A Jewish Life Under the Tsars
The Autobiography of Chaim Aronson 1825-1888

Published by the JewishGen Press

Author: Chaim Aronson
Translator: Dr. Norman Marsden
Cover and Book Design: Nina Schwartz, Impulse Graphics
Research for current printing: Nina Schwartz
6” x 9”, 410 pages, Hardcover

Available from for $33.00


Chaim Aronson wrote his autobiography as a record for his family, hoping that his descendants would gain an understanding of the events of his life. While describing both his personal and professional life, he also provided insights into the historical background, customs and daily life of Jews of the time.

Chaim Aronson was born in 1825 in Seredžius (Serednik), Lithuania. He vividly relates his experiences as a young boy and as a poor Yeshiva student. After his marriage, he learned clockmaking. He details the several different places where he lived, from Šeduva (Seduva) and Kurtovian (Kurtuvėnai) to Telz (Telšiai) to finally, a move outside of the Pale to St. Petersburg.

Aronson was a loyal husband, but he did not find a lasting, loving relationship until his third of three arranged marriages. He was family man and a protective father of six sons.

Professionally, he was a Hebrew teacher, a clockmaker, a businessman, and an inventor. He developed several advancements in clockmaking and photography. Unfortunately, the business climate and antisemitic practices of the Tsarist government made it impossible for him to market his inventions.

In 1888, Chaim Aronson decided to emigrate to America with his wife to join four of his sons. The memoir ends in that year. Aronson lived in New York City, where he passed away in 1893.

JewishGen Press is proud to present the new edition of this fascinating memoir, originally hand-written in Hebrew and expertly translated into English by Dr. Norman Marsden. It was first published in 1983.

The story of this one man's life is significant for its description of Jewish life in 19th - century Lithuania and Russia.

Link to the original hand-written Hebrew manuscript: https://www.jewishgen.org/press/aronson-chaim.pdf

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