Researching Galician Records at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
In early September I spent several days conducting research at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. My focus was microfilmed and digital records from towns that were once part of Galicia. My guide was the indefatigable Peter Landé, a retired Foreign Service officer who works at the museum as a volunteer in the Survivors’ Registry. (Peter, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him in person or hearing him speak at an IAJGS conference, was also instrumental in helping researchers gain access to International Tracing Service [ITS] Archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany, and getting the digital files transferred to the USHMM, where they can now be searched on site or by written request.)
I was joined by Gesher Galicia founder Suzan Wynne, who assisted me in analyzing the documents and determining the value of indexing these images and having the data eventually appear in the All Galicia Database. We found a treasure trove of records from the state archives of the Ivano-Frankivsk (formerly Stanisławów) region, covering the years 1872–1953 and charting a vanished population of Galician Jews. In this record group (RG-31.110M) the records are in German, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian.
According to the USHMM finding aid:
Scope and Content: local Ivano-Frankivsk (formerly, Stanislav) records pertaining to the following: (1) Jewish private school records in the city of Stanislav; (2) Government surveillance information on Jewish political parties and organizations; (3) Information regarding the arrest of Jews associated with Zionist organizations; (4) Information docu- menting violence against Jews carried out by Ukrainian nationalists in Stanislav; (5) Various Pre-1917 Revolution records; (6) Emigration records of Jews throughout the 1920s and 1930s; (7) Jewish philanthropic association organizational records regarding a variety of social issues; (8) Local court inheritance records of Jews and Jewish families; (9) Birth, death, and marriage records of the main Synagogue in Stanislav. (Most of these records are from the 1920s and 1930s.) There are also birth records from 1937 for the towns of Snyatin and Zabolotov.
Many other towns were represented in these records, including community documents for Kolomea and Gvozdets; a charter and minutes for charitable, Masonic, and Zionist institutions; and one from 1898 for the establishment of the Jewish religious community in Bolekhov. (Note: Spellings used for place names are the ones that appear in the USHMM records.)
The most touching (and detailed) documents were the “Applications of Individual Jews for Passports to Travel Abroad” from the 1920’s and 1930’s. These appear to cover a range of towns in the Stanisławów district, with a separate fond for applications for Jews in the Bohorodczany district for 1920– 1929. Often ten pages of supporting documentation were found in these files that link several family members, and the applications include family photographs.
Separately from these USHMM records, Gesher Galicia has obtained digital images of similar (or in some cases identical) records including Śniatyn births and various tax rec- ords from the 1930’s.
One of the most important record sets on microfilm at the USHMM is the 1939 Stanisławów census. Gesher Galicia, in partnership with other interested parties, is seeking to resurrect what was originally a JewishGen project which was halted many years ago due to usage restrictions by the archives. Here is the synopsis as it was described on the JewishGenerosity site:
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