For many third-generation descendants of survivors, one of the ancillary tragedies of the Shoah has been a loss of information about family origins. Many of us grew up curious about our distant ancestors, only to have questions to our family elders met with unknowing shrugs. Thankfully, with the digitization of surviving records from pre-war Europe in recent years, more resources are now available to help Jewish families trace their roots, whether they arrived here after 1945 or were already in this country for decades beforehand.
While a number of databases and resources exist both online and in physical archives, three websites present the easiest way to get started researching 3G Jewish genealogy. Each is most useful for one of the three main periods covered by American Jewish genealogical research: pre-war Europe, the immigration experience, and life in the United States.
The best way to start, of course, is with the information we know, which means genealogy research often begins with a family’s records here in the United States. For post-immigration records, one of the best resources available is www.FamilySearch.org.
Amateur genealogists will nonetheless find the site rich in information and resources. Free to create a login, any user can search thousands of digitized archival databases, from birth and death records to military draft cards to U.S. census logs. The best way to start is by clicking on the “Search” tab, where one can enter an ancestor’s name or search by spouse, parents, or year and place of birth, among other parameters.