1912 Baltische Verkehrs- und Adressbuch
The Courland Directories
In some villages in Courland, where scarce vital records survive, area directories can be of supreme help in furthering one's genealogical quest. Information in the directories of Courland is invaluable on many counts. Not only do the directories give the home address and the business address of an individual, they also indicate other people living with that person, whether the individual owns the premises, other premises the individual might own, and what sort of business the individual engaged in. One can obtain a snapshot of what life might have been like for that particular year: the directories list all schools and headmasters including Jewish schools, synagogues with the names of the serving rabbi and gabbai, charity organizations, council members, and so forth. Each section of the directory gives a short history of the town as well as its organization and transportation facilities to other areas. All these things help to put flesh on the bones of our ancestors through furthering our understanding of their everyday lives.
The Courland Directory of 1912 is particularly important because it was published shortly prior to the expulsion of the Jews from areas of Courland in World War I. On the first day of Sukkot in 1915, the Jews of Courland were given 48 hours to leave Courland for the interior of Russia. This event, which is also described in the memoirs of Solomon Katzen and of Shaul Lipschitz (see also historical background), caused enormous hardship for the Jews, split families forever, with many dying in the forced exile. So this directory of 1912 has enormous significance, as you can well imagine.
The Courland Directory is written in Gothic German script. German was the lingua franca of Courland up to the First World War, in spite of the fact that it had been under the domination of the Russian Empire since the third partition of Poland in 1795. All official communications had to be written in German as well as Russian if the powers that be wished to be understood. Useful translation tools are available on the JewishGen GerSIG site that can help in deciphering the script and in translating the contents, including specialized topics such as occupational names. The German place names listed can be linked to modern Latvian place names.
Links are provided below to the first page of each section of the Courland volume; subsequent pages in each section are reached by page-by-page links. Unfortunately some pages (a few dozen out of 500+) are missing. The first section covers the cities and major towns, mainly in alphabetical order (by German name), the second covers estates (Güter) in the region (Kreis) of each of 10 larger towns, and the third is the index (Register), which provides cross-referencing by various criteria. Page numbers referenced in the index can be reached using the box below; note that each column in the Estates section is numbered as a separate page.
Title Page and Introduction
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