House # on Galician vital records - Explained #galicia

Brian Lehman <blrrcn@...>


I had previously inquired, as to what the House #, on Galician vital
records actually meant.

I received a reply from, Suzan Wynne, author, The Galitzianers: The
Jews of Galicia, 1772-1918, that was so wonderfully insightful, I
thought others would find in helpful also. So with her permission, I
post it to the message boards.

Brian Lehman

"At the most basic level, house numbering was used before streets
had names. The numbering system was chaotic and was not
necessarily stable over time due to fires and tear-downs. You and I
might think of consecutive numbering of houses or buildings on a
street as a given but it didn't work that way. The larger cities had
numbered neighborhoods and, within the boundaries of the
neighborhood, was an internal numbering system. In large places,
most people in the city core lived in apartment complexes built
around a courtyard where people strung clothes lines for the
laundry and children played under the watchful eyes of the residents
from the balcony. Kind of like a modern motel.
"The complex was typically entered >from a doorway on the street.
from the street, you can't tell what is going on behind the door. The
door opens up to an entranceway leading to the courtyard. Typically,
each building has a staircase. Because there were no elevators when
these buildings were put up, they tend to be no higher than three or
four floors. But clinics, hospitals, synagogues and other types of
non-residential buildings also were numbered. If births took place in
a clinic or the home of the midwife, that was the address used. The
naming ceremony or the bris might have taken place in a public place
or the home of the mohel, not the home of the parents. Deaths
might have occurred in places other than home, too. In other words,
you collect information about house numbers but you can't depend
on the data to draw firm conclusions. You might be able to establish
a pattern but maybe not.

"The house numbers were on a map of the community showing the
property and the name of the owner, not necessarily the resident.
These types of maps were generated for multiple purposes,
including property taxes, census, and mail delivery. The maps are
among the material that Gesher Galicia is working toward making
available on a subscription basis. The maps were revised >from time
to time to reflect changes. If there was a large fire, the house
numbers of the burned buildings might be re-assigned to new
buildings elsewhere. Can you imagine the chaos? Eventually, street
names were adopted, first in cities and then in smaller towns,
though, even today, really small places may not have a street name

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