Belarus SIG Newsletter

Issue No. 1 - November 1998

Existing Records for Shtetls in Belarus

David M. Fox
Published in the Belarus SIG discussion group October 1, 1998.

There are a number of sources available to determine what records exist for towns and shtetls in Belarus. From my limited review of these sources, it appears that there is a lot more available records in existence then some of us may have thought.

Several months ago I purchased the CD with the Archives of all the AVOTAYNU (Publishers of Works on Jewish Genealogy) issues through 1996. Today I did a search on Soshnikov (Vladislav). Mr. Soshnikov is a principal player in RAGAS and has written a number of articles for "Avotaynu" regarding the archives in the FSU which I reference below.

In addition, Project Judaica, a joint program of Jewish Studies and Research sponsored by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA), YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH) has been gathering lists of archival collections found in the archives of the FSU including Belarus.

I will outline the sources available and in some instances give examples from the various sources. There is an overlap of what records are listed in each of these sources, but there are also some lists of records that are not found in other sources. Also, the level of detail varies.

  1. Ted Gostin's Info File about Belarus Records filmed by the the LDS is certainly a good starting point because the records on the microfilms are available from any Family History Center (FHC) in the world.

    This file lists the town, type of records, years covered in the records, and the film number. This same info file has an addedum written by Warren Blatt and includes the names of towns and the years of Revision Lists (Poll Tax Lists) which are contained in 126 additional microfilms available from the FHCs.

  2. During the LA Seminar, I spoke with Kahlile Mehr, who directs the FHC filming in Eastern Europe. He indicated that there were still "Jewish records" in the Minsk archive that had not yet been filmed.

    The following information first appeared in AVOTAYNU, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Vol. XII, Spring 1996. It is reprinted here with the express permission of Avotaynu, Inc.:

    Recent News from the LDS (Mormon) Family History Library Belarussian Acquisitions:

    Microfilms of Jewish records newly available at LDS (Mormon) Family History Library include many revision lists from the State Historical Archives of Belarus in Minsk as well as a few vital records from Beltsy, Moldova.

    Use the catalogue numbers to order films through a local LDS family history center. Some films include material from more than one town; material from a single town often covers more than one reel of microfilm. Since most Jews did not have hereditary family names in 1795, it is probably wise to inspect later films first; family groupings listed in 1811 and 1816 may permit educated guesses about families listed in 1795, even when they do not have last names.

    Recent News from the LDS (Mormon) FHL Belarussian Acquisitions
    Town Year Microfilm Numbers
    Bobriusk 1795 1,925,366-378
    Bobriusk 1806 2,008,324-326
    Bobriusk 1816 2,008,268-270; 2,010,469
    Borisov 1795 1,925,378-379
    Borisov 1811 2,008,326-329; 2,010,468- 469; 2,010,473
    Borisov 1816 2,008,263-268
    Davidgorod 1795 1,925,405-407;1,925,409-413; 1,925,399-401;2,008,319-320
    Dokshitsy 1795 1,925,366 and 1,925,367
    Igumen 1795 1,925,380-396; 2,008,317-319
    Igumen 1811 2,008,329-330; 2,010,467-468
    Igumen 1816 1,925,180-181; 2,008,262-264
    Igumen 1842 2,008,280-281
    Koidanova 1811 2,008,322-324
    Minsk 1795 1,921,924-930; 1,922,324-325; 1,922,327; 1,923,577-579; 2,008305; 2,008,316-317
    Minsk 1811 2,008,322-324
    Minsk 1816 2,008,270-278
    Minsk 1842 2,008,278-280
    Mozyr 1795 1,925,403-405; 1,925,409; 1,925,396-399; 1,925,401; 2,008,306-308; 2,008,320
    Mozyr 1811 1,925,413-415
    Mozyr 1816 1,925,415-416
    Nesvizh 1795 2,008,282-283
    Novogrudok 1795 2,008,281-282
    Novogrudok 1806 2,008,321
    Novogrudok 1811 2,008,472-473
    Novogrudok 1816 2,010,469-470; 2,008,471
    Pinsk 1795 1,922,326
    Pinsk 1811 2,008,471-473
    Pinsk 1816 1,925,416 and 1,925,180
    Postavy 1795 2,008,303-304
    Rechitsa 1816 2,010,469
    Slutsk 1795 2,008,2-303; 2,008,306-308; 2,008,320-321
    Slutsk 1811 2,010,468-469
    Slutsk 1816 2,008,471
    Velejka 1795 1,923,579; 2,008,308; 2,008,315-316

  3. Vladislav Soshnikov wrote an article titled "Belorussian Archives Revisted" which appeared in AVOTAYNU, Vol. X (Fall 1994). While this article mentions records that are included in the Mormon microfilms, it also mentions other records which obviously have not yet been filmed. Amoung the records mentioned by Soshnikov are:

