Suwalk-Lomza Interest Group
for Jewish Genealogists
The Suwalk-Lomza Interest Group for Jewish Genealogists [Suwalk-Lomza SIG] began in the Fall of 1990, as the first organization to focus on a specific Jewish area of origin. Our focus area encompasses the former Russian-Polish gubernias (provinces) of Suwalki and Lomza -- today in southwestern Lithuania and northeastern Poland -- as constituted in 1866-1914. We publish a quarterly Journal called Landsmen, which offers original research and data extractions, chiefly from material pertaining to the 19th century. A summary of the contents of all issues to date appears below. Most volumes consist of two single issues and one double issue per publication year; more recently, two double issues per year (about 185-200 pages per volume).
Every issue of Landsmen is packed with specific information about Jewish communities and families of the former Suwalki and Lomza gubernias, especially our detailed extracts of data from various 19th century record sets. Other articles blend information about personalities with interesting historical material, including: translated sections of Yizkor (Memorial) books, and other foreign language publications; taxpayer and donor lists; institutional governmental records; emigration history and data; travel accounts, etc. The many letters and Family Finder ads from our members stimulate a lot of information sharing among us.
Our vision is two-fold: (1) to bring into being a cumulative body of knowledge -- in the English language -- on the Jewish experience within our focus area, and deepen our understanding of that experience; and (2) discover the actual family links among us. Our members are known for their generosity in helping new "landsmen" to catch up. Landsmen is also subscribed to by a growing number of libraries and organizations, thus ensuring preservation of this work for future generations.
The 19th century civil records filmed by the Mormons are one of our most important resources. In addition to the towns shown in the Summary of Landsmen Contents, and Index of Landsmen Articles by Town, families from hundreds of nearby places appear in our extracts from that source because: (1) the frequency of inter-town marriages was quite high; and (2) the larger towns (e.g. Suwalki, Lozdzieje, Lomza, etc.) served a record-keeping function for smaller communities in their vicinity. That is especially important for towns whose records are not in the Mormon collection, (e.g. many of the Suwalki gubernia towns which are now in Lithuania: Kalwarja, Simno, Wersbelow/Virbalis, Wolkowyski/Vilkoviskis, etc.). Examples of other places with no (or very few) filmed records, but appearing frequently in our marriage and extracts from other Suwalk-Lomza towns, are: Augustow, Gac, Goworowo, Jedwabne, Holynka, Kolno, Ostrolenka, Piantnica, Stawiski, Sopockin, Sztabin, Raczki, and very many other townlets and villages.
Except for marriages from the cities of Suwalki and Lomza themselves (extracted in partial-detail because of the sheer volume of those registers), our published extracts give all genealogical data in the civil records.
A major initiative over the past 20 years is the Landsmen Foreign Research Project, supported from the extra funds contributed by our Patron members. As a result, we aquired archival material for Suwalk-Lomza through arrangements with the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius, the Polish National Archives in Warsaw, and other foreign sources. The material consists of specific data on families and individuals including many 19th c. civil records not microfilmed by the Mormons. Acquisitions under that project published to date are indicated as such in the contents summary below [eg. Suwalki gubernia external passports; Raczki historical documents; Szczuczyn and Nowogrod marriages; Rajgrod, Grajewo and Szczuczyn marriage supplements; Russian military conscription data for localities in the districts of Sejny, Suwalki, Kalwarja, Wolkowyszki/Vilkaviskis, and Augustow; miscellaneous files kept about Jews; extracts of resident books from some towns in Suwalki gubernia, Jews evicted in 1915; - and other sources.
Acknowledgments: Landsmen has been acclaimed for excellence as a publication of this genre -- (it was called "extraordinary" by Dorot, Newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society, Inc., NY). That is thanks to the many of our talented members who contribute research and expertise. Our most recent Production and Technical Assistance Committee, most of whom also have been major ongoing contributors of work, includes: Richard Allen Avner, Ellen Barbieri, Micheline Gutmann (France), Jeffrey Kaiser, Ben-Tsion Klibansky (Israel), Michael Richman, Paula Ringskog, Michoel Ronn, Nicki Russler, Mordechai Shelef, Jill Whitehead (England), Evan Wolfson, and Robert Zavos.
Others who have contributed especially difficult original work include: Gerard Abramovici (France), Galina Baranova (Lithuanian State Historical Archives), William K. Berton, Jennifer Bestor, Warren Blatt, Sally Bruckheimer, Carl. H. Carlsson (Sweden), Sophie Degan, Jerome Delson, Alex Friedlander, Larry Hamilton, William Hovey, David Langenburg, Prof. Arthur Leonard, Donald Levinsohn, Gary Maher, Rabbi Jeffrey A. Marx, Elliot Miller, Agnes Pearlman, Dr. Richard Plotz, Yigal Rechtman, Yale Reisner (Jewish Institute, Warsaw), Dr. Neil Rosenstein, Nancy Schoenburg, Randy Stehle, and Raymond Whitzman. Dozens of others have contributed short informational items, reports of their research experiences, offerings of new products, and many other features lending variety and balance to each issue. Indeed, we have acquired a reputation for having an exceptionally high level of active member participation.
Our paid membership varies from year to year in the 380-400 range. Although the great majority of our members are Americans, they live in 10 different countries. "Landsmen" is also subscribed to by many libraries. With this international dimension, our members frequently discover branches of their family all over the world. The more the merrier, so we hope you join us.