Belarus SIG #Belarus shtetl vs. city #belarus

Dov & Varda <yknow@...>

Natalie Fatouros writes: "As Sally Bruckheimer and many other Jewishgenners
have pointed out many
times, people had a tendency to say, for various reasons that they were from
a particular city rather than >from some small place nearby. Perhaps their
purporting to be >from a large city gave them some prestige. Or perhaps they
just didn't want to bother trying to spell out the name of their probably
obscure little shtetl to the ship's agents or some other official."

This has tripped me up on my own research. When I questioned my mother about
her maternal grandparents' place of origin, she tells me they were from
Vilna Guberniya. When I tell her this is a large area and not a shtetl,
comparable to a province, she doesn't seem to understand why this info isn't
enough. Even when I tell her that her father is also >from Vilna Guberniya
(he was >from Vasilishki), it doesn't seem to click. Her maternal
grandparents originally had the surname Sakutsky, and I can only assume that
at one point the family might have been in Skuodas, which is certainly not
in Vilna Gub. My best second guess is to look at a list of towns in Vilna
Gub, and see which ones aren't easy to pronounce!

Varda Epstein

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