1912 Duma Voter Lists and Gubernskie Vedomosti:  New Insights

 

 

It was exactly so: after three years of my research which included questioning of all my relatives of the older generation, Internet searches, the ordering of documents from archives in Minsk, Smolensk, Moscow and other cities, some questions about my family history remained unanswered, and I decided as last resort to check the 1912 Duma Voter Lists for Mogilev Gubernia, where my ancestors from the both sides lived and my parents were born. Why this as a last resort? Because I thought I had very little chance of finding there any of my family members, who were not known to be rich or in any way distinguished residents of their shtetls, Chislavichi and Monastyrshchina. Unfortunately, the Minsk Archives did not have these lists, and I decided to purchase a microfilm of the 1912 Mogilevskie Gubernskie Vedomosti newspaper from the Proquest company. It took about a month (since I paid for it through the Internet) for the microfilm to be delivered. But, in the end,  the day when it arrived has come. I opened the package, put the film into my old projector and quickly scanned it.  Like a very long serpent, the film was making rings around my table, and as it neared its end, the tension in my heart was growing. And, luckily, at last came the lists for Mistislavl uyezd which I was looking for. And here – unbelievably   I found more than I had hoped to find – the names of my three great grandfathers and their brothers in Chislavichi and Monastyrshchina, some of which were new to me. I compared the data which I had now with that I had received from Minsk and realized the real importance of these lists, which I previously thought to be marginal but which appeared to be extremely valuable in my genealogical research.

 

Before I ordered the microfilm, I studied a couple of publications I had found about the Gubernskie Vedomosi and Duma Voter Lists as genealogical resources - Mr. Feigmanis’s article in Avotainu and Mr. Boonin’s at JewishGen website and Avotainu. Now I think that some important points must be added to the information contained in these two articles. All my conclusions were gained from 1912 Gubernskie Vedomosti of Mogilev Province, but I believe that they are true for other provinces as well.

 

1. 1912 Duma Voter Lists

 

For Mogilev Gubernia the 1912 Duma Voter Lists were published in special appendices to issues ## 60-62 of 1912 MG Vedomosti on the 1st , 4th and 8th of August of that year, for all the 11 uyezds, separately for townspeople, landowners and peasants. There were few Jews in the two last categories, and we will deal only with townspeople. The townspeople were included in two lists in each uyezd – for 1st Conference and for 2nd Conference separately – to elect the main candidates for the Duma. There were also lists of additions and lists of exclusions. There were few Jews added, and those excluded just appeared on the Conference lists, so they are not within the scope of our study.

 

The persons officially allowed to vote were men of age 25 and older. They had to belong to one the following qualification categories: real estate or enterprise owners, apartment tenants who paid taxes, state servants who worked at various governmental offices like the post office, police, municipality, railroad, as well as teachers, priests, state pensioners, etc.

 

Persons of higher social and economic standing appeared on the lists for the 1st Conference, those of lower standing for the 2nd Conference. In different uyezds the minimum property value needed to meet this qualification requirement varied. Thus, in Mogilev the minimum for the 1st Conference was 1000 rubles, and in Mstislavl we can find people whose property was pegged at 300 rubles. The state servants were almost entirely Christians (Russians, Poles, Germans, Belorussians,  Latvians, etc.). The number of voters appearing on the lists, the issue number, and the date of the 1912 MG Vedomosti where they were published can be found in Table 1 for each uyezd.

 

The property requirement for the 2nd Conference was very low. Thus, we find people whose estimated property value was 25 rubles. All these facts imply that the Jewish population was widely represented on the Voter’s Lists. Let’s try to assess this quantitatively.

 

Let’s calculate the number of Jewish men aged 25 and over in 1912. By reason of a lack of Jewish demographic data for this year, we will use the data of the 1897 census found in Evreiskaya Encyclopedia and that of 1903 and 1909 compiled by L. Plotkin of Mogilev and published at Belarus SIG website. We will assess the Jewish population in 1912 by means of linear extrapolation of the 1903 and 1909 data. We will assume that the 1897 census 30,7% rate for men of ages 0-9, 23,0% rate for ages 10-19, 15.3% rate for ages 20-29, the number of Jews residing in towns and shtetls as 7,694 per 10,000 of total Jewish population and the ratio of men to women in towns and shtetls as 1000:1090, in other words substantially the same as in 1912.  We will also assume that the percentage of men of ages 20-24 was about half the value for ages 20-29, i.e.7.7%. Thus, the total percentage of Jewish men of age 25 and older was 38.6%. Assuming this rate for the entire gubernia in general and each uyezd in particular, we will calculate the number of Jewish men of age 25 and over who lived in shtetls and towns in 1912 (Table 2) and compare it with the number of Jewish voters appearing on the lists (Table 1).

