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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In August 1939, approximately a month before the Nazi invasion of Poland and the Soviet occupation of Stanisławow, a census was taken of the entire city. The census encompassed approximately 14,400 households, averaging 4–5 individuals per household. Since religion was recorded, Jewish households/individuals can be readily identified. This census is the last pre-World War II list of residents of this very important city in what was once eastern Galicia. All the religious, social, and political currents in Jewish life were evident in Stanisławow, one of the larger towns in Galicia, where 55 synagogues and prayer houses, including one of Sadigura Hasidism, existed between the two world wars.
The census is on 15 rolls of microfilm in the Museum. The project will create a computerized index of all the residents of Stanisławow from this 1939 census, which will become a searchable database. Key Audiences: Jewish genealogists, seeking to trace their roots in this part of the world (Galicia, Poland, Ukraine), constitute the primary audience for the material. However, the material has the potential to be of broader interest to scholars spe- cializing in Jewish history and the Holocaust.
The USHMM also has on microfilm a 1941 House Registry Book, which functions as a census or book of residents. The streets were re-named, e.g., Radayanska Boulevard became Adolf Gitlera Street. These records are in Cyrillic; the spelling used is how it appears in the museum’ s finding aid (see below).
The transcription work will take a while, but if you are curious you can look at these records at the museum 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday in the archives on the 5th floor.
Voter and Tax Records Available for Transcribing: Volunteers Needed!
Gesher Galicia has acquired digital images of records for various Galician towns from both the Ternopil Archives in Ukraine and the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem. Most of these are voter and tax records, highly readable (with a few exceptions), because the majority of them are typewritten!
Tax and land records place a person in a town in a specific year. Voter records provide a birthdate or age, a profession, and sometimes the town of birth—useful in solving a mystery of why a family seems to disappear from a town where you expected to find them.
Insight into what these records offer could be gleaned from Alex Dunai’s lecture, presented at the IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Paris last July, “Sources of Jewish Genealogy for the 18th–20th Centuries in the Fonds of the State Central Historical Archive of Ukraine in Lviv.” In this excerpt, he used Lwow records as the focal point:
The next kind of records available in Lwow (after vital and census records) are the Jewish community tax records for various years starting from the 1860’ s through till 1936. Besides the given name, family name, and amount of tax paid, one can usually find the occupation and address of the taxpayer.
The tax documents are supplemented by applications to decrease the community tax. A large number of these applications were submitted in 1936–1937 as a result of the economic crisis. They give an idea of how people lived in the interwar period, their economic situations and attendant problems.
They did not necessarily work for the landlord; people paid taxes to the landlord if they had houses on the magnate’s land (note that taxes for the house on the front side of the street and on the rear are different).They paid higher taxes if they had a shop, and the tax varied depending on the size of the shop, more for a bigger store and less for a smaller. Gardens, cows, and even bees were also the subject of taxation. Tax lists were periodically updated because of changes within the communities.
Another type of document available for the interwar period is voter lists for elections to the board of the Lwow Jewish community. They look similar to the tax lists, containing given name, family name, occupation, and address of the elector. They also have birthdates and, more importantly, while a family usually had only one taxpayer—sometimes the father, often the mother—several male family members could be registered as voters.
These same 20th-century records exist for the smaller towns and shtetlach dotting the Galician countryside and are often the last records of a vanished population. GG has records for these towns: Bialy-Kamień, Borszosow, Brezany, Grzymałów, Kamionka Strumiłowa, Ladonka, Mielnica, Olesko, Podhajce, Podkamień, Przemyślany, Sassów, Skała, Skałat, Sodobonka, Sokołówce, Sokroska, Tarnopol, Tłuste, Trembowla, Uścieczko, Założce, Zbaraż, Zborów, Złoczów.
What we need now are volunteers willing to transcribe these lists and contributions to cover the cost of the acquisitions. What’s required to help transcribe? You need to be familiar with Excel, which is quite easy to learn, and Gesher Galicia will provide you with the template. You don’t need to understand Polish. You can work at your own pace under our direction or, if you want to volunteer as a project coordinator to oversee the work on your town, so much the better!
Projects Underway: Brody, Grzymałów, Skała, Zbaraż, Zborów
Here is an update of town indexing projects already underway. If you want to assist with transcribing, please contact these town leaders directly. (If, however, you only want access to the records—and not to assist—do NOT contact them. They cannot provide you with copies. A donation to the program is required for copies. See the next section for that information.)
