About the Institute

The Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute at the Center for Jewish History was established in 2007 with generous support from Lawrence and Ronnie Ackman, William and Karen Ackman, and Simon and Hope Ziff.  The intention was to tap into the vast archival records of the Center’s five historic and cultural partners, in order to assist novice, academic, and professional researchers in reconnecting with ancestors and living relatives.

Today, the Institute provides access to a wealth of genealogical resources (see below) through the Center for Jewish History’s partner collections and the Institute’s extensive reference collection, online databases, and a variety of research guides for the beginner and the seasoned researcher.

Available Resources

  • An open-stack reference collection that includes how-to books, name dictionaries, gazetteers, historical atlases, guides to translating vital records, newsletters of Jewish genealogical societies, and directories of family history resources around the world.
  • Onsite access to online databases, such as Ancestry Library Edition, Fold3 (formerly called Footnote), American Jewish Newspapers (ProQuest), Jewish Data, World Biographical Information System, ProQuest Historical Newspapers (including New York Times and Washington Post),  and other subscription genealogy databases.
  • The Center for Jewish History’s  Reading Room, which is adjacent to the Genealogy Institute, offers open-stack reference material, including biographical dictionaries, Pinkas Hakehillot and other Holocaust reference works, general histories, gazetteers, and a variety of encyclopedias.
  • The collections of the Center’s five partner institutions, which include family histories, memoirs, newspapers, correspondence and personal papers, as well as records of communal, cultural, political and professional organizations. Among these sources are many documents that can provide information about individuals, families, and towns. A significant portion of the genealogy resources within the partner collections are either rare or unique to the Center. You may search across the collections of all five partner institutions at search.cjh.org.
  • More than 2,000 microfilms and microfiches on long-term loan from the Church of Latter-Day Saints’ Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Material on loan is predominantly comprised of Jewish records from Eastern and Central Europe. It also includes the German Minority Census of 1938, Philadelphia HIAS records, Russian Consular records and indexes, and New York City birth and death record indexes. For a complete list of Family History Library microfilms and microfiches on loan at the Center, please click here. For instructions on how to order microfilm or microfiche not currently on loan, so that you may view it at the Center, please click here.
  • A series of guides on family history research that highlight resources found only at the Center. These research guides cover a wide range of subjects in Jewish genealogy, including how to get started with your family history research, how to find both U.S. and foreign records, and special-interest topics, such as rabbinical genealogy and Holocaust research.
  • Nine public access computers and eight digital microfilm readers.
  • Skilled librarians and volunteers who will guide you to the most relevant resources and answer your genealogy research inquiries. Please note that the average response time to inquiries sent via e-mail is 1-2 weeks.