Frankfurt city council had so-called visitation lists drawn up for the Judengasse for various years, including 1694, 1703 and 1709. The purpose of these lists was to provide a record of all Jewish households showing their members broken down into men, women, children, servants and foreigners, together with their occupations. The lists gave the city bureaucrats an instrument for making a better assessment of the number of people in the Jewish community and their ability to pay tax.
As the name indicates, the lists were prepared during visits to the Judengasse by a city official. The "master builders" and the shames had to accompany the official on his visits to the households. He recorded both what he personally observed and what he was told. This led to numerous errors, for example when the official misheard the pronunciation of a name and recorded it incorrectly. The information on occupation is also frequently very vague and capable of different interpretations. Errors of this kind are, however, typical of sources of this type for this period.
Registers of buildings
The Jewish registers of buildings maintained by the Frankfurt city council are the most important source of information on the structural history of the Judengasse. The first two books were started directly after the decision to create the Judengasse and show the amounts spent by the city to build the synagogue, the mikve and the first few houses in the Judengasse. As the Jews had to bear the cost of subsequent building, subsequent registers only showed the city council's approval of new buildings and remodelling in the Judengasse. The new register opened in 1711 after the great fire in the Judengasse is a special case, as it includes drawings showing a front view and side view of almost all the houses. This source made possible the model commissioned by the Jewish Museum of the Judengasse as it was rebuilt after the fire of 1711.
Alexander Dietz (1864-1934) was a respected Frankfurt lawyer and notary public. Although he was not a trained historian and pursued his historical studies as a hobby, he was one of the most important figures in Frankfurt historical research. Under the circumstances, the results of his work were astonishing. The most important of his many publications is his four-volume history of Frankfurt trade, which is still a standard work in the extensive literature on Frankfurt. Dietz also published a seminal work on the history of the Frankfurt Jews, the Stammbuch der Frankfurter Juden ("Family history of the Frankfurt Jews"), which appeared in 1907. This includes descriptions of the origin and history of 625 Jewish families, their houses, their social, economic and cultural life and other factors, and all for the period from 1349 to 1849.
The works of Dietz are a frequent source in many of the entries in this database.
Shlomo Ettlinger lived from 1889-1964 and was a lawyer. As a Jew he was not allowed to follow his profession during the Nazi era, and he devoted himself to research into the history of the Frankfurt Jews. When he was forced to emigrate in 1937 he continued his work in Palestine. After the war he lived in Frankfurt at times.
Ettlinger made a very comprehensive review of old sources in an effort to establish the origin, marriages, dates of death, homes and other features of all the Frankfurt Jews into the 19th century. Through Ettlinger's work it is possible to identify not only the historicall important Frankfurt Jews but nearly every individual Frankfurt Jew.
Ettlinger recorded the information on each individual on a seperate page. The thousands of pages that resulted were bound in volumes which take up over two metres on the shelves, an impressive testimonial to his industry. The originals are held in the Frankfurt city records, with copies at the Jewish Museum and Frankfurt university library.
The works of Ettlinger are a frequent source in many of the entries in this database.
Isidor Kracauer was born in 1852 in Segen in silesia. After taking his doctorate in history at Breslau he came to Frankfurt in 1875 and became a teacher at the Philanthropin, one of the most important Jewish schools in Germany.
Kracauer worked very keenly on the history of the Frankfurt Jews. The results of his research are a series of important publications, particularly his two-volume Geschichte der Frankfurter Juden ("History of the Frankfurt Jews"). Kracauer died in Frankfurt in 1923. He was the uncle of the prominent sociologist and author Sigfried Kracauer.