Jews in Hasenpoth / Aizpute 1834
This database contains over 1,000 names of Jews
lawfully entitled to reside in Hasenpoth (now Aizpute, Latvia)
taken from the material microfilmed in the Riga Archives in 1941.
Background and Statistics
This database consists of over 1,000 Jewish males living in Hasenpoth
in 1834 (now Aizpute, in Latvia). Jewish males of all ages are listed,
including a four-day old infant not yet given his name.
The names of women or female children were not recorded.
A house number is given, making it possible to see how many people
lived together in a household and to make reasonable inferences about
family relationships. This is the earliest list in the
JewishGen Latvia Database, and it
represents the first fruits of the Courland Research Group's
Herder/LDS microfilm project.
The History of the Microfilms
In 1940/41, the Baltic Germans began a programme of microfilming parts
of the Riga archives, prior to the repatriation of the German ruling
caste to Germany. In addition, they took some original archive
material with them as they withdrew.
These microfilms eventually came to be lodged at the
in Marburg, Germany, where they remain today.
In 1986, the Church of the Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, successfully
negotiated with the Herder Institute to make a copy of these microfilms.
Consequently the microfilms are available on order through the global network
of LDS Family History Centres. To date, Latvia has refused access
to the LDS for microfilming, with the effect that the Herder/LDS microfilms
are the only available microfilm source for those seeking to carry out
research from primary sources.
The Formation of the Courland Research Group
In early 1999, three active members of JewishGen: Dr. Paul Berkay
[USA], Dr. Martha Levinson Lev-Zion [Israel] and Dr. Abraham Lenhoff
[USA] became convinced that these microfilms were more important to
the study of Courland Jewry than had previously been appreciated.
Together they formed the nucleus of the Courland
Research Group, with a view to raising the to buy a set of the
Herder microfilms. The goal was to create a database of
Courland Jewish records using the Herder microfilms.
It was known that seven of the 127 Herder microfilm rolls had material
of Jewish interest. To see an Inventory
of these rolls click here.
The difficulty was justifying the purchase of the whole set with
a view to seeing whether there was additional material, previously
unidentified, relevant to the study of Jewish family history.
Following considerable debate as to the value of the exercise, the
Courland Research Group Steering Committee raised the funds and
following a year of negotiation, a set of microfilms from the
Herder Institute was delivered to Dr. Berkay in California.
On receipt, he set to work on an the initial inventory of
all 127 rolls, carrying out an image by image search to identify
all pages of Jewish interest. What has emerged is a genealogical
treasure chest, full of puzzles and conundrums but containing extensive
original records relating to early Jewish families living in Courland
and surrounding areas.
To date, the Courland Group has completed an inventory of approximately
50 of the 127 films. Over 1,000 previously unrecorded pages of
Jewish material have been identified. In addition, the Courland
Group has made a commitment to the LDS to create a usable name index
to the Jewish families recorded in these documents.
What makes the microfilms difficult?
The microfilms are beautiful but difficult. The microfilming
exercise was clearly carried by the Baltic Germans in considerable haste.
The pages are microfilmed out of order, and as often as not upside down
or backwards. Frequently left-hand pages are filmed but not the
right hand pages, or the left and right hand side of the pages are
located on different rolls of film.
It is rare for there to be a full run of pages relating to a single list.
Having said this, once the ordering is understood, there are many lists
where the handwriting is reasonably clear and readable and where it should
be possible, with the help of volunteers, to create the index of names and
the database of family entries.
The task that the Courland Group has set itself is:
- To create a complete and comprehensive inventory of the whole of
the Herder/LDS films relating to Courland;
- To reconstruct the documents by grouping the various lists together
and reuniting the parts with a view to making complete lists available
- To establish whether it is possible to track down some of the missing
material either from the archives in Riga or from the many other archive
repositories where material previously held in the Riga archives was
dispersed during the course of the war and the Soviet occupation;
- To create a Jewish name and image index in respect of all films so that
the films will be more easily accessible to ordinary researchers;
- To promote and take part in ongoing research projects relating to the
history of the Jewish Communities of Courland.
