Jewish cemetery in Obertyn restored

Good news from Ukraine. In July 2017 Bohdan Stanislavsky, a businessman in Obertyn near Kolomyia, restored and commemorated the Jewish cemetery. Stanislavsky is an owner of the former kolkhoz built by the soviets on the land where the Jewish cemetery once stood. In  the course of  restoration works, a barn was destroyed. Dozens of tombstones which supported construction of the barn were brought back to the cemetery.

Opening of the memorial was celebrated on July 12th together with rabbi Koleshnik from Ivano-Frankivsk, municipality and local residents.

6 7 19401589_186096154755m wyzwolone macejwy spod komory wywioza na cmentarza IMG_9015

Belowesch. German colonies near Chernihiv

Recently we carried out research on a family of German colonists which settled in Belowesch (Bilovezhі) nearh Chernihiv (Chernigov).

Gorodok, german collony in Chernihiv (Chernigov)

Gorodok (Horodok) near Haivoron, a german collony in Bilovezhi, on a map from 1880.

The colonies were established by the decision of Catherine II. Her idea was to  modernize agriculture in the region by creating well managed farms which could serve as an example for local villagers and rise general level of productivity in the area. The ideas were much in spirit of the Enlightment and idea of well managed, absolute state, which emerged in the Western Europe in 18th Century which also the Russian Empire tried to follow. 124 families  were granted land on Bilovezha steppe in the district of Borzna in 1767  and 23 families established a town — Gorodok (Horodok). The 23 families were initially involved in crafts, but soon they switched to agriculture. Remaining 124 resided in 5 villages:

  • Grosswerder (Velykyi Verder, Великий Вердер, today Zelenivka, Зеленівка),
  • Rundewiese (Rundevize, Рундевізе, today Kruhloluhivka, Круглолугівка, does not exist since 2009),
  • Kleinwerder (Malyi Verder, Малий Вердер, today Pershotravneve, Першотравневе),
  • Belowesch (Bili Vezhi, Білі Вежі, today Bilovezh Pershi, Біловежі Перші),
  • Kaltschinowka (Kalchynivka, Кальчинівка, same name today).

The town of Gorodok does not exist anymore, it’s marked on the maps only by the Horodok train station in the middle of forest.  In 1951 Gorodok was renamed to Vosmoye Marta (8th of March, Восьмое Марта) and later included in administrative borders of nearby Haivoron.

During the research we localized following documents on the colonies and the colonists in State Archives in Chrnihiv, Odessa and Dnipro (Dnipropetrovsk, Yekaterinoslav). Let us know if you’d like to have these records researched.


  1. Revision list of the merchants, state serfs and colonists in the Borzna district; 1816
  2. Revision list of the townspersons-colonists and stat serfs; 1854
  3. Revision list from 1813; 1813
  4. Revision list from 1815; 1815

Tax records

  1. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1810
  2. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1811
  3. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1814
  4. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain postal services; 1814
  5. On the collection of the land tax from the Belowesch colonists; 1817
  6. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain public space; 1817
  7. On the collection of the tax from the Belowesch colonists to sustain state roads; 1817
  8. On the collection of the land tax from the Belowesch colonists; 1818
  9. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain public space; 1818
  10. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to support postal services; 1818
  11. On the collection of the tax from the Belowesch colonists to sustain large state roads; 1818
  12. On the collection of taxes from the Belowesch colonists to maintain water regulations; 1818
  13. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1819
  14. On the collection of taxes from the Belovezha colonists to maintain public space; 1819
  15. On the land tax on colonists from Belowesch colonies; 1819
  16. On the collection of the tax from the Belowesch colonists to sustain state roads; 1819

