The sacred grounds upon which our family members and ancestors are buried hold a plethora of information often relevant to those who seek information about those who fill their family tree. In particular, Jewish gravestones, or matzevot, can provide such valuable information as the name of the deceased, the dates of birth and death, their age at death, their Hebrew name, and the Hebrew name of the father (and occasionally the mother.) Knowing these facts can help the researcher or just the curious person discern whether someone is actually the family member or ancestor we were looking for. Burial data is just one factor that can contribute to successful genealogical research, but it is nevertheless an important one.
The Museum of Family History, in an effort to assist those who are interested in learning more about their ancestors, continues to work with due diligence to provide you with what is hoped to be valuable burial data and instruction. The Museum also attempts to provide you with the proper resources you might very well need before you visit a family gravesite.
Within a period of three years the Museum has partially or completely translated more than 105,000 gravestone inscriptions located in more than thirty cemeteries in the states of New York and New Jersey. These matzevot are found in nearly seven hundred landsmanshaftn and synagogue plots, and represent societies whose origins lie in more than one-hundred and seventy Eastern European shtetls, towns, and cities.
the addition of burial data obtained from other sources, the Museum
database now contains information for burials not only in New York and New
Jersey, but also for Connecticut, Western Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
The current number of burials registered on the Museum database now exceeds
Web pages have been created that list unique surnames for
many towns and cities (and a few non-affiliated organizations) that have
society burial plots in New York and New Jersey. One example would be for
the town of Sniadowo, Poland. The Sniadowo unique surnames page lists alphabetically all the unique surnames that have
been found among all those interred within the combined Sniadowo-associated
landsmanshaftn and synagogue burial plots located in New York and New Jersey. There
are also a few web pages that aren't associated with any particular geographical
location, but are associated with other organizations without any known
particular affiliation to any town in Europe.
cemeteries will take a photo of a matzeva for you for a fee or for free and
mail it to you. These policies, when known, are stated within the New
York-New Jersey directory.
There are more than one-hundred cemetery maps included here from
nearly four dozen cemeteries located in New York, New Jersey, South Florida,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, Los
Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, as well as Winnipeg and Montreal, Canada. The images are
generally enlargeable and can be saved to your computer for future reference, e-mailed
to a friend or relative, or printed out to be used during your next cemetery visit.
If anybody has any other maps like these, please
indicate the cemetery name, address and phone number if possible, scan
them, and send them to the Museum of Family History at
An evolving exhibition is presented
the many gates and posts that are located at the entrances to various society plots
located in the New York and New Jersey metro area. These often bear important information for the
genealogist, i.e. the name of society, the date the society was established
and when the gate was erected, as well as the names of the society officers
and its members.
From the data collected, The
Museum has done various
statistical studies that might be of interest to genealogists. Such
studies involve determination of name frequencies, e.g. what are the most common surnames and
given names; how often, for instance, a person with the Hebrew named Moshe took on the
Anglicized name Morris, Max and Murray. There is also a page on surname
frequency, i.e. which surnames were the most common out of nearly 70,000
The Museum has photographed
over one-hundred and thirty of the memorials that have been erected by
various societies and families and placed within the burial plot grounds of
various New York and New Jersey cemeteries. The exhibition is a display of
photographs, partial listings of family members who perished in the
Holocaust, and translations of heartfelt inscriptions written in Hebrew and
English. There are also sister exhibitions, all of which fall under the
aegis of "World Holocaust Memorials," which display what is believed to be
the largest collection of online Holocaust memorial photos from Europe.
SEARCHING THE CEMETERY DATABASES
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
A very interesting feature is
called "Q & A." The Museum's "Interview with a Cemetery Manager,"
in-depth discussion with the manager of Mount Judah Cemetery, a Jewish
cemetery located in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. Some of the topics of
discussion include the ins-and-outs of running a cemetery, what occurs from
the time a funeral director calls the cemetery in order arrange for a
funeral, to the time a funeral is concluded. Also, what kind of information
on the deceased does a cemetery actually have? This interview should be of
special interest and pertinence to Jewish genealogists.
If you possess a death certificate that uses a number to codify the cause of death of an individual, and you want to know what the actual cause of death was, please refer to this website. They have the codes from 1900 to the present. These codes have been revised more or less every seven to fifteen years and are now in their tenth revision. Be sure to look under the ICD table for the correct year, otherwise you will arrive at the wrong cause of death.