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Personal data about virtually every Jew buried in the once-important Jewish community of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, circa 1240 to 1900, is recorded in the German-language publication Ele Toldot (These are the generations) by the late Shlomo Ettlinger, a post-World War II Jewish resident of that city. A 10,000-name compilation (dating from 1240 to 1830) now is online at the website of the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI), http://www.lbi.org, which owns one of the six known (non-identical) sets of this work. Two sets are available in Frankfurt, one at the Jewish Museum and one at the Institute für Stadtgeschichte. Three other sets are in Jerusalem, one at the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, and two others at the Jewish National and University Library. The LBI collection dates only to 1830; the books with data for the years 1830 to 1901 may be found in Frankfurt and in Jerusalem. Even for those who read German, however, use of the online version remains dauntingly complicated. This article describes how to navigate through the website.

Ele Toldot

Ele Toldot is a set of 38 books, plus another 21 Registerbände (Name registers), plus the A and D Nacträge (Postscript) books, and a few others. A separate page is devoted to each individual. Ettlinger amassed his data from tombstones in the old Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt, and many other sources. Initially, he wrote a separate file card for each stone. He typed pages for the book from the cards, made notes on various pages, and then retyped it all to create a newer version, possibly more than once. Hence the different and slightly variant six sets. Figure 1 shows a page from an Israel version showing some handwritten notes. In addition to data from the tombstones, Ettlinger also included information about conversions to Christianity (and then, in some cases, back to Judaism when it was safe to be Jewish again), as well as some miscellaneous additional data.

[Editor’s Note: Shlomo Ettlinger (1889 – 1964) was a Frankfurt lawyer. As a Jew, he was not allowed to be active career during the Nazi era.So he turned inquiringly to the history of the Frankfurt Jews.When he was forced to emigrate in 1937 he led this work in Israel on. After the war he lived for a time back in Frankfurt, where he devoted himself to his research until his death. Ettlinger evaluated comprehensively from historical sources to capture descent, marriage, death date, homes limitation all Jews of Frankfurt to the 19th century. With the help of Ettlingers work “Ele Toldot” it is possible to identify not only the historically important, but back to the late Middle Ages almost all the Frankfurt Jews individually. The data for each person each on a leaf. Too many volumes bound (demonstrating together two meters of shelf space), this work is a vivid testament to the tremendous hard work of the researcher. The originals are in the Frankfurt city archives, copies of the Jewish Museum and the City and University Library. Ettlingers work impressed primarily by its quantity. As a source, it is also for the specialized science of meaning. The entries of this Infobank are often based on the research results of Ettlinger. http://www.judengasse.de/dhtml/sources.htm (accessed 2015-01-18)]


How to Access the Data

To retrieve Ele Toldot from LBI’s home page, www.lbi.org, click on the word “Library” located on the left side of the home page. When the next page appears, scroll down to “On-line Catalog.” Click on “Title” and then type in the keyword Ele Toldot and click on “Go.” The words Ele Toldot will appear with the information that it is in the Archives. Click on the words “LBI Archives.” This opens a page with a long URL, http://digital.cjh.org:1801/webclient /DeliveryManager?pid=258967. Click on the address; after the user agrees to abide by LBI restrictions, the data appears. All data is in the form of PDF files with each PDF file containing many pictures of pages of the collection. The data is digitized only to a PDF format. Because of the way the pages are written, it has not been read with a character recognition program which would permit a search for a particular word. Thus, one cannot search the data for a name or combination of letters as is done for some articles or books.

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Another way to find the data is to type in www.lbi.org/ mclinkpage.htm, which produces the LBI catalog. Click on “Search Digital Images,” then click on “Digitized Collections.” Click on Ele Toldot and then on the little square next to the word “Object.”

Next Steps

Access is only the beginning of the process, not the end. An abbreviated Table of Contents appears on the left and the data on the right. This may present problems for many researchers since, except for an introductory paragraph, all material is in German. Since the names are written in Latin letters, however, most researchers likely will be able to find a specific person even knowing only a few words which are similar to English. The most important are Haus (house); Vater (father); Mutter (mother); Kinder (children); ver. (for verheirat—married) and Bmkg (for Bermerkung—comment). Once the correct page is found, those who do not know German may want to find someone to translate the details of the material.

Some sections include more than 300 pages in one PDF file. As a result, several minutes may be needed for a web page to appear on the screen; patience is required. It appears that the original books simply were photographed in sequence and then each book (or section of a book) was placed in a PDF file. Thus, a researcher must scroll down to find a desired name, just as one would leaf through a book to find the correct page. No way exists to jump directly to a specific name. Instead, the user must follow a two-step process.

