I know my family name, but what were their first names in Belarus?

One of the obstacles that we face in our research is finding records in the “old country”. We may know that our grandfathers name was Max, but what was his name in Belarus? Max is an American name. So how do you find out what his original given name was?

There are two places where the original given name may occur.

  1. The passenger manifest is the closest to the last time the original name may be entered.
  2. The headstone is a place where the Hebrew name may be chiseled.

To understand more about given names: Professor Jerry Esterson has created searchable databases for Jewish given names used during 1795-1925 in fifteen 19th-century European regions (Belarus, Denmark, France, Galicia, Germany/Austria, Holland, Hungary, Latvia/Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Prussia, Romania, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine), and links are made in each record to the new local vernacular names adopted in this same time period in nine Foreign countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Palestine, South Africa, UK, US) to which European Jews immigrated. For each European region, these databases include the Hebrew, Yiddish, local and other-European-country secular names used, as well as the new vernacular names used in foreign countries.

Other given name sources are: