LBI Partners with Genealogists to Focus on “Family Matters”

The first issue of Jüdische Familienforschung, LBI Library, B184.

The first issue of Jüdische Familienforschung, LBI Library, B184.

In the first of a series of measures aimed at improving access to its collections for family historians, LBI recently partnered with a group of German-Jewish genealogists to digitize Jüdische Familienforschung (Jewish Family Research), a genealogical journal published in Germany between 1924 and 1938.

Funding was provided by the “German-Jewish Special Interest Group” (GerSIG), which offers resources and a discussion forum for users of the non-profit Jewish genealogical website JewishGen. GerSIG’s gift made it possible to digitize the Library’s complete series of 50 issues of the once hard-to-find journal, which contains numerous family trees documenting the lineage of German-Jewish families before the Holocaust.

“The family trees make this a very valuable resource for us, particularly because the archive sought to collect materials on Jewish families for an archive of Jewish genealogy,” said Jeanette Rosenberg, a GerSIG Director who led the digitization initiative. “The originals of this archive were destroyed in the Holocaust, and now all that remains are the journals, which can be used as a resource to connect Jewish genealogists together and create a forum for their research,” said Rosenberg.

Thus, 76 years after the final issue was published, Jüdische Familienforschung is still serving the purpose for which it was originally envisioned—connecting German-Jewish family researchers. In addition to family histories and genealogical tables, each issue contained a supplement known as a Suchblatt, in which readers were able to circulate their research queries to the entire readership, which often responded with answers published in later issues. Today, GerSIG’s email discussion group functions much the same way.

The editor of Jüdische Familienforschung, the Berlin ophthalmologist Arthur Czellitzer, believed that an understanding of familial lineage was particularly important for the cohesion of the Jewish people. “Today, the family has become the only bond that connects this people—a people without a homeland, without its own language—to its own roots and ties it to Judaism,” Czellitzer wrote in the introduction to the first issue in 1924.

Editor Arthur Czellitzer (1871, Breslau – 1943, Sobibor). Arthur Czellitzer Collection, AR 302.

Jüdische Familienforschung editor Arthur Czellitzer (1871, Breslau – 1943, Sobibor).
Arthur Czellitzer Collection, AR 302.

The online journal was introduced by Rosenberg at the 34th Annual convention of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in Salt Lake City this July, where LBI Executive Director William Weitzer and Family Research Program Director Karen Franklin also spoke about resources available for family research at LBI.

“We are grateful to GerSIG for supporting this project, and we are very excited to partner with one of our most engaged user groups to make the discovery of Jewish community records, family trees, town histories, and other genealogical materials easier,” said Weitzer. At IAJGS, he announced further plans to create a dedicated online portal for family researchers.

Jüdische Familienforschung. Periodical, Berlin (1924–1938)

German-Jewish Special Interest Group at JewishGen

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