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The Grodno Gubernia 1912 Voters List Database

This database contains the names of over 26,000 men of Grodno Gubernia who were eligible to vote in the Russian parliamentary elections in 1912.

· General Information About the Voter Lists
· What is in the database: Interpreting Results
· How the Project was Accomplished
· Transliteration Method
· The Original Lists
· Acknowledgements

General Information About the Voter Lists

Elections for the Russian parliament (Duma) were held (or supposed to be held) in 1906, 1907, and 1912.  These are the years in which voter lists were published.  There were several factors that qualified the Jew – who was considered a non-Russian – and other non-Russians to vote.  These reasons related to economic status and similar class distinctions.  Only men over age 25 were permitted to vote, so the lists only include men.

This section does not explain the political and social aspects of the democratization efforts in the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire, nor how the voter lists came about.  That information is welcome, and can be sent to the webmaster, for inclusion on this web page.

In each of the gubernias (provinces) that made up Czarist Russia at the turn of this century, lists of non-Russians who were qualified to vote in the scheduled elections were published in the official government regional newspapers, the Gubernskie Vedomosti.  For the 1912 elections, the lists were published during the first week of August, 1912.  For more information on the voter lists and the Gubernskie Vedomosti, see the introduction to Alexander Beider's A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire (Avotaynu, 1993), and the article "Gubernskie Vedomosti: A Genealogical Resource" by Aleksandrs Feigmanis, in Avotaynu Volume XII, Number 4 (Winter 1996), pages 27-28.

Grodno Gubernia was one of over 60 gubernias in Czarist Russia at that time.  Jewish residency was restricted to the 15 gubernias of the Pale of Settlement, and the 10 gubernias of the Kingdom of Poland.  Like other gubernias (roughly the equivalent of a U.S. state), Grodno Gubernia was divided into several uyezds (districts).  Grodno Gubernia's nine uyezds were: Bialystok, Bielsk, Brest, Grodno, Kobrin, Pruzhany, Slonim, Sokolka and Volkovysk.  These voter lists were published one district at a time, and for each district, there were usually two published lists.  Therefore, in the case of Grodno Gubernia, with its nine districts, there were 18 lists.

What is in the Database: Interpreting Results

This database is a list of the full names of 26,625 men of Grodno Gubernia who were eligible to vote in Russian parliamentary elections in 1912.  Each record usually includes the given name of the father of the voter and the district, and occassionally the town where the voter lived.  About 80 percent of the voters were Jewish, having distinctively Jewish given names.

This database contains six fields:

  • Surname – The voter's surname.
  • Voter – The voter's given name(s).
  • Father – The voter's patronymic, i.e.: his father's given name(s).
  • District – The district where the voter lived.  One of the nine uyezds of Grodno Gubernia: Bialystok, Bielsk, Brest, Grodno, Kobrin, Pruzhany, Slonim, Sokolka or Volkovysk.
  • Town – The town where the voter lived.  Only listed in a few of the lists.
  • Reference number – Used to locate the original entry.

The voter lists are not an index to a larger set of data.  What you see here is all that there is in the original lists.  The only additional data for each voter is the indication of how he qualified to vote.  That information was not transferred to the transliterated database because of its lack of usefulness.

How the Project was Accomplished

An InfoFile is being written, which will be linked to this page, that describes how you can coordinate a voter list transcription project for another gubernia and/or year.

Transliteration Method

The voter lists were published in Russian, i.e.: the Cyrillic alphabet.  The project volunteers transliterated the names from the Cyrillic alphabet into the Latin alphabet for this database.  The aim of the transliteration of names was to retain as much of their original pronunciation as possible.  Exceptions were made, however, in the interest of making the database more user-friendly.

Editing of the Database Entries

The first level of editing was to ensure that all of the reference numbers were entered correctly.  In that process, it was learned that 2,509 entries for the Slonim district were not transliterated.  This data will be added as soon as someone takes on the project, via the Grodno Genealogy Group.

Another stage of editing involved the location of foreign characters. This would include J, Q, W, and X anywhere, and H at the beginning of a name.

The final, and most extensive editing stage was done for only those entries with at least one Yiddish or possibly-Yiddish given name (about 75 percent of the database).  To get to that step, it was necessary to mark the entries based on whether they had any bit of a Jewish name.  Thus, anyone with the name "Aleksandr" or "Yosif" would not be marked as "Russian" — those names are often paired with names such as "Ignatei", "Stanislav" or "Ivan", as much as they are paired with "Yekhiel", "Shmuel" or "Abram".

The remaining "Jewish" or "possibly-Jewish" entries were then arranged alphabetically by given name (of the voter, then later by the father).  At this point, it was easier to see which given names looked out of place.  Any entry that had a given name that did not look correct was marked for further inspection, resulting in a list of about 2,000 entries.  For each of the 2,000 questionable entries, the entire transliterated entry was compared to the entire original Russian entry — surname, given name, and father's given name — and corrections made.  No entries were discarded; thus there are some non-Jewish entries included in this database.

