Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Researching Jewish Ancestors? Use JewishGen Family Finder!

The Internet, and especially JewishGen, has made researching Jewish ancestors easier than it might have been just a few years ago.

In November, I shared Handler Birth Transcriptions at JewishGen with the news that the Hungarian Databases at JewishGen had added a new database of transcribed records from Erdevik, Serbia, which included some Handler ancestors.

JewishGen also has the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF), where a researcher can enter surnames and places being researched. In August 2012, I added some of my husband's family names in the JGFF. I just added a couple of new ones. This is what my Family Finder list looks like:

I am very excited to report that the Serbian researcher from Šid, Serbia, who transcribed the records from the Historical archive Srem - Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia, contacted me after seeing my interest in family from Ilok, Croatia (in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries), which is a community just over the border from Erdevik, Serbia, where he is researching. He has provided me with a family tree of information about the Handler family!

Following is the birth record for my husband's grandfather, Josef Handler. I have taken the long horizontal entry and split it into two pieces for easier reading. I got help with the translation from Google Translate, which identified the language as Bosnian. (However, linguists consider Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian to be the same language, with minor idiomatic differences.)

The handwritten entries are in blue. My comments or questions are in [square brackets.]
current number = 52
name of newborn = Josef Händler
it was born
   month = August
   day = 24
   year = 1884
sex = m(ale)
The next columns indicate whether the birth was considered legitimate [it was; zakonit = lawful].
Parents of child
   name of father = Aron Händler
   name of mother = Sali Händler

residence of parents = Ljuba
name of midwives = Marta Milić [thank you to Radovan for deciphering this name]
day of circumcision = 22 / 9 [22 September - I wonder why not exactly eight days after the birth?]
name of mohel = Ignatz Straus [thank you to Radovan for deciphering this name]
The next column has to do with the birth of a daughter
name of witness / godfather = Lasar Stern [likely a close relative of Sali, whose mother was a Stern]

If any reader is able to better translate these headings or read the handwritten entries, please let me know what you think in the comments.


  1. Congratulations! That's awesome!

    Circumcision will be delayed if the baby's health requires it. Not unusual at all.

    1. Lara, I wondered if the cause of the delayed bris was the baby's health. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Thanks for your mention of the JGFF -- I just registered and am looking forward to exploring!

    1. Ken, there really is a lot there so be sure to take the time and fully explore the site. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I used to contribute every year to keep that membership going but I had to let it go. Is JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF)free ?

    That is so awesome, Elizabeth ! I had good news like in the spring with one of my Polish lines.


    1. JewishGen is free, including Family Finder. They do welcome donations and with a donation of $100, a user does get flexibility in searching certain databases, which I wrote about at Handler Birth Record Transcriptions.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Wonderful! I also have had luck with JGFF and JewishGen in general. I was not aware of your blog before I saw this on TTT on Facebook; I am now following by email. Amy

    1. Yes, JewishGen is a wonderful site! And thank you for reading my blog - much appreciated!

  5. Thanks for the reminder. I put my surnames in a few years ago but need to go back and check things out. So glad you were helped!

    1. JewishGen is a site to revisit every so often.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. Midwife is Marta Milić and mohel is Ignatz Straus

    1. Thank you for helping to decipher these names. I have updated the blog post to state them correctly.