The Hasenpoth List - What kind of List is it?
The Baltic Germans labeled this list as an Oklad or tax list,
and this name has been adopted by the LDS in its inventory.
Further research suggests that the list is not, in fact, a true Oklad
or tax list for the following reasons:
- The 1834 Hasenpoth list is broadly alphabetical.
Tax or Oklad lists were drawn up by family number and were
- The 1834 Hasenpoth list is not cross-referenced to any
other list such as Oklad or Revision Lists.
Oklad lists almost always contain cross-referencing to the
most recent Revision List or the last Oklad list number
assigned to the family.
- The list is unique in that it is one of the very few lists
that contains house numbers. Oklad lists do not
contain house numbers.
In genealogy it is important to differentiate between what we actually
know and what we assume to be the case. Adopting fixed positions
too early on can block research that eventually leads to a more complex
and richer knowledge of the Jewish communities of the past.
We do know that in time the ability to prove that a family's roots in
Courland predated 1835 became important. By an Ukase [law],
Jews who were enumerated in the census of that year or earlier were
granted full rights of residence in the Province of Courland.
Those who came after that date remained on sufferance and from time to
time there were calls for expulsion. Being able to produce evidence
of the legal right to reside was important and it is one of the many
reasons why Jews were unwilling to give up their registrations in
towns or areas of origin.
Using the list of Hasenpoth Jews: The Entry Fields explained
Courland had become part of the Russian Empire in 1795, but the list
is in handwritten German fraktur script rather than Cyrillic.
This is because the language of culture and administration remained
German as it had been for some 500 years since the conquest of the
area by the German Teutonic knights.
- Surname -
The spelling used in the original list is retained even if this means
the spelling of the surname is not always consistent.
- Given Name(s) -
This entry sets out the given name/s recorded in the list.
- Father's name -
This list is drawn up as a German document but it is also a document
that co-exists in a Russian world. Russian lists contain the patronymic
of the individual which can be identified because of its characteristic
grammatical marker, either the endings "-ovich" or "-ov". German has
no such markers but it is highly likely that the last of the names given
is the name of the Father of the individual listed. For example, take
the examples for the Palem family from the list where they are
761 Palem, Mendel Lewy Age 58
762 Palem, Marcus Mendel Age 21
763 Palem, Juddel Mendel Age 19
764 Palem, Borchard Mendel Age 15
765 Palem, David Mendel Age 7
The reasonable inference to be drawn is that Mendel Palem is the father
of Marcus, Juddel, Borchard and David. The use of the name Mendel in
respect of the sons functions as a patronymic and would have been understood
as such by contemporaries. Similarly, the likely name of Mendel's father
is Lewy (Levi).
- Age in 1834 -
This gives the age of the entrant in 1834 when the list was originally created.
It is a remarkable feature of this list that the ages are given with such
precision. Many children's ages are given in fractions such as Abraham
Schwartz aged 1½, Lieb Behr Schnitte, aged ¾. The age of adult entrants is
generally given as a whole number but occasionally fractions are recorded
as in the case of Salomon Hirsch Trembe aged 64¼. In the case of the
infant with no name this is because he was only four days old and had not yet
had his bris. No bris, no name.
- House Number -
There was no convention of using street names in 1834. The buildings in
the town were given numbers and these numbers are given in the database.
The Courland Group hopes that further research will establish the location
of these houses. The number of persons in a given dwelling is high.
We anticipate that once the raw data is extracted for family history
purposes it will also serve as the basis of research on social, economic
and family life of the Jews of Courland.
- Comments -
Limited comments are made usually about legibility or alternative spellings.
- Page and Roll Number -
This list can be found on LDS microfilm roll 1344282. This roll of microfilm
has lists from both Hasenpoth and Bausk. The Hasenpoth list is number 15 and
the page numbers are set out. "v" stands for "verso" or the left hand side
of the page and "r" stands for "recto" or the right hand side of the page.
It can take a little searching to find the correct page number on the roll,
although in the case of the Hasenpoth list the fact that the list is
alphabetical is of assistance.
