Re: Deciphering Russian records without surnames #russia

Adam Goodheart

Using those pre-surname records is challenging, but I've been able to trace a couple of my lines there. 
WIth the Russian "revision list" censuses, even when there were no surnames,, the order in which families were listed were often preserved in later lists (which might have surnames), and sometimes the later lists even give the number assigned to that family in the previous list.
Also, many Polish-Lithuanian Jews in the 18th century lived in tiny rural hamlets, as managers of taverns, tax collectors, or managers of a noble family's estate, where they often remained for decades and were quite frequently the only Jewish families at that particular place. Often the early Polish and Russian censuses will identify the specific locale. If you have post-1804 records with surnames that link your ancestors to that locale, and if the given names match up, you can bridge the gap and perhaps trace your ancestors back another generation or two into the 18th century. You can also learn some interesting things about where exactly your ancestors were living, what they were doing, and what noble family they were working for. I discovered that my Lithuanian 5th-great grandparents were running a rural inn in 1784 under a lease from the Prince-Archbishop of Vilnius — and then found out, thanks to Google Maps, that there's a nice little B&B at practically the same spot today!
Adam Goodheart
Washington, D.C.

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