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If you have ancestors who came from the Middle East and are wondering how to find more information about them, FamilySearch is here to help you fill out your Middle East family tree! 

How to Start Your Middle East Family Tree

With such diverse cultures, languages, and histories in the area, how do you start building your Middle East family tree? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Start with what you know. Gather your records and interview your relatives for information that they may have.
  • Check the census and vital records of the area where you know they were living. This can give you clues about their origin.
  • Search national archives. If you know where your ancestors emigrated from, you might be able to find information about them. However, national archives are not available to the public in most Middle East countries, so this may be a difficult path to take in your search.
  • Remember that the millions of available records, especially those from the Ottoman Empire period, are dispersed among the different countries of the area. Start by finding records at your ancestors’ places of birth.
  • Remember that civil government records for the newer nations only begin with their independence. For records prior to independence, your search needs to focus on records kept by local churches and other religious groups. Look for earlier records in the archives of the ruling countries, such as Great Britain, France, and the Ottoman Empire.

Essential Repositories for Middle East Family Tree Research

The Ottoman Empire began keeping records in the 1800s. These records include censuses and personal ID records that give the person’s name, place of birth, and father’s information. The first census in 1831 was a partial census that listed only males. Beginning in 1882, censuses began including information for all citizens and included birth date and place, a description, and family information.

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