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Free genealogy resources available during the pandemic

04/23/2020 06:24:04 PM


Andrew Blumberg

Genealogy is one of America’s favorite hobbies. Researching your family history, finding relatives and creating a family tree can be an engaging, fun and exciting activity whether you do it alone or with your family. There are databases to search, courses to take, people to connect with and family trees to be created – all online. Many resources are free while others require payment for access. While we’re all spending time at home, some of the paid resources are being made available for free. Whether you are a beginner or advanced genealogist, the following are some excellent resources.

JewishGen is the global home for Jewish Genealogy. It is also an affiliate of the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. During the pandemic, JewishGen is offering new registrants 90 days of complimentary access to its Value-Added Services (which includes complete search access). If you’re new to genealogy or unfamiliar with JewishGen, just click on the Beginners button at the top of their home page to get started. What can you do on JewishGen? Here are just a few examples:

  • Search through over 30 million vital, voter, tax, census and other records, including many that are more than 100 years old, obtained from European archives. In case you’re wondering: no, all records were not destroyed in the Shoah.
  • Connect with over 110,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide based on family surnames and ancestral towns being researched.
  • Look for family information in The Family Tree of the Jewish People, which contains data on more than eight million people from family trees submitted by 6,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide.
  • Locate and learn about the towns where your ancestors live.

Click here for a complete list of searchable databases, and here for a list of research resources, on JewishGen.

Ancestry is perhaps the most well-known of genealogy web sites. They are offering free access to at-home education resources as well as to nearly 500 million records from the National Archives.

AncestryK12 services is a no-cost program for K-12 schools and teachers in classrooms nationwide. With school closures in effect across the country, Ancestry is offering support to parents by making its AncestryK12 lesson plans available for free for anyone to download while they are educating children at home.

In addition, the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and its long-term digitization partner Ancestry will make it even easier for people to explore their own family history stories from home by providing free access to search nearly 500 million records and images on Ancestry. These records include:

  • WWI and WWII U.S. Draft Cards
  • New York, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1957
  • California, Federal Naturalization Records, 1843-1999
  • U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925
  • U.S. Compiled Revolutionary War Military Service Records, 1775-1783
  • U.S., Confederate Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865
  • U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960

I found records and a photograph of my great uncle Philip, who served in both WWI and WWII, in these records.

There are many other things you can do on Ancestry, including building an online sharable family tree.

Genealogy websites and resources abound on the internet, but JewishGen and Ancestry should keep you busy for quite a while.

Have fun and good luck in your search!

Mon, August 8 2022 11 Av 5782