printer icon Print this Page

This Website was paid for by - Auer Endowment -

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

Eastern European Guide

How to Begin

Until the fall of the Iron Curtain and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, genealogical research in portions of eastern and southeastern Europe remained at best a daunting task. The changing political climate has led to the opening of more records, making genealogical research feasible for the first time in countries where it was impossible only a short time ago. Microfilming efforts by the Genealogical Society of Utah have begun in some areas, while new guidebooks and periodicals have appeared to assist with research in unfamiliar languages and record groups.

To begin research in Eastern Europe, one must first determine the birth date of the immigrant and his or her exact place of origin. If the ancestor was a 20th century immigrant, passenger lists will usually list the town. For earlier arrivals, the genealogist may need to consult family Bibles, church records (especially marriage and burial registers), newspaper obituaries, and county histories, as well as interview living family members, for clues.

After determining the name of the country and specific place of origin, the researcher will need to become familiar with the major record groups and resources for the country of interest. The sources listed in this pathfinder are designed to assist with that search.

^ Back to Top

Using the Department Catalogs

There are several ways of locating material on Eastern European genealogy in the online catalog. The best strategy is to check the catalog under the specific country or locality to determine the availability of sources.

The "International" drawers in the Microtext Card Catalog contain other European references and sources; check under the name of the country or ethnic group (such as Jewish records). The PERiodical Source Index, available online, offers an article index to many periodicals with an eastern European focus.

The Genealogy Department owns few primary source materials for Eastern Europe. Some vital records and census returns for the German colonies of Russia and Ukraine may be found by searching under the keywords "Bessarabia," "Gluckstal,” and "Saratov” in the online catalog. For more in-depth research, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City offers records for many areas. The Family History Library Catalog is available online at . Here one can find a variety of church and civil records for towns in Eastern Europe. These microfilmed records can be borrowed from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City to use in the Historical Genealogy Department for a modest handling fee.

^ Back to Top


The following books offer general assistance for research in various countries in Eastern Europe and should be the first place the researcher should look before examining the records of that country. Many of the guides center around certain religious denominations, usually Roman Catholic or Jewish.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ostdeutschen Familienforscher. Genealogical Guide to German Ancestors from East Germany and Eastern Europe. Neustadt, Germany: Verlag Degener, 1984. /Gc 929 G2805/ Gives overview of German sources in Poland, Baltic states, Russia, and southeastern Europe.

Baxter, Angus. In Search of Your European Roots. 3rd ed. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001. /Gc 929 B33ic 2001/ Contains sections on some countries not covered in other sources.

Brandt, Edward R. Resources from Polish-American and Polish-Canadian Genealogical Research. 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: E. R. Brandt, 1998. /Gc 929 B73re/

Chorzempa, Rosemary A. Polish Roots=Korzenie Polskie. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993. /Gc 929 C45p/ Includes research methology, glossary, addresses, and sample letters in Polish.

Daraska, Jessie E. Resources for Lithuanian Genealogy Research. Chicago: Balzekas Museum, 1994. /Gc 929 D24r/ Bibliography of sources in museum collection.

Eterovich, Adam S. Guide to Croatian Genealogy. San Carlos, CA: Ragusan Press, 1995. /Gc 929.19 Et26g/ Basic introduction.

Ference, Gregory Curtis. Chronology of 20th-Century Eastern European History. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc., 1994. /947 C46/ In Reader’s Services Dept.

Frazin, Judith R. A Translation Guide to 19th-century Polish-language and Civil Registration Documents: Birth, Marriage, and Death Records. 2nd ed. Northbrook, IL: Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, 1989. /Gc 943.8 F86t/ Gives tips on deciphering script and includes glossary for 9th century documents.

Hoskins, Janina W. Polish Genealogy and Heraldry: An Introduction to Research. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1990 /Gc 929 H787p/ Includes gazetteers, an overview of archival sources, lists of Polish addresses, and an extensive bibliography.

Kezerian, Nephi K. Genealogy for Armenians: A Book Project of the Armenian Genealogical Society. Provo, UT: The Armenian Genealogical Society, 1995. /Gc 929.19 K525ge/

Krasner-Khait, Barbara. Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors. North Salt Lake City, UT: Heritage Quest, 2001. /Gc 929.102 J55kras/

Kona, William. Slovak Genealogy. s.l.: W. Kona, 1988. /Gc 929 K827s/ Shows coats of arms and has bibliography, though not as thorough as Wellauer listed below.

