Re: How far back can one go? #general


For those whose families were from the Russian Empire -I have found that once you identify the place of legal registration in the Russian Empire you can make your way back through to the 1811 and 1816 Revision Lists without interruption. If a 1795 Revision List is available, it does not have surnames but it is an easy transition from the 1811/1816 or even the 1834 Revision List to the no-surname Revision Lists of 1795. You are using the earliest 19th century Revision Lists you can find, as "bridge records"  to the period before hereditary surnames were registered in 1805. Identifying a person old enough in the 19th century records, to have been well documented in 1795, lets you match them  by their given name, age, patronym, and other family members in the household to the same town's lists pre-surnames.  Those tracing family in today's Belarus and Lithuania, can continue back from the 1795 Revision which was compiled in Russian and Polish, to the 1784 Grand Duchy of Lithuania Poll tax which was created in Polish. And remember, the head of household  being listed in 1795 or 1784, was not born that year. Among the people named in Ostropol in Volhynia guberniya's 1816 and 1834 Revision Lists were people who had died since the previous Revision List. Among the living and the dead, there were a  number who had been born between 1730 and 1740. And all of those men were recorded in both Russian and Polish language records with their patronyms. Searching by whole community, makes the difference. Because  it gives you lots of data on  the way every person of that town will appear in a record in the pre-surname period. The 1795 Revision List of  the Jews Ostropol (one of the communities I study) and its surrounding villages, gives us two different groups who can be identified more or less clearly. Almost all of those living in Ostropol proper (the town itself) in 1795, can be fully identified with families still resident in the town in 1816. Around  half of those living in the surrounding villages have been identified also with folks later living in Ostropol proper. More details on the nineteenth century village residents would probably clear up some of the others. But allowing for the estimated ages of some of the fathers whose names are given only as patronyms, more than 50 of the families listed in both the Ostropol 1795  and 1834 Revision Lists, can be documented  back to ancestors born in the 1700/1710-1730s. 
Deborah Glassman, Historian of the Jewish Community of Ostropol
researching SOLOMON (from Chudnov); FRIEDMAN (from Ostropol and Lyubar); KLEINMAN (from Brailov); TUCKER   and LEVINSON (from Srednik); CHAIT (from Vilna city)

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