Researching Criminal Ancestors: Finding the Hidden Stories

In this presentation, Ron Arons demonstrates how to research “black sheep” ancestors, relatives who might be difficult to research for a variety of reasons. Building a foundation with “standard” genealogical records (census, vital records, city directories, etc.), Ron then moves into the more unique records that exist for likely lawbreakers. He will give specific recommendations regarding the methodology of researching such characters. Research like this enlivens family history as we follow our ancestors off the straight and narrow to a perhaps more crooked, but colorful path.

Born in New York, Ron Arons was reared a goodie-two-shoes. Aside from five moving violations, he has never been afoul of the law. Ron worked for many years as a marketer at many high-tech companies, including Texas Instruments, Ashton-Tate, and Sybase, before deciding to work full-time on his first book, The Jews of Sing Sing. Ron became interested in understanding his roots after he lost both his parents to cancer. In the process of researching his criminal ancestor’s past, Ron has traced his roots to England, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. In 2005 Ron won a Hackman Research Residency Award from the New York State Archives to continue his research of New York Jewish criminals. In January 2008, Ron appeared on the PBS television series The Jewish Americans as the acknowledged expert on Jewish criminals of New York’s Lower East Side. Arons tours the country giving educational and entertaining presentations on Jewish criminals and Jewish genealogy. Ron earned a B.S. in Engineering from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

The program will take place online via Zoom. For more information and to register go to:

Questions can be emailed to MNJGS at

Members are free, non-members $5. Payment can be made at 


August 20
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Categories
Community + Calendar
Free – $5
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Virtual Event
United States + Google Map


Minnesota Jewish Geneological Society