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Genealogy Guide: Resources at the Center for Jewish History

About Us

The Center for Jewish History is one of the foremost Jewish research and cultural institutions in the world, serving over one million people in more than 100 countries. It is home to five partner organizations—American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research—whose collections total more than 500,000 volumes and 100 million documents and include thousands of pieces of artwork, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films and photographs.

Taken as a whole, the collections span more than 600 years of history and comprise the largest repository of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. At the Center, the history of the Jewish people is illuminated through scholarship and cultural programming, exhibitions and symposia, lectures and performances.  

Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute

The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at the Center for Jewish History was established in 2007 with generous support from Lawrence and Ronnie Ackman, William and Karen Ackman, and Simon and Hope Ziff.  The intention was to tap into the vast archival records of the Center’s five historic and cultural partners, in order to assist novice, academic, and professional researchers in reconnecting with ancestors and living relatives.

Today, the Institute provides access to a wealth of genealogical resources (see below) through the Center for Jewish History’s partner collections and the Institute’s extensive reference collection, online databases, and a variety of research guides for the beginner and the seasoned researcher.

Our skilled staff and volunteers are on hand to guide you to the most relevant resources and answer your research inquiries.

Family History Library (FHL) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS)

The Family History Library (FHL) of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) has digitized its vast collection of genealogical records from archives all over the world. These records are freely searchable and/or viewable on their website, FamilySearch.orgClick here to browse a list of searchable collections by country

To identify FHL records relevant to your research, do a “Place Search” in the FamilySearch Catalog for your town of interest. If given a lists of towns, make sure you choose the one located within the appropriate district/county and province/state. If you don't find relevant records associated with your town of interest, search the catalog again by name of the district/county or province/state in which the town was located.

All search results include a list of microfilms on which a particular record group was initially reproduced. Next to each microfilm number, you will see either a camera icon by itself, denoting that the record group is freely available online (click the camera icon to view those records on your computer), or a camera icon with a key, denoting that the record group can only be viewed on computers at specified locations (see next paragraph).

Due to international data privacy laws and agreements made between the FHL and individual record holders, some digitized records are only accessible at LDS Family History Centers, or at Family History Centers and affiliate libraries (Note: the Center for Jewish History is an affiliate library). Click here to locate your nearest Family History Center or affiliate library.

If you encounter an issue with FHL digitized records, please note that many of the original FHL microfilms of Jewish interest can be viewed at the Center for Jewish History's Genealogy Institute. Click here for a complete list of microfilms on long-term loan at the Center for Jewish History