruce Abrams – 212-374-4376
Here you can find divorce, separation and annulment cases brought in NY County 1784 – 1940, available if more than 100 years old. Hours: 9:00AM – 5:00PM computer and alphabetical card indexes index Court Records. The records pertinent to my research were:
1. Historical Records I: includes Court of Common Please, 1786-1895; and Superior
Court cases, 1828-1895
2. Matrimonial Records: includes Matrimonials, 1784-1895 and Superior Court, 1847-1895; and Supreme Court, 1911-1940 (card index).
ACRIS = The Automated City Register Information System of New York City allows you to search property records and view document images for Manhattan, Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn from 1966 to the present: http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/scripts/docsearch.dll/index
For other states, Google the state name, “real estate” or “property records” or “court records” and you will find similar online databases proving all kinds of information.
PUBLIC LIBRARIES & THE NYPL
Contact regional public libraries (in towns of any size) for their genealogy centers (many have them and they contain books on local history, obituaries, cemetery/headstone transcriptions or indexes and more). Ask about books detailing histories of towns, cities and states that may focus on the Jewish population. Ask for the head librarian. They can be excellent resources and often the smaller locales offer the most information! Court Records always an excellent resource for bringing black sheep stories to life. New York Public Library has yizkor books and photo archives online. On site, City Directories USA (Microforms Room 100), a genealogy room, and a fabulous map room at the 42nd St. branch. If you can’t go in person, search their catalog here: http://catalog.nypl.org/
OTHER ARCHIVES, DATABASES & REPOSITORIES
The Center for Jewish History in New York City Family History Databases – Search these archival collections for names or keywords relevant to your family history: http://www.cjh.org/p/61
• Jewish Committee, Office of War. Records, 1918-1921
• Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Records, 1878-1969
• Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (Boston). Microfilm, 1870-1977
• Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of New York. Records, 1855-1985
• Henry Hochheimer Marriage Record Book, 1850-1900
• Jewish Immigration Information Bureau, Galveston Immigration Plan. Records, 1901-1920
• Michaelson Family Papers, 1892-2000
• Collection I-153, Insolvent Debtors Cases
• Collection I-154, Incorporation Papers, 1843-1844 lists 12 names; Marriage licenses for 1830, 1838, 1849-1850 lists 7 names.
• New York Court Records. Selected Incorporation Papers, 1848-1920
Industrial Removal Office Records, 1899-1922 – http://www.cjh.org/p/61 (A 2-step search)
The Industrial Removal Office was created as part of the Jewish Agricultural Society to assimilate immigrants into American Society, both economically and culturally. It worked to employ all Jewish immigrants. The collection contains administrative and financial records, immigrants’ removal records, and correspondence. Actual document images can be found on Ancestry.com Here: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1613 (You must know the box# to view.)
Ancestry.com – explore their passport record collection and military records along with census, naturalization and vital records to round out your genealogical searches.
The LDS Family Search site has many new databases (like the 1905 New York Census, the 1930 Mexican Census) and European archival records searchable and viewable. Enter a name to search or click on the country section to search by region and see what they have. Updated monthly.
FindMyPast has United Kingdom vital and census records. Many people passed through the U.K. on their way to other countries, so worth checking: http://www.findmypast.co.uk
PEOPLE FINDER SITES
PrivateEye: with their Advanced People Search, you can search through tens of billions of public records from multiple sources. Includes current and up to 25 years of past information, neighbors, relatives, old addresses, and more. Free with more info if you pay. http://www.privateeye.com/
Intellius is a similar site, but may show different results. Compare: http://www.intelius.com
Zabasearch provides addresses, phone numbers, date of birth: http://www.zabasearch.com
FundRace.org shows campaign contributions and addresses: http://www.fundrace.org
Unclaimed Property Sites exist in each state. Google the state and the words “unclaimed property” to find the website for records that often go back many years and provide addresses.
The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is a wonderland of old maps, including the old auto-maps that provide photos of long-ago places. Fun to explore: http://www.davidrumsey.com/
Library of Congress, Panoramic Maps Collection – You can zoom in on streets and houses.
Great resource for many American cities. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pmhtml/panhome.html
OLD PHOTOS & POSTCARDS
YIVO’s People Of A Thousand Towns, consisting of 17,000 photographs of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, is now available at http://yivo1000towns.cjh.org. Drawn from the large photographic
collections of the YIVO Archives, the photos document Jewish life in large Jewish centers as well as many smaller towns and villages from the late nineteenth century to the early 1940s.
Ebay and Allegro (a Polish auction site) and Darabanth (Hungarian site) are great for finding old postcards and stamps from your shtetl. http://www.allegro.pl or https://darabanth.hu/
High school and college transcripts are usually available going back to the 19th and early 20th centuries. Definitely worth investigating. Just call or visit the college and provide details.
Internet Archive – a digital library of Internet sites is excellent for searching text found in old books and use the Wayback machine to find archived versions of outdated web pages from years’ past: http://www.archive.org/ and also search on Google Books at: http://GoogleBooks.com for towns and names.
And don’t forget the new “All Galicia Database” – www.search.geshergalicia.org – for Galician research involving records held in Ukraine and Poland, or the JewishGen SIGS or JRI-Poland for all other regional research .
Little Rock, AK /5th & Main St. 1870s
This post is also available in: Hebrew