Skip to Content

FAQs

JEWISH GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

1. Please tell me about JGSGB. The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) was formed in 1992 with beginners and experienced researchers joining forces to:
* Help one another to learn and discover more about genealogy
* Encourage genealogical research
* Promote the preservation of Jewish genealogical records and resources
* Share information amongst members The Society is open to all those interested in Jewish genealogy. The scope of our members' interests covers all Jewish Communities world-wide although, as you would expect, we are the 'Centre of Excellence' for UK Jewish Genealogy. Our members are particularly interested in Eastern Europe, from where many of our ancestors can be traced.

2. What are the main benefits of JGSGB Membership?
* Valuable expert guidance in research
* Regular gatherings to meet others interested in genealogy.
* Access to our growing library (only Members of JGSGB may access the Library for free - non-members have to pay £5.00 for each visit).
* SHEMOT (our Journal published three times a year) Shemot cotains a variety of articles of interest to genealogists, book reviews, abstracts of overseas genealogical articles, practical research tips and useful addresses. We are keen to publish members' own articles.
* Newsletter (published quarterly) giving news about the Society, forthcoming events, international genealogical affairs, computer activities, library notes, and members' letters and queries.
* Our website www.jgsgb.org.uk has a 'Members' Corner' (for members only).
* Use of Jewish genealogical databases available at our library.
* Participation in our Online Discussion Group. 

3. What Programme of activities do the JGSGB offer?
* Members Meetings (usually monthly) where we have specialist speakers, demonstrations or members talking about their projects/research.
* Visits to places of genealogical interest.
* Family History workshops.
* Training courses in genealogy.

*Annual all day seminars - London and Manchester

4. I do not live near London - What about the Regions? The Society has a number of Regional Groups that hold regular local meetings and activities. There are Regional Groups for the following areas:
* South West London
* The Chilterns Group (The Home Counties to the North and West of London, namely Middlesex, Herts, Bucks, Beds and Berks)
* East of London and Western Essex
* Manchester
* Leeds
* Midlands (based in Birmingham)
* South East Essex

5. Does the Society have any Special Interest Groups (SIGs)?
The Society has the following SIGs:
* Anglo-Jewish

* Dutch/Sephardi

* German

* Eastern Europe (including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, etc

These groups meet regularly and support members researching ancestors in these geographical areas.
Members can find further details on Members' Corner

6. Does the Society have a Library? What can I find there? The Society has a significant library containing the following:
* Over 1,000 reference books, maps and leaflets - to see details browse the catalogue.
* Microfilms and microfiches, including copies of many of the major Anglo-Jewish genealogy collections.
* Research papers.
* Journals from other Genealogical Societies around the world.
* One of the largest collections of Yizkor (Memorial) books in the UK, covering many of the destroyed communities of Europe. List of these books is contained in the Library catalogue
* Many family trees - indexed by principal surnames.
* Computers (with printers and a scanner) and a selection of genealogical CD-ROMs and other genealogical databases.

Non members are welcome to to visit and use the Library for a £5.00 charge

7. Does JGSGB have an Online E-mail Discussion Group?
* Yes. This is a service for members only. Many members find this a valuable way getting general research questions answered quickly and keeping up to date with the latest genealogical developments. Most questions posted are answered within 24 hours.
*All the messages go into a searchable archive that is an invaluable research source.

 8. How can I join the JGSGB and how much does it cost? Membership of the society is open to anyone who is interested in Jewish Genealogy. For details see the Membership Application Page

 9. What genealogical data does the Society hold? The Society holds three main categories of databases:
* Data and databases accessible at our Library (such data is normally only accessible in person by Members of the Society). Non members are welcome to visit and use the library for a £5.00 charge.
* Publicly available databases viewable and/or downloadable from our public website

* Members Only access databases available from the Members' Corner area of our website.

10. Is there a JGSGB Website? And what can I find there? The Society Website is www.jgsgb.org.uk. It is accessible to both members and non-members and is continually up-dated. The site contains various records and many useful links boith public and for members only.

11. Does JGSGB have a "Mentor" or "Buddy" System Members are offered participation in a Mentor scheme and, on request, will be assigned a Mentor. Informal 'buddy' arrangements often develop between Members with similar research interests.

