I know my family name, but I have no idea where the family came from. What can I do?

There are several places that you should start your research into finding your ancestral shtetl.

  1. The JewishGen Discussion Group Archives contains every message posted to the Jewishgen newsgroup since 1993. By going to the archives page and typing in your surname, you may find messages about your family surname. These messages may indicate where the family came from, as well as give you names and email addresses of other researchers that are interested in the same name.

  2. The JewishGen SIG Lists Archive is very similar to the JewishGen Newsgroup Archives, and contains every message posted to any of the JewishGen SIG newsgroups since 1998.

  3. The JewishGen Belarus Database contains an index to over 200,000 names from many different databases. You can search this database by surname, town, or text, and can specify that you want to search by exact spelling or by Daitch-Mokotoff soundex. To use this database to locate where your family came from, type in your surname. For example, if the All Belarus Database finds your surname in the “Minsk City Homeowners Lists, 1889 and 1911” database, then you will know that the city of Minsk may be where your family once lived.

  4. The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) contains the surnames and towns that other people are researching. As with the previously mentioned websites, searching by your surname may reveal towns where the family once lived.

  5. The Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP) is another way of finding out where your family may have come from. The FTJP contains the Gedcom files of other researchers. Searching on your surnames may lead you to ancestors that have already been located by other researchers.