JewishGen Home Page

The Genealogical Research Division of

Contributing Databases to JewishGen

Guidelines for Contributors

Procedures for Submission
      · 1: Submission of a Proposal
      · 2: JewishGen Evaluation of Proposal
      · 3: Request for Required Legal Documents
      · 4: Database Submission Instructions
Datasets with less than 1,000 records
Process for Implementation into a Searchable Database
Database Introductory Material


This file describes the guidelines for those who wish to contribute a new database to JewishGen, to be placed on the <> index page or subpage.

In the absence of special circumstances, a database generally will consist of 1,000 or more records; however, the final decision on appropriateness to JewishGen and format for inclusion rests with the JewishGen Editor-in-Chief, Programmer, and Operations team members.

  • Part I of this file describes the procedures for those who wish to submit a database to JewishGen.
  • Part II describes the process for putting the data into a searchable database.

Part I — Procedures for Submission

The procedures for submitting a proposal and the necessary processing are a multi-step activity.  By carefully following these guidelines, the time from initial submission to implementation can be greatly minimized.

STEP 1 — Submission of a Proposal

Do Not submit the actual material to JewishGen until your proposal has been accepted and instructions have been provided to you for the submission.

Submit your Proposal by email to the JewishGen Database Manager at:  The proposal should be either (i) included in the body of the email or (ii) an attachment to the email, such as Rich Text Format (RTF), Microsoft Word, or text.  The proposal shall include:

  1. Name(s) of submitter(s); and e-mail address, postal mail address (number and street, city, zip or postal code, country), and telephone number.
  2. Brief description of the database.  (See database introductory material below for information requirements).

STEP 2 — JewishGen Evaluation of Proposal

The JewishGen Database Manager, along with JewishGen Operations, Webmaster and Programmer will determine if the proposal meets the mission and goals of JewishGen; and where on JewishGen the data should be placed.  The Database Manager will inform the submitter of the evaluation results.

STEP 3 — Request for Donor Agreement and Required Legal Documents

If the proposal is accepted, the Database Manager will request that the submitter execute and return the Donor Agreement and any other required legal documents.

The submitter will be given full instructions for downloading the necessary forms.  The submitter will mail, email or FAX the forms to the Database Manager for review.  The Database Manager will forward the forms to JewishGen headquarters for countersignature and return a copy to the submitter.

See the Database Projects Letter of Introduction and Database Donor Frequently Asked Questions for details.

STEP 4 — Database Submission Instructions

Guidelines for the creation and formatting of the data can be found in the Transcription Rules for JewishGen Databases.

Upon receipt of the necessary legal forms, the Database Manager will provide the submitter with further instructions on submitting the data to JewishGen.  If the material has been selected for submission as a searchable database, upon completion it will be turned over to the JewishGen Webmaster / Programmer for inclusion on the JewishGen website.

The description of how your submission is finally turned into a searchable database is contained in Part II — Process for Implementation into a Searchable Database below.

Datasets with less than 1,000 records:

If in STEP 2, the evaluation team has determined that the proposal is best suited to a format other than a standalone searchable database, the submitter will be advised as to the following options.

The "JewishGen Databases" page is intended primarily for databases with a minimum of 1,000 records.  A list of less than 1,000 names does not merit its own standalone search engine program and interface — a list of less than 1,000 items can be easily scanned through by a reader... that's about 10 printed pages.  Datasets smaller than 1,000 records should be prepared as either:

  1. Prepare data as an ASCII text or HTML "data file", which can be placed in the JewishGen InfoFiles index under "DataFiles", or under the respective KehilaLinks page, or a SIG's pages, or a JGS' pages, or on JewishGen's Yizkor Book Project site, or another appropriate location on the JewishGen website.

  2. Prepare the data to be integrated into one of JewishGen's existing "Multi-Databases", such as one of the "All Country" or "All Topic" databases.  A Multi-Database is a database that contains contributions of datasets from various sources, and combines them via a single search engine interface.  Existing JewishGen "All Country" multi-databases are:

    Another category of "Multi-Database" are the "All Topic" databases, where records of a particular type are are collected, spanning geographic regions.  Examples of "All Topic" databases are:

    Note that where data is applicable, it will be placed in both an "All Country" and "All Topic" database.

  3. Miscellaneous lists can be posted on your own personal web pages, and then you can send a message to the JewishGen Discussion Group directing people to your site.

