Another research for Finding Your Roots

PBS will broadcast today at 8PM/7PM CT another episode of Finding Your Roots to which we contributed. This time we helped Henry Louis Gates Jr. to reveal a family story of Iliza Shlesinger, a hilarious stand-up comedian who thought that her family came “out of now where”.

Our research on David Duchovny’s family on Finding Your Roots

PBS will broadcast today a new Finding Your Roots episode on David Duchovny. The producers asked me to research his family story. We all knew his family is from Ukraine, but it wasn’t a shtetl… Can’t say anything more because of the NDA. Just watch tonight, 8PM/7PM CT.

The truth is out there!🛸

The Quality of Vital Registration

Studia Judaica, the journal of the Polish Association for Jewish Studies, has published my new paper on the quality of vital registration in east-central Europe. I recommend reading it to everybody who wish to find out why there are so many missing girls in the Jewish birth records and why it so often happens that genealogists cannot find the record they are interested in. The paper throughly covers also legal aspects of vital registration of the Jews in Congress Poland, Galicia, Prussia and the Russian Empire in the context of Jewish emancipation processes.

Full PDF is available for free on the Studia Judaica website.

Studia Judaica logo

Jewish Genealogy in Sub-Carpathia (Zakarpattia, Transcarpathia)

Jewish Family Search team specializes in providing professional genealogical research services on the Jewish families with roots in Transcarpathia. We’ve carried out extensive research on both: Jewish families residing in the villages in Carpathian highlands in northern part of the region, as well as more urbanized and communities in the southern, more Hungarian part of Sub-Carpathia.

sub-carpathia, subcarpathia, transcarpathia

Map of Sub-Carpathia from the Czechoslovakian (interwar) period

Unlike in many other areas in Ukraine, primary sources for genealogy of the Jews of Transcarpathia in large extent survived the 20th century archival losses. Available material covers almost every town and village in the area from the end of the 19th century. For some areas, however, the earliest genealogical sources date back even to the 1st half of the 19th century.
Because of multi-ethnic composition of the area and often-shifting borders any archival inquiry requires basic at least knowledge of Hungarian, Czech, Ukra
inian, Russian and Rusyn. This complicated history is reflected by several names of the region:

  • Zakarpattia, Закарпаття (Ukrainian),
  • Podkarpatská Rus, Subcarpathia (Czech),
  • Kárpátalja (Hungarian),
  • Transcarpathia, Carpathia
  • קארפאטארוס

Archival records are held in three branches, two in Uzhhorod and one in Berehovo.

Genealogical sources

Genealogical research that we recommend should cover:

Vital records

Uzhhorod archives

Entrance to the State Archives of the Uzhhorod Oblast

This collection consists of two series:

  1. Vital registration prior to 1895, led by local rabbis. The earliest existing entries date back to 1837. It exists for selected areas, among others: Berehove (Beregovo, Beregszasz), Svaliava (Svaljava, Szolyva). Volovets (Volovec, Volóc), Zhukovo (Zsukó), Uzhhorod (Užhorod, Ungvár), Mukachevo (Mukačevo, Munkács), Vynohradiv (Vinogradov, Sevljuš, Nagyszőlős).
  2. Civil registration introduced in 1895. The latest available records come from 1943 (as at 2019). Later records are withheld from public access due to privacy reasons.

Census lists

Three important collections with full census lists exist in the archives:

  1. The 1921 census of Transcarpathia enumerated by the government of Czechoslovakia. Existing material covers whole region.
  2. The 1869 census. Exists only for the Ung County (the Uzhhorod district). Data for
  3. In addition the 1931 census lists from Transcarpathia are held in the archives in Prague.

Most of these records were not transcribed and made searchable on-line. Recently, JewishGen started translating selected vital records, but vast majority of the records is still available only in the archives.

Research inquiries

Your family tree may greatly benefit from the research in archival sources! Feel free to contact us and share with us your Transcarpathian family story. We will send you free of charge detailed proposal listing existing sources and estimation of time and costs of researching them.

vital record

Death record registered in 1885 in Benedykivtsi (Benedike, Benedeki, Benedikovce).


census 1921 czechoslovakia

An example of a Jewish family listed in the 1921 census. Note numbers in red ink assigned after enumeration for the purposes of data coding.

Carpathian village pano

Let the Carpathian mists of research be dispelled…

Tour to Brody and Belz

Lada guided us in Brody and Belz with determination to achieve all the goals we set for ourselves, while complying with a very tight schedule, and this was done to our satisfaction.

During the tour we asked to visit inside Brody’s ruined synagogue, but it was closed. Lada faced the challenge, located the man with the key who opened the synagogue for us and we entered it.

Throughout the tour, she demonstrated in-depth knowledge of Jewish heritage in Ukraine and neighboring countries, as well as comprehensive knowledge of general history and culture.

The plan we set out for ourselves included long car journeys, but throughout the journeys we heard from her lectures on topics of our interest, addressing a multitude of questions we asked.

One of the special things for us – the whole tour was in Hebrew.

Many thanks, Lada, for the fascinating tour.

Haim Wainrach

Genealogical research in the Zhytomyr Archives

We’ve just got thank you letter from Sylvia after our research in the Zhytomyr (Zhtiomir) archives.

Thank you so much for the family tree you’ve created plus data spreadsheet produced for our family. 

We’re absolutely amazed and delighted that you’ve managed to find so much information. We had no idea the research was going to be so successful.

It’s truly fantastic and so much more than we could have hoped for.


Sylvia Sheridan

Hertfordshire, UK

It’s we who should thank you! / Tomasz

“The Barn”: production of a documentary movie


If it weren’t for Tomasz’s expertise our recent trip to Ukraine would not have been possible. Through incredible hard work, unparalleled knowledge and only a small amount of information with which to begin, Tomasz was able to find what we were certain no longer existed; A barn that had been a hiding spot for 18 Jews during the Holocaust. He was wonderfully helpful during pre-production and once we arrived in Ukraine helped organize scheduling, transport, security and interviews. He is an exceptional guide and a wonderful person to be around. We can’t recommend him highly enough.

Thank you Tomasz!

Alexis Fishman & Phil Berger

New York

A report from our tour in Galicia

How Ukraine recognizes its Jewish past? Check a report from one of our tours on National Council on Public History.

New Season of Finding Your Roots

Starting from October 3rd PBS will broadcast the new season of Finding Your Roots.

Jewish Family Search has contributed to one of the episodes through extensive research on Jewish and general records from Vyzhnytsia (Wiznitz) in the State Archives of the Chernivtsy Region.

Trip with Ruth Ellen Gruber

Ruth Ellen Gruber has posted a full report from our 2-day “reconnaissance” trip in Galicia. Read also her post about new tourist signage in Brody.

Jewish Cemetery in Shchyrets

Jewish Cemetery in Shchyrets – almost unaccessible in summer due to overgrown bushes.