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Indexing Danzig Microfilms of the Family History Library (FHL)
Volunteers Needed: Data entry into Excel spreadsheets from JPEG images of original Danzig records, some written in German, some written in Hebrew print, some written in Hebrew cursive.
The indexing will be performed by SIG volunteers, meaning no fundraising will be required. Volunteers will receive from the Project Coordinator by email batches of images produced by scanning the microfilms, plus data entry Excel spreadsheets with instructions about what to transcribe and how. Volunteers will send the Project Coordinator completed spreadsheets before receiving additional images to index. The Project Coordinator will then prepare the indices for submission to JewishGen for online presentation.
In order to volunteer, you must be comfortable entering data into an existing Excel spreadsheet. The ability to read German, Hebrew print, or Hebrew cursive is required for some (but not all) parts of the microfilms. You will also need to know how to zoom in and out of JPEG images.
If you want to volunteer, please send an email to the Project Coordinator containing the following information:
Have you ever worked on a project to index Jewish records? If so, which?
How well can you read Suetterlin-style German handwriting?
How well can you read Hebrew print?
How well can you read Hebrew cursive?
Of the items mentioned in the description of the contents below, which would you prefer to work on first?
What version of Excel do you have? (You can determine this from within Excel by clicking on Help, then About Microsoft Excel, and reading the top line.)
You will then receive additional information needed by volunteers. There is no minimum committment, nor any deadline for indexing. You can work at your own pace.
All volunteers will need to submit a JewishGen Volunteer Agreement in order to participate in this project. Please contact the Project Coordinator before doing this, though.
Indexing will begin with FHL microfilms 1184407, 1184408, 1184409, 1184410. The approximate total number of Danzig records/entries on these microfilms is 9232, ranging in date from at least 1752 until 1940! They contain many instances of surnames SIG members are researching. The descriptions of their contents here and here on www.familysearch.org are not completely accurate, and a closer examination reveals the following contents.
1184407: birth records 1905-1936; birth records for Weinberg 1839-1847;
marriage records for Weinberg 1837-1845, often with places of origin; burial
records for Weinberg 1847-1883; burial records from at least 1765 to 1883
1184408: death and burial records 1889-1940, often with father's name, and,
from 1934, place and date of birth
1184409: burial records for Altschottland and unified Danzig 1848-1920,
cross-referenced to burial plot purchase records for Altschottland
1848-1883, which are also indexed alphabetically; burial records 1883-1929,
cross-referenced to burial plot purchase records 1883-1900, which are also
1184410: typed transcription of the 1814 surname adoption list already
online, with essay about surname adoption from 1936; handwritten
citizenship? list (missing first two pages, covering surnames beginning with
"A") sharing much in common with the 1814 surname adoption list, but
differing in substantive ways; burial records from at least 1752 until at
The ranges of dates are significantly larger, in some cases, than those indicated in the online FHL catalog. There seem to be two reasons for this: some entries have dates written only in Hebrew, which the FHL seems to have ignored, and these are generally the earliest; and some of the records of burials in family plots list burials over many decades, while the FHL seems to have used only the earliest burial dates.
Many of the records associated with burials (there are several different formats for burial records) identify the locations of graves according to section and grave number (and some even by physical dimensions in feet). There is so much of this information that it might be possible to reconstruct maps of the two cemeteries, especially if aided by what (little) survives from them. In some cases, cross-referencing records by grave location will also be genealogically useful.
The burial plot purchase records on microfilm 1184409 often include not only the name of the purchaser and the location of the plot, but also the names of the people intended to be buried in the plots, and/or their relationships to the purchaser. This information can be very useful genealogically when combined with the burial records on this microfilm, which indicate the names
and dates of the people actually buried in these plots (but, often, not their relationships to the purchaser).
The precise meaning of the burial records on microfilm 1184410 is not clear. Because they are arranged primarily alphabetically by given name and grouped by section number, and because of the consistency of the handwriting over many decades of burial dates, perhaps they were not made
contemporaneously with the burials, but are either an inventory of burials, with the information having been read from gravestones (which might indicate why some is only in German, some only in Hebrew, some lacking dates — perhaps illegible), or an indexing of other burial records.
The citizenship? list on microfilm 1184410 contains many names not on the surname adoption list (especially people who are not heads of households), a
numbering possibly suggesting location of residency, and some information that seems to have been accidentally dropped by the compilers of the 1817 printing of the surname adoption list (seemingly, due to the similarity in appearance of ditto marks " and spacers ..).
Many of the records, especially those from after the First World War, but also some of the earliest, indicate places of origin far away from Danzig. There are probably many researchers whose relatives are listed in these records, while they are not aware of any connection to Danzig or even the surroundings.
Destination of the Data
The indices created by this project will be added to the All-Poland and Germany Databases on JewishGen, freely available to all, and copies will be made available to JRI-Poland. Burial records will be submitted to the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry. So, this information should be accessible to a very large audience.
Relation to Other Danzig Records
This material is separate from and different than what is in the Archives of the Jewish Community of Danzig at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), Jerusalem, which is the subject of another project. The process involved in indexing is also different — for the CAHJP material, fundraising is necessary to purchase microfilm and xerox copies, and for digitization of the microfilms.
Combining these and other (smaller) sources will provide an expansive and in-depth genealogical picture of the Danzig Jewish community. Depending on your particular interests (especially, which of the five "precursor" communities), you might find information in only some or in all of the sources.
Contact: Logan Kleinwaks, JewishGen Danzig/Gdansk SIG Coordinator and Project Coordinator