13 September 2008

Ashkenazi, Sephardi: Essential Jewish genealogy books

The 56th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy challenged us to choose 10 essential books for our personal genealogical research.

Tracing the Tribe is tweaking the challenge a bit to reflect both its readership and my personal interests in both Ashkenazi and Sephardi genealogy.

-Jewish communities considered Ashkenazi include individuals whose ancestors generally spoke Yiddish and lived in Eastern Europe, although they may actually have emigrated from Western Europe and the Mediterranean and vice versa. Ashkenazim are found around the world today.

-Jewish communities considered Sephardic in the broadest sense of the word, including Jewish communities whose roots are not in Eastern Europe - although individuals, families and communities did migrate there - but rather in Iberia and places beyond (immigration from Iberia from 1391 and after the 1492 Expulsion to many Mediterranean countries, Amsterdam, the Caribbean and elsewhere), as well as those communities called Mizrahi - the Jewish communities of the Middle East and Asia, such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, India, Afghanistan and others. Sephardim are also found around the world today.

These books - and many others in each category - are always near my desk. The rules for this challenge indicated only 10 should be mentioned. Tracing the Tribe readers are invited to post additional books in both categories.

10 Essential Ashkenazi Research Books

1. Where Once We Walked: Revised Edition: Gary Mokotoff, Sallyann Amdur Sack with Alexander Sharon. It identifies more than 23,500 towns where Jews lived before the Holocaust. Includes 17,500 alternate names, soundex index and "nearby town" index.

2. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian
Alexander Beider. 74,000 surnames from the Czarist Empire including etymologies and where names appeared, origins and evolution of Jewish surnames in Eastern Europe. (Two vols.)

3. Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Alexander Beider. A huge, detailed resource providing the origin and evolution of 15,000 given names.

4. Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland:
Alexander Beider. Award-winning compilation of 32,000 surnames.

5. Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia: Alexander Beider. Identifies 35,000 surnames from the region.

6. Jewish Personal Names: Shmuel Gorr. Roots of more than 1,200 Jewish given names showing Yiddish/Hebrew variants with English transliteration.

7. Surnames: Lars Menk. More than 13,000 surnames from pre-World War I Germany.

8. Russian-Jewish Given Names: Their Origins and Variants: Boris Feldblyum. Comprehensive collection of Jewish given names from czarist Russia.

9. Encyclopedia of Jewish Life: ed. Shmuel Spector. 6,500 towns in Europe where Jews lived before the Holocaust.

10. Sourcebook for Jewish Genealogies and Family Histories: David Zubatsky, Irwin Berent. Reference to family trees with more than 10,000 Jewish surnames.

10 Essential Sephardi Research Books
(Languages include Spanish/Catalan/French, with documents in Latin and Hebrew in original and in translation. The bibliographies provide many more resources. Sephardic research requires different resources and languages.)

1. Sangre Judia: Pere Bonnin. Thousands of Jewish names taken from pre-Inquisition, Inquisition courts and other documents, with year of document and city.

2. Sephardic Genealogy: Dr. Jeffrey S. Malka. Award-winning and pioneering comprehensive guide to Sephardic research.

3. Dictionary of Sephardic Surnames (2nd ed.): Guilherme Faiguenboim, et al. 17,000 surnames from more than 24 countries where Sephardim lived.

4. Per A Una Historia de la Girona Jueva (2 vols): ed., David Romano. History of the Jews of Girona, with archival documents, encyclopedia articles, photographs, bibliography.

5. La Catalunya Jueva: Maps, photographs, history, documents; excellent bibliography.

6. Els Jueus de Valls (The Jews of Valls): Gabriel Secall i Guell. History, archival documents, names, bibliography. The same author compiled a book on the Jews of Tarragona.

7. Perpignan: L'histoire des Juifs dans la ville (XII-XX siecles): Perpignan Archives Histoire (Perpignan Historical Archives). Jewish History, archival documents, names, bibliography.

8. La Via Judia en Sefarad: Ministry of Culture. History, archival documents, names, photographs, bibliography.

9. El Libro Verde de Aragon: ed., Monique Combescure Thiry, Miguel Angel Motis Dolader. History, Conversos and the Inquisition in Aragon, genealogical charts; three editions of the Green Book compared, bibliography.

10. Secrecy and Deceit: The Religion of the Crypto-Jews: David M. Gitlitz. Religious customs of Iberian Jews who converted by force to Catholicism, 14th-15th centuries. Details crypto-Jewish culture in Spain, Portugal, the Americas. Records include Inquisition documents, history, rabbinical rulings, eyewitness accounts and more.

As with my Ashkenazi book list, I could have added many more books collected in the US, in Barcelona (Catalunya, Spain) and Perpignan, France. Additional topics include Sephardim in the Caribbean, Turkey, food customs, and much more.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:22 PM

    I have a particular problem in that my gr-gr-grandfather was a translator for the German government to Turkey (before it was Turkey). My gr-grandfather came to this country in 1866 and I have a good record of him [Lazar CAPLAN]. There is no death certificate because he died in Alaska and their courthouse burnt down . . . so I'm at a loss as to where to go now. I have tried everything I know how to do, I've been doing it for 20 years. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you. bonneec1@yahoo.com