Families are both places of personal destiny and repositories of multi-generational traditions and values. They also offer a point of reference for one’s own life. This is probably what leads so many people to preoccupy themselves with their stories. In the following sections, we’ve put together a list of the most important digital tools for researching Jewish family fates in Frankfurt. These will help you get started on your own research. But bear in mind: family stories always mean leaps through time and space. Generations overlap, drift apart, or are lost entirely. Due to their many branches, families are seldom located in a single place. And so if you want to research beyond Frankfurt, you can find additional tips here.
In our Infobank Judengasse, you can learn all about life in the oldest Jewish ghetto in Europe, Frankfurt’s Judengasse. The german-english website includes short articles on topics such as houses and the families living in them; individual persons and their descendants; professions and the most important events in the history of the Judengasse.
A Genealogical Study of Frankfurt’s Jews
In 1907, Alexander Dietz published his Stammbuch der Frankfurter Juden (The Jewish Community of Frankfurt: A Genealogical Study 1349–1849). Comprising nearly 500 pages, it contains the history of Jewish families in Frankfurt from 1349 to 1849. The book provides information about professions, family relationships, places of residence, growth in the Jewish population, and much more. It’s here that we learn that Anne Frank’s ancestor, Süßkind Stern, worked as a jeweler and money changer. The Study is available here, digitally and in German.
Ele Toldot – Memorial Book for Frankfurt’s Jews
In addition to the Genealogical Study, it’s worth perusing the Ele Toldot, the directory of Frankfurt Jews from 1241 to 1830. The manuscript, typewritten and in German, contains personal details and information on Jewish life in Frankfurt dating back to the thirteenth century as well as a list of (compulsory) baptisms. The author Schlomo Ettlinger, himself a Frankfurt native, consulted original documents from the Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt (Institute for the History of Frankfurt) for his directory. Ettlinger’s manuscript is now at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), but it can also be viewed online.
Registry Books, Main Civil Status Registers, and Residents’ Registration Documents
The Frankfurt registry books and main civil status registers provide information on births in the years 1851–1898, marriages from 1851–1928, and deaths from 1851–1958. The Institute for the History of Frankfurt has made them all accessible online. The Frankfurt residents’ registration documents, which are incomplete, are also located here and have not as yet been digitized. If you have the home address of the person you’re looking for, however, you can request information from these documents via email.
Anyone interested in learning where Jewish families lived or had their businesses, doctor’s offices, etc. will find what they are searching for in the Frankfurt Directories. An updated edition appeared annually from 1834 to 1943, all of which are digitally available. The Directories reveal, for example, that Anne Frank’s grandfather moved his "Michael Frank Private Bank" many times. The Directories also provide information about the eviction of Jewish Frankfurt residents from homes and businesses, as well as their flight and displacement during the National Socialist era.
Personal Records of Jewish Families
The Center for Jewish History Digital Collections is an online source for family archives and personal papers of Jewish individuals, including many with a tie to Frankfurt. They offer personal insight into everyday family life. In addition to official documents, they often also contain personal letters, memoirs, photographs, and cookbooks. There is also a small collection from the Stern family, Anne Frank’s ancestors.