Additional 19th C. Vilna City record sources – Archival Records of the Merchant class #lithuania

Joel Ratner

The most commonly known and available 19th record sources for the city of Vilna include the vital records and revision lists. The vital records as well as the 9th and 10th revisions of 1850/51 and 1858 are online. The 8th revision of 1834 is partially complete, and earlier 19th Century revisions, although available on microfilm, have not yet made it to the ALD. The 1784 and 1795 revision lists are available, albeit without surnames. The 1765 revision list is only available as pdf images (original content, no transliteration).  Identification of a relative in the earliest vital records or the 1834 revision list may not be sufficient to identify relatives in the 1795 RL. This situation limits how far back a researcher can trace his or her roots.

Whereas we are always seeking to add names and dates to our family trees, now is a good time to step back while we wait for the early 19th Century revision lists to be released as Excel files and ultimately, released to the ALD. This is a good time to consider filling in the details of our ancestors lives where there is information available to us.

An additional resource that is available for Vilna city are the records of the Jewish merchant class. This did not include all merchants but rather, those who registered their level of capital and were admitted to one of the three merchant guilds depending on their assets. Fortunately, Dr. Aelita Ambruleviciute has published a book listing all the registered Jewish merchants in a book titled “Vilniaus Pirkliai Zydai 1801 – 1861 – (sarasas)”. The English title is “Vilna Jewish Merchants 1801 – 1861 – (list)”. The author lists the Jewish merchants found in LVIA F937, 515 and 517. The added benefits of this publication are numerous. Although the title indicates the publication is a list of merchants, a biogram for each merchant is included and may contain a significant amount of information. The more prolific the business dealings of a merchant, the more information which is found. A sample listing shown below, provided by Dr. Ambruleviciute, highlights the wealth of information contained therein, although not all listings are as informative as this example. Other listings may only have a single business activity and typically includes family members.

Jakubson Vulf Jankeliovicz [1773]

 Family wife Raska [1780], s. Abram [1814], d. Sheina Geska [1808], d. Basia Feiga [1813]

1825, 1826, 1828–1830, 1832–1835 – III g.

In 1825, in Daiches house, no. 1314, had soap, salt and candles shop (d. Shiena Geska). In 1826, in Pilsuckij house, no. 199 – grocery goods shop (d. Belia Feiga). In 1828, in Zaikovskij square, on the shore of Vilnelė river had a firewood depot (himself) and in Zaikovskij house, no. 294 – cafe (zh. Raska), in Tishkevicz house, no. 382 – a haberdashery shop (d. Basia Feiga). In 1829, in Davrovskij house, no. 763, sold timber (himself), in Eksdivizorskij house, no. 235, had draper’s shop (d. Basia), in Zaikovskij house, no. 294 – a hotel (zh. Raska). In 1830, in Eksdivizorskij house, no. 235, had draper’s shop (d. Basia) and in Zaikovskij house, no. 294 – a poolroom (zh. Chaja). In 1832, in Zaikovskij house, no. 294 – a hotel (wife), on Ulczickij, Girsh Aronovicz and Davrovskij shore [of Vilnelė river] – firewood depot (himself). In 1833 made contracts. 1835 sold timber, made contracts.

From the sample record above, since Vulf had family members operating some of his businesses, they are not only called out, but birthyears are indicated as well. The house numbers refer to the house numbering system at the time. There is a map from 1808 which shows a partial listing of  house numbers and that has been attached to this message.

Dr. Ambruleviciute has written a second volume covering the latter years of the 19th Century. This volume is not yet published and contains information on family members for about 10% of the listed merchants. Researchers with questions about how to obtain the first volume should contact me privately.

As an aside, additional merchant listings for the early 19th Century are available in the various issues of Vsia Vilna (All Vilna). If there is anyone with a family from Vilna who would like me to do a lookup in one of these lists, please contact me.

Joel Ratner

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