If you are searching your Sephardic ancestors in the Caribbean and elsewhere, visit Sandra de Marchena's Our Ancestors, Our Life .
It focuses on Sephardic Jewry Genealogical Data in Curaçao along with a collection of family trees of its Sephardic community. Currently the database includes 17,000 souls; additional names and dates are added daily. De Marchena calls this is "a living, growing project."
For 10 years, de Marchena has been collecting ancestors' names and she has compiled a large family tree of the island's Sephardic congregation Mikve Israel-Emanuel, which goes back to the first 17th-18th century Sephardic settlers.
From the database, individual family trees can be extracted for most of the congregation's Sephardic families. She makes these available on CDs for each family. Each CD contains a descendant tree (book format) and a quarterly report (kwartierstaat). For a limited time, de Marchena will include on ancestor tree (pedigree) per CD for one selected individual in the database.
The 12 original families on the island in 1659 are ABOAB, ABOAB CARDOZE, CHAVIS, DE LEON, DE MARCHENA, DE MESA, HENRIQUEZ COUTINHO, JESURUN, LA PARRA, OLIVEIRA, PEREIRA and TOURO.
Names represented in the database include: ABINUN DE LIMA, ALVARES CORREA, BRANDAO (PEREIRA BRANDAO), CAPRILES,CARDOZE, COHEN HENRIQUES (Amsterdam and London), CURIEL, DE CASTRO, DA COSTA GOMEZ, DE MARCHENA, DE SOLA (and MENDES DE SOLA), DELVALLE (SALOM DELVALLE), GOMES CASSERES, JESURUN (JESURUN HENRIQUEZ), LEVY MADURO, MENDES CHUMACEIRO, MORENO (MORENO HENRIQUEZ), MORON (HENRIQUEZ MORAO), NAAR, NAMIAS DE CRASTO, PENHA (LOPEZ PENHA), PENSO, PINEDO, SALAS, SENIOR, VALENCIA (SEMAH DE VALENCIA).
In searching through the site and viewing sample trees and descendant reports, I found many additional families related by marriage, and from other locations.
De Marchena's interest in genealogy was inherited from her mother, when she started seaching for her ancestors. After participating as the "official" family genealogist for the first SALAS family Reunion in 1999, she was hooked.
For a decade, she's been entering all the birth, death and marriage dates and relevant data of the families and their descendants, and has conducted research in national archives, synagogues and cemeteries in Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Panama and St. Thomas.
To view samples of genealogical reports and sample trees, click here.
There are photos of archives, cemeteries, registers and people in various geographical locations, where she has spoken to descendants, digitized personal archives and researched national archives, cemeteries and synagogues. One photo from Panama shows a synagogue wall of yarhzeits with many names and dates.
Click here to see sources and an extensive bibliography of books on Sephardic Jewry, which should be required reading for researchers in this field. Some books refer to other families who were in the Caribbean or had links to those communities.
For Curaçao, as an example, she has digital copies of all birth and death registers in the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel archives; all marriage documentation recorded by the Emmanuels in "History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles;" selected entries from the death records in "Precious Stones of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles" by Isaac S. Emmanuel; visited the Berg Altena Jewish Cemetery and digitized most tombstones; digitized available family registers and life cycle announcements of both foundations and private families.
For genealogical links, click here. There are some familiar names such as Harry Stein and Alain Farhi and other sources to check out.