Note: groups.jewishgen.org will be down for maintenance on Wednesday, October 5th, starting at 9AM Pacific Time (4PM Wednesday October 5, 2022 UTC), for approximately one hour.
Jim Bennett <bennett@...>
Sue Bloom posted a query about genealogical records of the Jews of
Zempelburg, other than the 1874-1883 civil records already microfilmed by
the Mormons--which are now fully indexed, translated and available in
Zempelburg, part of the historic Polish Kingdom until 1774, then Prussian
until 1918, and since then part of the Polish Republic is now known as
There's no doubt that separate B-M-D record books were kept for the once
important and vibrant Jewish community for the period between 1825-1874, by
law, the same as for all the communities in Westpreussen [West Prussia].
But these "metrical" records are lost, probably destroyed during the
Holocaust. For some 28 years I've tried every which way to locate them,
including visits to relevant archives in Poland and Germany.
However there are several alternative methods to research our families from
Zempelburg for the period before uniform civil registration of all religious
denominations began in Prussia in September 1874.
The Prussian authorities conducted several censuses of the Jews of
Westpreussen, including Zempelburg--the largest community other than
Danzig--in 1791, 1807,1808, 1809, and 1810. Most were comprehensive,
listing all members of the household, including ages and occupations.
I obtained photocopies of all of them, and databased the 1808-1810 censuses,
and I included data >from the 1791 and 1807 records too.
One problem was that only in 1812 were the Jews of Westpreussen required to
select permanent family names. Thus about 90% of the family listings in all
these censuses show only patronymic names. However I was able to match
almost all of the new 1812 surnames to the 1810 patronymic listings, using
The result is a database showing some 1200 Zempelburg Jews who lived during
a twenty-two year period >from 1791-1812. Many who were born around the
first decade of the 19th century later became the parents and grandparents
of Jews who married or died in the 1874-1883 records available in
But since we are missing all the BMD records for a 64-year period from
1810-1874, we can only work backwards >from the 1874-1883 record group. A
marriage record from, say, 1875 will show bride and grooms' ages, showing
their births in the 1840-1855 period, and better yet, it will list their
parents' names, and those parents were born in the 1800-1830 period. So
it's possible, by dint of hard work, to bridge the long gap between the 1810
census and the 1874+ BMD records.
Zempelburg researchers may write to me and I'll try to help. My database is
not yet ready for inclusion in JRI Poland's search mechanism.