Source Information

Jeffry Maynard. Lithuania and Latvia, List of Donors to Charity from HaMelitz, 1893-1903 [database on-line].
Original data: HaMelitz. 1893-1903. This data is provided in partnership with

About Lithuania and Latvia, List of Donors to Charity from HaMelitz, 1893-1903

This is an index to lists of names and announcements that were printed in the Hebrew newspaper HaMelitz during the years 1893 to 1903. With a few exceptions, only names listed as being from towns in Lithuania or Latvia have been included.

Historical Background:

In the second half of the nineteenth century four Hebrew daily newspapers circulated widely in Lithuania and Latvia. One of these was HaMelitz (The Advocate, or Morning Star). It was founded in 1860 in Odessa, and was initially published as a weekly. From 1871 until 1904 it was published in St. Petersburg as a daily.

Types of Lists and Announcements:

By 1893 HaMelitz was regularly filling its back page or pages with lists of persons living in the various shtetlach who had made donations to funds for the building up of the Land of Israel, or for the relief of victims of famine, fires and other community tragedies. Lists of Ritavas residents featured on four separate occasions: in 1898 (Issues No 132 and 173); in 1899 (Issue No. 56) and in 1900 (Issue No 121). The 1900 collection was for a fund to aid the hungry in Bessarabia.

Many entries in this database are announcements of weddings. Sometimes these are a simple announcement by the bride and groom. Often they are lists of donations to the "Workers in the Holy Land" that were collected from the guests at a wedding.

The style and information given varies over the years, with the earlier issues in a clearer type and more readable format. The print in the later issues is quite small and reading it from a microfilm is often nearly impossible. The information was sent to the editor of HaMelitz by correspondents and agents who were appointed in each town. It should be borne in mind that these agents wrote the original information by hand and mailed it to the newspaper. The names were then set in type. There were often errors and mistakes, some of which were occasionally corrected in later issues. The same name is sometimes found spelled in two different ways in one group of announcements sent in by a single collector. Dates are also sometimes difficult. The agent would wait until he had several announcements to hand in, and the newspaper printed them as space was available. Thus a list of donors on the evening of Yom Kippur might be printed six months later.

Database format and content:

The data fields are:

  • Family name

  • Personal name, including any patronymic or family relationships

  • Town

  • Source (HaMelitz issue number)

  • Year of publication

  • Comments: Title, occupation, wedding details, other notes, etc.

The following abbreviations are used in the database:

    ben = son of
    bas = daughter of
    s-i-l = son-in-law
    f-i-l = father-in-law