Tag Archives: compendium

Zbaszyn Refugees in Falenica

JDC Warsaw Office Locality Files 1939-1941

I’m happy to announce a new set of resources in the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy. I recently came across a set of files from the JDC Archives that is organized by town, and has all of the records scanned and online. These are referred to as the Warsaw Office, 1939-1941 Localities collection.

Zbaszyn Refugees in Falenica
Zbaszyn Refugees in Falenica

The documents in these files are for the most part correspondence between the Warsaw office of the American Joint Distribution Office and representatives of Jewish groups in over 500 different towns in Poland during the years 1939-1941. Frequently the group in the town was the German-organized Judenrat, although not always. Sometimes the organizations are local support organizations, and sometimes the letters are to individuals.

Some of these files consist of a single letter. Others have over 100 documents. While the letters can open up an important view into the lives of Polish Jews during the first years of the Holocaust, before the deportations to concentration camps, the more exciting feature of this collection are the lists.

Bolimow Matzah Recipients
Bolimow Matzah Recipients

Many of the towns have lists of people. These lists can be lists of all the Jews in the town, refugees from other towns, those who received financial assistance, and even those who received flour, matza and even herring. Considering the dearth of information on the lives of Jews during this period, I think these lists are incredibly important.

I did find some minor issues with the list of files which I tried to correct if I could. I’m also sending an e-mail to the JDC to mention them so they can be fixed. A few items on the list had incorrect links. Many of the items list the file language as English, even though essentially none of the files have any English in them. I think this must have been some default setting. Almost every file has documents in Polish, many have in German, and some are in Yiddish. A few files are just in German, but not too many.

These files will show up in over 500 Polish town pages (out of the more than 1400 on this site) in the Holocaust resource category. See the Holocaust category for the town of Żabno:

Continue reading JDC Warsaw Office Locality Files 1939-1941

Watch my FB Live video explaining how to use the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy

Tonight I broadcast an overview of the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy on Facebook, which you can view below (or on Facebook itself). The B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy has over 25,000 Jewish genealogy resources covering over 200 countries. Find out more about it in this video:

Learn about the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy

Learn about the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy with over 25,000 resources for Jewish genealogy. Philip Trauring will show how the site works, what's available on it, and answer questions live.

Posted by Blood and Frogs: Jewish Genealogy and More on Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Let me know what you think of the video. If you’re interested in me doing other videos, let me know in the comments.

Links to local Jewish newspapers added to the Compendium

I’ve long been an advocate of using newspapers in genealogy research. I’ve had particular success using newspapers in my research, and advocate for others to use them as well, as far back as my Genealogy Basics: Historical Newspapers article in 2011 (not long after starting this blog). Other bloggers such as Kenneth Marks at The Ancestor Hunt have done excellent jobs of collecting some links to Jewish newspaper archives (see his article Historical Jewish American Newspapers Online which is obviously focused on US newspapers). The whole idea of the Compendium, however, is to present users with resources when looking at the page representing the locality they are researching. If you’re researching Międzyrzec Podlaski, you may not know that there is an online digitized newspaper from that town, or if you’re researching family from Morocco, you might not know there are at least five online digitized newspapers available from that country.

To that end, I’ve now added a new category of resources to the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy – Newspapers. This is a work in progress, but to start out I have added links to searchable archives of over 200 newspapers. I have added these to the place of publication of these newspapers, although their reach is sometimes much wider. Links are only to archives of newspapers, not to current newspapers (unless they have an archive of older papers, in which case I point directly to that archive).

In the the case of newspapers published in what is now Poland, I have placed them in the town pages for the town in which they were published. For Warsaw, this is a considerable number, but what I found interesting were the other smaller towns for which there are archives of papers that as a researcher you may not have been aware of, and thus never checked. In Poland this includes newspapers in Białystok, Bielsko Biała, Chełm, Ełk, Kalisz, Kielce, Kraków, Łódź, Międzyrzec Podlaski, Piotrków Trybunalski, Tomaszów Mazowiecki, and Wrocław.

Most of these newspaper archives currently come from the Historical Jewish Press project, which is an amazing effort to digitize and make publicly available historical Jewish newspapers from around the world. One small problem with the site is that it tends to list newspapers by the country they were in when published, and not by their current country. That means many people don’t realize when looking for newspapers from the countries their ancestors lived in, that they’re not listed under Ukraine, but under Austria or Russia, or they’re not listed under Lithuania, but rather under Poland. I have tried my best to link to these newspapers to the countries their place of publication currently resides. This includes newspapers in Austria, Belarus, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Lithuania, Morocco, Romania, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

For the United States, I’ve placed the newspaper links on the pages for the state where the newspaper was published, including California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. These newspapers are not exlcusively from the Historical Jewish Press project, but include links to sites in many places that have digitized newspapers, including the Chronicling America project from the Library of Congress, and many other local efforts across the United States.

Please note that this is a first stab at adding newspapers, and even though I’ve added over 200 newspaper archives, there are certainly more out there, and I would greatly appreciate it if people could send me information on other newspaper archives available online that can be added. The best way to do this is to go to the page you think it should be added to, and clicking on the Add a Resource link at the bottom of the page. Please be as descriptive as possible, including the years of publication, the language, the frequency of publication (monthly, weekly, daily, etc.), and any official linkage, such as to a political party or other organization.