    In the Minsk Archives
    a. "Nearly complete Jewish vital record books for the city of Gomel 1882-1906
    b. City of Zhlobin 1867-1906
    c. City of Rogachev 1885-1896
    d. Mstislavl District births, 1883-94
    e. City of Mstislavl deaths, 1872
    f. Zembin kahal marriages, 1905
    g. Vital record books for:
    1. Mogilev synagogue, 1890-1917
    2. Vorotinsk-Zaverezhsk, 1872-1917
    3. Dashkovka, 1857-1916
    4. Knyazhitsy, 1871-1916
    5. Seletsk, 1871-1917
    6. Tishovsk, 1871-1917
    7. Goretsk, 1894-1917
    8. Romanovo, 1897-1917
    9. Mstislavl (births), 1916
    10. Lyady, 1893-1917
    11. Klimovichi (marriages), 1912

    Central State Historical Archives in Grodno
    (check out the article for a more detailed list)
    a. Synagogue records for the Lida area:
    1. Belitsa
    2. Boronovsk
    3. Oshmyany
    4. Ostrinsk
    5. Radun
    6. Rozhanka
    7. Shchuchin
    8. Vacilishkovsk
    9. Zheludok
    b. Grodno Census of Jews 1875
    c. Grodno Census of Jews 1875
    d. Numerous censuses (see article for years) for:
    1. Grodno city
    2. Bielsk District
    3. Bialystok District
    4. Brest District
    5. Grodno District
    6. Kobrin District
    7. Lida District
    8. Pruzhany District
    9. Slonim District
    10. Sokol District
    11. Volkovisk District
    e. Lists of real estate property by district for 1908-1915
    f. Draft list for the Czar's army by district

  4. Vladislav Soshnikov wrote an article titled "Sources for Genealogy In the Archives of the Former Soviet Union" which appeared in AVOTAYNU, Vol. XI (Summer 1995). This article discusses various classes of records that might be useful for genealogy research: Revision List (Reviskie skazki); Vital Statistics Records; Military Records, Law Courts; Adinistrative and Economic Offices of City and Town Governments; Offices of the Governor, Police, and Prison Inspectors; Educational Establishments; and City and Business Directories.

  5. Vladislav Soshnikov wrote an article titled "The Current State of Archival Research in the CIS" which appeared in AVOTAYNU, Vol. XII (Spring 1996). This article gives a picture of conditions of various archives in the CIS, including Minsk and Grodno. Of interest to Belarus researchers is a list of records from the Lida district (once part of Lithuania) along with the record group number in the Grodno Archives:

    Records from the Lida district
    a. Belitsy Synagogue (m: 1887-1900; v:1898; d:1897-89)
    b. Orlyany Synagogue (m:1889-1900; v:1887-1900; d:1897-1900)
    c. Ostryno" (marriage, divorce, death, 1887-1900)
    d. Radum" (m:1900; v & d; 1898-1900)
    e. Rozhanka" (m:1897-98; v:1897-1900; d:1897-1900)
    f. Schuchin" (v: 1897-99)
    g. Vasilishki" (v:1897-99; d:1897-99)
    h. Voronovo" (marriage,divorce,death, 1897-1900)
    i. Zheludok" (marriage, divorce, death, 1897-1900)
    j. Lida District - Revision Lists 1834, 1863, 1884
    k. Lida District - Lists of creditors to the State Treasury (1904-1915)
    l. Lida District - Lists of depositors to the savings bank (1914-1916)
    m. Lida Town - lists of payers of town reidents' tax, 1915

  6. In 1996, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) of America published a softcover book titled "Jewish Documentary Sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus: A Preliminary List", edited by Dorit Sallis and Marek Web. I obtained this book directly from the JTS for $15 US plus postage.

    This book is a preliminary report of the work done by Project Judaica. From its title, I can only assume that there will be a more complete inventory forthcoming. There are about 25 pages devoted to records in different Belarus archives. The inventory gives the name of the archive, collection reference number, the Russian title of the record group, the English title, years covered, and number of items. I obviously can't list everything found in the 25 pages, but I will list some of the more significant ones.

    To order a copy of the book, contact:

    Rebecca Schwartz Publications Office Jewish Theological Seminary 3080 Broadway New York NY 10027 USA