  4. Family databases in GEDCOM format should be posted to JewishGen's Family Tree of the Jewish People (FTJP).

Part II — Process for Implementation into a Searchable Database

After receipt of all the necessary information, legal forms, and the proposed database in acceptable format, the JewishGen Webmaster / Programmer begins processing the data into a searchable database.  In order to understand the time delay between final acceptance of the submitted data and related documents, a brief description of what is required follows:

The JewishGen Webmaster / Programmer:

  1. Converts the data to a standard JewishGen format and creates any required index files.  If the database does not fit easily within the JewishGen "Model System", a tailor-made system is written (which can be much more time-consuming).
  2. Uploads the converted data, index files, and required program files to the JewishGen server, along with a dummy web search form for basic beta-testing.
  3. Asks other Webmaster(s), JewishGen volunteers, the submitter, and those who have contributed to JewishGen and are therefore are entitled to see new programs first, to test the system and comment on it.
  4. Cleans up the database introductory page, web search form and data output format — based on beta-test results and comments.

When the Webmaster / Programmer is satisfied that the program is ready to go live, it is added to the JewishGen Databases index page or sub-page(s) at, to the "What's New on JewishGen" page, and is and announced on the JewishGen Discussion Group and any relevant Special Interest Group (SIG) mailing lists.

Database Introductory Material

In addition to the data itself, for each database on the JewishGen system, we require a full "database description", the introductory documentation, which should include information about:

  • The original source data:
    • Who created the original data?
      • What is the source of the data?
      • Identify the creator(s) and/or publisher(s) of the original source data.
      • Identify the source language(s) of the original data.
    • How can the original source(s) be accessed?
      • Include complete titles and bibliographic citations, library locations and call numbers; archival locations and fond numbers, etc.
    • When?
      • What time period is covered by the data?
    • Where?
      • What geographical locations are covered by the data? Be specific.
  • Your database:
    • What data is included:
      • What fields are in the database? -- describe each column in the database.
      • What data is not included, i.e. What additional data fields might be in the original source, but were not extracted as part of this database.   Were any records not extracted?
    • Who created the database?
      • Who did the extraction / data input / transcription / interpretation / translation, etc.
    • How many records are in the database?

You might also want to provide any interesting statistics or observations, such as information of the distribution of the data records (i.e. are they 95% German and 5% Polish; or 80% pre-1850; 75% male, etc.).

The introduction needs to explain any and all abbreviations, terminology and phrases used in the database contents.  Nothing should be cryptic.

Bear in mind that JewishGen has a wide range of users from all over the globe — not all have English as their first language, and not all have Jewish backgrounds or are familiar with Hebrew or Jewish terminology.  Everything needs to be explained.

Other suggestions:

  • If possible, the data should be transcribed in the original language (i.e., leave occupations written in German in German), and then provide a separate table of translations.  It is always best to keep the transcript as close to the original as possible, without any interpretation, and let the users of the database do that interpretation.
  • Provide a reference guide to missing and unclear data.  Especially if the original documents are handwritten, some of the entries in the source will probably be unclear or illegible.  Describe your system for identifying such information in the database: missing data indicators, crossed out information, unclear information, illegible information, etc.
  • Provide a graphic (jpeg or gif image file) containing a sample data page of the original source, or other relevant illustrations.

The introduction can include anything else that you can think of that might be useful to users of the database.  Background information, historical context, etc.  Include references to books, articles, or hypertext links to JewishGen InfoFiles or other web sites, if applicable.

The objective of the database description is to eliminate the hundreds of followup questions which arise after users get a hit in the database — questions that will range from the ridiculous to the sublime: "What does this mean?", "What do I do now?", "What else do you know about him?", "Why isn't my grandpa in your database?", etc., etc., etc.

The description should be a full and complete introduction to and explanation of the database, its contents and context, which allows the user to understand the results, and to follow up on their finds independently, without further assistance from the database compiler or from anyone at JewishGen.

When necessary, the JewishGen Webmaster can provide assistance in the writing, editing, and formatting of the Introductory information.  Just provide the factual data as noted above and JewishGen can take it from there.

For information on how to create and format your data, see the Transcription Rules for JewishGen Databases.

Key JewishGen personnel in the database review and implementation process:

  • Warren Blatt, Managing Director
  • Michael Tobias, Webmaster & Programmer

JewishGen Databases JewishGen Home Page
Jan 18 2005; last update Feb 21 2013   .
JewishGen Home Page Edmond J. Safra Plaza | 36 Battery Place | New York, NY 10280
646.494.2972 | | © 2024, JewishGen, Inc. All rights reserved.