Brody: Ami Elyasaf has coordinated and completed the Brody vital records and cemetery projects. We now have a set of 1874 Brody voter records and he is handling the tran- scription. Contact Ami at email@example.com.
Grzymałów: John Diener is handling the Grzymałów/Hrymayliv transcription project. John has just completed work on an unusual children’s census, a listing of children born in the town between the years 1913–1925, along with one parent or guardian’s name and the language spoken in the home. This is an important set of records, as no 20th-century birth records for this town have survived. We also have several sets of voter and tax records for Grzymałów from the 1920’s and 1930’s. If you are interested in helping, please contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skala: Racheli Kreisberg-Greenblatt is overseeing the Skala records indexing project, and her wonderful work on the Skala House Numbers Project will be uploaded to the All Galicia Database soon. We have many Skala voter and tax lists from the interwar period. If you have an interest in Skala records, please contact Racheli at email@example.com.
Zbaraż: Tony Kahane is handling Zbaraż records, so please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More town names: In some cases these record sets seem to cover districts, and the following town names were indicated in several of the records. This might indicate a town of birth or former residence of someone catalogued in the given record. These examples show how residents from other places can often appear in a different town’s tax, voter or synagogue payment list: Boryszkowce, Brody, Cygany, Dzwinogrod, Flipkowce, Gusztynek, Holotki, Horszowa, Iwanie Pusie, Iwaszkowce, Koszlaki, Kujdance, Kurniki, Lukawiec, Lwow, Markopol, Nakwassa, Okopy, Pankowce, Pieniaki, Czernica, Snowicz, Uscie Biskupie, Wierz- bowcsyk, Xatkowcer, Zosizcz.
If you don’t feel capable of assisting in transcription work but want to support this effort and sponsor your town, a minimum contribution of $50 per town will give you access to the images of the original record books, so you can search for your own names prior to the indices going online. This funding will also enable us to hire freelance workers to assist with the project. Contributions can be made via PayPal (using credit cards if you like), which will work for overseas donors. You can donate in dollars, and PayPal will convert to your local currency: http://www.jewishgen.org/galicia/paypal.html
You can also send a check or money order in U.S. dollars to:
Treasurer Gesher Galicia, Inc.
1522 S. Point View #2
Los Angeles, CA 90035-3912
Please indicate the name of the town you are donating to and provide your e-mail address. We will send you download information for your file. Those of you who have already contributed to existing town projects for these towns will also be given access, which will be incorporated into the Cadastral Map and Landowner Records Project (see update below).
Cadastral Map and Landowner Records Project Update
Maps, records, or both have been acquired for the following towns: Berezhany, Bobrka (Bibrka), Bolechow (Bolekhiv), Bolszowce (Bilshivtsi), Boryslaw (Boryslav), Brody, Buczacz (Buchach), Bukaczowce (Bukachivtsi), Chodorów (Khodoriv), Czarnolozce (Chornoloztsi), Czeremchow (Cheremkhiv), Czortków (Chortkiv), Dora, Drohobycz (Drohobych), Gliniany (Hlyniany), Grzymalów (Hrymaliv), Gwozdziec (Hvizdets), Hankowce (Hankivtsi), Horodenka, Horozanka (Horozhanka), Kalusz (Kalush), Knihynicze (Kniahynychi), Komarno, Kopyczynce (Kopychintsy), Krystynopol (Khrystynopil), L’viv (Lwow, Lemberg), Mosciska (Mostys’ka), Nadworna (Nadvirna), Nienadowa, Obertyn, Pavshivka (Pauszowka), Podhajce (Pidhaitsi), Podniestrzany (Piddnistriany), Przemyslany (Peremyshliany), Rohatyn, Rozdol, Rozluch (Rozlucz), Rozniatow (Rozhniativ), Skala, Stare Miasto, Strzeliska Nowe (Strilychi Novi), Suchostaw (Sukhostav), Swirz (Svirzh), Ulaszkowce (Ulashkivtsi), Uscie Biskupie (Ustie Episkopske), Uscieczko (Ustechko), Zbarazh (Zbaraż), Zurawno (Zhuravno).
If you have contributed to one of these towns and have not received download information for the records, please contact me. If you have not contributed but want access now, the donation is $50 per town.
The newest town projects with inventories and record acquisition about to take place are for Kanzuga, Strzylki, and Zhuriv (Zurow). If you are researching any of these, consider donating. We have set up projects for these new towns and are in the process of acquiring records— not only in archives in L’viv and Ternopil, but, as of early December, in the Przemysl, Poland archives. If you have towns that are currently in Poland and you want to establish a town project, Gesher Galicia needs a minimum donation of $250, after which Gesher Galicia will contribute $250 in matching funds. This donation can be from one individual or several chipping in with smaller amounts. Information can be found by going to the Cadastral Map Project page and scrolling to the bottom, or by contacting me at email@example.com.