Other documents

  1. On the correspondence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the resettlement of the Belowesch colonists to the Chernihiv governorate and other documents regarding the colonists; 1805-1812
  2. Lists of the Belowesch colonists with sizes of their lands indicated; 1808-1809
  3. Report on the economic state of the Belowesch colonies; 1809
  4. Notes on the documents regarding re-settlement of the Belovezha colonists and on investigation of illegal activity of the Khreshchatyn colonists; 1809
  5. On voluntary donations from the colonists from Belowesch, Gdańsk (Danzig), Sweden and from Mennonites residing in Yekaterinoslav to support military draft; 1807-1808
  6. Information on economical situation of the Belowesch colonists; 1817
  7. Information on the situation of the Belowesch colonies; 1828
  8. On the re-settlement of the Belowesch colonists to the Yekateinoslav governorate; 1833Statistical information on the Belowesch collonies from 1836; 1836
  9. On the fire in the colony of Velykyi Verder; 1838
  10. Request of the superintendent of the Belowesch colonies to send him books of tax income; 1812
  11. Request to send 8 copies of the state regulations on village production [?] in german language; 1812

You can find more information on these colonies here:

Vital records of the Jews in Slovakia

Vital registration of the Jews before the World War One may be divided into two bodies: registered prior to 1895 and after 1895. Religious congregations were responsible for registration of birth, marriages and deaths before 1895, so records for each religious group were registered separately. All places in Slovakia were grouped in above 130 Jewish vital registration districts. People living in villages were obliged to register vital events in vital registration district center to which the village belonged (usually the nearest town).

In 1895 the Hungarian State (which Slovakia was a part of) took over the responsibility and thus made vital registration civil. Since that year vital events were registered together, regardless religious divisions.

LDS Church have microfilmed all pre-1895 vital records of the Jews held in the Slovakian archives. Records registered after 1895 are available only in local archives in Slovakia. Due to privacy law only records till about 1905 are freely searchable. Records for most eastern part of Slovakia (former Ung district) are held in Zemplén, Hungary and Uzhhorod, Ukraine.

We are updating our map with a new layer showing Jewish vital registration districts in Slovakia. Only districts with actually existing vital records in archives in Slovakia and Zemplén are shown. In the layer for Jewish vital registration districts in Galicia we show all districts, also those for which all vital records are lost.

Feel free to contact us if you need assistance in genealogical research of the vital records of Jews in Slovakia, as well as Zakarpattia (Podkarpatská Rus, Carpathian Ruthenia, Trans-Carpathia).

Source: Sarmányová-Kalesná Jana, Cirkevné matriky na Slovensku zo 16.-19. storočia (Bratislava: Odbor Archívnictva Ministerstva Vnútra SR, 1991).

The 1897 census of Odessa (research project)

odessaWe are beginning a new, huge project on the 1897 census of Odessa!

Please, contact us if you are interested in joining it. The more participants the lower costs of research per person!

About the census

The 1897 census of was the first modern census enumerated in the Russian Empire and at the same time the last one before the Bolshevik revolution. It registered:
family name, given name, patronymic, sex, relation to householder, age, marital status, social estate, place of birth, place of registration, place of residence, notice of absence, faith, mother language, literacy, occupation, secondary occupation, military status, mental illnesses and disabilities, address.

What exists today

As you know as a rule it was customary to destroy the census lists after contemporary officials computed information they were interested in. Odessa is one of the few exceptional cities for which the original census list from 1897 are still kept. The State Archives of the Odessa Province holds 2752 files with census lists. Judging by the overall number of pages in these files and total number of population in Odessa, I estimate that about 44% of original census lists has survived. In other words existing information covers about 61 thousands of Jews out of 139 thousands living in 1897 in Odessa (assuming that the files were lost spatially randomly). It makes this collection one of the most comprehensive genealogical source for Odessa. The files cover only the city of Odessa, they do not include information on nearby locations.

Accessibility of the files & research

LDS Church have scanned all 2752 files. Due to the limitations imposed on the LDS Church by Ukrainian archives, scans are accessible solely at the Family History Centers with disabled option for downloading the scans. 

In order to accomplish the research we will need to go through all 2752 files page by page (67250 scans, 134500 pages!). The files are arranged by houses and streets. There are no name indexes to the files. After finding family with last name researched, we will: 
– translate to English information on all household members from the census list
– retrieve photograph of the file from the State Archives of the Odessa Province for selected, relevant families.