Asterisked Entries

An asterisk was placed after names with unusual spellings.

Misspellings and Odd Names

There are many mispellings in the original list.  Only if it was unambiguously clear what the correction should be was any correction made.  For example, if the name transliterates to "Shchmuel", then it would be changed to "Shmuel", but only because the Cyrillic characters for SHCH and SH (Ш and Щ) look very similar.  On the other hand, while the name "Ruvim" looks like it should have been "Rubin," a check of the original indicates that this is how it originally appeared, and so no correction was made.

Double, Triple, and Hyphenated Names

Many individuals had multiple given names.  On a very few occasions, surnames were hyphenated.  Double, and occasionally triple given names sometimes were separated by a space, and sometimes by a hyphen.  The transliteration seeks to replicate the same format as it appears in the original list.


The transliteration rules regarding vowel combinations were very complex.  For example, where a "Y" is used in a transliteration, it could just as easily have been an "I".

G versus H

There is no H in the Cyrillic alphabet.  Many names spelled with a "G" (Cyrillic letter Г) in Russian have been spelled with an "H" in transliteration.  For example:

  • Girsh → Hirsh
  • Gilel → Hilel
  • Geshel → Heshel

CH versus KH

In Russian, the CH sound (Cyrillic letter Ч, sounds as in "Charles") and the KH sound (Cyrillic letter Х, sounds as the "ch" in Bach) are both common sounds.  In this database, these sounds are transliterated as "CH" and "KH", respectively.  For example, in other databases the spelling "Chaim" is used; in this database, the spelling "Khaim" is used.

X versus KS

Russian uses two letters together which sound like the English K and S (Cyrillic letters К and С).  These letters are used in transliteration where in English we usually use the letter X.

W versus V

There is no W sound in Russian, although V is pronounced close to it.  Thus, many names which you might expect to be spelled with a W in English are spelled with a V instead.  For example, the name Wolf appears as Vulf.

The Russian Equivalents to the English "E"

In the Cyrillic alphabet there is a letter that looks just like the English "E" (Cyrillic letter Е), but its pronunciation is equivalent to the English letters Y and E used in juxtaposition — known as the "hard E".  The original rules of transliteration stated that the Russian "e" be transliterated to "ye".

Approximately half of the transliterators did not follow this rule.  Although that transliteration rule gave the names their proper Russian pronunciation, for simplicity the rule was abandoned.  Some surnames or unusual given names may still have the "ye", however.

Other Changes

The root name "shtein" has been changed universally to "stein".

The Original Lists

Photocopies of the original Cyrillic lists, from which this database was created, have been delivered to the Grodno Genealogy Group.  If you have any questions related to the original lists, please contact the Grodno Genealogy Group.


Several individuals contributed funds to purchase the lists, and many volunteers transliterated these names into English from their original Russian spelling.  Most individuals contributed the requested $25, and many transliterators completed about 350 names.  Some transliterated many more.  A big thanks goes out to all of these wonderful people:


Michael Bohnen, Jack Buck, Fran Goldberg, Alan Greenberg, Linda Hugle, Mary Letaw, Amy Levinson, Olga Parker, Al Raphaelson, Iris Sitkin, Carol Skydell, Ed Stern, Ray Stone, Shari Videlock, John Warshawsky, Steven Weiss, Marion Werle, Jackie Ziff, David Zubatsky and the Grodno SIG.


Ted Alper, Jack Buck, Arn Burkhoff, Jerry Esterson, Dave Fessler, Anita Finn, Ronald Gabriel, Becky Gallops, Cantor Maynard Gerber, Marci Glazer, Judie Goldstein, Flora & Herbert Gursky, Linda Hugle, Roberta Jacobs, Reeva Kimble, Dana Kurtz, Bert Lazerow, Jay Lenefsky, Irving Levine, Amy Levinson, Sita Likuski, Andrew Lupu, Robinn Magid, Alan Marder, Arielle Masters, Marty Miller, Gary Mokotoff, Batya Olsen, Olga Parker, Ernest Ratowitz, Hymie Reichstein, Michael Richman, Stephen Salniker, Sheila Salo, Joan & Gerry Saunders, Sari Wolgel Shifrin, Iris Sitkin, Roberta Solit, Joel Spector, Ray Stone, John Warshawsky, Chuck Weinstein, Marion Werle, Jim Yarin, Sidney Zabludoff, and Jackie Ziff.

Steven Zedeck and the Jewish Records Indexing - Poland (formerly REIPP) group deserve special mention.  Steve coordinated the transliteration of 5,602 names from one very large list of Białystok voters.

And finally, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible.  Special thanks to Susan King, Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.

Jim Yarin
April, 1998

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Data Copyright ©1998 Jim Yarin and the Grodno Genealogy Group
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