Maldonado, Sigrid. Estonian Experience and Roots: Ethnic Estonian Genealogy with Historical

Perspectives, Social Influences and Possible Family History Resources. Fort Wayne: AS WAS

Publications, 1996. /929 M2ge/ Good overview with examples from author's family.

Mokotoff, Gary. How to Document Victims and Locate Survivors of the Holocaust. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1995. /Gc 929.102J55mo/ Best available guide.

Ortell, Gerald A. Polish Parish Records of the Roman Catholic Church: Their Use and Understanding in Genealogical Research. Rev. ed. Buffalo Grove, IL: Genun Publishers, 1984. /Gc929 Or8p/Detailed overview of Catholic records, with glossary of terms.

Researching Lithuanian Ancestral Towns. Chicago: Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, 1995. /Gc 947.5 R311/ Brief overview with history of administrative divisions since 1219.

Schlyter, Daniel M. A Handbook of Czechoslovak Genealogical Research. 2nd ed. Buffalo Grove, IL: Genun Publishers, 1990. /Gc 929 Sch3h/ Good overview of research in what is now the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Includes addresses.

_________. Poland/Prussia: How to Find Vital Records of Former Prussian Areas of Poland in the Genealogical Library. Buffalo Grove, IL: Genun Publishers, 1982. /Gc 929 P75/

Shea, Jonathan D. Address List for Roman Catholic Churches in Lithuania: A Guide for the Family History Researcher. Milford, CT: Language and Lineage Press, 1995. /Gc 947.5 Sh31a/ Arranged by diocese and deanery, then town. The introduction explains the Polish alphabet.

_________. In Their Words: A Genealogist’s Translation Guide to Polish, German, Latin, and

Russian Documents. New Britain, CT: Language & Lineage Press, 2000-. /Gc 929 Sh3in/

_________. Russian Language Documents from Russian Poland: A Translation Manual for Genealogists. 2nd ed. Buffalo Grove, IL: Genun Publishers, 1989. /Gc 929 Sh3r/ Contains extensive glossaries and samples of various records.

Suess, Jared. Central European Genealogical Terminology. Logan, UT: Everton, 1978. /Gc 929 Su24s/ German, Latin, French, and Hungarian terms found in records.

_________. Handy Guide to Hungarian Genealogical Records. Logan, UT: Everton, 1980. /Gc 929 Su24h/ Dated but still useful overview with record samples, biography, and glossary.

Weiner, Miriam. Jewish Roots in Poland: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. Secaucus, NJ: Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation, 1997. /Gc 943.8 W 43j/ Town by town listing of Jewish sources and local history, together with an archival inventory of Jewish documents.

_________. Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova: Pages from the Past and Archival Inventories. Secaucus, NJ: Miriam Weiner Routes to Roots Foundation, 1999. /Gc 947.71 W431j/

Wellauer, Maralyn A. Tracing Your Czech and Slovak Roots. Milwaukee: The Author, 1980. /Gc 929 W45te/ Record samples and bibliography.

^ Back to Top

Passenger Lists

The department's microfilm collection includes ship manifests for major U.S. ports for the 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. Passenger lists from the 20th century offer an important first step in eastern European research.

Avakian, Linda L. Armenian Immigrants: Boston 1891-1901, New York 1880-1897. Camden ME: Picton Press, 1996. /Gc 929.19 Av11a/

Baca, Leo. Czech Immigration Passenger Lists. Richardson, TX: L. Baca, 1983-. 9 vols. /Gc 929.1437 B12c/ Lists Czech arrivals in New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, and Galveston for the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Glazier, Ira A., ed. Migration from the Russian Empire: Lists of Passengers Arriving at the Port of  New York. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995-. vol. 1-6, /Gc 929.19 M588/ Covers immigrants from Russia, 1875 to 1891.

