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Jewish Names in Selected U.S. State Department Files (RG59)

Class 3, Protection of Interest, 1910-1929, primarily from Palestine, Romania & Austria

· Introduction
· The original source data
· Obtaining Records
· About this Database
· The U.S. State Department's
      decimal classification system
· Acknowledgements
· Search the Database

This database contains nearly 10,000 entries from the Central Decimal Files of the U.S. Department of State, Record Group 59 (RG 59), pertaining to the Protection of Interest, 1910-1929, for selected countries.

From 1910 to 1963, the U.S. Department of State's correspondence and memos were filed by subject according to a predetermined decimal file classification scheme, divided into the file (time) segments.  The decimal file consists of nine classes.  The Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington (JGSGW) has indexed records from the time period of 1910 to 1929, class 3, Protection of interests.  This record group consists of correspondence from American citizens or their representatives who appealed to the U.S. Department of State for help in tracing relatives, sending money, food and other assistance to family members in Europe.  Most entries were made during and immediately following World War I.

These records are of significant genealogical value.   Many include documents of births, marriages and deaths of US citizens abroad; settlement of the foreign estates of US citizens who died abroad; lists and correspondence of US citizens temporarily or permanently residing abroad.  Names of people who were not US citizens were often mentioned and are included in this database.

The original source data:

The original data was created by either: a) the individual (usually a US Citizen) or his/her representative, writing to the State Department;  or b) an official at the U.S. State Department, responding to a request for information about a relative in a foreign country.

The source of this data is the U.S. Department of State Files, now housed at the National Archives II, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, Maryland, 20740.  We searched through Record Group 59, for selected countries, specifically those documents whose decimal numbers began with specific codes signifying those countries (explanation follows below), and indexed names thought to be Jewish.

These records are written in English.

Obtaining records:

The original documents can be accessed in person at NARA in College Park, Maryland.  You can also send mail requsts to:

Archives II
Textual Reference Branch
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740

Be sure to include in your correspondence all of the following:

  • RG (Record Group): 59
  • Time Segment: 1910-29
  • Box number (if given, not necessary otherwise)
  • File and Document number
  • Complete name of individual as it appears in the database (Surname and first name)

On-site requests for records: Pull slips may be submitted in the Textual Research Reading Room, Room 2000.

Records are pulled five times each day, Monday thru Friday, at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm  Records will be in the Textual Research Room on the second floor within one hour of the scheduled pull time.

Phone requests:  Requests for records may be phoned in before an on-site visit.   Call the Civilian Records Branch, Archives II, at (301) 837-3480.

Records will be held in the Textual Research Reading Room, 2000, for three days.

E-mail: inquire@nara.gov.

About this database

This database contains 9,724 entries from Record Group 59, covering the time period 1910-1929, for selected geographical locations — primarily Palestine (2,000 records), Romania (2,000 records), and Austria-Hungary (4,300 records).  The specific list of countries appears in the table below.

Database Fields:

  • Surname: Last name of person whose name appears in the correspondence, document, list, etc.   When more than one name appears, each is listed separately.   If the maiden name is given along with the married name, both will be listed in the database.

  • Given Name: First name; and middle, patronymic or title, if given.

  • City: this refers to the geographical location given in the correspondence or document.   It may be the last known residence or place of birth of the person whose whereabouts are questioned, or the residence of the person making the inquiry.

    Spellings of names and towns vary for many reasons.  Also, keep in mind that the town may be the last known residence, not the city or town you believed they lived in most of their lives.  No attempt has been made to correct the spelling of any of the information to what the person entering the data believed should be the “correct” spelling, and no attempt was made to use the modern name of the locality.

  • Country: Corresponds to the City.

  • Box number: The number assigned by NARA to the archival box containing the document.  For example, boxes 4568 through 4572 contain documents classified as 367m (Turkey in Asia); boxes 4572 through 4581 contain documents classified as 367n (Palestine).

  • File & Document number: The decimal number assigned to the specific document.  Documents in this database are assigned numbers as described below.

Explanation of the decimal classification system used by U. S. Department of State

From 1910-1963, the U.S. Department of State used a decimal classification system for its central files.  Individual State Department documents were assembled and arranged according to subjects, and a decimal file number was assigned to each document.  Records concerning the Protection of Interest were given a number beginning with 3.  Documents assigned to this category were further classified according to the foreign country involved.  File "3xx.yy" is for “Protection in country xx of private and national interests of country yy”.  Each foreign country has a unique two-digit number or a two-digit number and letter that follows the initial number 3.  The US was assigned number 11, Palestine 67n, and Romania 371.  The complete list of codes is in the table below.

After the country code comes further numbers and letters that provide each document with a unique number.  Most of the documents in this database deal with welfare and whereabouts (3xx115) or deaths (3xx113) of American citizens.

CodeCountry# of
records
360eUkraine209
360fCzechoslovakia205
360gGeorgia6
360hYugoslavia70
360iEstonia19
360kFree City of Danzig23
360mLithuania184
360pLatvia128
363Austria4,304
364Hungary42
367nPalestine2,018
367mTurkey in Asia445
367aTurkey in Europe1
367tTripoli & Barca5
368Greece58
371Romania & Bessarabia1,958
372Serbia7
374Bulgaria46

For example, 371 denotes that the correspondence concerns a matter involving Romania, while 371.11 tells us that the document deals with the interest of an American citizen in Romania.  The number that follows the file number (usually after a slash or hyphen) is the specific document number within that file. e.g. 371.71/11.  In the Archives’ parlance each unique, individual number is called “locator information”.   When several numbers appear after the slash, this denotes that there are several similarly numbered documents that have the individual’s name appearing in them. (e.g. 371.71/112 & 113 & 115).   In this case, search all three documents 371.71/112, 371.71/113 and 371.71/115.

A record with a decimal number of 367n.113 indicates that it deals with the death of an American Citizen in Palestine.  This record was used as a substitute for a death certificate in the U.S., as the country in which the death occurred issued the original death certificate.

Note that these country designations are complicated by the fact that the time period is 1910-1929 — which spans World War I, and thus there are two sets of borders, since many national boundaries were changed after WWI.  For example, "Austria" in the 1910-1918 period refers to the entire Austrian Empire, and thus includes Galicia and Bukovina (today, parts of Poland, Ukraine, and Romania).  Some countries (the "360x" set) did not exist until after 1918.

Illustration: 367n.1115-Adler, Miriam ET al/1

Morris Adler inquiring about the whereabouts of his wife, daughter, father and married daughter, believed to be living in the Hungarian Colony in Jerusalem.


Acknowledgements

Volunteers from JGSGW, who visited the National Archives over a period of several years, extracted the information and created this database.  Credit is given to Rita Krakower Margolis, Mike Getz, Roberta Solit, Bernard Norwood, Peter Lande, Fred Kolbrener, Simone Bercu and Sheri Meisel.  Many thanks go to Dr. Milton Gustafson at NARA II for his assistance over the years.

After the original data was indexed by JGSGW, Avotyanu produced a microfiche of the database in 1994.  The microfiche is titled "Index to Jewish Names from “Protection of Interests of U. S. Citizens - U. S. Dept. of State Central Decimal File, 1910-29 (RG59)”", distributed by Avotaynu, Inc., Teaneck, NJ 07666, Copyright 1994, JGSGW.

For more information on RG 59, see the U.S. National Archives website at http://www.archives.gov/research_room/federal_records_guide/general_department_of_state_rg059.html, and AVOTAYNU, Vol. X, No. 3 (Fall 1994), page 37, for an article on RG 59 by Roberta Solit: "JGSGW Indexes More State Department Records".


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