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This database consists of extracts from two Russian business directories, Vsia Rossiia for 1903 and 1911.
Each gubernia was comprised of several districts (uyezds):
Minsk gubernia was comprised of 10 districts (uyezds):
Bobruisk, Borisov, Igumen, Minsk, Mozyr, Nesvizh, Novogrudok, Pinsk, Rechitsa and Slutsk. The vast majority of Minsk gubernia is in modern Belarus; small portions of southern Pinsk and Mozyr uyezds are in modern Ukraine.
Mogilev gubernia was comprised of 11 districts (uyezds):
Bykhov, Chausy, Cherikov, Gomel, Gory-Gorki, Klimovichi, Mogilev, Mstislavl, Orsha, Rogachev, and Senno. The majority of Mogilev gubernia is in modern Belarus; small portions of northeastern Mogilev gubernia is in modern Russia.
Vitebsk gubernia was comprised of 11 districts (uyezds):
Drissa, Dvinsk, Gorodok, Lepel, Liutsin, Nevel, Polotsk, Rezhitsa, Sebezh, Velizh, and Vitebsk. Note that Dvinsk, Rezhitsa and Liutsin uyezds are now in Latvia; and that Sebezh, Nevel and parts of Gorodok and Velizh uyezds are now in Russia; the remainder of the uyezds are in Belarus.
The organization of Vsia Rossiia is described in the article "Russian Business Directories" by Harry D. Boonin, found in Avotaynu, Volume VI, Number 4 (Winter 1990), pages 23-32. The 1903 edition of Vsia Rossiia has a name index that refers the reader to the appropriate column number in the business listings. The guberniia are listed alphabetically.
For each town, the town officials are listed. Virtually none of these names are Jewish and they are not included in this translation. The district town (uyezd capital city) listings then appear, followed by the other uezds in the guberniia. The occupations are listed alphabetically under the broad headings "Fabriki i Zabody" ("Factories and Mills") and "Torgovo-Promyshlennnyia Prelpr" ("Trade-Industrial Enterprises"). The Minsk listings occupy 12 pages in this telephone book sized volume.
Each entry in Vsia Rossiia begins with the surname, in capital letters. This is followed by the given name which may or may not be abbreviated, and then the patronymic (father's given name) which is always abbreviated. A street address follows in the case of the district towns (uyezd capital cities); for the other towns in the uezd (district), the name of the town and volost is given. (A volost is a rural district composed of the union of several villages. Typically a volost had from 300 to 2,000 inhabitants. It is similar to a township in the United States).
Population figures and other statistics are given in the directory. In 1897, the Minsk Gubernia had a population of 2,156,120, a number presumably derived from the All-Empire census of that year. 108,240 births, 54,918 deaths, and 18,608 marriages occurred. These numbers show how difficult it will be to locate a vital record when the event is said to have taken place in "Minsk". A map of the guberniia with the distance scale calibrated in versts precedes the name listings. The Minsk Guberniia measured approximately 150 versts from north to south and 100 versts from east to west. A verst is equal to about 0.6 miles.
The New York Public Library has an original paper copy of the 1903 edition of Vsia Rossiia that has yellowed, crumbling, brittle pages and is too fragile to photocopy. The Dodd Archive at the University of Connecticut in Storrs owns an original copy of the 1895 edition of Vsia Rossiia. This copy is in near perfect condition with a map of Russia embossed in gold on the cover. The librarians are understandably reluctant to allow extensive photography or copying of this volume as well. UConnís copy of Vsia Rossiia was obtained from V. V. Baratonevsky, Russian Book Library, 43 Hanaway Street, London. The 1895 edition is less useful for genealogical research than the later editions since given names are often abbreviated and patronymics are not given. The Library of Congress owns microfilm copies of all the known editions of Vsia Rossiia published in 1895, 1899, 1903, and 1911. It is not clear if Vsia Rossiia was published every year. The 1911 edition is in substantially better condition than the 1903 edition and lends itself much more readily to study and translation.