Voultsos, Mary. Greek Immigrant Passengers, 1885-1910. 3 vols. Worcester, MA: The Author, 1992. /Gc 929.1495 V94g/

_________. Index, Greek Immigrant Passengers, Port of Boston, 1902-1906. Worcester, MA: The Author, 1993. /Gc 974.402 B65vo/

^ Back to Top

Maps and Gazetteers

Autoatlas, *Ceská republika, 1:200,000 [Czech Republic Atlas]. Brno, *Ceská Republika: Geodezie Brno, 1999. /Gc 943.71 G29/

Cohen, Chester G. Shtetl Finder: Jewish Communities in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries in the pale of Settlement of Russia and Poland, and in Lithuania, Latvia, Galicia, and Bukovina, and with Names of Residents. Los Angeles: Periday Co., 1980. /Gc 947 C66s/ Alphabetic list of Jewish communities, giving locations and sources where mentioned.

Euro-Travel Atlas 1:2 M/l:4 M: Russia, Baltic States CIS. Maspeth, NY: American Map Corp., 199-. /Gc 947 Eu74/ Includes maps of Russia and the Baltic States with an index of town names.

Gardiner, Duncan B. German Towns in Slovakia and Upper Hungary: A Genealogical Gazetteer. Lakewood, OH: The Author, 1991. /Gc 943.73 G16g/ Gazetteer with maps and bibliography.

Kartografie Praha. Strassenl & Stadte Tschechien, Slowakei:1:200,000. Wien: Freytag & Berndt, 1994. /Gc 943.7St81/ Maps of the Czech Republic and Slovakia with town index.

Mokotoff, Gary. WOWW Companion: A Guide to the Communities Surrounding Central & Eastern European Towns. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1995. /Gc 929 M72wo/ A companion guide to the record below.

_________. and Sallyann Amdur Sack. Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1991. /Gc 929 M72w / Alphabetical listing of towns with coordinates, population, sources of reference, and bibliography.

Podrobny auto atlas, Slovenska republika: 1:100 000 [Slovaki Atlas]. Harmanec: Vojensky Kartograficky Ustav s.p., 1995. /Gc 943.7 V87g/

Rumania! Rumania! Family Finder. Greenwich, CT: Sam Elpern, 1996. /Gc 949.8 R863/ Jewish family names with ancestral towns in Romania, Moldavia and southern Ukraine.

Strassenkarte Polen. Dietzenbach Germany: Höfer Verlag, 1999. /Gc 943.8 St81/ Maps listing both Polish and German town names.

^ Back to Top


Beider, Alexander. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1993. /Gc 929.4 B393d/ Alphabetical listing of Jewish surnames.

__________. Jewish Surnames in Prague (15th-18th Centuries). Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1994. /Gc 943.7 B39j/ Arranged by surname type with a general index.

Guggenheimer, Heinrich W. and Eva H. Guggenheimer. Jewish Family Names and Their Origins: An Etymological Dictionary. Hoboken, NJ: Ktai Publishing House, 1992. /939.4 G93j Reader's Services/ Extensive surname listing arranged alphabetically. Includes Hebrew spellings.

Hoffman, William F. Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings. 2nd ed. Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society of America, 1997. /Gc 948.3 H67p/ Alphabetical list with spelling variants.

Steuart, Bradley, ed. Soundex Daitch-Mokotoff Reference Guide. Bountiful, UT: Precision Indexing, 1994. 2 vols. /Gc 929 So78/ Alphabetical list of thousands of surnames with conventional soundex and the customized 7-digit code specially-adapted for eastern European names.

Unbegaun, B. O. Russian Surnames. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. /Gc 929.4 Un1r/ Narrative format giving histories of names by type. Indexed.

^ Back to Top

Yizkor Books

The Historical Genealogy Department houses a very significant collection of Yizkor books. Yizkor books, or Books of Remembrance, are testaments and histories to the communities, the people and places in Eastern Europe that were destroyed during World War II. These are very important books in Jewish genealogical research, containing pictures, necrologies and histories.

These Yizkor books can be found in the library’s online catalog. The catalog entries typically detail the place of coverage of the book, the original title, English title, publisher, when and where published, the editor of the volume, the language of the book, and the ACPL call number. A challenge in using these books is that the majority of them are written in Hebrew or Yiddish. English sections are limited, covering only at times an introduction, or a short history in the volume. Through efforts within the Jewish Genealogical community, translations are beginning to appear. If not the whole text of the book, the necrologies, table of contents, and indexes are beginning be available to the researcher. Translations not found among the department’s holdings may be found online at the JewishGen site <>.

^ Back to Top

Miscellanous Sources

The researcher will occasionally find compilations of original records, bibliographies, and other usefulmaterials for some areas of eastern Europe. The following is a sampling of some of the more useful.

