General Information

The Central Archives are rich in genealogical material from various communities. To derive maximum benefit from the Archives’ collections, one should be familiar with the major components of the Archives, with the nature of the various kinds of genealogical materials available and with the extent of the assistance obtainable from the Central Archives in order to know how to formulate questions and how to go about a genealogical search.


Kinds of sources

The chief genealogical sources are birth, marriage, death and burial registers. These were maintained chronologically in most communities from about the end of the 18th century onwards. The Central Archives have a large collection of such registers from Germany, as well as sporadic registers from other countries, such as France, Italy and Poland. In recent years the Archives have begun microfilming genealogical registers in government archives in Eastern Europe, especially for what was once Galicia. Other sources are circumcision registers, voting lists, tax lists, etc. All, however, are catalogued geographically, by communities and not by the names of the people listed in them. It is therefore necessary to know precisely where your parents or grandparents were born/married/died in order to initiate a search in the Central Archives for material on additional generations. In some cases, the Central Archives have no relevant material, but are able to provide addresses of archives in other countries holding such material.

The Central Archives also have a very small (several hundred) collection of family trees and genealogies. These are catalogued by the names of the families about which they were composed, and not by every name appearing on them. On the slight chance the archives have genealogical material relating to your particular family, you must cite the family name, where they came from and the approximate period you are interested in, to determine whether the particular family tree in our collection bearing your family name refers to your particular family (in some cases there are hundreds of families bearing the same name but with no family connection whatsoever between them).

Central Archives staff members cannot conduct actual research, as staff of the Central Archives is too small to do so, even for a fee. At best we can inform you whether we have relevant genealogical material from a particular community for a particular time period. You are then welcome to come to the archives or send someone on your behalf to do the research. In some cases, members of the Israeli Genealogical Society can be privately solicited to do research for a fee. Nothing, however, is as good as a personal visit to the Archives, since additional research possibilities not thought of at the outset often crop up in the course of research.