Contemporary Records  

The State Historical Archives  in Vilnius
There was one All Russian Census that included Lithuania. This was the census of 1895-97.  Portions of this census have survived, and are kept in the State Historical Archive in Vilnius.  One of the surviving portions contains details of 101 families living in Ritavas, but unfortunately it does not cover the wholeJewish community; other sources indicate that there were over 200 Jewish families in the shtetl at the time.

The State Historical Archives have various other records (revision lists, and marriage, birth and death records) for a large number of Jewish shtetlach, but unfortunately in the case of Rietavas, only as part of the census list for the Rasseiniai district for 1816.  Many of the records for Ritavas itself are thought to have been destroyed either in fires or during the war. 

The Kaunas Archives
The Kaunas archives have a variety of other documents, such as box lists, elector's lists, and property owners' lists, which can often also provide much useful information.  In the case of Ritavas, they have the following:

Full catalogue and description of documents

Other contemporary records
Other contemporary records  are 3 lists of donors who made charitable offerings in the shul in 1888, 1889 and 1900, which were published in the Hamelitz weekly newspaper. 

The Poor Jews Temporary Shelter
Many, though not all, of these emigrants were accommodated for a few nights while en route at the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter in London, their stay being subsidized by the shipping line that would take them on to South Africa.   The Shelter was opened in 1895, and was originally at 19 Church Lane, Whitechapel, in the London East End.  It maintained registers of all who passed through it.  Thirteen main Registers and five Supplementary Registers covering the period from 29 May 1896 to1 August 1914 have survived (save for that covering the period from June 1905 to November 1907), and the names that appear therein can be searched on a data base prepared under the supervision of Prof. Aubrey Newman of the University of Leicester, who has written many articles on the subject.

New York Burials
A list of a different kind is that of headstones in allotments reserved in New York cemeteries by the Ritavas Chevra (Benevolent Society), where ex-residents of Ritavas who emigrated to New York, and their descendants, were buried.  These lists give details of other family members.

The Yizkor book for Ritavas, edited by Alter Levite,  contains a list of residents of Ritavas who perished in the Holocaust.

(The first edition, published in Israel in 1977, was largely in Hebrew and Yiddish.  A  revised  edition, edited by Dr Dina Porat and Ronib Stauber, translated into English and supplemented by additional articles, was published by The Kaplan-Kushlick Foundation in 2000).


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Contemporary Records

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Kehilalinks Webpages for Lithuanian Shtetlach  /   JewishGen Lithuania Database

Webpage compiled by  Sam Aaron  February 1999    Last Update: March 2020