 

It can be clearly seen that 22-64% of Jewish men over age 25 were on the lists in various uyezds, at an average of 37% for the whole gubernia, or more than one third. This correlates well with the assessment made on the basis of  the average number of members of Jewish family in that period (six members) – 24 to 71% in the uyezds, with an average of 41% for the whole gubernia.  But, if we compare the number of voters with the number of men after 40 and before 80, this percentage will be much higher, in some uyezds 100% and more, with a gubernia average of 76%, i.e. more than three fourths. We can surmise that younger Jewish men still did not possess property and were not registered as taxpayers; even when married, they lived mostly with the parents, so very often one household contained two or more related families. This situation is clearly illustrated by the revised lists, where the entire household is listed, and very often the children are older than 25. In my family, from the generation of my three grandfathers and their numerous brothers who were born in 1875-1895, none appears on the lists, though some of them in 1912 were older than 25. But my three great grandfathers and their brothers born in 1845-1865 do appear on the lists. All these facts prove, that the great majority of the Jewish families were represented by their heads on the Voter Lists.

 

 

1912 Mogilev Gub. Vedomosti Uyezd

Townspeople 1st  Conference

Townspeople

 2nd Conference

Townspeople

 1st & 2nd  Conferences

Issue

#

Date Jews All Jews All Jews All Jews in % of all.
60 August 1 Mogilev

619

829

1513

3952

2132

4781

44

60 August 1 Bykhov

249

269

556

783

805

1052

76

61 August 4 Gomel

688

736

2747

5127

3435

5863

58

61 August 4 Gorki

367

445

977

1341

1344

1786

75

60 August 1 Klimovichi

298

352

659

1160

957

1512

63

62 August 8 Mstislavl

370

436

1017

1320

1387

1756

78

61 August 4 Orsha

247

291

1841

2869

2088

3160

66

61 August 4 Rogachev

182

289

882

1678

1064

1967

54

62 August 8 Senno

254

297

488

832

742

1129

65

60 August 1 Chaussy

205

313

522

823

727

1136

63

62 August 8 Cherikov

181

266

555

1009

736

1275

57

    Total

3660

4523

11757

20894

15417

25417

60

 

Table 1. The number of voters appearing on the 1912 Duma Voter Lists for towns and shtetls of  Mogilev gubernia.

 

Uyezd Jewish population in  1897

(census)

Jewish population in 1903

 

Jewish population in 1909

 

Jewish population in 1912

(calculated)

 

Jewish men from 25

in  towns/

shtetls

% of Jewish voters in relation to # of Jewish

men from 25

Jewish men from 40

to 79 in  towns/

shtetls

% of Jewish voters in relation to # of Jewish

men from 40 to 79

Mogilev

34255

39636

36936

35586

5056

42

2475

86

Bykhov

11352

12250

13109

13538

1923

41

941

85

Gomel

32392

40306

62869

74150

10536

32

5159

66

Gorki

16093

19529

22637

24191

3436

39

1683

79

Klimovichi

15415

15561

14369

13773

1956

48

958

99

Mstislavl

16733

18593

23245

25571

3633

38

1779

77

Orsha

22874

27284

28956

29792

4233

49

2072

100

Rogachev

21879

24620

25955

26622

3782

28

1852

57

Senno

12544

14651

20405

23282

3307

22

1619

45

Chaussy

07453

8112

7991

7930

1126

64

551

131

Cherikov

12956

13807

14828

15338

2178

33

1067

68

Total

203946

234349

271300

289773

41166

37

20156

76

 

Table 2. The Jewish population of Mogilev gubernia in 1897-1912 and the percentage of those on the 1912 Duma Voter Lists vis-a-vis the total number of  Jewish men over 25.

