Bessarabia Duma Voters List Database
This database contains the names of over 128,000 men of Bessarabia
Gubernia (today, in Moldova and Ukraine) who were eligible to vote in the
Russian parliamentary elections of 1906 and 1907.
Even if you are very familiar with Duma Voter Lists, it is very
important that you read all of this explanatory material.
It is important to know what data the database contains, what transliteration
method was used, what data is missing and other such information.
If you skip directly to the search engine, you may be misled by what
results you get. If there are any questions relating to the following
discussion, the Duma Voter lists or the names, they should be addressed to
Terry Lasky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Information about Duma Voter Lists
Duma Lists are lists of eligible voters for the Russian parliament (Duma)
in the early 1900's. There were four Duma election periods:
- 1st Duma: Jan 1906 to Apr 1906
- 2nd Duma: Dec 1906 to Feb 1907
- 3rd Duma: Sep 1907 to Oct 1907
- 4th Duma: Sep 1912 to Oct 1912
This database deals with the lists for the 2nd and 3rd Dumas.
The determination of what constituted an eligible voter varied from
region to region and from Duma to Duma. In all cases it was males
over 24 years of age who also fit other criteria, usually property
Source of Duma Voter Lists
The Duma Lists were printed in the Guberniskie Vedomosti,
which was the Russian gazette that dealt primarily with government and
commercial business issues.
It was published every Wednesday and Saturday.
The Bessarabia voter lists were published in the Bessarabskie Guberniskie
This newspaper is available on microfilm at the
New York University Bobst Library,
and at the Library of Congress
[Microfilm (o) 2004/3002].
Both institutions have microfilms of all of the newspapers from 1874-1917,
on 34 microfilm reels.
The Norman Ross Publishing Company is the maker of the microfilms of the
Information Contained in Duma Voter Lists
The information contained in the Duma Voter Lists varied from region
to region and from Duma to Duma. The surname, given name and sometimes
the patronymic (father's given name) were on all Duma Lists.
The city of residence or of the property was also explicitly listed, or was
implicit in the list. The qualification reason was often given (or was
implicit). The qualification reason could be that the person was male
and over 24 or that he owned property or a business or some other reason.
When it had to do with business or property ownership, there was often a value
of that property given in Rubles, or a size given in Desaytins (one desaytin =
In order to insure that the transliteration was done the same for
all of Bessarabia, rules had to be established. The following rules
were used by all of the transliterators:
The information was taken exactly as transliterated. There was
no attempt to correct obvious spelling/printing errors or to make names
look more like what would be expected.
The "Journalistic" transliteration table was used to
convert from Russian Cyrillic to Latin characters. This is the same
table used by most newspapers and periodicals. There is also a Library
of Congress (LOC) approach and several variations of both of these.
One of the other important transliteration tables was that used by
Alexander Beider in his wonderful book A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames
from the Russian Empire (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1993).
The differences are minor, and the "Journalistic" method was chosen
because it yields only letters (the others yield accented characters).
A comparison of just the differences between the "Journalistic",
the "Library of Congress" and the "Beider" methods
is shown below.
See "Names Processing" for rules on
handling the names.
The validation methods varied from list to list, based upon the quality
of the data and other criteria. Some or all of the following were
used on all of the lists:
Lists were usually transliterated independently by two people.
The results were compared, and differences were checked a third time.
All names that had question marks were also rechecked.
The 2nd and 3rd Duma lists for the same cities were checked against
each other. Since they were only nine months apart, the same names
occurred on both (especially if the eligibility criteria was the same).
For instance, every name (except for ten of them) on the 3rd Duma list for
the other cities in the Orgeyev District appeared on the 2nd Duma List also.
There were sometimes different spellings (and they were left that way), but this
allowed for good cross-checking and determination of hard to read characters.
This also indicates that very few people moved into these areas in 1906 and
1907. The reverse was not true — there were several hundred
names on the 2nd Duma Lists that were not on the 3rd Duma Lists.
One would have to infer that these were probably the Jewish people who
emigrated during that time period (or died).
The given names (and separately, the patronyms and the surnames) were
sorted into alphabetic order. Any names with different spellings or with
hard to read characters were looked at again and revalidated or fixed.
Two books were used to help distinguish some of the surnames that
- Beider, Alexander, A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the
Russian Empire. (Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu, Inc., 1993).
- Unbegaun, Boris Ottakar, Russian Surnames.
(Oxford: Claredon Press, 1972).
It was necessary to establish rules for breaking up the names into
surnames, given names and patronyms. The following rules were used,
although there are always exceptions to every rule.
The first name found was always the surname.
It was assumed that there was always at least one given name.
There were circumstances in which this came into question, but we always
put the name following the surname into the given name column.