First find the desired name. Once this is done, note that the desired name likely is subsumed under another name. From this point on, the search will be done under the second name. Ettlinger grouped together given names that ordinarily are not thought to be related. For example, under Jehuda, Ettinger listed Arje, Lejb, Dejb, Jeduah, Juda, Judas, Judhe, Lejme, Löw, Liebman, Jidel, Lejme, Judle, Judman, Lyon, Zekle, Zeligman, Lejbes, Zelkle, Juddel, Lewe, Lejwe, Leb, Zelke, Liberman, Judlen, Leopold, and Justus. A search for any of these names will be done by searching under Jehuda.

All the Ele Toldot web pages are in the form of a vertically divided screen. The right side of the screen (right window) has the data. The left side of the screen (left window) has a list of the categories (somewhat like a table of contents) to use in finding a specific person. If either window is too small to see clearly, enlarge the printing (on most browsers) by holding down simultaneously the CTRL key and the + key. In the right window will appear a small circle icon with a plus sign (+). Click on the plus sign to enlarge the print. This may, however, be a feature of Adobe only.

Description of the Data

The categories in the left window (Figure 2) are: Ele Toldot, Inventory, Using Ele Toldot, Part A, Einleitung (Introduction), Part B Registerbände (register of names), Part C Hauptteil (personal Blätter) (Main pages, one page per person), Part D Nachträge (postscript), Indices (More Derech) (Guide). Clicking on a word in the left window, such as Registerbände, or Hauptteil, however, only produces the first section of the actual data. Thus, a click on the word Hauptteil in the left window may retrieve only names beginning with the letter A. If, instead, the user clicks on the little plus sign (+) to the left of the category, a list of the entire alphabet (or various subsections) appears. Click on the letter of the name (or subsection) to search.

Clicking on either the title Ele Toldot or the Introduction produces an identical introductory paragraph in English about the material and about Shlomo Ettlinger, followed by the full table of contents. The section Using Ele Toldot is written in English and is quite good. Print it out and refer to it until familiar with the total procedure. Part A, The Einleitung (Introduction) discusses the language as it was spoken and written, and probably of more interest to someone knowledgeable in languages. It also includes history and medical information, such as descriptions of doctors and health conditions.

Search Process for an Ancestor

Finally it is time to search for an ancestor. To do this, follow the steps below.

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  1. Click on the plus sign (+) next to the Part B (register of names). This section has three subsections, a general register, a register of names of males, and a register of names of females. Since Ettlinger had to deal with German and Hebrew, as well as French and old versions and writing in these languages, he did not necessarily sort names the way one might expect today. The researcher must discover how an ancestor is recorded. Here is how it is done.
  2. Take the name Popper as an example. Jakob Cohen Popper was a rabbi in Frankfurt in the early 1700s. First, look for the name in the general register, a section with 202 pages. The first 60 pages appear in two columns; the first column contains the name you might be seeking; the second column shows how the name actually is listed. Looking up Popper, this author found it is listed under Bopper so this is the name one must look for next. (Figure 3)

The rest of the general register may be of more interest to someone studying the sources of names, for it lists names under “names of Jewish origin,” “German origin,” “French origin” and “Unknown origin.” Categories include given names of men, given names of women, and whether a word might be the name of a house or town. A list of towns appears along with where the towns might be located—such as perhaps near a certain river or near another town. This section also includes a brief history of the Jews in Frankfurt, noting that the first mention occurs before 1241; it also mentions the expulsion of Jews by Fettmilch, a guildmaster who stormed and looted the ghetto and after whom the riots were named. Jews were expelled from Frankfurt in 1614 and were allowed to return in 1615. The last section of about 30 pages lists some of the abbreviations Ettlinger uses. These abbreviations are important when trying to read the individual pages and if interested in his sources. Many of these web pages are difficult to read, probably because the photocopy that LBI owns is poor.