 

 

“Well”, one can ask, “which information can I get if I even find on these lists someone belonging to my family?” It should be noted that even in various uyezds of the same gubernia, the information could vary slightly. For example, the table of Mstislavl uyezd list includes 5 columns:

One)         number of the entry,

Two)        full name (surname, first and – sometimes-second name, patronymic),

Three)    kind and – often – size of electoral qualification (in rubles),

Four)       ethnicity,

Five)         place of residence

 

In some uyezds the column of religion was added, in others the names were sorted according to their place of residence, though mostly an alphabetical order of names for the whole uyezd was retained.  The final list of those elected to vote for the 4th State Duma from the name of Mogilev gubernia towns was published in 1912 MG Vedomosti issue # 81 on the 13rd of October that year. It contains 25 names, 13 of them Jewish which equals 52%, less than the percentage of Jews on the lists. This can be explained by the fact that not all the Jews who appear on the lists actually took part in the elections and that some part of those who did voted for non-Jewish candidates.

 

3. Other information.

 

There is also other important  genealogical information  which can be found  in Gubernskie Vedomosti. The 103 issues of  MG Vedomsti published in 1912 (two issues a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays) contain the following:  lists of jury duty candidates, lists of trial defendants, numerous private and government advertisements about public real estate auctions, freight shipments from the Mogilev railroad station, loss of documents, searches for heirs, military conscription and police searches for wanted persons, mostly army deserters, etc. The first three categories are presented in Table 3, and the fourth in Table 4. The rest was published throughout the whole year and appeared in almost each issue of the newspaper.

 

Uyezd

Lists of

jury duty candidates

Lists of trial defendants

Public real estate auctions

Issue

#

Date Issue

#

Date Issue

#

Date
Mogilev

1

Jan 1

24

Mar 24

30

Apr 18

 

83

Oct 10

36

May 12

82

Oct 17

 

101

Dec 22

 

 

 

 

Bykhov

 

 

10

Feb 4

 

 

Gomel

99

Dec 15

17

Feb 29

28

Apr 11

 

 

 

36

May 12

30

Apr 18

 

 

 

84

Oct 24

82

Oct 17

Gorki

99

Dec 15

24

Mar 24

82

Oct 17

Klimovichi

98

Dec 12

5

Jan 18

 

 

 

 

 

37

May 12

 

 

Mstislavl

103

Dec 29

29

Apr 14

 

 

 

 

 

84

Oct 24

 

 

Orsha

6

Jan 21

13

Feb 15

30

Apr 18

 

 

 

35

May 9

82

Oct 17

Rogachev

2

Jan 7

10

Feb 4

 

 

 

98

Dec 12

32

Apr 25

 

 

 

 

 

80

Oct 10

 

 

Senno

75

Sep 22

34

May 2

 

 

 

98

Dec 12

 

 

 

 

Chaussy

 

 

21

Mar 14

 

 

 

 

 

83

Oct 20

 

 

Cherikov

 

 

15

Feb 22

 

 

 

 

 

32

Apr 25

 

 

Total

 

 

 

 

80

Oct 10

 

 Table 3. Lists of jury duty candidates, lists of trial defendants and advertisements about public real estate auctions

 

Freight shipments from Mogilev railroad station

 
Issue  # Date

3

Jan 11

15

Feb 22

24

Mar 24

31

Apr 21

47

Jun 16

63

Aug 11

100

Dec 19

     

 

Table 4. Advertisements about freight shipments from Mogilev railroad station

 

 

4. Conclusion.

 

1912 Gubernskie Vedomosti in general and Duma Voters Lists in particular have proven to be highly valuable sources for genealogical research covering the great majority of the Jewish families in the Pale of Settlement. This material is concise and readily accessible and can add much to any archival research.

 

References

 

1.  Mogilevskie Gubernskie Vedomosti, 1912, ## 1-103.

2.  Evreiskaya Encyclopedia, 1914, Vol. 11.

3.  H. D. Boonin. Gospodskaya Duma, Summer 1907; Voter Registration Lists. Avotainu, Vol.XVI, Number 2, Summer 2000.

4.  H. D. Boonin. Duma Voter List FAQ. http://www.jewishgen.org/belarus/duma.htm.

5.  A. Feigmanis. Gubernskie Vedomosti: A Genealogical Resource. Avotainu, Vol. XII, Number 4, Winter 1996.

6.  L. Plotkin. The Jewish population of Mogilev gubernia in uezds, towns and shtetls (1777-1926), http://www.jewishgen.org/belarus/info_mogilev_gub.htm.

7.  Krugosvet Encyclopedia, http://www.krugosvet.ru/.