    From "Jewish Documentary Sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus: A Preliminary List"
    a. State Archives of Brest Region:
    1. Brest - Jewish People's Bank Records, 1938-1939
    2. Pinsk - Yudel Piekacz Jewish Vocation School records, 1921-1939
    3. Drohiczyn District - Society of Jewish Craftsmen records 1938-1939
    4. Pinsk - Municipal Jewish Hospital records, 1919-1939
    5. Bereza Kartuska - Jewish religious community records, 1936-1937
    6. Brest - Jewish religious community records, 1928-1937
    7. Wysokie Litewskie - Jewish religious records, 1928
    8. Kobrzyn - Jewish religious community records, 1936-1938
    9. Pinsk - Jewish religious community records, 1934-1939
    b. State Archives of Gomel Province:
    1. Gomel - Jewish National Chamber of the People's Court records, 1926-1930
    2. Gomel - National Jewish Court records, 1931-1934
    3. Rechitsa District - Plenipotentiary of the Jewish Public Committee to Aid
    4. Victims of Pogroms, 1923
    c. Belarus Stat Historical Archives, Grodno:
    1. Belitsy, Lida Dist. - Synagogue records, 1897-1900
    2. Belostok - Jewish Hospital records, 1832-1913
    3. Belostok - Jewish Religious Congregation
    4. Bel'sk - Jewish Religious Congregation records, 1835-1846
    5. Brest - Jewish Hospital records, 1913
    6. Brest - Jewish Community records, 1874-1897
    7. Disna District - Rabbinate Records, 1893 - 1901
    8. Brest - Synagogue Jewish Religious Congregation records, 1852-1910
    9. Grodno - Municipal Jewish Community Records, 1838-1912
    10. Kobrin - Jewish Community Records, 1838-1912
    11. Olita - Jewish Religous Community Records, 1852
    12. Orlia - Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    13. Orlia - Jewish Religious Community Records, 1836-1846
    14. Ostrino- Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    15. Ostrolenka - Jewish Community Records, 1838-1867
    16. Prensk - Jewish Religious Community Records, 1895-1902
    17. Pruzhany - Jewish Religious Community Records, 1859-1869
    18. Radum - Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    19. Rozhanka - Synagogue records, 1897-1900
    20. Shaki - Jewish Religious Community Records, 1842-1911
    21. Szczuczyn - Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    22. Suwalki - Jewish Hsopital Records, 1863-1869
    23. Vasilishki - Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    24. Wolkowysk - Jewish Religious Community Records, 1865
    25. Voronovo - Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    26. Zheludok - Synagogue Records, 1897-1900
    d. State Archives of Grodno Province:
    1. Grodno - Jewish Community Records, 1899-1939
    2. Lida - Moses Dvorzecki Jewish High School Records, 1918-1939
    3. Grodno - Jewish Religious Community Records, 1929-1936
    4. Szczuczyn - Jewish Community Records, 1915-1939
    5. Wolkowysk - Herzliya Coeducational High School Records, 1921-1939
    e. National Archives of the Republic of Belarus:
    1. Belitsy - Jewish Community Reocrds, 1856-1862
    2. Borisov - Rabbinate records, 1905
    3. Cherikov District - Jewish School Commission Records, 1853
    4. Cherikov - Jewish State School Records, 1880
    5. Dashkovka - Jewish Community Records, 1857-1914
    6. Dobromysl - Jewish Community Records, 1854
    7. Dubrova - Jewish Civic Association Records, 1862
    8. Es'mony - Jewish Community Records, 1914
    9. Gomel- Jewish Community Records, 1853-1876
    10. Gorsk - Jewish Community Records, 1911
    11. Gorodok - Rabbinate Records, 1872-1917
    12. Karpilov - Jewish Community Records, 1890-1906
    13. Kazimir-Sloboda - Jewish Community Records, 1862
    14. Khotimsk - Jewish Community Records, 1880
    15. Klomovichi - Jewish Community Records,1854-1915
    16. Lepel' - Synagogue Records, 1841
    17. Lepel' - Jewish Community Records, 1833-1844
    18. Liady - Jewish Community Records, 1899
    19. Minsk - Jewish Community Records, 1817-1843
    20. Minsk - Rabbinate Records, 1839-1917
    21. Minsk - Jewish Community Records, 1869-1914
    22. Minsk - Jewish Burial Association Records, 1909-1918
    23. Mogilev - Synagogue Records, 1837-1886
    24. Mogilev - Jewish Community Records, 1830-1915
    25. Mogilev - Jewish Burial Society Records, 1889
    26. Mstislavl' - Jewish Elementary School Records, 1862-1864
    27. Nosovichi - Jewish Community Records, 1855-1917
    28. Novogrudok - Jewish Community Records, 1800-1850
    29. Orsha - Jewish Community Records, 1840-1915
    30. Pinsk - Communal Rabbinate Records, 1911
    31. Polotsk - Jewish Community Records, 1826-1840
    32. Rakov - Jewish Community Records, 1877-1916
    33. Rogachev - Jewish Elementary School Records, 1857-1875
    34. Rogachev - Jewish Community Records, 1859
    35. Senno - Synagogue Records, 1861-1864
    36. Shumiachi - Jewish Community Records, 1858-1862
    37. Staryi-Tolochin - Jewish Community Records, 1861
    38. Streshin - Jewish Community Records, 1861-1877
    39. Surazh _ Jewish State School Records, 1855-1877
    40. Uvarovich - Jewish Community Records, 1883
    41. Vitebsk - Jewish Community Records, 1827-1895
    42. Vitebsk - Children's Orphanages Records, 1911-1918
    43. Vitebsk - State Jewish School Records, 1849-1867
    44. Zabychansk-Neginsk - Jewish Community Records, 1858-1903
    45. Zakharino - Jewish Community Records, 1875
    46. Zhlobin - Jewish Community Records, 1867-1913
    47. Zhuravichi - Jewish Community Records, 1860-1875

There are other records and archives that are found in the book, but are not included above. The book also gives the fond (collection) number.

If anyone hires a researcher to find records in one of the archives mentioned in the book, you could save the researcher time and yourself money if you provide them with the fond.


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