About Latvia, Jewish Family Lists from Dvinsk, c. 1876-1917
This database is an amalgam of information from three separate sources held in the collections of the State Historical Archives in Riga, Fond 4936. The earliest entries date from 1876, but the lists were worked on and updated throughout the period up to 1917, the eve of the First Latvian Republic. The lists were originally compiled for the purpose of establishing liability for tax and/or military service. In addition information has been added from lists of Jewish Merchants and Petit Bourgeois (small shopkeepers and business owners) who were registered as part of the Dvinsk/Daugavpils Jewish community during this period.
The database consists of some 8,300 entries and refers to some 14,000 named individuals when father's names (patronymics), maiden names or other family connections are included. The data has been professionally extracted in Riga from the original lists in Russian (handwritten Cyrillic). These lists give a good coverage of Jewish families of the period. They are not fully comprehensive but they are an excellent starting point for any one searching family connections in Dvinsk or the Dvinsk area.
About the Database:
The database contains the following fields:
- Family Name: This refers to the family surname. Names were transliterated from Russian. Russian makes no distinction between the "G" and the "H" sounds. Thus the surname 'Hurwich' may be spelled 'Gurwich' and each form is accurate depending on the transliteration system is employed. Where a surname for the same family is found in two forms then these are included in the database separated by a forward slash, e.g. 'DIMANSTEIN / DIMANDSTEIN'.
- Maiden Name: In the case of a married woman the maiden name is sometimes recorded. If so, it is included in a separate column. The search system picks up maiden name entries as well. Maiden names are important in establishing and researching the female line of descent, something which is often more difficult than following male lines of descent.
- Given Names: This refers to the name by which a person was known. Hebrew and Yiddish name forms are common. Occasionally, names such as "Leopold" or "Max" which are neither Yiddish or Hebrew are encountered, although these are still the exception.
- Father: This column can be particularly useful as it gives the patronymic or father's given name according to the Russian style of name construction. A Patronymic takes research back a further generation. Where there are multiple entries for a large family such as Lurie or Jakobson look at the patronymic. With luck it should be possible to create provisional family trees since brothers in one generation may each have children so that the various family lines can be distinguished.
- Age (in year): This is the age of the person in the year stipulated. For example "12-1876" indicates that the individual was 12 years old in the year 1876 when the list was initially compiled. There are many entries indicating age after 1876 such as 42-1890 which means that that civil servant updating the list has noted the person's age at the date of amendment. Not all entries have age information.
- Died: In some cases a person is marked off the list with the year of death indicated. Occasionally just the word "died" with no date has been entered. Obviously all of the people in this list have now died but we have retained the original format.
- Comment: This includes a variety of information on family connections, second marriages, notations that an individual had become a widow etc.
- Residence: This is the place where the person resided when the list was drawn up. The great majority of entries are listed as Dvinsk/Daugavpils as most people both lived and were registered where they actually resided. However in a number of cases the person is listed as resident in say, Courland, though registered for tax and recruitment purposes in Dvinsk. Discrepancies in this field can provide important information about new geographical areas to pursue when looking for family roots. It also indicates that despite the fact that Dvinsk was within the Pale of Settlement (unlike Courland) there was more movement of peoples both in and out of this important commercial settlement than has sometimes been assumed.
- Place of Origin: This is a particularly interesting field which makes it clear the diversity of origin of the community of Dvinsk. There are many entries from shtetlach in Kovno gubernia (now in Lithuania), Vitebsk gubernia (now in Latvia, Russia and Belarus), and other parts of Russia. The variety of backgrounds and cultural traditions was a feature of Jewish Dvinsk.
- Type of list: This indicates whether the information was extracted from the main "Family List" - compiled for a number of reasons including tax and liability to military service - or from the special "Merchants List".
- Fond Number: Each of the lists comes from Fond 4936 held in the collection of the State Historical Archives in Riga. The original documents are written in Russian Cyrillic.