Polish Magnate Landowner Records and Jewish Nobles
Two of the documents I acquired on last year’s visit to the Stefanyk Library in L’viv, Ukraine were an 1821 tax inventory for the town of Grzymalów and an 1830 Copia Tabularis (“Tabula Copy”) contract. The first document begins in Latin on the first page, followed by a list of Jewish taxpayers with column descriptions in Polish. This document was held in the Polish Magnates files (organized by the name of the town, not the magnate) at the library. I’ve transcribed the names on this list (which will appear soon in the All Galicia Database), an important link to people who were, most likely, born in the 1770’s– 1790’s. The tax payments were for the synagogue, the Jewish school, and the Jewish bathhouse. This is another example of the usefulness of magnate records in genealogical research.
The second document details the purchase of the town by a Jewish noble, Elkan von Elkansberg, also known as Leopold Antoni Elkan (see illustration on page 6). He was a banker in Vienna and was assisted in the purchase by another Jewish noble, the lawyer Ferdinand Martin Liebmann, Baron von Rast, a Bavarian by birth. Elkan von Elkansberg purchased the town from a bankrupt Polish countess. Other names mentioned in the document are lawyer Leopold Poelt von Poeltenberg, Elizabeth Zechner, and August and Leonard Walter. (If you are related to any of the people mentioned above, please let me know. I’ve already been contacted by one researcher who said a relative of hers who died in Chicago in 1900 had received an inheritance from von Elkansberg!) The document was entered into the Tabula Krajowa (“Tabula Registers”), a requirement by the Austro-Hungarian Empire for contracts to be legal.
It seems that titles of nobility were for sale in Vienna and many Jews took advantage of this opportunity. Since Jews usually had no land or estates of their own, the “berg” suffix was often appended to their surnames, hence the mythical land of “Elkansberg.” Josef II was very critical of the traditional nobility, so he created lots of new titles for sale, which was also a way to help the state treasury. Sources mention that for about 6,000 guilders you could become a baron, for 20,000 a Graf [count], and for 500,000 a Furst [duke]. Wealthy Jews took advantage of these opportunities, and much land in Galicia was purchased by these nobles.
IAGJS 2013 Boston Conference: Mark Your Calendars
It’s not too early to start planning your attendance at the IAJGS 2013 conference, which will take place in Boston from 4–9 August. This conference should have good attendance and we are planning an exciting slate of Galician programming with many interesting topics, including historical surveys of Galicia, BOF meetings, and networking opportunities.
Leadership Positions: Indexing Project Manager
Gesher Galicia is in need of a GG Indexing Project Manager who can oversee the cataloguing of all new incoming records, member notifications, and administration of the tran- scription work and volunteer recruitment. If you have good organizational skills and the time to volunteer your services, please contact me for more information.
2013 Gesher Galicia Programs: Toronto and New York City
I will lecture on Galician research for the Jewish Genealogical Society of Canada (Toronto) at 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, 13 March 2012, on the topic “Searching the All-Galicia Database and Gesher Galicia Map Room Online.” The following Sunday, 17 March, at 11:00 a.m. I will conduct a Gesher Galicia regional meeting in Manhattan, location TBA.
Renewals and Reminders
Our Gesher Galicia membership year was moved last year to begin on 1 January. Look for your membership renewal notices to arrive in November and please send them in right away. (Consider giving a GG membership as a Chanukah gift to a budding Galician researcher!)
Remember that we are always updating our Map Room and the All Galicia Database with new maps and records, so keep checking http://maps.geshergalicia.org/ and http://search.geshergalicia.org/. Our newest map is the engraved and hand-colored New Map of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, with the Duchy of Bukovina, showing towns (marked as four types, from fortified to ordinary to village to hamlet), postal routes, and major geographic landmarks. It is annotated in French (and some Latin), and scaled in miles and toise d’ordonnance. The map is undated and was produced by Tobias Conrad Lotter and Sons of Augsburg, Bavaria between 1772–1810, probably during Lotter’s lifetime (by 1775). Also look for the Brody Cemetery Database, complete with downloadable headstone photos, which should be online by early December. (A big thanks to Jay Osborn, who keeps our map room in such great shape, and to Brooke Schreier Ganz, who keeps things humming on the AGD.)