While some are free and require no membership fee, others do have a nominal charge to join. Those fees are generally used to acquire more resources.
SIGs with membership fees generally have free public pages as well as member-only pages. These groups also accept contributions earmarked for specific projects to assist members with their research.
As one example, the entirely volunteer-run LitvakSIG is the primary internet resource for Lithuanian-Jewish genealogy research worldwide.
Tracing the Tribe’s maternal great-grandmother, Riva bat Tsalel BANK, was born in a small village outside Kaunas (Kovno) and other branches lived in different Lithuanian towns, so we have a personal link to this SIG.
Although its free site offers many extensive resources, its member-only site ($36 per year) offers additional information such as growing supplemental material including selected archive catalogs, detailed articles, presentation transcriptions, private discussion forums, LitvakSIG board minutes and more.
Among the free pages are links to databases, photographs, maps, books, an online journal and much more.
Just added to its member-only site:
The first version of an Excel file has been prepared and uploaded to the members-only site. It provides hyperlinks to various foreign language resources in Russian, Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew:
— Links to the Internet Archive – these links are for all uploaded resources in Russian, Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew. There are separate links by language as well as year of publication.
— Links to electronic resources in the Russian State Library (RGB)
— Links to the entire Yiddish collection on the Internet Archive from the Steven Spielberg collection housed at the Natl. Yiddish Book Center.
— Links to electronic resources (Vilnensia specifically) from the Kujawsko-Pomorska library in Poland
— Links to Russian language resources from GoogleBooks
— Links to electronic resources found on the Russian website Tsarskoe Selo
— Links to books on the Russian site Runivers
— Links to more directories from a Russian website
— Links to files from the site Bibliotechka genealoga
— Links to the U. library of Frankfurt AM – Yiddish book collection
This information comes from Joel Ratner of LitvakSIG. He is district research coordinator for Vilnius (Vilna) and vital records coordinator for both Suwalki and Vilnius/Vilna Gubernia.
While he notes that this file is a work in progress, not everything listed deals with the Pale of Settlement or even with Jews. Individual researchers may decide what is of interest to them.
Joel also asks readers to notify him of additional collections which may be of interest. Find his email on the LitvakSIG leadership contact list. He is now working on an update to allow the download of more than 100 Passover Haggadot, all originally printed in Vilna.