LDS Roll Number 1344282:
15) Hasenpoth Hebräer Oklad 1833-1834, 320-942v, 927-1395r, 1318-1388v
41) Bauske Hebräer Oklad 1811-1812, 267-101r
43) Bauske Hebräer 1834, 192-46v, 192-380v
15) Hasenpoth Hebräer Oklad 1833-1834, 927-771r, 950-1382v, 310-4v
41) Bauske Hebräer Oklad 1811-1812, 1-95r, 269-281r, 278-2v
43) Bauske Hebräer 1834, 157-353r, 1-157r
42) Bauske Hebräer 1827-1834, 359-573r, 355-113r, 44-4r
49) Bauske Hebräer 1811-1812, 1-157r
43) Bauske Hebräer 1834, 382-432v, 431-355r
42) Bauske Hebräer 1827-1834, 109-1r
49) Bauske Hebräer 1811-1812, 18-156v
- Baltic German Number -
This is the camera reference to the Baltic German microfilm numbering,
and can be ignored at this stage.
- List Type -
We have retained the classification of Oklad list on the basis that this
is the way the roll is described although the reasons why this is unlikely
are set out above.
What can this database tell me about my family history?
This list begins to take families back to the very earliest period of surnames.
There are sometimes 3 generations of a family represented as alive at the
As well as direct ancestors, there are also likely to be collateral lines
given. You can spot these because the surname is the same but the father's name
The list takes families back to the 18th century. In the example of the
Palem family set out above, Mendel Lewy Palem is aged 58 at the time that the
list was made. This means he would have been born in or about 1775 and it is
likely that his father Lewy can be dated some 20-25 years before that. This
effectively traces the Palem family back to about 1750.
Helping Jewish Families to find roots
It has been possible to test the list of Hasenpoth/Aizpute Jews against
the families searching through the JewishGen Family Finder.
Twelve Families are listed searching 17 different names. Nine of the families
will find there is information relevant to the name they seek or that there i
s a close spelling match on the Soundex. That is to say nearly 75% may find
help in their search for family roots. Of the 17 Aizpute surnames that are
listed 14 [some 82%] have matches in the Aizpute 1834 list and in the
database generally. In some cases the information takes the family tree
back to 1775 and even earlier.
Although Jewish families suffered dislocation for many reasons including
large scale emigration another picture also emerges which is the remarkable
stability and vitality of Jewish family life and institutions in Courland
towns where many families can be traced for over 250 years in the same
The Courland Research Group thanks Dr. Peter Wörster of the Herder Institute,
Marburg Germany for his advice and assistance. Dr. Wörster is the author
of a number of books and articles on the Herder Films including Die
Kurlandischen Seelenlisten 1798-1834, Marburg 1997 [co-authored with the
late Arthur Hoheisel]. The extraction and databasing of the Hasenpoth list was
undertaken by Martha Lev Zion and Abraham Lenhoff. Paul Berkay continues with
the task of inventorying all rolls. Further assistance was given by Stanislav
Gorbulev. The Courland Research group expresses its gratitude to Michael
Tobias our WebMaster and to Warren Blatt for additional web work.
Sponsorship and Volunteering
Working with the Herder/LDS films is an opportunity to look at the very
earliest available documents relating to the Jewish communities of Courland.
There are Revision Lists, Census Lists, Oklad/tax lists. Most of these are
in German form and a handful are in Hebrew/Yiddish. The core information of
Surnames, given names and family relationships is reasonably accessible with
a little practice and perseverance. You do not have to speak German and no
particular background or experience is necessary. You will be given
backup and support. This project is an opportunity to make a lasting
contribution to the Jewish history of Latvia. Please contact
Constance Whippman, the Database
Co-ordinator if you would like to be involved.
In addition to volunteers, the project needs, and we believe deserves, ongoing
financial support. To make a donation, whether large or small contact
Martha Lev Zion, the treasurer
of the Courland Research Group.
Constance Whippman, Database Co-ordinator
Copyright ©2000, Courland Research Steering Committee
Last Updated: July 2, 2000 WSB