There are plenty of other newspapers that I’m aware of, but have not yet added, primarily due to language issues. Ohio State offers two great lists of digitized historic Jewish newspapers, in English and Hebrew, that contain many newspapers I have not yet linked to here. That’s because while many newspapers are listed, there are no real descriptions like I have for other papers, and the languages are German, Yiddish and Hebrew in most cases, which means I need to spend more time going through them to collect the necessary information. Two resources specifically in German are Compact Memory which has hundreds of German Jewish newspapers and periodicals, and Jüdische Zeitschriften in NS-Deutschland, which has Jewish newspapers from the WWII period in Germany. As the New York Public Library’s guide to microfilms of Jewish newspapers shows, however, there are even more Jewish newspaper archives out there waiting to be digitized and put online.

So take a look at the countries, states, and towns your family came from, and see if there are newspapers listed. Have you looked at them in your research? Write about your experiences using newspapers in your research in the comments below, and submit newspaper archives not in the Compendium to the site so I can add them.

Kańczuga, Poland in the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database

Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database

Updates to the Compendium were delayed for several months while I was upgrading the server. Today, in addition to a number of smaller updates, there are now links from all 1350+ Polish towns in the Compendium to the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database.

Kańczuga, Poland in the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database
Kańczuga, Poland in the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database

The links for each town generate a search of the database for people with a connection to the town. Whenever researching Jewish families, particularly those from Poland, searching the Yad Vashem database is critical not only for finding information on one’s family members who died in the Holocaust, but also for seeing who submitted Pages of Testimony for one’s relatives, and seeing who else they submitted Pages for, as that frequently allows one to make connections to other family members.

Finding all the Pages submitted by the same person recently became much easier, as Yad Vashem added a link on the details page for each Page of Testimony that automatically generates a list of the Pages submitted by the same person. In the past you have to do an Advanced Search using the name of the submitter, but now it’s as simple as clicking a link.

Keep in mind, however, that sometimes people in the database, including the submitters, have more than one name for various reasons. See my article Tracking down a couple that disappeared during the Holocaust for an example of an incorrect submitter name due to a typo or transcription error, as well as two whole sets of Pages of Testimony submitted by the same person a few months apart under different names (one time using his legal surname which was his mother’s maiden name, and one time using his father’s surname).

I hope everyone finds these links useful. Let me know if you find information on your family that you didn’t know.

Introducing archival records info in the Compendium

I’m happy to announce a new feature of the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy. Last month I added over 150 Polish towns to the Compendium, adding to the over 200 towns I added back in August, and bringing the total number of Polish towns to over 1350. Those new towns were in preparation for the feature I am introducing today.

For nearly 800 towns there is now information on what archival records exist for those towns, and links to the sites that have further information on those records.

The information currently comes from two sources:

The first source is the Polish State Archives (PSA), where I provide links to information on all Jewish records listed in their PRADZIAD database. Additionally, I provide links to their szukajwarchiwach.pl site which provides further information on the records, and in many cases provides the digital scans of the records themselves.

The second source is FamilySearch. As you may know, FamilySearch has millions of microfilms they have collected over decades, which are now on their way to all being digitized and placed on their web site. Unfortunately, most of those films can only be accessed at their Family History Centers or a FamilySearch Affiliate Library. For all of the films that have Jewish records from towns currently in Poland I provide links to the FamilySearch Catalog page that lists the film, as well as a link to the film itself if it has been scanned.

It is my hope that in the future I will be able to add information from German and Ukrainian archives, as well as any other archive with records on Jews from towns currently in Poland, and thus build a complete picture of what records exist for the towns in the Compendium.

Here’s how it works. When you go to a town page (see the full List of Polish Cities), if there are archival records then at the top of the list of resources you’ll see a green box (this may change later) that tells you how many listings exist from each source, and a link to display all of them. If you click on the link you’ll go to a separate page that lists all of the archival records, with links to their original sites to find out more.

As an example, let’s take a look at Kraków. In the picture below you can see part of the Krakow page, and if you look below the crest and map, you’ll see the green box under the heading Archival Records. In the box it says that there are 7 listings from the Polish State Archives for Krakow, and 25 from FamilySearch.

We can then click on the link in the green box to go to the Archival Records for Krakow page. On that page you will see the 7 listings from the Polish State Archives, and then the 25 from FamilySearch. In the picture below you can see the last two listings from the Polish State Archives, and the first two listings from FamilySearch:

For each listing I show the archive that the records are in (or were in, in some cases). For the PSA I note the Fond number and the name of the Fond (in Polish). For FamilySearch I list the Film number, and if there is one, an item number indicating where in the film the records can be found (in films that have more than one set of records).

Note that for each listing there are three links.

For the two PSA listings at the top, there is a link to the PRADZIAD catalog, a link to the szukajwarchiwach.pl site, and a numbered link in the Comments column that goes to the resource page for that listing.

For the two FamilySearch listings on the bottom, there is a link to the FamilySearch Catalog, a link to the film itself (if scanned), and again a numbered link in the Comments column that goes to the resource page for that listing. Note the icon of key with a red X next to the Film links (), which indicates that the film can only be viewed online while in a Family Research Center, or a FamilySearch Affiliate Library (a searchable map of Family Research Centers and FamilySearch Affiliated Libraries). When the film is viewable online from any location, there will be no icon. If the film has not yet been scanned yet, then there will be no film link at all.

It’s worth noting that FamilySearch has indicated that all of their films will be scanned in the next few years, so you should always check the Catalog entry and double-check to see if the film has been scanned. If you find a film that has been scanned that has no link in the Compendium, then please click on resource page link (the Comments number), and add a comment indicating that the film is now scanned so I can add the link. About 84% of all the film listings are locked (viewable only in Family History Centers and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries), 13% are unlocked, and the remaining 3% are not yet scanned.

I hope people find this useful. As always, let me know what you think and if you find any problems.