  1. Having determined that the name to search is Bopper, continue the search by consulting the register of men (or the register of women). Access the men’s register because the individual being sought is a man. This is the second section under part B (registers) discussed above. Again, remember to click on the plus (+) sign in the left window or only the first section of men’s names will appear. A click on the plus sign (+) generates a choice of letters which are the subsections under the register of men’s names. The alphabet is divided into 18 subsections; go to the section that will have the name Bopper.
  2. Click on the letter (subsection) needed, in this case “B” (for Bopper). A new PDF file appears in the right window. Scroll down until Bopper appears as a page heading. (Figure 4) This page will list everyone Ettlinger catalogued under the name Bopper. The page has eight columns. The first column shows the given name of the person indexed; the second column lists the father’s name; the narrow third column indicates whether the person is a Cohen (K), Levite (S), or neither (‑); the fourth column shows the family name; the fifth column indicates the name of the house in which the individual lived.*

The sixth column is the most important one for it gives the date of death for this person. The date of death must be used to find the page about this individual. The narrow seventh column indicates the marital status; V for verheirat (married), a hyphen (-) for single. The final column is used for other comments and abbreviations.

Information About Jakob Cohen Popper

The manuscript revealed that Jakob Cohen Popper’s last name was either Tachau or Popper. A letter “K” indicates that he was a cohen (priestly class) and that he lived in the Eichel house. Notice the way the date is written. The day of the month appears first; next, in Roman numerals, the month; and then the year: Thus 20 II 1740 translates to February 20, 1740. The “V” indicates that he was married. Two sons are listed on the same page; Lejb and Wolf both list Jakob as their father. Wolf lists the same house as his place of residence. A lucky researcher might find that Jakob’s father also had died in Frankfurt. If so, his name also would be listed.

Main Pages

Now a researcher is ready to access the “main” pages. The main section, with a page for each person, is arranged by death date (according to the Gregorian calendar).

  1. Again, click on the plus sign next to Part C, Hauptteil (personal or main pages). This section is divided into 32 subsections.
  2. Scroll to the section that includes the year 1740, the year Jakob Cohen Popper died. Click on that series of years.
  3. Next look for 20 II 1740 (Feb. 20, 1740) and find Jakob’s record. (Figure 5) Researchers who cannot understand all of the material listed should download that page and seek translation help. Even without understanding German, one can see that Jakob’s father was Benjamin Tachau-Poppers. No name is given for Jakob’s mother. He was married twice; the names of his wives, (under Er heir) and the names of three children (under Kinder), Wolf, Lejb, and a daughter Frummet and her husband appear. Bmkg. at the bottom of the page means “comments;” the comment is that Dewele Schiff was a student of Jakob Poppers. Look at Ettlingers’ abbreviations to understand the remainder of the data.

Additional Data in the Individual Section

Ettlinger notes that the records from the year 1241 came from a memorial book from Nüremberg that recorded more than 50 deaths, all of which are listed as “murdered.” Ettlinger also noted that 24 people accepted baptism to save their lives, but some later returned to Judaism. No record of Jews in Frankfurt is found from 1241 until 1260.

Saving or Printing a Record

To print a record, click the printer that appears on the screen in the right window near the top and then indicate the number of the page. A click on “page-scaling” allows one to determine the desired size of the printed page (usually 8 1/2 by 11). Clicking the disk icon saves the entire file in PDF format. The page number appears above the record on the screen. Because there are several hundred records, be careful to remember the desired record in order to find the page later.

When this author wanted to read a file, she could go to her Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 program, and choose the page wanted. That page then could be saved as a .jpg that could be imported into her genealogy program. Her other graphics programs would not read just a single record, but some may do so. Another way to save a single page is to:

  • Indicate “print screen” on the computer, usually by holding down the FN key and clicking on whichever key says PRTSC. This usually is under a function key, but may vary between computers. Then paste the screen into the Paint program that comes with all Microsoft compatible computers.

To open the Paint program click on the section labeled “Other Programs” and then in the list that appears on the screen click on “Accessories” and then on “Paint.”

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  • Once the Paint program is open, use ‘paste’ (Ctrl V) to put the saved page with the PRTSC key onto the screen in the Paint program to print it out, crop it to print out only a portion of the page, or save it to a computer to insert into a genealogy program.

Postscript Section

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The Nachträge (Postscript) section presents additional data, including a list of those individuals who converted—with a notation if they later returned to Judaism. Conversion tended to occur at times of great trouble, such as in 1241 and again in 1614 after the Fettmilch riots. The Nachträge section has about 100 names. The final section, More Derech (Guide), presents more historical details about the towns in the vicinity of Frankfurt and various additional lists.


*Homes did not have numbered street addresses as they do today. Rather, residences were known by the name of a house—and sometimes became the family name as well. Thus, the house of the Red Shield (Rothschild) was the origin of the family name of the well-known international banking family.

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