Uncover Tips to Improve Your Jewish Heritage Family Research

I had the privilege to be room monitor for four sessions during our Identity Quest virtual conference in November 2020. Two of them really intrigued me – Getting Started with Jewish Genealogy and Breaking Through Brick Walls.

Several years ago I came across a name linked to a known family name – Feierstein. The name sounded Jewish to me. My family, for the most part, is Catholic so this one stood out. I had done some research and learned that some Jewish families changed their names when moving to America. Peters, my fraternal grandmother’s maiden name, is one of them.

Beginning the Search

I submitted DNA samples to Ancestry and 23 and Me. Initial results from Ancestry showed about 1% of Ashkenazi Jew. Since then, no Ashkenazi Jew appears anywhere. Hope is not lost. Todd Knowles, presenter for Getting Started with Jewish Genealogy, provided some resources to check – JewishGen.org, naturalization records and vital records. With your library card you can access vital records and naturalization records through Ancestry Library Edition linked from our popular tools page.

Marty Flannagan, presenter for Breaking Through Brick Walls, provided more good advice:

  • Check multiple sources to answer questions.
  • Keep a research log and contact logs to remind you where you have already searched and who you have contacted.
  • Make a list of what documents you might need.
  • Have a focused research question.

I am still gathering the information I already have and forming my research question. I have learned over the many years researching my family’s history that I often have more information than I think I do. It’s always worth your time to take another look at what you have.

This is the puzzle piece I have:

Does this mean his last name was Feierstein and was changed to Peters when he and his mother moved to the United States? Maybe that is the first question I need to answer.

Family history research is like detective work. (I even have a magnifying glass.) There are so many pieces of the puzzle to locate. Some you will never find. It’s a never-ending adventure in learning about your family.

Resources for Your Jewish Research

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Visit our Genealogy page for Genealogy Tools including databases you can access free with your library card.

Luanne Webb – Infant-Preschool Librarian. Through my programs I hope to spark children’s interest in reading and help them get ready for school. When I am not at the library, I enjoy researching my family’s history.