Visit to Vilnius State Historical Archive - June 1999 (Part 2) #lithuania

DBH12345
 

Alfonsas Tamulynas, the Assistant Director of the State Historical
Archives in Vilnius (LIVA), was very friendly and helpful. We spent
a couple of hours discussing his research on the demographic and
social-professional structure of the Jewish community in Vilnius,
based on the census of 1784 of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
We invited him to write an article based on his work for pub-
lication in the LitvakSIG Online Journal, which he agreed to do.
We were very excited to see an entry for the famous Gaon, Eliyahu
ben Shlomo Zalman and his family in the 1784 census.

Even though this and earlier lists do not include last names, for
those of us who have identified our ancestors on the 1816 revision
lists, these earlier censuses will allow us to trace our families
far back into the 1700's, and possibly earlier. Mr. Tamulynas has
agreed to provide a listing of the towns that are included in these
18th century lists. Among other things he uses various methods
to try to determine the true Jewish population of Vilnius in the
late 1700's and concludes that it was close to 7500. His summary
of the occupations of our ancestors is fascinating in its detail,
with over 47 distinct occupations described and their distribution
within the community analyzed. We are looking forward to his paper
for us with great interest.

Mr. Tamulynas is also studying the estates of Lithuanian, Polish
and Russian counts, and their relationships with Jewish managers
over a period of generations. I told him that this was an area that
was of particular interest to many members of our SIG. The Archives
hold over 30 shelf feet of reports by estate managers which cover a
two hundred year period.

Ms. Liama Tautvaisaite, the Archive Director, was very enthusiastic
about new projects she had in mind. She discussed the completion of
microfilming of the Protestant records with the Mormons, and said
that the filming of Jewish Vital Records would begin at some point.
She was very proud of their microfilm reading room and their tech-
nical equipment, but frustrated about the lack of funding for a
microfilm printer. She asked if we could help find this kind of
equipment, and we asked her to send the specifications and we would
see what could be done. Liama did 90% of the talking in our meetings.
She had many ideas. When I began one point by saying,"I know that
Jewish research requests are only a small part of your business..."
She interrupted me to say, "No! Not anymore. Jewish requests have
doubled in the past year and are now more than 50% of our business."

Liama suggested that there were a number of ways that volunteers
from the Jewish community or people coming for a couple of months
from the US, could work in the Archives to help develop more
indexes and inventories of new types of records. She said that
she will be happy to support any projects that are mutually
beneficial. Their idea is still to provide us with indexes
so that we will place orders that they can fill rapidly.

Liama wanted to arrange a meeting with the cabinet minister in
charge of international relationships that the archives form.
I told her that we were there to listen and learn, and conduct
personal research, but didn't yet have any specific proposals.


Liama was very interested in developing more sources of
records and clearly interested in more business for the Archive.
This last year the Archives were left out of the National Budget,
perhaps by mistake. This may have something to do with her
increased interest in publication activity by the staff of the
Archives, and in what she calls, "privatization."

While in both Vilnius and Kaunas we met with university faculty
who will cosponsor grant projects (that require Lithuanian
academic involvement). We also developed a relationship with a
Professor in the Computer Sciences Department at Kaunas Technical
University, who will help us with the installation of a new
computer at the Kaunas Regional Archives.

We also talked with the people in both archives who are involved
with restoration and have a much better understanding of what stage
they are at in their thinking about "restoration" and some idea
of what they need in the way of technical assistance and equipment.
We became aware of the need for us to understand their attitudes.
Because the have made a major commitment to microfilming, they are
not very receptive to proposals of scanning documents -
at least not at this stage.

(Tomorrow The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum)

David and Sonia Hoffman

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