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Jewish Genealogy Biography
A biography is a history of a person’s life. In a biography you may find the individual’s birth, marriage, and death information and the names of his or her parents, spouse, children, or other family members. Biographies can include descriptions of family traditions, places where he or she has lived, military service, and activities within the community; stories; photographs; and clues about an ancestor’s place of origin. Use this information carefully because there may be inaccuracies.
Biographies are divided into two types: individual and compiled. In addition to general biographies, which often include Jews, there are also Jewish specific biographies.
Thousands of biographies have been written about specific people; copies may be at local historical societies and libraries. Public libraries have lists of published biographies for many countries. See the "Biography" Wiki article for a country.
The Family History Library has acquired some individual biographies. These are listed in the Surname Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under the individual’s name. Also contact other family members for unpublished life histories they may know of.
Compiled biographies, sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries, contain biographical sketches that have been collected and published. These are generally collected according to a particular theme, such as prominent individuals in a particular country, state, or county. One example is:
Other compiled biographies are for specific professions (such as: The Courts and Lawyers of New Jersey, 1661–1912) or other themes.
Jewish specific biographies include biographies of prominent or well-known Jewish citizens of a particular country. Others feature biographies of specific groups of people such as:
Examples of biographical collections of Jews compiled by location include:
Many major libraries, including the Family History Library, have excellent collections and indexes of national and regional compiled biographies. These libraries can help you locate additional biographical sources listed in published bibliographies. To find biographies at the Family History Library, check the FamilySearch Catalog.
You can also find biographical information in local histories and encyclopedias and dictionaries. See Jewish History and Jewish Encyclopedias and Dictionaries and for other countries and states you are researching.