Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Adding the Numbers to Ethnic and Religious Research?

Where to Begin
In 1900 there were 934 Hungary born persons captured in the Missouri census. This number increased to 11,141 by 1910. What would cause such a dramatic increase in the Hungarian population in 10 years? The 1910 census also records that almost 8500 of these Hungary born residents lived in St. Louis and over 400 of them were living in Kansas City, Missouri (Jackson County). Numeric studies like this using Archives.com, Ancestry.com or Familysearch.org may help you trace your ancestor’s migratory path.

Since I was tracing a Hungarian Jewish family from Ohio to Kansas City, I repeated this analysis for Ohio which led me to the Western Reserve Historical Society at the Cleveland Jewish Archivefrom the Feinstein Jewish Center at Temple University  which held vertical files on my subject.

Concentrate Your Research
The idea is to narrow your search to the most likely city/town and repository that may hold documents on your ancestor. Of course this is of most importance when you are tracing a particular ethnicity or an ancestor from a specific religious sector (i.e. Jewish, Catholic, etc).

Another key is to know the endonyms so you don’t overlook local or community based records (i.e. Magyar / Hungary)

A Few Missouri Resources
Kansas City is not a genealogical goldmine of Hungarian immigrant research archives or collections, but it is rich in local Jewish historical documents. So before perusing the JewishGen.org website, focus your research locally. Be sure to reference this source.

Here are a few of the repositories I researched for this project:
The Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library, St. Louis houses a collection of more than 22,000 books. “The Archives holds historical records of secular and religious institutions, family and personal memoirs, business records and local Jewish newspapers”(From the website).

The University of Missouri, Kansas City is a great repository to begin your Jewish historical documents.   Jewish Community Archives of Greater Kansas City. Be sure to visit the Index of Papers and Holdings.

If visiting Kansas City, you may also wish to add the Self Guided Automobile Tour of Contemporary and Historic Jewish Sites in Greater Kansas City.  

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

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