administrative district discussion #galicia

Suzan & Ron Wynne <srwynne@...>

I hope that Alexander Sharon didn't mean to dismiss the importance of
Galician administrative districts. My goal is to encourage Jewish
genealogists to take these districts very seriously. Regardless of where
the records are located today, they were ORGANIZED by administrative
districts and subdistricts. And, the fact that there were a few minor
changes in the Jewish administrative district structure over the period >from
1877 to 1918, is really not terribly important in the big scheme of things.
Yes, it may be helpful to know that a few towns were reassigned to new
districts over that period of time but, in my view, it is essential that
genealogists seeking information about their Jewish families understand the
administrative structure and how it tied in with the system of self
government (kehilla) that Austria created in Galicia.

The Jewish records were not kept by the administrative structure that
pertained to other denomiations. The excellent gazetteer, "Genealogical
Gazetteer of Galicia," by Brian Lenius, which is frequently mentioned in
this Digest, does not address the system for Jewish records. Those who are
using this gazetteer must keep in mind that because Lenius has said that a
town is in a particular administrative district does not necessarily pertain
to Jewish records.

My book, Finding Your Jewish Roots in GAlicia: A Resource Guide, " (now out
of print but expected to be reissued by Avotaynu in substantially revised
form in 2005), does provide both the correct main administrative and sub
district for Jewish records. If you have a question about the correct
district, I am always happy to provide that information via email. The list
of towns came >from the booklet providing the 1877 regulations. They missed
a few towns but such information for the missing towns is easy for me to

The Jewish system determined the boundaries of responsibility granted to
each kehilla and each district had responsibility for tax collection,
oversight of kosher butchering and meat, oversight of mikvot and all other
religious organizations including religious schools and the Jewish court
system (Bet Din). The kehilla system predated the 1875 law which set forth
the parameters for Jewish agents to be responsible for the collection and
maintenance of vital records. In 1877, regulations were published along
with a list of every town where Jews were known to live, divided up into
main districts and their subdistricts. These districts were identical to
those making up the kehilla structure. The 1877 regulations were simply
adding onto the duties of the existing kehillot, the new responsibility for
vital record collection and maintenance.

Other religious denominations used the Judicial/Administrative boundaries
for vital record collection. This is why I have cautioned a number of times
that people looking for Jewish records, as opposed to non-Jewish records,
not get confused by the frequent misleading comments in this Digest about
current websites that address issues about records. The forms used may have
been similar and the non-Jewish records were collected and maintained by
agents of the various religious organizations in Galicia. However, my
understanding is that THIS discussion group is for people who are seeking
Jewish records. Let's don't confuse the issues.

I have written about this issue many times and my previous comments are in
the index in the Gesher GAlicia SIG Digest. Anyone who wants to explore the
issue in depth can explore all of those comments.

One last word of reminder: After 1918, the Austrian territory of Galicia
was no longer. Poland took over and created it's own administrative
structure. Yes, the records over time were gathered up, stored in various
different places but we are long past that issue. Miriam Weiner has told us
through Routes to Roots what records still exist, according to the Polish
and Ukrainian governments. I hope that we can move on >from this discussion
about administrative districts to other topics.

Suzan Wynne
Kensington, MD

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