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Bialystok Region Jewish Genealogy Group


AUGUST 17, 2006 AT




Forty BIALYGenners met at 2:45 PM on Thursday, August 17, 2006 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City to review BIALYGen activities and plans. These forty Family Historians were interested in the towns of Bialystok, Bielsk Podlaski, Bokiny, Ciechanowiec, Drohiczyn, Grodek, Krynki, Kuznica, Michalowo, Orla, Sarnaki, Siemiatycze, Sokolka, Suchowola, Tykocin, Wasilkow, and Zabludow.


The Agenda was:

  • What is BialyGen?

  • Dr. Rebecca Kobrin discusses her Bialystok research.

  • 18th Century Records -- David & Sonia Hoffman 

  • BialyGen Website

  • BialyGen Research Projects

    • Existing Projects

    • Discussion of Future Projects

  • 1919 Bialystok Community Council Report

  • Bialystok Cemetery

What is BialyGen?


Coordinator Mark Halpern showed a map of Poland as well as a map of Grodno Gubernia with the area covered by the BialyGen SIG. Mark also showed a list of towns in the BialyGen area. 


Dr. Rebecca Kobrin


Rebecca Kobrin is the Knapp Assistant Professor of American Jewish History at Columbia University.  She earned her B.A. at Yale University and her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.  Her research interests include American Jewish history, East European Jewish history, immigration history and Diaspora Studies.  Before joining the Columbia faculty, she taught at Yale and NYU and has written articles on the history of Bialystok and Bialystok's Jewish Diaspora that have appeared in journals such as Studies in Jewish Civilization, Jewish Social Studies, and Gal-Ed: A Journal of Polish-Jewish History. Rebecca has written a book of interest to BialyGenners with the tentative title of Shifting Diasporas: Bialystok, Mass Migration and the Reshaping of Modern Jewish Identity.


Dr. Kobrin discussed her years of research into the Bialystok émigré communities in the  United States, Argentina, Australia, and Israel. Bialystoker Jewish exiles have a very strong identity to their beloved Jewish city of Bialystok.


In researching her book about the identity of exiled Bialystokers, Dr. Kobrin gained much knowledge of the history, culture, and Jewish traditions of our ancestors who lived in Bialystok before the War. 


Dr. Kobrin expects that her book will be published in 2008 with a reception at the Bialystoker Center or the Bialystoker Synagogue on the Lower East Side. 


Dr. Kobrin will be providing BialyGen with a bibliography of Archival and published sources for Bialystok research in Argentina, Australia, Israel, and the United States. 


Dr. Kobrin requested that Bialystokers send to her family or organizational photos, documents, etc. of the Bialystok Golus (Exile) to be used in her upcoming book. If you have such materials, please contact Rebecca Kobrin directly. 


18th Century Records 


David and Sonia Hoffman, the principals of the Jewish Family History Foundation, discussed their Grand Duchy of Lithuania Project. The Grand Duchy Research Project identifies documents relating to the lives of Jewish families who lived in Poland-Lithuania during the 17th and 18th centuries, and arranges to duplicate, translate, and to publish them on the Jewish Family History Foundation Website. Tax and census lists made in 1784 and 1765 are among the documents included in this project.


The GDL 1784 census or poll tax list, which is over 2,000 pages, is gradually being transliterated. BialyGen area towns included in this list are: Dabrowa, Janow Sokolski, Korycin, Krynki, Kuznica, Nowy Dwor, Sidra, Sokolka, Suchowola, Wasilkow, and Zabludow. 


In 1784, the city of Bialystok and other towns not referenced above were not in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After the first partition of Poland in 1772, Bialystok was incorporated into Prussian controlled East Prussia. 


As most Polish/Lithuanian Jews did not have surnames in the 18th Century, these records are Patronymic records showing the name of the person and his father's name.  


BIALYGen Website


Mark pointed out a few areas of the website asking for BialyGenners to participate:

BIALYGen Research Projects


Research Coordinator, Sid Zabludoff, reviewed the recently completed project to index all the Yahrzeit cards from The Bialystoker Center, which is located on the Lower East Side of New York City. Click here for more information about this project. 


The database of 4,000 entries is now in Excel format and will be soon placed on the BialyGen website. At the same time, the database will be submitted to JewishGen for development of a searchable online database. BialyGen will develop a method for researchers to obtain a digital image of the Yahrzeit cards of interest to them.


Sid also reviewed an important project announced in early 2006 to translate Pinkos Bialystok, a two-volume work of Jewish historian Abraham Shmuel Hershberg that chronicles the history of Jewish Bialystok from its beginnings in the 16th Century up through the 1930s. This is a JewishGen Yizkor Book project and needs contributions to hire professional translators for the Yiddish text. Currently, BialyGen has two volunteers translating the names and towns indexes of both volumes. 


Sid talked about future projects and mentioned that the two most important projects for the next year will be the project just mentioned to translate Pinkos Bialystok and the identification of all articles and publications that are relevant to the Jewish history of the towns in the BialyGen area. The BialyGen website already contains a Publications section. If anyone is familiar with one of these publications, we would appreciate a short synopsis as well as a list of names included in the publication, which will be added to the website. Contact Sid Zabludoff with this information.


In a discussion of future projects, the first (and most common) suggestion was extracting/indexing information from Revision Lists for Grodno Gubernia held at the National Historical Archives of Belarus in Grodno. One BialyGenner mentioned the 1855 Census of Jewish males for Bielsk Uyezd. In the past, BialyGen partnered with the Belarus SIG in projects at the Belarus Archives. As the Belarus SIG does not currently have a leader, BialyGen will make efforts to identify sources of access to the Archive in Grodno. 


Another suggestion was to gain access to and index any Yahrzeit plaques or similar data available from Kiriat Bialystok, the Israeli Landsmanshaften. 


If you have any suggestions or can help, please contact Research Coordinator Sid Zabludoff.


1919 Bialystok Community Council Report


Judy Baston researched the 1919 Morgenthau Mission and presented "The Morgenthau Mission to Poland to Investigate the 1919 Pogroms: A Genealogical Resource" at the Conference on August 16, 2006. 


In researching this presentation, Judy located the report of the Jewish Community Council of Bialystok to the American Commission to investigate the position of the Jews in Poland . Judy briefed the group on this report and transcribed the report for publication on the BialyGen website. Click here to view the report.


Report on the Bialystok Cemetery -- the Bagnowka Cemetery


For information about Cemeteries in Bialystok, click here. Mark reported on the condition of the Bagnowka Cemetery and the efforts being made to preserve the Cemetery. Mark also introduced the group to Lucy Lisowska, a Jewish woman living in Bialystok who is dedicated to preserving Jewish memory and heritage in the Bialystok area. She spends most of her spare time ensuring that the Bagnowka Cemetery is cared for and preserved.


Report submitted by Mark Halpern, September 9, 2006



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Last Updated on 09 September 2006.