This database includes 1,211 entries from the 1903 Vsia Rossiia, covering the 10 districts of Minsk gubernia; 1,756 entries for the 12 districts of Mogilev gubernia from the 1903 directory; 2,638 entries from the 1911 Vsia Rossiia for Minsk gubernia; 2,860 entries for Mogilev gubernia from the 1911 directory; and 3,611 entries from the 1911 Vsia Rossiia, covering the 11 districts of Vitebsk gubernia.
The following fields are used: Surname, Given name, Patronymic, Column No., Occupation, Town, Volost, District and Gubernia. (The field for Volost was ignored in the 1911 Mogilev and Minsk extracts). The names of the towns are often difficult to read or for uncertain reasons may not be listed in Vsia Rossiia. The microfilms from the Library of Congress are badly scratched from multiple trips through the microfilm readers and contain many illegible entries. A blank cell is left in the database when information is either missing or illegible.
The modified Library of Congress system was used for the Russian transliteration. A copy of the table can be found at http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/russian.pdf. Some translators followed this table exactly while others used dropped the last "i" in Russian names ending with "ii". Use of this table results in some names which may at first appear unfamiliar. The Russian letter "X" is trasliterated as "Kh", therefore, Chaim becomes the less familiar Khaim.
The directories made extensive use of abbreviations — the given name is frequently abbreviated, and the patronymic is always abbreviated. Little consistency is seen among the abbreviations — different sections of Vsia Rossiia use different abbreviations. The database editor has expanded the abbreviated names in brackets for ease of use by researchers. Some of the bewildering array of abbreviations is explained in Harry Boonin's 1990 Avotaynu article "Russian Business Directories". Vitaly Charny has graciously reviewed the given name abbreviations and provided a table listing the most likely possibilities. As with any such listing, this should be used with caution because many of the abbreviations are ambiguous.
Further projects of the JewishGen Belarus SIG involve the translation of all editions of Vsia Rossiia for Minsk and Mogilev Guberniia, as well as other gubernias. Volunteers are needed.
Further Reading: For more information about Russian Business Directories, see:
The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1903 Minsk data: Roberta Solit made paper copies from the microfilm of Vsia Rossiia in the Library of Congress. Translated material was submitted by Ira Leibowitz, Mark Grekin, Mike Mogilevsky, Adrienne Narrows, Jane Rollins, and Rhoda Weiss who had assistance from friends in Belarus. Bert Lazerow supplied a translated list of occupations. Vitaly Charny edited the transliterated lists to insure uniformity.
The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1903 Mogilev data: Roberta Solit supplied the paper copies of Vsia Rossiia used in the translation. The data was translated by Tom Gartman, Mark Grekin supplied the meaning of some of the obscure business types, Vitaly Charny edited the material.
The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1911 Mogilev data: Roberta Solit supplied the paper copies of Vsia Rossiia used in the translation. Translated data was submitted by Tom Gartman, Mark Grekin, Ira Leibowitz, and Jane Rollins. Vitaly Charny edited the material to ensure uniformity. Dave Fox of the JewishGen Belarus SIG provided logistical support and Risa Heywood edited the introduction.
The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1911 Minsk data: Roberta Solit supplied the paper copies of Vsia Rossiia used in the translation. Translated data was submitted by Leon Faynshteyn, Harry Boonin, Tom Gartman, Leon Koll, Ira Leibowitz, Vladimir Golynskiy, and Jane Rollins. Vitaly Charny edited the material to ensure uniformity.
The Vsia Rossiia translation team for the 1911 Vitebsk data: Roberta Solit supplied the paper copies of Vsia Rossiia used in the translation. The data was translated by Tom Gartman, Vitaly Charney edited the data and supplied the list of abbreviations.
Tom Gartman acted as project leader. Warren Blatt edited the database introduction. The JewishGen Belarus SIG would like to thank Michael Tobias for providing the search engine for this and other databases.
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