Monday, August 5, 2013

IAJGS2013 Day 2, Part 2

Day 2 of the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy continued.  As the conference progresses, you'll be able to see my entire summary, day by day, here.

Next I heard a speech by Alex Dunai, a Ukrainian research expert (who has helped trace my Zutelmans back to Muravitsa).  He spoke on records from the interwar years in Western Ukraine--the time and place in which both my paternal grandparents were born.

This talk was great. It covered records that exist from between 1918 and 1939.  Between 1918 and 1923 a Polish republic was created out of what had been the Russian and Austrian empires. The former Galicia and Volhynia became part of this republic.  Poland was divided into provinces. Lutsk was the Capitol of Wolyn province, which is the area covered by this talk.  The provinces were divided into counties; Wolyn had 11 counties.

The counties had municipalities which consisted of local communities which collected local taxes.  A Wolyn community would consist of a local small city with several small villages.

Lots of people kept records. There were municipal and circuit courts. Financial, land, and other departments. Religious communities and societies also kept records. These records became the basis for fonds stores in western Ukraine's archives. They are titles by the institution that generated the documents.  Each fond has potentially tens of thousands of documents.

Most of Wolyn's documents are stored in Lutsk, Rivne, and Ternopil archives.  The primary documents of interest for genealogical researchers are applications for making changes in vital records, permissions for marriage/divorce, organizations (which had to register with the government and often contained lists of members' names), business registrations (passports of owners--often with pictures--are often attached), activities of communist members (many jewish members) in police reports, and more.

There are also county council records which can be quite useful. They have passports and ID applications which usually have names, professions, parents' names. And photographs.

There are some census records. Stanislaw county has the most, but there are some for other counties.  The 1939 Stanislaw census was finished one week before WWII broke out. The entire family at each address was listed.

There are 1929 registration books for Wolyn province. It lists only adults but has name, surname, date and place of birth, parents' registration town under the Russian Empire and potentially more. This is something I'll definitely need to investigate further.

There are recruit lists for males 21 and older which are organized by community, generally in birth order.  There are also votir lists from the 1930s.

Company registrations give information about what an ancestor did and may Ben include building plans. Home construction permits may contain a full blueprint of an ancestral home.

Inheritance files can show a lot of family information as well as assets to give a picture of where the family was financially at the time.

Educational institutions (including jewish schools) kept lots of records, and almost every town in the area has surviving school records. There may be lists of students, high school certificates with photos and parents' names, etc. Lviv University has a long history and extensive records. There is information on their students and often birth certificates and photos of the students.

Documents still exist for the Jewih community of Lviv. There are documents with taxpayers from the 1930s which give family descriptions and their financial situation.

Alex summed up what I've already seen in my search for Ukrainian records. It is like gold mining naomeimes all the indications tell you a spot has gold. But you don't know how much, how high quality--or even if there's actually anything here at all--until you dig.

After that talk, I saw Steve Morse. I was pretty much star-struck and blurted out, "I use your site all the time!"  His response?  "So do I!" :)

The ending highlight for the day was an informal dinner get together with people with families from Volhynia. About 25 people showed up!  There were lots of people discussing what they've discovered about Volhynia, trading stories, and (best of all) talking about their experiences traveling and researching in Ukraine proper.  Lots of research discussions and potential future collaboration.  And the food and company were good too.

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