Lida was situated on the strategic "border" of Eastern Europe and was under Lithuanian, Russian, and Polish sovereignty. Many documents were destroyed in conflicts from Napoleon's march to Russia through World War II. Useful genealogical records of Lida Jewry can be divided into two groups: Russian Tzarist records (1772/95-1917) and records since 1917. Two types of records exist in Belarus and Lithuania for research of Lida uyezd. Primary genealogical documents include a first name, patronymic, surname, and date of birth, marriage, divorce or death. Secondary sources include legal records such as business, property, and migration.

Official Jewish presence in the area dates from the late fourteenth century when they received residence permission from the monarchy of the Great Lithuanian Principality (Grand Duchy of Lithuania) when Prince Vitovt awarded "the privilege" of living in the towns of Brest (1388) and Grodno (1389). Few records exist from this period and were published by Vilna Archeographic Survey for Reviewing of Old Records, 1860's - 1910's. Following partitions of Rech Pospolitaya (the union of the Polish Kingdom and the Great Lithuanian Principality), Lida uyezd went to the Russian Empire as Vilna guberniya until 1917 when the area came under Polish control. Under the Czars, Jews were not allowed to possess land or serfs and could live only in specified towns or shtetls. All Jews were required to adopt official family names and to register by independent social classes: petty-bourgeoisie or merchants (with capital was over 1,000 rubles). (The vast majority of the local non-Jewish population was peasants, registered as personal dependents.)

These residence restrictions facilitated registry of Jews by a District Fiscal Chamber at their official place of residence for the purposes of taxation (both a personal and "soul" tax) and for procuring a specified number of military conscripts: male recruits, who were over seventeen years-old to serve for twenty-five years. (In 1874, the twenty-five year military conscription became a universal military draft for the male population with five-year army service and for seven-year naval service. Fiscal chambers ceased. In 1882, Russian authorities permitted limited Jewish residence in some other settlements such as railway stations and newly developing towns. Primary sources from this period include

Overview of Grodno Archive Data from Lida
Lida District records in Grodno Archive 1914 - 1921, 1921 - 1927, 1935, 1937

Revizskaya skazki, either "ordinary" or "additional" were created by District Fiscal Chamber and registered families by the head and include ages. Ordinary revizskaya skazki one was composed during general Russian Revisions with the first having almost no family names:

Additional revizskaya skazki listed a family or group of families, missed in the ordinary revision. Accuracy of these records may be questionable as Jews attempted to avoid or distort registration to avoid conscription or taxes.

Metricheskaya kniga, kept by the official rabbi of a community, show date, place of the event, and participants. Though generally accurate, local civil and military authorities also used these records so falsifications may occur here also. These lists may be obtained through the Lithuanian archives.

Vital records for the following communities are in the Lithuanian National Archive in Vilnius:   Butrimonys (1856 - 1924), Eisiskes (1891 - 1914), Nowy Dwor (1896 - 1914), Orla (1896 - 1914), Radun (1896 - 1914), Szczuczyn (1896 - 1914), and Varena (Oran) (1857 - 1915)..  The coverage may not be continuous, particularly when the first date is comparatively early.  For further details, see Jewish Vital Records, Revision Lists and Other Jewish Holdings in the Lithuanian Archives [Sack, Sallyann Amdur and Rhode, Harold, Teaneck NJ:  AVOTAYNU Inc. 1996]

Family lists, kept fairly accurately by the administrations of particular settlements after 1874, show the entire family with names and ages and were kept current. Their purpose was fiscal and legal. Their survival depended on the conditions in each town hall. Many such lists exist in the Lithuanian Archives for Lida uyezd towns.
Conscription Lists, composed by District Military Departments since 1874, show male in the family with ages, often with father's name as a patronymic but without the mother's name.

Census records of the First All Russia Census of 1897 show names and ages of all the family members, their religion, address, native tongue, occupation, birth place, and literacy. But all the primary information was in the application forms of the Census. Almost all primary census records were destroyed in 1927 after the First All Soviet Union Census. Some records may exist in Lithuanian Archives. Almost none exist in Belarus.