Accomplishing whole research may take even one year, as it requires going through almost 3000 archival files. Family History Centers in Ukraine are open only for limited number of hours per week. In any case we are going to update you with partial results every 2-3 months.

Guiding in Radkekhiv (Radziechów)


On Jewish street in Radekhiv

It was a pleasant experience to be with you on our trip in Galicia, the homeland of our family. We, all the four cousins, have been impressed very much by your kind and nice personality, as well as from your knowledge on the subject of the Jews in the area. We appreciate very much the effort to find a Citizen from the community for helping to locate the house and the farm that was belonged to our Grandfather.

I must mention also the driver that was a good English speaker, kind, and helpful young man.

We were very lucky to have you as our guide, and intend to recommend you to friends and family members.

Thank You very much
From all of us

Ariela Fundaminsky


Bilyi Kamin & Sasiv, Galicia

Tomasz was an excellent guide for the discover your shtetl tour. We visited two villages near Lviv [Bilyi Kamin & Sasiv] that my ancestors left in the early 1900s. He had done research on each town so that when we arrived he had identified specific locations to visit. He was also creative and flexible: when a building in a cemetery was locked, he called and found the caretaker who unlocked it; same with a small local museum. He even found an elderly woman to tell us recollections of the past. I highly recommend Tomasz.

Lee Schaloop

New York, USA


Standing for the good name of archives

inverted_question_markYesterday the State Archives of the Lviv Region received anonymous letter denouncing my person. The unsigned, implicitly anti-semitic letter sent from Kyiv claimed that the archives should beware of my person, because i “work for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and  “slander the good name” of the Ukrainian Archives.

I am not used to discuss with cowards who are ashamed of their own name and thoughts, but I will make an exception.

  1. In 2010/2011 I was awarded a scholarship from Polish Bureau For Academic Recognition And International Exchange to conduct my academic research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The scholarship was sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
    There is huge difference between working for the Israeli MFA and getting scholarship from it. Beside this, I see nothing wrong in working for the Israeli MFA (just as for Ukrainian MFA).
  2. This accusation referred to my earlier post on my visit to the State Archives of the Chernihiv Oblast, which took place in 2013. During this visit I was seriously misinformed and treated disrespectfully by some members of the staff of this archive. I found this situation very confusing, and below of any standards of any state institutions. Simply some of the employees did not represent the state institution in which they work in respectful way. Such situations should not be swept under the carpet. Defining a problem is the first step to cure it. Standing for high standards of services in providing by the archives is standing for their good name.

I must say that my second in the archive in 2015 went perfectly and the staff from the reading room as well as th management was extremely polite and cooperative.

Experts says that anonymous letters are usually written by not very bright people. Indeed, it requires minimal level of intelligence to distinguish scholarship from employment and to understand that honest critics of the archival services contributes after all to its improvement and good name (and not silent acceptance of lack of manners among state officials).

Management of the State Archives of the Lviv Region  found this letter embarrassing for the archives and ensured me that they never consider anonymous letters. Thank you for your professional and respectful approach.

Dear anonymous person, we are eagerly looking forward for next denunciations. If you forget to sign them we will do this favor for you and publish your name. It wasn’t that hard to figure out who are you.

Presentation: Jewish Family in Poland in 19th Century

Seattle, beginning of the 20th C.

Seattle at beginning of 20th C.

IAJGS in Seattle is coming soon. Register now to JRI-Poland luncheon with our presentation!

Sunday,   August 7th:  11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. in Willow AB
JRI-Poland Luncheon: Jewish Family in Poland in 19th Century. Debunking
Myths with Tomasz Jankowski.

What made a Jewish family Jewish? Was it multigenerational and patriarchal?
Could studying Torah help in arranging a good marriage? How “typical” was
your own family?

This talk will help you to place your own family’s history in a broader
context of social and economic changes in Poland over the last two hundred
years. Special attention will be paid to distinguishing the common
characteristics of the Jewish family in the past.

