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How can I find the town my ancestor was from?

  • Especially in smaller towns, it was common for brides and grooms to come from different towns, most often nearby towns.  
    • It was more common for marriages to occur in the wife’s hometown. Sometimes, the couple would have a child or two in the town of marriage and move to another nearby town several years into the marriage. 
    • Accordingly, it will often be necessary to research records from a region – not simply a town – to find members of a family.
  • JRI-Poland offers several tools for researching records in a region.  
    • JRI-Poland’s Search utility reports results by gubernia (or województwo) and, within each gubernia or województwo, by town. (Note, however, that nearby towns may be located in an adjacent gubernia or województwo.)
    • JRI-Poland’s Search Distribution Mapper offers the option of searching for a surname in all towns in Poland, with the search results displayed on a map showing the number of hits per town for the surname.
    • JRI-Poland’s Search utility also offers the option of searching for records with a shared surname in towns within a specified radius of a given town.
  • JewishGen offers two utilities that can be used to identify nearby towns.  
    • The JewishGen Communities Database,  which includes information about 6,000 Jewish communities in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, allows a search for a town by name. Clicking the JewishGen logo next to the town’s name yields a list of nearby Jewish communities (i.e., communities within 30 miles). 
    • The JewishGen Gazetteer contains the names of one million localities in 54 countries in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Each locality is linked to a list of all locations within a 10-mile radius and to a map showing nearby towns.
Updated on November 21, 2020

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