"Finders Seekers... The Search for family on the Web".

Presentation by Esther Csaky

At our last meeting in March about 30 people gathered at the Makor Library for a fascinating presentation by Esther Csaky, a founding member of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Jewish Genealogical Society. Esther has presented to us before on the subject of genealogy and it was wonderful to have her back again on this subject which interests so many of us.

Esther has been researching her own family for many years and has made some exciting discoveries about her family. Through her expert knowledge of web searching techniques and various sites, she continues to discover members of her family.

Esther ran the evening in a very practical way. The first part of her presentation showed us how to get organized and get started. Esther outlined suggestions for initial research before setting out on web searching. The second part of the evening covered searching on the web at some of the many sites available for family tree research.

Esther listed some valuable resources both on the web and books held at the Makor Library, which are listed at the end of this review.

How does one begin? Esther outlined the steps to enable you to get started and emphasized it is good to have a plan so you won't become overwhelmed.

  1. Prepare a rough family tree, hand drawn

  2. Ask family members to add information

  3. Collect any primary source material-letters, diaries, photographs, documents

  4. Ensure that primary documents are stored in acid-free plastic pockets for their own protection

  5. Label the primary source material

Once you have done some basic research and have some names and places to go on, you can start searching the web for further information. A good place to start is the JewishGen website. Some of the information contained there is listed below:

The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) is a compilation of surnames and towns currently being researched by over 40,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide. It contains over 200,000 entries: 60,000 ancestral surnames and 15,000 town names. The JGFF is indexed and cross-referenced by both surname and town name. The JGFF is maintained by JewishGen.

Other valuable information on the JewishGen website include:

JewishGen FAQ-frequently asked questions about Jewish genealogical research, methods and resources.

JewishGen Info Files-a comprehensive directory of information resources, by topic and country

JewishGen Tools-Calculation aids and email courses

Regional Special Interest Groups (SIGs) - web pages for SIGs focusing on historic regions of origin; discussion groups on specific topics for the exchange of information, ideas, methods, experiences and resources

JewishGen-hosted projects-including Jewish Records Indexing, Poland; IAGJS Cemetery Project

Shtetllink-a map of the area from where your family may have come

Other valuable sources of information are civil records, such as: Australian and European; the public records held on microfilm by the Latter Day Saints or Mormons.

Also of interest is Jewish Records indexing-Poland. This is a searchable database of indices to 19th century Jewish vital records from current and former territories of Poland. More than 900,000 records from 150 Polish towns are now indexed and available. More are being added every month.


JewishGen: The Home of Jewish Genealogy www.jewishgen.org.

Encyclopaedia Judaica Dictionary of Jewish Names.

Yizkor books contain Jewish history going back several hundred years. They include articles by survivors and 20 to 30 pages of names of those who perished in the Holocaust. The Holocaust Museum and the Makor Library has many of these books. There is a bookseller in Israel who specialises in Yizkor books and there is a Yizkor book database on the net.

Journals of the Australian Jewish Genealogy Society: Kosher Koala in NSW and Jewish Genealogy Down Under in Victoria.

Avotaynu, an internet magazine.

Tracing Family History in Australia by Nick Vine Hall.

Special Interest Groups-see JewishGen

Jewish Genealogical Societies around the world

Passenger lists

A wealth of information was covered in one short evening and Esther certainly inspired the budding genealogists in all of us. A special thanks to Leonie Fleiszig of the Makor Library for helping us set up for the evening.

Back to Reviews Index Page