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Yizkor Books & Shtetl Records (Jewish)

Nature of Source

Memorial books written by surviving former residents of Jewish communities, towns and villages (shtetls) destroyed during the Holocaust. The accounts provide a history of destroyed communities and contain names of Jewish leaders, events, stories, photos and memories. Many include necrologies which are lists of those that died. Most books are in the mother tongue of the author and could be written in Yiddish, Hebrew, English or Polish with about half referring to Polish places. Consult Fox & Issroff for the whereabouts of individual Yizkor books (see below).

Possible sources of information that might reveal a person's place of origin include census returns (where occasionally a specific place of birth is specified), naturalisation papers, passenger lists or Marriage Authorisation Certificates issued by the Chief Rabbi. Also consult family members for information on the origins of an ancestor.

See also
Holocaust (Shoah) Records
Jewish Records
Jewish Registers of Birth, Marriage and Death/Burial

Where Found

British Library Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections (Yizkor book collection)
Cambridge University Library (Memorial/yizkor books)
Leopold Muller Memorial Library (The library is part of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies and based at the Clarendon Institute on Walton Street, Oxford. The library is merged with the Bodleian Libraries. The library holds the Yizor Books collection of more than 800 memorial volumes for communities destroyed in the Holocaust, the largest set of its kind in Europe. These can be found on the SOLO catalogue)
University College London Library (Memorial/yizkor books)
The Wiener Library Institute of Contemporary History (The World's Oldest Holocaust Memorial Institution. Holdings include Memorial/Yizkor books and lists of survivors compiled after the war within the Displaced Person Camps; Kindertransport documentation; Gravestone inscriptions from Jewish cemeteries; Pre-war telephone directories for cities such as Berlin, Vienna and Prague; Newspapers and journals. Follow the activities of the library on Facebook and Twitter)

Period Covered

1950 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Names of those who did not survive (necrology), photos, places, addresses.

Further References

Baker, Zachary M. Bibliography of Eastern European Memorial (Yizkor) Books. [Estelle Guzik, Genealogical Resources in New York , Appendix A]: Jewish Genealogical Society, 2003

 

Fox, Cyril & Issroff, Saul. Jewish Memorial (Yizkor) Books In the United Kingdom: Destroyed European Jewish Communities: Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, 2006

 

Hundert, Gershon David (ed). The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: Yale University Press, 2008 (The online version is available at www.yivoencyclopedia.org)

 

Magocsi, Paul. Historical Atlas of Central Europe: University of Washington Press, 2002

 

Magocsi, Paul, Historical Atlas of East Central Europe: University of Washington Press, 1993

 

Mokotoff, Gary & Sack, Sallyann Amdur. Where Once We Walked, A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust: Avotanyu, 1991

 

Tahan, Ilana. (comp) Memorial Volumes to Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust: A Bibliography of British Library Holdings: British Library, 2004

 

Websites

www.jewishgen.org/yizkor (Yizkor Book Project)
www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/database.html (Yizkor Book Database: Listing of all known Yizkor Books)
www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/YBIP.html (JewishGen Yizkor Book Project: Yizkor Books in Print: Yizkor Books fully translated into English by JewishGen volunteers available for purchase by the descendants of those destroyed communities)
www.jewishgen.org/Communities (The JewishGen Communities Database and JewishGen Gazetteer [formerly ShtetlSeeker]. The database contains information on about 6,000 Jewish communities in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East and lists each community's name in various languages and the political jurisdictions during different time periods)
http://kehilalinks.jewishgen.org (JewishGen KehilaLinks [formerly ShtetLinks]: List of links to Jewish communities region-by-region)
http://jgsli.org/youtube (Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island. 5 Ways Yizkor Books Can Enhance Your Family Research)
www.rechtman.com/yizkorbk.htm (What are Yizkor Books and how to use them to enhance a genealogical work, by Yigal Rechtman)
http://legacy.www.nypl.org/research/chss/jws/aboutyizkor.html (New York Public Library Guide: About Yizkor (Memorial) Books)
www.avotaynu.com/holocaust/yizkor.htm (How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust-Yizkor books)
www.sztetl.org.pl/en/ (Virtual Shtetl: The site which is a project of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews provides information on pre-war Jewish life in Polish villages, towns and cities including details of their various names, changes in sovereignty and population counts. Archival documents will be added in time)
www.yivoencyclopedia.org
(Online edition of the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. The encyclopedia provides the most complete picture of the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe from the beginnings of their settlement in the region to the present)
http://polishjews.yivoarchives.org (YIVO Digital Archive on Jewish Life in Poland. The online collection includes manuscripts, posters, photographs, music and other artifacts)
www.cjh.org/p/60 (The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute of the Center for Jewish History: Research Guides covering a number of topics such as Starting Your Family History Research, Synagogue Records, Holocaust Research, Jewish Names, and Finding an Ancestral Town as well as country specific research including Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Germany, Great Britain and Lithuania)

Online Databases

Online Catalogues (Listing of online catalogues for the partial whereabouts of Yizkor books including WorldCat and Copac)
www.rtrfoundation.org (Routes to Roots Foundation: Online access to the availability and whereabouts of records from Eastern Europe)
http://legacy.www.nypl.org/research/chss/jws/yizkorbookonline.cfm (New York Public Library Yizkor Books Online: Digital images of complete Holocaust memorial books)
http://genealogyindexer.org
(Digitised and indexed Eastern European trade and street directories including the 1932 Palestine Directory and Handbook; Warsaw business directory for 1896; Warsaw telephone directories; Yizkor Books available at the New York Public Library and other material. A complete listing of the available directories and Yizkor Books can be found on the home page)
www.jewishgen.org/databases/yizkor (The JewishGen Yizkor Book Necrology Database: Entries from the necrologies of 376 different Yizkor Books covering eastern European countries)
www.jewishgen.org/Communities (The JewishGen Communities Database and JewishGen Gazetteer [formerly ShtetlSeeker]. The database contains information on about 6,000 Jewish communities in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East and lists each community's name in various languages and the political jurisdictions during different time periods)
www.jewishgen.org/databases/Memorial (JewishGen: Memorial Plaques Database: The database contains more than 75,000 names and other information from synagogue yahrzeit plaques and other yizkor and memorial records, worldwide)
www.jewishgen.org/databases/cemetery (JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry: More than 2 million records from more than 4,900 cemeteries [or cemetery sections] from 104 countries)
www.ancestry.co.uk (Jewish Records-Holocaust. Free access to numerous holocaust related databases covering many European countries and including camp inmate lists, yizkor book name lists and survivor lists. Produced in association with JewishGen)
http://genealogyindexer.org (Digitised and indexed Eastern European trade and street directories including the 1932 Palestine Directory and Handbook; Warsaw business directory for 1896; Warsaw telephone directories; Yizkor Books and other material. A complete listing of the available directories and Yizkor Books can be found on the home page)