Below are frequently asked questions and answers, which will help you get started on your Romanian genealogy research. After reviewing this page, then there are many resources and references to review under the Research tab.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are we?
The JewishGen Romania Research Division (formerly Rom-SIG) is a group of genealogists and researchers exploring the lives and experiences of Jewish ancestors and relatives who lived in Romania.
Our goal is to acquire, transcribe, translate, and share historical records of genealogical value to the descendants of Romanian Jews. We are always looking for more volunteers and would welcome any and all additional support!
What territories do we cover?
We cover much of modern-day Romania, specifically including the Eastern, Northern, and Southern regions of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bukovina. A detailed summary of the Romanian regions can be reviewed here.
Due to historical border changes, there are certain regions that are generally not the focus of this group. Specifically, this group generally does not focus on:
Parts of modern-day Romania that were formerly part of Hungary (e.g., Transylvania).
Former Romanian territories that are currently part of the Republic of Moldova (e.g., Bessarabia).
For those territories, please refer, respectively, to the Hungarian Research Division or the Bessarabia Research Division.
I only know my family came from Romania, but not the town. Where do I begin?
Knowing your family came from Romania is a good start, but Romania is made up of many different territories that have diverging histories. Some of modern-day Romania was formerly part of Hungary, Austria, or the Ottoman Empire. Some of former Romania is now part of Ukraine and Moldova. So an important first step is identifying the town of origin. To do so, you should begin your search by:
Searching your family's surname in the JewishGen Romania database.
Joining the Romania Research Division Facebook group.
Subscribing and sending a message to the JewishGen mailing list.
Using other introductory sources, including the vastly popular Facebook groups Tracing the Tribe and Jewish Genealogy Portal.
Searching on commercial websites including Ancestry.com (subscription), FamilySearch.org (free), and MyHeritage.com (subscription). Documents such as naturalization (citizenship) records, ship records, military records, and death records might identify the town of origin.
Identifying where your ancestors are buried. Many Jews were buried in cemetery sections organized by landsmanshaftn, which were mutual aid organizations that supported individuals from a common town of origin.
Submitting a DNA test to one of the commercial sites and reviewing DNA matches.
Asking older relatives.
I know where my family is from, what records are available on JewishGen?
The records that have been made from Romania are available here, where you can see the different Romania-related collections. For more information on the records that have been made available on JewishGen, as well as on other sites, head to the Research tab.
Are there records from the Holocaust?
JewishGen has a very significant database that includes Holocaust records, which is available here. There are also many additional Holocaust databases that are important to search. These include: Yad Vashem's database, the US Holocaust Museum's database, and the database of the International Tracing Service.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently working on the following, among others:
Iasi birth, marriage and death records (contact Town Leader Dana Lugassy)
Bucharest marriage and cemetery records (contact Town Leader Rahel Eynan)
Historical English-language newspapers articles (go here)
Soldier lists, sudit lists and more
What is available in Romania? Should I hire a local researcher?
It depends. A significant factor is which part of Romania you are searching and what is the time period. In general, for parts of Romania that were part of Moldavia and Wallachia (areas in the east, such as Iasi, and south, such as Bucharest), vital records begin in the 1860s, before which there are very sparse vital records. Nonetheless, other record sets might survive from towns, such as census-type lists, or other records like those documenting foreign subjects (more on that here). In parts of Romania that were formerly Bukovina or Hungary, you might find earlier records, as those locations generally had separate Jewish registers, many of which have survived.
A local researcher may be able to go to the local archives and get records for you, which are not available online. Before doing so, though, you should consult with JewishGen regarding the availability of records, and you should also look at the Research tab to see if records might be available elsewhere online. JewishGen contains a list of recommended professional researchers as well, available here.
How can I help?
We are always looking for volunteers. This includes:
Transcribers and translators
Record acquisition coordinators
And anything else you might want to help with!
You can sign up to volunteer here. And of course, you can make a donation to the Romania Research Division. We are fully volunteer-run, and all projects are funded based on generous donor contributions. We thank all our donors for their continued support of the Romania Research Division, JewishGen, and all efforts to promote Jewish genealogy! Donate here.