The Grodno Gubernia 1912 Voters List Database
General Information About the Voter Lists
Elections for the Russian parliament (Duma) were held (or supposed to be held) in 1906, 1907, and 1912. These are the years in which voter lists were published. There were several factors that qualified the Jew – who was considered a non-Russian – and other non-Russians to vote. These reasons related to economic status and similar class distinctions. Only men over age 25 were permitted to vote, so the lists only include men.
This section does not explain the political and social aspects of the democratization efforts in the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire, nor how the voter lists came about. That information is welcome, and can be sent to the webmaster, for inclusion on this web page.
In each of the gubernias (provinces) that made up Czarist Russia at the turn of this century, lists of non-Russians who were qualified to vote in the scheduled elections were published in the official government regional newspapers, the Gubernskie Vedomosti. For the 1912 elections, the lists were published during the first week of August, 1912. For more information on the voter lists and the Gubernskie Vedomosti, see the introduction to Alexander Beider's A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (Avotaynu, 1993), and the article "Gubernskie Vedomosti: A Genealogical Resource" by Aleksandrs Feigmanis, in Avotaynu Volume XII, Number 4 (Winter 1996), pages 27-28.
Grodno Gubernia was one of over 60 gubernias in Czarist Russia at that time. Jewish residency was restricted to the 15 gubernias of the Pale of Settlement, and the 10 gubernias of the Kingdom of Poland. Like other gubernias (roughly the equivalent of a U.S. state), Grodno Gubernia was divided into several uyezds (districts). Grodno Gubernia's nine uyezds were: Bialystok, Bielsk, Brest, Grodno, Kobrin, Pruzhany, Slonim, Sokolka and Volkovysk. These voter lists were published one district at a time, and for each district, there were usually two published lists. Therefore, in the case of Grodno Gubernia, with its nine districts, there were 18 lists.
What is in the Database: Interpreting Results
This database is a list of the full names of 26,625 men of Grodno Gubernia who were eligible to vote in Russian parliamentary elections in 1912. Each record usually includes the given name of the father of the voter and the district, and occassionally the town where the voter lived. About 80 percent of the voters were Jewish, having distinctively Jewish given names.
This database contains six fields:
The voter lists are not an index to a larger set of data. What you see here is all that there is in the original lists. The only additional data for each voter is the indication of how he qualified to vote. That information was not transferred to the transliterated database because of its lack of usefulness.
How the Project was AccomplishedAn InfoFile is being written, which will be linked to this page, that describes how you can coordinate a voter list transcription project for another gubernia and/or year.
The voter lists were published in Russian, i.e.: the Cyrillic alphabet. The project volunteers transliterated the names from the Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin alphabet for this database. The aim of the transliteration of names was to retain as much of their original pronunciation as possible. Exceptions were made, however, in the interest of making the database more user-friendly.
Editing of the Database Entries
The first level of editing was to ensure that all of the reference numbers were entered correctly. In that process, it was learned that 2,509 entries for the Slonim district were not transliterated. This data will be added as soon as someone takes on the project, via the Grodno Genealogy Group.
Another stage of editing involved the location of foreign characters. This would include J, Q, W, and X anywhere, and H at the beginning of a name.
The final, and most extensive editing stage was done for only those entries with at least one Yiddish or possibly-Yiddish given name (about 75 percent of the database). To get to that step, it was necessary to mark the entries based on whether they had any bit of a Jewish name. Thus, anyone with the name "Aleksandr" or "Yosif" would not be marked as "Russian" — those names are often paired with names such as "Ignatei", "Stanislav" or "Ivan", as much as they are paired with "Yekhiel", "Shmuel" or "Abram".
The remaining "Jewish" or "possibly-Jewish" entries were then arranged alphabetically by given name (of the voter, then later by the father). At this point, it was easier to see which given names looked out of place. Any entry that had a given name that did not look correct was marked for further inspection, resulting in a list of about 2,000 entries. For each of the 2,000 questionable entries, the entire transliterated entry was compared to the entire original Russian entry — surname, given name, and father's given name — and corrections made. No entries were discarded; thus there are some non-Jewish entries included in this database.
The Original Lists
Photocopies of the original Cyrillic lists, from which this database was created, have been delivered to the Grodno Genealogy Group. If you have any questions related to the original lists, please contact the Grodno Genealogy Group.
Several individuals contributed funds to purchase the lists, and many volunteers transliterated these names into English from their original Russian spelling. Most individuals contributed the requested $25, and many transliterators completed about 350 names. Some transliterated many more. A big thanks goes out to all of these wonderful people:
And finally, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Susan King, Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.