The last name that was found (assuming it wasn't already used as a
given name) was checked to see if it ended in -ov, -ev,
-evich, -ovich and with a period (.). If it did,
then it was assumed to be a patronym (all of those suffixes stand for "son of").
The exception was any name that ended in one of those endings but the patronym
was different — "Yakov" was not taken as a patronym (even though
it ended in -ov), because the correct patronym of Yakov is "Yakovlev".
All names between the given name and the patronym were considered
to be additional given names. There were a few exceptions where
there were two patronyms.
All names were put into the database, both Russian and Jewish.
There was no column of information that distinguished a person as
Jewish or Russian or any other designation. Trying to eliminate
those that were Russian by their names was not considered practical.
There is no exact estimate of how many were Jewish vs. Russian, but it
is a guess that in the Orgeyev District well over 50% were Jewish.
Just like in any language, there are letters that look very much alike.
It was even more prevalent in this case, because the newspaper print in the
early 1900's was not extremely good. The transliteration was done using
copies from microfilm that were copies of the original newspapers.
There was significant ink bleed and other problems with the copies.
The letters that gave the most trouble were и, н and п, which
transliterate to "i", "n" and "p", respectively.
The Cyrillic characters look almost the same, and especially with all of
the above problems. It was usually easy to tell when the character was
supposed to be a vowel, so the "i" did not cause as much of a problem.
However, it was very difficult in many circumstances to distinguish between the
"p" and the "n". The books listed in
"Validation Methods #4" (above) proved to be
invaluable in resolving some of these instances. However, it is suggested
that if you don't find a desired name that you substitute a "p" for
an "n" (or vice-versa) and try again. This does not apply to the
first character of a name, because the surnames were grouped alphabetically and
capital letters at the beginning of given names and patronyms were usually
There were other letters that caused some difficulty, but none
to the same degree as the "p" and "n". The letters
"e" and "o" sometimes were hard to distinguish from each
other, but a soundex search of the database will not be affected if these are
incorrect. The Cyrillic letters г and т (which transliterate
to "g" and "t", respectively) also often looked alike,
but didn't cause a huge problem.
There were cases in which it was obvious that a name was misspelled or
misprinted. Even though we were 95% sure that it was a mistake,
we left it as it was. We felt, and so does JewishGen, that any
interpretation should be left to each person using the database, not to the
There are several points that must be understood when using
this database and looking for names:
These are transliterated from Russian, and thus look different than if
they were transliterated from Hebrew. The spelling will often not be
what you expect in English (although the Daitch-Mokotoff system of searching
should resolve almost all of those problems).
There are some letters in the English language for which there is no
equivalent in Russian Cyrillic. The following letters will never be
found in this database because there is no Cyrillic letter that can yield
- the letter C, except when followed by H (CH exists, but C alone does not)
- the letter H, except when found in the combination KH, CH, ZH or SH.
- the letter J
- the letter Q
- the letter W
- the letter X
Examples of some of the consequences of this are as follows:
- G instead of H — Hersh shows up as Gersh, Kohan as Kogan
- Y or I instead of J — Yakov for Jacob, Iosif for Joseph
- V instead of W — Volf for Wolf
Bessarabia was divided into 8 (sometimes 9) districts for the purpose of
the Duma elections. These eight districts cover all of Moldova today and
portions of the Ukraine. The districts (and only the main cities in each one)
are as listed in the table below.
The Izmail District sometimes contained the Kagul District and at other times
they were separate — they are listed as a single district in the table below.
Each district has an entry for each main town and also an entry that covers
the rest of the district (the smaller villages and farming communities).
Those towns that have been completed will have values in the 2nd and/or
3rd Duma columns indicating the number of voters. The "Jewish population
1897", "Total population 1897" and "Percent Jewish 1897" are taken from
Evreiskaia Entsiklopediia (Jewish Encyclopedia),
St. Petersburg, 1906, and are rounded census figures from 1897.
It should be noted that the number of voters from the small towns and
villages were much smaller (percentage-wise). This is because only the
landowners could vote and most had large land holdings with many workers –
the workers couldn’t vote. There was also a much smaller percentage of
Jews in the farming communities because most Jews were in the trades
(not farmers or farm workers) and because Jews were prohibited from
owning land in many of the districts.
||Main Cities (Current Name)
||Jewish population 1897
||Total population 1897
||Percent Jewish 1897
||Akkerman (Belgorod Dnestrovskiy / Bilhorod-Dnistrovs'kyy)
|rest of uyezd
||Beltsy (Bălţi / Bel'tsy)
|rest of uyezd
||Bendery (Bender / Tighina)
|rest of uyezd
|Izmail / Kagul
|rest of uyezd
|rest of uyezd
|rest of uyezd
|Tuzora (Tuzara / Călăraşi)
|rest of uyezd
|rest of uyezd
|Rest of Uyezds
There were two known columns of the data that were missing from the
newspaper. One covered data from the 2nd Duma for the four smaller
towns in the Orgeyev District (Orgeyev was a separate list).
