New research tool developed for Chicago-area Jewish genealogy

Family history researchers whose Jewish ancestors lived in the Chicago area will be interested in exploring the new free online searchable JGSI Jewish Chicago Database (JJCD). The Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois has expanded its existing database of Chicago-area cemetery burial information to include several other useful collections of information with the total number of records now more than 80,000.

To access the JJCD, go to Family history researchers can search the entire database or limit their search to a single component of the full database.

The cemetery information in the JGSI Jewish Chicago Database comprises entries that often include date of death, date of birth and plot location numbers within Chicago-area cemeteries.
Among the additions to the newly expanded database are:

  • Memorial plaque transcriptions and photos from two Chicago synagogues: B’nai Zion-Shaare Tikvah and Lawn Manor Beth Jacob Congregation. These entries often include date of death and transcription of the deceased person’s Hebrew name.
  • Intake reports from the Drexel Home for the Jewish Aged, which was founded in 1891, that record dates of birth and death, cemetery of burial and photos of the handwritten reports, which often include other useful information such as place of birth, year of immigration and names of relatives.
  • Death notices published in the JUF News from 1994 to 2005. These full-text listings include date of death, names of relatives, funeral home, cemetery and other information.
  • An index with date of birth and date of death information extracted from Chicago Tribune death notices published in the latter half of the 1990s.

JGSI volunteers are continuing to work to add further valuable Chicagoland research data to the JGSI Jewish Chicago Database. Database information is still being processed from two Chicago orphanages: the Chicago Jewish Orphans Home, which operated from 1894 to 1942, and the Marks Nathan Jewish Orphan Home, which operated from 1906 to 1948.

If you wish to volunteer for this effort or other JGSI projects, please email

The JJCD project was conceived by Mike Karsen, JGSI past president, with the ultimate objective of combining all possible Chicago-area Jewish genealogical data. A compilation of frequently asked questions related to the JGSI Jewish Chicago Database, created by JGSI webmaster Ron Miller, can be found at

For more information about the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, see