Brandt, Edward. Contents and Addresses of Hungarian Archives: with Supplementary Material for Research on German Ancestors from Hungary. Minneapolis, MN: The Author, 1992

 /Gc 929.19 B73c/ Survey of major archival sources with historical chronology and genealogical overview.

Connor, Martha R. Germans & Hungarians: 1828 Land Census. 16 vols. Las Vegas, NV: M. R. Connor,1991- /various call numbers/ Please check in catalog. Contains census records for the counties of Szatmar, Baranya, Torontal, Fejer, Tolna, Temes, Bacs Bodrog, and more.

Davison, Mary Lou. Slovenian Genealogy Society's Every Name Master Index: An Every Name Master Index to the Society's Collection of Slovenian Church, Community, and Fraternal Books. Camp Hill, PA: Slovenian Genealogy Society, 1995. /Gc 929.11 D295s vol. 1/ Index of Slovenian- Americans from various Catholic church records in the U.S. Future volumes will index other sources.

Death Books from Auschwitz: Remnants. 3 vols. Muenchen: H. G. Saur, 1995. /Gc 940.5452 D349/ Lists deaths in this Polish concentration camp and includes birth and death dates and European towns of origin for each victim.

Edlund, Thomas K. Parish Index to the Church Books of the Lutheran Consistory at St. Petersburg, 1833-85. St. Paul, MN: Germanic Genealogical Society, 1994. /Gc 947 Ed53L/  Inventory only of what Lutheran registers exist for various Russian provinces, including the German colonies.

Frank, Jerry. Germans from Poland and Volhynia: A Research Tool. Calgary, Alberta: The Author, 1993. /Gc 943.8 F85g/ Directory of Volhynian settler families in Canada with places of origin.

Kazmierczak, Edward A. A Historical Bibliography of Polish Towns, Villages, and Regions (except Warsaw and Krakow). Chicago: Polish Genealogical Society, 1990. /Gc 943.8 K11h/ Selected bibliography arranged alphabetically by town, given both in Polish and English.

Krehbiel, James W. Swiss Russian Mennonite Families before 1874 from the Richelsdorf, Michalin, Eduardsdorf, Horodyszcze, Waldheim, Zahoriz, and Kutusovka Congregations. Elverson, PA: Olde Springfield Shoppe, 1995. /Gc 929.131 K87s/ Genealogical directory of families belonging to Swiss-Mennonite churches in Volhynia.

Magocsi, Paul. Our People: Carpatho-Rusyns and their Descendants in North America. Toronto: Multicultural Historical Society of Ontario, 1984. /Gc 929.147 M27o/ Historical background with list of villages showing present location in Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia.

Mandich, Donald R., and Joseph A. Placek Russian Heraldry and Nobility. Boynton Beach, FL: Dramco Publishers, 1992. /Gc 929.77 M31r/ Thousands of names with illustrations of arms.

Memorial Book: The Gypsies at Auschwitz-Birkenau. New York: K.G. Saur, 1993. /Gc 940.5472 M519/

Rhode, Harold. Jewish Vital Records, Review Lists and Other Jewish Holdings in the Lithuanian Archives. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1996. /Gc 947.5 R34j/ Guide to Jewish sources in Lithuania.

Rosenstein, Neil. Polish Jewish Cemeteries. Elizabeth, NJ: Computer Center for Jewish Genealogy, n.d. /Gc 943.8 R72p/ Alphabetical list by town, giving address, condition, and date of last burial.

Sack, Sallyann A., and Suzan F. Wynne, Russian Consular Records Index and Catalog. New York: Garland, 1987. /Gc 929.19 Sa1r/ Thousands of names found in case files of the pre-1933 Russian consulate in America; includes places of American residence.

Wuschke, Ewald. Protestant Church Records on Microfilm for the Former Congress Poland (1815- 1915) and Volhynia. Vancouver, B.C.: The Author, 1992. /Gc 943.8 W96p/ Lists Protestant records in the Family History Library for Poland, Polish Volhynia and Ukrainian Volhynia.

Zubatsky, David S. and Irwin M. Berent. Sourcebook for Jewish Genealogies and Family Histories. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, 1996. /Gc 929.102 J55z/ Alphabetically arranged by surname.

^ Back to Top