Secondary sources include voters' lists, real estate and business records, and personal passports. Voters' Lists show the family name in correlation with residence and an index for real estate and business records of the settlement by "qualification." The qualification shown in the voter list enables a search in business registers and real estate descriptions such as apartment renters. No ages or other personal information exists on the list but may lead to other sources. The corresponding business and real estate records for that period may exist in the Lithuanian or Belarussian archives. Such records began in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Local elections of officials, including Jewish community, Kahal, officials (teacher, community board, and treasurers) are the next set of secondary sources and may show candidate names, ages, and property. Sometimes, real estate or business owners from the settlement may be included. Voters' addresses and ages rarely appear. Few of these 1820's - 1910's documents are available, mostly for Grodno guberniya.
Personal passports, issued by Province Administration, appeared about 1870 in the Russian Empire but Jewish use started primarily in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for emigration or business purposes. Passport registers available for Minsk and Grodno gubernii have no index to access them and are in Russian. Special Jewish documents (birth, death, marriage and community election records) often are in Yiddish. Grodno and part of Minsk Provincial register books for 1795 are mostly in Polish.

 From 1921 to 1939, Belarus was part of two countries: Poland and Soviet Russia. The border was sixty kilometers west of Minsk. Polish controlled records may be in Grodno Provincial Archives or Grodno District Archives of the Archives of Ministry of Justice (AKA: ZAGS Archives) and usually include birth, death and marriage records. Remotely, some documents may exist in Warsaw or Bialystok Archives, the former Polish capital at the time for the Grodno area in 1921-39. Documents for that period, left in local offices or archives, were badly damaged when World War II began. Synagogue records are destroyed; and over sixty percent of the local archives burned. However, some records survived: some birth, death and marriage records survived in ZAGS archives; some real estate and business registers for Polish Belarus, and some local police reports for Polish Belarus.

After 1945, Belarussian Jews hid their Jewish identity leaving post W.W.II record access almost mute. The Lithuanian Archives and the Historical Archives of Grodno stores almost all the records for pre-1917. Grodno ZAGS Archives has some birth, death and marriage records. Grodno has a State Provincial Archive. All institutions store records of local and provincial administration since 1917 as does the ZAGS Provincial archives birth, death, marriage and divorce records after 1917.

Lida uyezd researchers have had success with the Lithuanian archives. Currently, the 1858 Lida Census is under-going translation thanks to the generous donations of Lida District Researchers members.

Oleg Perzashkevich, Jewish Genealogical Resources in Belarus, lecture at 1999 Jewishgen Conference
Harold Rhode and Sallyann Amdur Sack, Jewish Vital Records, Revision Lists and other Jewish HOldings in the Lithuanian Archives. Teaneck NJ:  AVOTANYNU Inc. 1996.

Jewish vital records recorded in Metrical Books (Metricheskie Knigi, in Russian)  for Jewish communities began in 1826. Metrical records were used for taxation and conscription/recrutiment purposes, sometimes leading to evasive answers even though stiff penalties were levied for such violations: fines, imprisonment, and conscription. Compliance incentives included proving social origin, marital status, and inheritance right via legitimate birth. Obtain diplomas, executing wills, and obtaining state-provided widow/widower pensions required registration in these Metrical Books.

The crown rabbi (rabbiner, in Yiddish) registered these vital statistics. Although titled "rabbis," these individuals may have been mohels or administrative clerks. The rabbi was to deposit a copy of the record books with the provincial board annually . Harsh penalties met rabbis who did not comply with the annual requirement.

Birth records included sex of child, name of mohel, date and place of birth, and social status of both parents and infant.

Marital records included ages and names of the bride and groom, name of rabbi who performed the ceremony, date of the marriage, obligations of marital contract (usually the Ketubah) and two witnesses signatures .

The 1830 marriage laws required girls to be a minimum of 16 years old and boys a minimum of 18. Some dates of birth/ages were falsified to avoid underage marriage penalties. The marriage registration cost was an expensive one to five rubles.

Divorce entries included names and ages of spouses, name of rabbi who supervised the divorce or halitsah (levirate divorce), "reason" for dissolution of the marriage, and date of divorce [get]. Some records offered "reasons" such as, "mutual hatred" or "mutual agreement."

Death record information included the name and age of deceased, burial site (town and sometimes cemetery name), date of death, and cause of death, sometimes "illness.".

Registration for females was sometimes unreliable, either late or not even in the town where the event had actually occurred.

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