European Research: Tips and Tools For Success Ancestry Webinar

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz 
On Tuesday, July 21, 2009, gave one of its many illuminating hour long how-to webinars (which can be heard by clicking here).
This webinar was entitled “European Research:  Tips and Tools for Success” and was moderated by Jana Lloyd, Editor of “Ancestry Monthly Update” with speaker Juliana Smith, Editor, “Ancestry Weekly Discovery”.  Ever popular, the webinar attracted over 1,000 listeners, many of whom were average genealogical researchers who already knew the name of their ancestral town.
According to Juliana Smith, the most important items to have before starting research in Europe are the following:
  • Name and approximate birth date of ancestor.
  • County or province and city or town where they lived.
  • Other family members such as grandparents or siblings.
  • Occupations.
  • Associates such as sponsors, neighbors and others from the same town.
In addition, utilizing the following resources will enhance your background information in your foray to European sources:
  • Family Bibles
  • Diaries
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Heirlooms
To further assist the researcher in their preparation to find overseas records, has several important record collections which can be utilized:
  • Passenger arrival records
  • U.S. Passport Applications
  • Naturalization Records
  • New York Immigrant Savings Bank, 1850-1883, Records
  • World War I Draft Registration Cards
  • Historic Newspapers (40 million pages)
Given the results of the above resources, researchers can now proceed to search European records.  However, one of the most daunting aspects of European research is the inability of most researchers to read or translate the records.  One of the newest tools on the Internet are finding aides and translation tools.  Many of these can be found on or by googling the language you are looking for. 

Further resources such as’s catalog (available here) can find your town of origin and the resources it may have.  I tried this for a town I was interested in which was Wandsbek, Germany, and found a reference to microfilm with Jewish birth, marriage and death records from 1840-1866 which was the exact time period I was searching for.  Also mentioned was a Yizkor Book for the area.

Other resources such as Cyndi’s List, and the WorldGen Web Project can be quite helpful too.  Mentioned also were several wonderful map collections including those of the FEEFHS and the Perry-Castañeda Library .

Taking time to listen to webinars such as this, despite the fact that they are general in nature and not focused on Jewish resources, will still very often give you clues as to new resources or give you a process to follow to begin your research.  Other webinars can be found in the archive.  

So, click on the link to the webinar and begin your new learning experience!

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