SALT LAKE CITY–A valuable resource for Jewish genealogical research has expanded to include records from all over the world. The popular Knowles Collection from FamilySearch is a free database connecting Jewish records of 115,000 people in 30 countries. The combining of those records into one collection makes it easier for researches to find family sources.

“One of the biggest problems with Jewish records is that they are held all over the place and one person can have records in multiple locations,” FamilySearch research consultant and the collection’s manager, Todd Knowles, said. “That means someone just starting to research their Jewish ancestry will have to drive from archive to archive and from synagogue to synagogue to find what they are looking for. What this collection does is put all the records in one location, which is an incredible time and cost savings for patrons.”

Knowles started the database in 2007 to help him find his own Jewish ancestry. The collection began with 6,500 records from the British Isles, but has now rapidly expanded into five geographically-based databases with over 115,000 names: 

  • The Jews of the British Isles                (82,000 names)
  • The Jews of the Americas                   (10,300 names)
  • The Jews of Europe                             (18,697 names)
  • The Jews of the Caribbean                 (2,200 names)
  • The Jews of Africa and the Orient      (367 names)

              The Knowles Collection is compiled from over 200 different sources that have been transcribed and combined by volunteers. There is also a complete list of where the original records can be found. The entire collection is now linked electronically as families and fully searchable on FamilySearch’s Community Trees project, found at Researchers can also download GEDCOM versions of each collection from

              According to Knowles, much of the growth of the collection is due to the continued donations of family records by people throughout the world.

              “We have received donations from families in the British Isles, Germany, Russia, Jamaica, and many places in the United States,” Knowles said. “We also have a great collection of synagogue records from Mattersdorf, Hungary, as well as burial records from Charleston, South Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana. It seems as word spreads, more and more custodians of these types of records want to be involved by donating copies of their related work to help expand the collection. ”

              Those interested in donating their Jewish family records to the Knowles Collection can contact Todd Knowles at [email protected]


              FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.