- Reading tombstone Hebrew - Reading the Hebrew on a tombstone could be very helpful, since it will often give you dates of demise, father’s name or other relationships. JewishGen has an excellent site which will explain how this is done.
- Networking - One of the most helpful strategies I have utilized is to finding relatives who have already done a lot of research and are willing to share information with you. There’s always someone in the family who’s done genealogy and can’t wait to find an interested family member.
- Create or join a web site - Most people attracted to genealogy search via internet. If you have a basic family tree on line, you’ll be surprised how many long lost relatives will find you. It’s inexpensive and not that hard to create your own web site, but if that is a barrier, join the many free on line sites that offer family tree uploading. Having your own web site is a way you can preserve your family history after you’re gone, as someone in the family undoubtedly could be trusted to maintain the site.
- Publicize your surnames - Upload your family tree or surnames to frequently visited web sites, from which possible relatives may contact you. This includes JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) and Family Tree of the Jewish People, both of which are quite inexpensive to use. Other free or inexpensive sites include Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, Geni.com and/or FamilySearch.org website. Research these sites and choose what appeals to you.
- Record, record, record - Use genealogical software to develop your family tree. You could record it with pen and paper, but soon you end up with piles of paper, notes, and confusing indecipherable scribbling. A good software program allows you to record names, trees, photos, video, sound, images, stories of all kinds, etc. You can quickly see relationships and areas where you need to do more research. Most of these programs also allow you to upload family trees to their web sites free of charge. Family Tree Maker is fairly inexpensive and Myheritage.com is free of charge for less than 250 people, but there are many, many more that can suit anyone’s needs.
- Scan photos and documents - Photos and documents are quite fragile and need to be preserved in an acid free environment. Store them in dark, cool areas in acid free sheets, ideally in a fire-proof, water-proof container, like a safe. However, scanners are cheap and easy to use and while scanning may be more labor intensive, you’ll be able to preserve your cherished material more reliably and share it more easily. You know those vital records that took so long to acquire and cost you, why don’t you scan them also for future study by your descendants. Of course, label all photos.
- BACK UP - Back up all this important information. I have 2 external hard drives, which are fairly cheap, voluminous and easy to use, and I also back up to a DVD, which you could share with members of your family. Some like to upload to free online sites in the ”cloud” and these are numerous. One good thing about an online site is that it’s available to your entire family or any one else you designate at any time.
- Write a family genealogy book - This may seem daunting but software has made that fairly easy to do and self-publishing is reasonably inexpensive. These books could be copyrighted and deposited in the Library of Congress. There are Jewish organizations, like the Center for Jewish History in NYC, YIVO (for Eastern European Jewish research), the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation and the Yeshiva University museum. There are numerous other organizations which will archive your information. You may even want to share your history with several organizations.