The missing names started with the letters D, E, I, Z and part of K.
It is estimated that 100 names were missing.
The other was from the town of Vylkove, Ukraine (2nd Duma) and was
missing names starting with S, T, U and F.
It is estimated that 100 names were missing.
The database contains the following columns of information:
Item — An identification which allows the
transliteration team to find the original entry.
Name — Surname and Given Name
Patronym — The father's Given Name
Qualification Reason — the reason why the person was an eligible voter.
A person had to be a male, over 24 years old and meet at least one other criteria.
There are two different groupings of criteria: One for the main cities (those
listed in the table above); and one for the smaller villages and farming
communities (“rest of uyezd” in the table above). There are also a few
additional codes that are used to supply extra information.
- d. - Property owner (home, real estate, building, other immovable property, etc.)
- dg. - Property owner (value must be greater than 300 rubles)
- kn. - Owns apartment (pays apartment tax)
- kv. - Tenant (rents and apartment and pays apartment tax)
- kns. - Lives in separate apartments and doesn’t pay tax??
- lpz. - Personal trade occupation (craftsman, tailor, etc.)
- t. - Trade/Commerce (owns shop, trader, merchant, dealer, etc.)
- tp. - Trade/Industry (t. or owns factory)
- tpl. - Pays business tax (t., tp. or lpz.)
- ch. - Office worker (professional in government, public or estate organization)
- p. - Pensioner (receives pension from government, public or estate organization)
- cr. - Clergyman
- v. - Unspecified (one of the above)
The criteria for the small villages and farming communities is as listed below
and any value (except for the code d.) specified is the size of the land in desaytins.
A desaytin is equal is 2.7 acres of land.
- l. - Landowner
- lm. - Land Manager (manages the land on behalf of the owner)
- lt. - Tenant/Lessee (Leases the land from the owner)
- c. - Clergyman
- d. - Owns immovable property (buildings, real estate, windmills, etc.) – value is in rubles
There are several additional codes which are used to further explain the
voter’s eligibility. If a woman qualified to vote she was not allowed to,
but she could allow her spouse or a male son (who wouldn’t otherwise qualify)
to vote for her.
- (pdz.) - Authorized to vote for his wife
- (pdo.) - Authorized to vote for his father
- (pdm.) - Authorized to vote for his mother
- ** - There is more information available on this person’s eligibility
Town - Russian Name — The name of the town of residence or
property/business. This is the name as transliterated and used by
the Russians in 1906-07.
Town - Modern Name — The current modern native name of the town.
This is the Moldovan or Ukrainian name as it exists today, after the breakup
of the Soviet Union. This is obviously not found in the original Duma list,
but has been added as an aid in searching since town names often changed.
To help with locating smaller villages, the Country (Mold. or Ukr.) has
also been added as a separate "Country" column. Every attempt has been
made to identify the correct town, but no guarantee is given that all are
Uyezd — The name of the Bessarabian District.
The eight uyezds were: Akkerman, Bieltsy, Bendery, Izmail, Khotin,
Kishinev, Orgieev, Soroki.
Country — The country where the town is located today —
either "Ukr." (Ukraine) or "Mold." (Moldova).
Year — The year in which this Duma election occurred.
If the list was for the 2nd Duma then the year is 1906; if it was for
the 3rd Duma then it was 1907.
Illegible / Missing Data:
It was necessary to be able to indicate when data was missing,
when it was questionable and when it was unreadable.
We used the method suggested by JewishGen to specify these conditions.
They are as follows:
- "?" —
means that the name was totally unreadable.
- "Name?" —
means that we believe the name is correct but there is some doubt.
- "-" —
means that no name or value was supplied for this entry.
- "Name1? / Name2?" —
means that it is one of these names.
- "Na...e" —
means that the letter(s) in the ... part of the name were unreadable.
A lot of effort was put in by the people who worked this task and
I thank them for all of their effort.
Everyone acted as both transliterator and as a data entry person.
The people responsible for this work are as follows:
- Project Coordinator: Terry Lasky.
- Primary Transliterator/Data Entry: Claire Stuart, Leslie Oberman,
Paula Zieselman, Harry Green and Terry Lasky.
- Support Transliterator/Data Entry: Nathen Gabriel, Deborah Schultz
and Roberta Solit.
- Final Validation: Terry Lasky.
- Russian Translation: Inna Smolov, Boris Bayevsky.
- Support: Rosanne Leeson, Alan Weiser, Warren Blatt, Michael
Tobias, Joyce Field and the rest of the JewishGen staff.
Any questions about this data or a particular name should be sent
to Terry Lasky at email@example.com.
Last Update: 2 Sep 2005 WSB