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Zhvil (Novograd-Volinskiy)

Volhynia Province




Zhviil street scene with army

Zhvil in Early Twentieth Century

Zhvil is known both as Zhvil and as Novogrod-Volynsky. Here, for convenience, we'll just call it Zhvil.

Special thanks to those who have contributed images and records, including Nancy Moderick, Marc Greenburg, Reouven Frajerman, Jan Groshan, and Alex Kopelberg.

Reouven, of France, and Jan in the United States, each have ties to the settlement from Novogrod-Volinsky and Korets that was formed in the Massachussets mill towns of Lynn and Brockton Massachussets. There, the leather-working skills that earned Novogrod-Volinsky a mention in the nineteenth century encyclopedias, were put to use in the many shoe manufacturing facilities in the area.

Alex Kopelberg, formerly of Zhitomir and so consequently familiar with the community, though he now lives in Israel, sends this helpful information:

I noted that the name of the town "Novogrod-Volynskiy" is not written correctly. It consists of three roots combined into a complex word " Noviy" (new), "Grad" (town), "Volhynskiy" ( of Volhyn)" In Russian it sounds as "Novograd-Volhynskiy," almost the same in the Ukrainian. I know it from my own experience as I often traveled there while living in Zhitomir. Also, its former name sounds in Russian as "Zvyagel". By the way, when in 1804 the Volhyn province was organized , this town (situated almost in the center of the province ) was to become its capital, but due to the lack of proper communication, the town of Zhitomir became the administrative center of the Province.

More philological (word studies) thoughts from a language professor with a particular interest in this town -

Marc Greenberg sent this email:

"One thing you might change is the name of the shtetl from Zhvil (sic) to Zvil. I worked with a Yiddishist at the YIVO Institute and we established that the correct spelling and pronunciation for the Yiddish place-name is ZVIL. The "h" came about because it is written as a historical relic in the Hebraic rendering--and, properly speaking, it should be after the "i", but it is not relevant to the pronunciation."M A second email from Marc followed up with "Also, the spellings of the town in Russian are transliterated from Cyrillic as follows:
        Novogradvolynsk (Russian, before the Revolution)
       Novograd Volynskii (Russian, after the Revolution)
       Novohrad Volyns'kyi (Ukrainian)
The town was also known in Russian as:
       V"zviagel' (13th c.)
       Zviagel' (15th c. on)
And in Ukrainian as:
The latter form is the one that Yiddish borrowed, whence the name Zvil.


Kligerman family  

A family from Zhvil

The Bilansky Family. Photo provided by Jan Groshan.
A site honoring this family has been created by Marc Greenberg at http://www.ancestors-genealogy.com/greenberg/

Taken c.1910 in Novograd-Volinskiy. The head of the family is Avrum BILANSKY. His wife Sofia/Sara sits to one side of him and it is thought that the elderly blind gentleman on his other side is his uncle, Joseph Nuta BILANSKY. He is said to have lived until age 106.

The photograph is marked in the handwriting of Jan Groshan's mother "grandma, grandpa, great-grandfather," and Abram Bilansky's father had been dead since 1853, hence the assumption that this is his uncle whose birth year would match the claims for this man's age.

The other parties are the children still in Novograd-Volinskiy that year: Rivka BILANSKY ZHURAVENKO/JORDAN (emigrated 1914); Bella BILANSKY SCHNEIDERMAN (emigrated 1922); Schleme/Samuel BILANSKY (emigrated 1920). Children that had already emigrated and were not in the picture were Naftali BILANSKY, Rachel BILANSKY BROWN (already in Boston 1903), Harry BILANSKY (in Detroit in 1908), and Nisl/Nathan BILANSKY (emigrated 1910).




Zhvil Stories

You may enjoy reading Journey to Chudnov, a great article by Mel Chudnof, a gentleman who was researching his family in Chudnov not far from Zhvil. He used JewishGen's Shtetl Shleppers to arrange the trip of a lifetime and his emotional experiences, in Chudnov and in the Zhitomir archives.


Zhvil Records

Marc L. Greenburg has contributed several examples of birth, death, and census records from Zhvil. See them here.

Naomi Moderick has contributed selected extracts from Zhvil census records from 1816-1874. See them here.

Other Records about Residents and Emigrants from Zhvil

Military Certificate of Service Completion for Herschko, (son of Samuel Frayerman), from the city of of 'Novogradovolyne.' Document courtesy of Reouven Frajerman.


  • Last Modified: 02-23-2012
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