12. My family name is xxxxxx. How can I trace my ancestors? Is my family or family name Jewish? Our Jewish Ancestors moved around and changed their names, often with great frequency. To answer this question you need not just names but times and places. Try to find out which towns, or at least regions, your ancestors lived in. The best way to identify if a person or family was Jewish is to work backwards to see if you can find records associating them with a Jewish event such as marriage in a Synagogue or burial in a Jewish cemetery. Other clues, but usually not conclusive, can sometimes be ascertained from the name, occupation or place of residence.
* The best way to proceed is to join a Genealogical Society such as JGSGB (or one more local to you if you are outside the UK) where you can learn various research techniques. If you live outside the UK but you are interested in researching Jewish Genealogy or ancestors from England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales then you will probably find overseas membership of JGSGB useful.
* Purchase a book introducing you to Jewish Genealogy (see FAQ 17)

13. Does the Society have a Genealogical Enquiries Officer  For non Members The Society has a Genealogical Enquiries Officer who answers general genealogical enquiries and can often provide suggested sources for your research. Contact Genealogical Enquiries Officer. It is important to note that neither the Society nor the Genealogical Enquiries Officer is able to undertake detailed or specific family genealogical research for you. Should you require a professional researcher please see FAQ 15 below 
Members of the Society also have access to the Genealogical Enquiries Officer and will receive a priority response.

14. Are there other good ways to get my questions answered?
* The Society has an e-mail based Discussion Group. This is Members only service. About 500 Members participate. You may post your question to the Group and in most instances you will usually receive multiple helpful responses within a few days (sometime only hours!). You will be sent details of this service when you join the Society. If you already a Member you may e-mail the Moderator
* For non-members, we offer to post your query on our Discussion Group. This opportunity is offered once only for non-members. We request any Members who can assist with your query to e-mail you directly. If you wish to take advantage of this service please e-mail your query to the Moderator (Quoting Reference - Free Trial Posting). Please submit your query as a plain text e-mail with no formatting or HTML.  Please note - the moderator reserves the right to edit your query to ensure it conforms to our Discussion Group posting guidelines. Non Members are asked to consider making a donation for this service.  We also have a Facebook Page that non-members can ask questions on.
* Our Newsletter has a classified section where you can post your query. This is distributed to all our Members.  Non Members may pay for a classified insertion.  For further details contact the Newsletter Editor

15. I am prepared to pay for a professional Researcher. Can the JGSGB help? * JGSGB's Register of Professional Researchers and Translators is available on request from education@jgsgb.org.uk.

16. Can you recommend any other websites? You may wish to try the following to help your research along:
* Jewish Communities and Records United Kingdom http://www.jewishgen.org/jcr-uk/ which contains within its pages over 300,000 records
* To find other genealogists working on the same surnames and towns, register with JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) on and search the existing listings.
* Read the JewishGen FAQ for some good research tips. It's at http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/faq.html
* Browse the JewishGen Infofiles for articles of interest. These are catalogued by subject and country at http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/

17. Can you recommend any books, publications or CDs The Society's publications include:
* Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Germany and Austria
* Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Latvia and Estonia
* A Guide to Organising your Family History Records
* A Guide to Reading Hebrew Inscriptions and Documents
* A Guide to Jewish Genealogy in Lithuania
* A Guide to Jewish Genealogy in the United Kingdom
Order by post from: Publications Department JGSGB 33 Seymour Place London W1H 5AU . For further details on these publications see our Publications Page. Payment on line or by cheque payable to 'The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain'
* The Jewish Victorian - Genealogical Information from the Jewish Newspapers 1871-1880: a book * The Jewish Victorian - Genealogical Information from the Jewish Newspapers 1861-1870

18. How can I make a donation to the Society? If you consider we have assisted you and you would like to make a donation please click on the following link - donate now

19. I am interested in researching Jewish ancestors or Communities in the UK. Do you provide any special Discussion Forum relating specifically to this particular geographical area? Our sister website Jewish Communities and Records UK (Otherwise known as JCR-UK) includes an e-mail based Discussion Forum which is free for anyone to join. We discuss Jewish records available in the UK, research techniques, and share information and tips. Anyone who joins the Forum may post a query about general research in this geographical area or about their specific Jewish family research in this area. To join the Forum you need to register with JewishGen and then use the Special Interest Group sign-up page and follow the procedure selecting United Kingdom: Jewish Communities and Records (in step 2).

20. Who do I contact for further information? For further information contact: