Swiss Society for Jewish Genealogy

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Discovering the history of your family generally requires taking pleasure in sleuthing inside and outside the family circle as well as an interest in general history and geography, besides many other interests. However, genealogy is also a matter of patience in solving riddles. Discovering your family history can lead you in many directions.



This art is to solve the initial puzzle step by step by increasing your knowledge, by finding the missing facts, wherever they may be. It is – as well – an art to discover where these facts may be hidden. It is also an art to develop the patience of constantly seeking new paths in order to discover the missing parts of this puzzle.

In the following, we will name the first steps, in order to give you an idea of how to begin your family discovery journey. Naturally, we will concentrate on the specifics of Jewish family research.

A.  Assuming that you know only fragments of your family history, the most important step for a beginner are the “Questions”. You must commence with your oldest living relative and inquire about their parents, their siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  Take notes and lead the discussion in the direction where your biggest gaps are. You can also record this conversation so that you can listen again at home in order to build your family tree. Take especial note of important dates and note them down. You will usually have to double check dates with archive resources in the future.

B. If you own a computer, you should use a good genealogical program, which will insure that your data is correctly registered. (Wenn jemand diese Seite in English liest, braucht er ein Vorschlag fuer ein English-sprachiges Program). There are several good programs on the market. However, for the start, you will want to make handwritten notes and insert them in your program only after checking as to their veracity.

C. As soon as a general outline is defined, you will want to start researching other sources than your own family. These are: Jewish archives, public archives, internet archives, newspaper articles, Jewish cemetaries and organizations such as a Chevre Kadisha, etc.


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