There are many kinds of documents
used in genealogical research. The information we find on
them enables us to trace our ancestors back for many generations.
In my research of the Geffen family, I have been fortunate
to be able to use documemts from Israel, Lithuania and the
Most important for the Geffen family research, were the documents
we received from the archives in Vilnius. It was from these
documents that we have been able to put together the beginning
of the tree. Our documents came directly from the archives.
However, now anyone can go into the All Lithuanian Database
on the Internet and search these documents. Click
here to see a translation excerpt from one of our documents
from the 1858 census for Vilkomir. If you go into the
All Lithuanian Database, you will be able to see the data
corresponding to ours.
One of the first documents I look for here for a deceased
ancestor is the application for Social Security. This application
gives the applicants name, place of birth and names of parents.
To me this has always been an important document as it is
filled out by the person himself.
We have been very fortunate that we were able to obtain so
many of the actual registers from Lithuania. In the very near
future more records will be available.
Death certificates provide a great deal of information that
open doors as to where to look for many other research sources.
Petitions for Naturalization are one of the many forms an
immigrant fills out to begin the process of applying for citizenship.
Of all the various naturalization papers, the petition provides
the most information for family history projects.
The immigrants name, birth date and birth place are given
along with the same information for the immigrants spouse
Another important piece of information given is the date that
the immigrant landed in America and aboard what ship he arrived.
This information enables one to then find the ship's manifest
and learn who else came with the immigrant, in what city he
arrived, and who was his sponsor or person he was "going
In addition to the documents shown on this page, we find a
great deal of information from marriage applications, birth
certificates, census records, manifests, INS files, cemetery
records and many more.
Documents to me are the core of researching family histories.
|This Social Security
application was for a cousin of mine. You can clearly
see the names of his parents, his birth date and where
he was born. In this case he wrote , Russia. Many times
the applicant will write the exact town name and Vilkomir
appeared on many of
of a Social Security application that says that Samuel
Henry Geffen was born in Wilkomeriz (Vilkomir) in 1902.
These documents many times enable us to put together families
from the names of the parents on the applications.
|This birth record
was found in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives
It says that Hirsch Gefen, son of Josel Leibovich Gefen
and his wife Kuna Noah Manova was born August 24, 1879
in Kovno, Lithuania.
It also says that Josel was a merchant from the Vilenskiy
District, Boguslav Region.
The ritual of circumcision was performed by Josel Vizkin
|This death certificate
was for the brother of my great grandmother. It tells
us that Jacob Samuel Geffen was the son of Moishe Aharon
and Edith Geffen. (From my great grandmother's death certificate
I learned the name of "Edith" was in reality,
Ita Feiga Popkovich.)
The death date was October 25, 1896 in Shandaken, New
York. It gives Jacob's occupation as a peddler. It says
that he lived in Shandaken for seven years which tells
me he arrived there in 1889. It also tells me that he
came to America in 1885.
|This petition for
Naturalization was for Samuel Geffen. It states that he
arrived in America in 1913 and resided in the state of
Massachusetts since 1918. The petition is dated January
The petition also states that Smauel was born in Wilkomir
in September of 1896. He came to America via Liverpool,
London and arrived in New York aboard the vessel Majestic
on about the 26th of December 1913.
We also learn from the petition the names of two sons
born before 1924, their birthdates and where they were