(This luncheon will be 100 percent kosher, and will cost $44, as a result
of an anonymous donation to help underwrite the cost of the kosher
luncheon. If you are registered for the Conference and have not already
registered for the luncheon, the deadline to do so is July 10.)

Eli Wiesel / Sighetu. In memoriam

We did not plan it. No one could plan it. Yet, a regular trip has turned into a symbolic tour through Transcarpathia. Day after Eli Wiesel passed away we have visited his home town and a place of birth, Sighetu Marmației. A black flag is hanged on his family house. Gates to the Jewish cemetery, usually closed, stood open and inviting.

The rain was over and the grass was gently wet as morning dew.

A legend to cadastral maps of Galicia

19-Century cadastral maps of Galicia are wonderful source for genealogists. They may help finding exact localization of ancestral house, show how big it was and how far it was from the synagogue. The extremely detailed maps—full of tiny lines, signs and abbreviations—are hard to interpret without access to the original map legends. Original map legends were published in German separately from the maps.
This is first translation to English of the map legends of the Austro-Hungarian cadastral maps. Below you can find all symbols from Zeichenmuster für die Katastralmappen published in 1849 (found on GesherGalicia) supplemented with a few symbols from later map legend, probably from early 20th century, which I’ve found in the Przemyśl Archives.

For possible issues with house localization see our earlier post on the maps of Drohobych.

GesherGalicia Map Room, szukajwarchiwach.pl, and the Przemyśl Archives provides scans of cadastral maps of numerous Galician towns. Still, there are thousands of more available only in the archives in Lviv, Przemyśl, Rzeszów, and Krakow, covering almost every town and village in Galicia. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in researching them.



Soil and field types

Ornamental garden Ornamental garden
Zier gärten
Orchards Orchards
Obst gärten
 vegetable gardens Vegetable fields
Gemüse Gärten
 vineyards Vineyards
Wein Gärten
 hop fields Hop fields
Hopfen Gärten
 saffron field Saffron field
Saffran Bau.
 citrus field Citrus field
Grapp bau.
 tobacco field Tobacco field
Tobak bau.
 dry meadow Dry meadow
Trokene Wiesen
 wet meadow Wet meadow
Naise Wiesen
 meadows with fruit trees Meadows with fruit trees
Wiesen mit Obstbäumen
 pastures Pastures (W.)
 community pastures Community pastures (G.W.)
Gemeinde Weiden
 marsh Marsh
 marsh with reeds Marsh with reeds
Sümpfe mit Rohrwuchs
agricultural land Agricultural land
land with high iron content Agricultural land with high iron content (Rott)
Rott oder Trisch Äcker
 lands with fruit trees Land with fruit trees
Äcker mit Obstbäumen
 land with olive trees Land with olive trees
Äcker mit Öhlbäumen
 land with grapevines Land with grapevines
Äcker mit Weinreben
rice fields Rice fields
Reis felder
 brushwood Brushwood
 english garden English garden
Englische Anlagen.
 chestnut forest Chestnut woods
Kastanien Wälder
 olive woods Olive woods
Oliven wälder
 sand and gravel pits Sand and gravel pits
Sand und Schotter Gruben
 clay pits Clay pits
Lehm gruben
 bog Bog
 sea salt works Sea salt works
Meer salinen
 quarry Quarry
 desolate land, bare rock Desolate land (Oed.)
ÖdenBare rock (K.G.)
Nackte Felsen.
 groves Groves
 mixed forest Mixed forest
 coniferous forests Coniferous forests
Nadelholz Wälder
J.M. young forest
JungmaisS.H. pole forest
StangenholzM.H. medium forest
MittelholzH.S. high tree plantation
Hochstämmig schlager
hardwood forests Hardwood forests
Laubholz Wälder
lakes, ponds, rivers, streams Lakes, ponds, rivers, streams
Seen, Teiche, Flüsse, und BächeLagoon
LagunenSluice gate
Ablass SchleussenSand bank



 synagogue Synagogue
 church roman-catholic Roman-catholic church (or Greek-catholic)
Röm. kath. u. griech. unierte Kirche
 church greek-catholic Greek-catholic church
Griech. u. unierte Kirche
 church protestant Protestant church
Evangelische Kirche
 public building Public building
Öffentliche gebaude
 stone building Stone building
Steinerne gebaude
 wooden building Wooden building
Wirthschafts [Hölzerne-] Gebaude
stone residential building Stone residential building
Steinerne Wohngebäude
 wooden residential building Wooden residential building
Hölzerne Wohngebäude
 stone outbuilding Stone outbuilding
Steinerne Wirtschaftsgebäude
 wooden outbuiliding Wooden outbuilding
Hölzerne Wirtschaftsgebäude
 post office Post office
 foresters_house Forester’s house
 inn Inn
 ruins Ruins
 stone windmill Stone windmill
Steinerne Windmühle
 wooden windmill Wooden windmill
Hölzerne Windmühle
 watermill Water mill
 sawmill Sawmill


border country County border (of the Empire)
 border state State border (eg. Galicia)
 bezirk border District (Bezirk, powiat)
 border district Community (gemeinde, gmina)


 highway with trench Highway with trench
Chaussée mit Graben
 highway without trench Highway without trench
Chaussée ohne Graben
 road with trench District road with trench
Verbindungswege mit Graben
road without trench District road without trench
Verbindungswege ohne Graben
 dirt route Dirt route
 trail Bridle path
 path Path

Water related objects

 stone pile bridge Stone pile bridge
Steinerne Jochbrücke
 wooden pile bridge Wooden pile bridge
Hölzerne Jochbrücke
 wooden bridge with stone piles Wooden bridge with stone piles
Hölzerne Brücke mit steinernen Jochen
 pontoon bridge Pontoon bridge
 stone dam Stone dam
 embankment dam Embankment dam
 dry trench Dry trench
Trockener Graben
 wet trench Wet trench
Nasser Graben
 stone weir Stone weir
Steinerne Wehre
 wooden weir Wooden weir
Hölzerne Wehre
 cistern Cistern
 stone well Stone well
Steinerner Rohrbrunn
 wooden well Wooden well
Hölzerner Rohrbrunn
 logs on river Logs on river
 log flume Log flume
 wooden flotsam screening Wooden flotsam screening
 water tank Water tank
 canal with sluice Canal with sluice
Canále mit Schleussen
 fascine Fascine
Faschinen Bau
 reaction ferry Reaction ferry
Fliegende Brücke
 stone dike Stone dike
Steinerne Uferversicherung
 wooden dike Wooden dike
Hölzerne Uferversicherung
 river direction River direction
 brick acqueduct Brick aqueduct
Gemauerte Wasserleitung
 wooden acqueduct Wooden aqueduct
Hölzerne Wasserleitung
 anchorage Anchorage


 cemetery with wall Cemetery with wall
Beerdigung Plätze mit Mauer
 cemetery with fence Cemetery with fence
Beerdigung Plätze mit Einplankung
 Jewish cemetery Jewish cemetery
Beerdigung Plätze der Israeliten


 hedgerow Hedgerow
 fence Fence
 fence with stone columns Fence with stone columns
Zaun mit steinernen Pfeilern
 wall Wall

Wayside objects

 column shrine Column shrine
 stone wayside shrine Stone wayside shrine
Steinerne Kapelle
 wooden wayside shrine Wooden wayside shrine
Hölzerne Kapelle
 stone wayside cross Stone wayside cross
Steinernes Kreutz
 wooden wayside cross Wooden wayside cross
Hölzernes Kreutz
 stone distance sign Stone distance sign
Steinerner Milezeiger
 wooden distance sign Wooden distance sign
Hölzerner Milezeiger
 stone signpost Stone signpost
Steinerner Wegweiser
 wooden signpost Wooden signpost
Hölzerner Wegweiser
 border stone Border stone
 border sign and cairn Border sign (cairn)
Grenz Zeichen (Hotter)
 gallows Gallows


 trigonometrical_point Trigonometrical point
Trigonometrischer Punkt
 graphical point Graphical point
Graphischer Punkt